Sunday, August 14, 2005
by Mark Steyn
If you want to know everything wrong with the 9/11 Commission in a single sound bite, consider this from Al Felzenberg, its official spokesman, speaking Wednesday:
''There was no way that Atta could have been in the United States at that time, which is why the staff didn't give this tremendous weight when they were writing the report. This information was not meshing with the other information that we had.''
In fairness to Felzenberg, he was having a bad week, and a hard time staying on top of the commission's ever-shifting version of events. It emerged that the U.S. military had fingered Mohammed Atta -- the guy who plowed Flight 11 into the first World Trade Center tower -- well over a year before before 9/11. Or as the Associated Press puts it:
"A classified military intelligence unit called 'Able Danger' identified Atta and three other hijackers in 1999 as potential members of a terrorist cell in New York City."
At first, the commission denied that it knew anything about "Able Danger": "The Sept. 11 Commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell," insisted Lee Hamilton, the Democratic co-chair. "Had we learned of it, obviously, it would've been a major focus of our investigation."
But within 48 hours this version was non-operative. As the AP subsequently reported: "The Sept. 11 Commission knew military intelligence officials had identified lead hijacker Mohamed Atta as a member of al-Qaida who might be part of U.S.-based terror cell more than a year before the terror attacks but decided not to include that in its final report, a spokesman acknowledged Thursday."
So, far from being a "major focus" that they just happened to miss -- coulda happened to anyone -- it turns out they knew about it but "decided not to include" it. ...