White House Hid Key Information from 9/11 Commission
by Jonathan Singer, Sun Oct 01, 2006 at 02:21:46 PM EDT
The wave of bad news for the White House and Republicans appears to have no end in sight. An article by Philip Shenon in tomorrow's issue of The New York Times indicates that the Bush administration hid information of a July 2001 meeting on the imminent terrorist threat between George Tenet and Condoleezza Rice from the 9/11 Commission.
Members of the Sept. 11 commission said today that they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a White House meeting in July 2001 at which George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, about an imminent Al Qaeda attack and failed to persuade her to take action.
Details of the previously undisclosed meeting on July 10, 2001, two months before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, were first reported last week in a new book by the journalist Bob Woodward.
The book says that Mr. Tenet hurriedly organized the meeting -- calling ahead from his car as it traveled to the White House -- because he wanted to "shake Rice" into persuading the president to respond to dire intelligence warnings that summer about a terrorist strike. Mr. Woodward writes that Mr. Tenet left the meeting frustrated because "they were not getting through to Rice."
The disclosures took members of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission by surprise last week. Some questioned whether information about the July 10 meeting was intentionally withheld from the panel. [emhpasis added]
Should this report prove true -- and even Philip Zelikow, now a top aide to Rice who previously served as executive director of the 9/11 commission, conceded that it was "entirely plausible" that such a meeting occurred and that it wasn't reported to any commissioners or commission staff -- a whole new round of questions about the administration's dereliction of duty during the summer of 2001 might and should emerge. At a time when the Bush White House has tried desperately to brandish its perceived strength on national security issues, a prolonged debate over whether they hid damning evidence of their failure to act when a the terrorist threat was known to be imminent will only serve to move Americans' attention away from their attacks on the Democrats' record, thus eviscerating the efficacy of their harsh rhetoric.