Image: Salvador Dali, Premonition of Civil War
Unless there is some reckoning, the nightmare of the last eight years will never end, it will only seem to end
By Richard Power
There have been record-breaking turn-outs for Democratic Party primaries and caucuses. The two remaining contenders for the nomination promise change and renewal. The American people desperately want to put the last eight years behind them.
But unless there is some reckoning (and I mean through sustained congressional investigations, and in criminal and civil courts, not just in the political arena); then the last eight years will never end, they will only seem to end. They will only get repeated with better production values, a more plausible script and a new leader with a more benign facade.
In recent days, three stories have appeared that relate directly to long-running Words of Power themes, I would be remiss if I did not weave them into to the ongoing timeline which this site constitutes.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that any of them will become issues in the upcoming Presidential campaign. If the Democratic ticket do not make these and related scandals into serious campaign issues in the fall, they will not only fail to fulfill a moral obligation, they will fail to seize a political opportunity.
The Republican candidate should be made to either repudiate or embrace the Bush-Cheney record -- either way he would suffer for it. The Republican Party must be held accountable, in this election cycle, for its complicity in the debacles and excesses of the Bush-Cheney regime; otherwise, it will never return to its worthy roots.
In "Hard Rain Journal 8-5-07: Lessons from Soviet-Style Show Trail of Don Siegelman -- Learned or Unlearned?", I drew your attention to the plight of former Governor Don Siegelman with a transcription of an Air America Ring of Fire interview with Harper's Scott Horton; subsequently an excellent series of articles by Raw Story's indomitable Larisa Alexandrovna offered an in-depth exploration of Siegelman's prosecution and imprisonment.
Many of us in the Blogosphere were surprised and encouraged to learn that CBS 60 Minutes was preparing an explosive piece on the Siegelman case.
Well, that did surprise me, but this update from Larisa's does not:
Well folks, seems that 60 Minutes is postponing (read "killing") its Siegelman story. The excuse I am told for this lapse in ethics is that the network needs more time to vet the whistle-blower, Dana Jill Simpson. You see, the reason the network suddenly needs more time to vet Simpson is that the White House has launched a direct campaign inside CBS to discredit her and just to make sure the dirt sticks, they have called in some favors too. I am told that Senator Jeff Sessions has been instructed to help the White House discredit Simpson as part of his "Senatorial" duties. Nice system of government we have here, eh? Larisa Alexandrovna, 2/5/08
Meanwhile, in the struggle to bring accountability to Beltwayistan before numerous "high crimes and misdemeanors" are swept under the rug ...
CREW sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey today, asking that he appoint a special council to investigate “whether the White House violated federal record-keeping laws by knowingly failing to preserve and restore millions of emails.” CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated:
“The importance and historical significance of the missing emails makes it imperative that an impartial special counsel be appointed without delay to investigate the disappearance of these records. […] The missing emails do not belong to the Bush administration, but to the American people. The Attorney General should take action to protect the right of future generations to look back and understand the role of White House officials in critical events.” Think Progress, 2-4-08
But even more disturbing are some revelations contained in Philip Shenon's The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation (Buy it from Buzzflash!).
In The Commission, Shenon, a New York Times reporter, explores “failure at the highest levels of the United States government":
Shenon singles out Condoleezza Rice as inept, more interested in being President Bush’s buddy than securing the nation. Newsweek editor Evan Thomas writes a preview of the book:
The official ineptitude uncovered by the commission is shocking. Dubbed “Kinda-Lies-a-Lot” by the Jersey Girls, Ms. Rice comes across as almost clueless about the terrorist threat. “Whatever her job title, Rice seemed uninterested in actually advising the president,” Mr. Shenon writes. “Instead, she wanted to be his closest confidante — specifically on foreign policy — and to simply translate his words into action.”
An example of this incompetence is the fact that on July 10, 2001 — two months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks — then-CIA director George Tenet met with Rice and warned her about a threat from al Qaeda that “literally made [his] hair stand on end.” Rice was polite, but gave them the “brushoff.”
The 9/11 commission, however, heard about this meeting only after it completed its report. Shenon reveals that commission executive director Philip Zelikow, a close friend of Rice, stopped staffers from submitting a report depicting Rice’s performance prior to 9/11 as “amount[ing] to incompetence.” Think Progress, 2-4-08
What Shenon corroborates is something many of us have long insisted, that the 9/11 Commission pulled its punches in regard to the pre-9/11 failures of the Bush-Cheney national insecurity team.
Here is another powerful statement from Patty Casazza, Monica Gabrielle, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie Van Auken, all of whom lost loved ones in the slaughter of innocents on 9/11 (See also Hard Rain Journal 10-6-06: 911 Widows Speak Out on Woodward Revelation of the Bush-Cheney Insecurity Team's Failure to Heed Warnings):
September 11th Advocates Comment on the Impending Release of Philip Shenons Book -- The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation February 4, 2008
... One of the most egregious revelations put forth by Mr. Shenon is the fact that Philip Zelikow was hired as the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, despite his direct ties to the Bush Administration. In 2000-2001 he served as a member of Condoleezza Rices National Security Council (NSC) transition team, where he was allegedly the architect of the decision to demote Richard Clarke and his counter terrorism team within the NSC. Furthermore he was a member of the Presidents Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) from 2001-2003, where* *Zelikow drafted most of the 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States, creating the pre-emptive Iraq war strategy. These areas were within the scope of the Commissions mandate and as such were of critical importance to determine what, if any, impact they had on the governments ability to prevent the 9/11 attacks.
As the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow was given the responsibility for choosing the entire direction of the Commissions investigation. Essentially, Mr. Zelikow determined who was or was not interviewed as a witness, and which information was or was not looked at. He also influenced which documents would be requested from the various agencies. It seemed to us, that allowing an individual with this much involvement in the Bush administration to run the investigation, might give the appearance of impropriety and could ultimately taint the Commissions findings.
In a statement issued by the Family Steering Committee of March 20, 2004 we wrote:
"It is apparent that Dr. Zelikow should never have been permitted to be Executive Staff Director of the Commission. As Executive Staff Director, his job has been to steer the direction of the Commissions investigation, an investigation whose mandate includes understanding why the Bush Administration failed to prioritize the Al Qaeda threat. "
In the same statement we also called for:
"Zelikows immediate resignation; Zelikows testimony in public and under oath; and the subpoena of Zelikow's notes from the intelligence briefings he attended with Richard Clarke. "
Commission Chairman Tom Kean and Vice-Chair Lee Hamilton instead chose to have Mr. Zelikow recuse himself from the areas of the investigation that dealt with the transition period. However, they allowed Mr. Zelikow to be one of only two people (Ms. Gorelick was the other) to review the Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs), reports that went to the heart of what the White House and its National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, knew prior to 9/11. While investigating the events that led up to the September 11th attacks, Philip Zelikow was called as a witness by the 9/11 Commission though transcripts of his testimony were never made public.
Despite our vehement objections, Mr. Zelikow was allowed to remain in his position as what seemed to be the gatekeeper of the 9/11 Commission. Mr. Shenons book illustrates just how deeply and insidiously the Commission's basic fact-finding work was compromised by Zelikows conflicts. He recounts that even after his recusal, Mr. Zelikow continued to insert himself into the work of "Team 3," of the Commission. This team was responsible for examining the White House, and therefore, the conduct of Condoleeza Rice and Richard Clarke during the months prior to 9/11.
According to the author, Team 3 staffers would come to believe that Mr. Zelikow prevented them from submitting a report that would have depicted Ms. Rice's performance as "amount to incompetence, or something not far from it."
Evidence of the possible duplicitous nature of Mr. Zelikows role on the 9/11 Commission was further exemplified by his numerous conversations with Karl Rove, President Bushs Senior Political Advisor. When questioned about his contact with Rove, Zelikows response was to tell his secretary to stop logging his calls.
Contrary to former Commissioner John Lehmans recent comment on MSNBC that Zelikows conversations with Rove are a red herring, these contacts with Rove should have been /a red flag/. Negotiating for or procuring of White House documents for the Commission should have been done through the Office of White House Counsel NOT the Presidents political advisor. Consequently, knowing how this would appear, one must ask why Zelikow was speaking with Rove?
It is abundantly clear that Philip Zelikow should have immediately been replaced when the first rumblings of his impropriety and conflicts of interest surfaced. When all of this information became clear, the Commissioners and the press should have called for Zelikows resignation. We did. Shamefully, most were silent. ...
We believe that author Phil Shenon has revealed information which only scratches the surface as to what went on behind the scenes of this investigation.
Why, when this Congressionally mandated Commission could have done much to fix the fatal flaws in our in government by conducting a real investigation and making vital recommendations, would they instead allow it to become a sham. This investigation was meant to fix the loopholes that allowed our Country to be so vulnerable. Why would they choose instead, to succumb to political machinations? What would we find out if a real investigation into September 11, 2001 were ever done?
The bottom line is that the most deadly attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor remains dangerously unexamined. This can only be remedied with an investigation guided by the facts and conducted outside the reach of those with a vested interest in suppressing the truth.
*Monica Gabrielle *
*Mindy Kleinberg *
*Lorie Van Auken *
To read the full statement, September 11th Advocates Comment on the Impending Release of Philip Shenons Book -- The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, 2-4-08, click here.
For an archive of Words of Power posts on 9/11, Terrorism, etc., click here.
Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.
Philip Zelikow, Don Siegelman,CREW, Bush, 9/11, CBS, Patty Cazaza, Mindy Kleinberg, Lorie Van Auken, Monica Gabrielle, Larisa Alexandrovna Richard Power, Words of Power