WHY DOESN'T THE 9/11 COMMISSION KNOW ABOUT MUKASEY'S 9/11 STORY?

by Glenn Greenwald

Thursday April 3, 2008 07:04 EDT

(Updated below with response from Philip Zelikow -

Update II - Update III -

Update IV -Chairman Conyers demands answers from Mukasey)

Last week, during a question-and-answer session following a speech he delivered in San Francisco, Attorney General Michael Mukasey revealed a startling and extremely newsworthy fact. As I wrote last Saturday, Mukasey claimed that, prior to 9/11, the Bush administration was aware of a telephone call being made by an Al Qaeda Terrorist from what he called a "safe house in Afghanistan" into the U.S., but failed to eavesdrop on that call. Some help is needed from readers here to generate the attention for this story that it requires.

In that speech, Mukasey blamed FISA's warrant requirement for the failure to eavesdrop on that call — an assertion which is, for multiple reasons that I detailed in that post, completely false. He then tearfully claimed that FISA therefore caused the deaths of "three thousand people who went to work that day." For obvious reasons, the Attorney General's FISA falsehoods themselves are extremely newsworthy, but it is the story he told about the pre-9/11-planning call from Afghanistan itself that is truly new, and truly extraordinary.

Critically, the 9/11 Commission Report — intended to be a comprehensive account of all relevant pre-9/11 activities — makes no mention whatsoever of the episode Mukasey described. What has been long publicly reported in great detail are multiple calls that were made between a global communications hub in Yemen and the U.S. — calls which the NSA did intercept without warrants (because, contrary to Mukasey's lie, FISA does not and never did require a warrant for eavesdropping on foreign targets) but which, for some unknown reason, the NSA failed to share with the FBI and other agencies. But the critical pre-9/11 episode Mukasey described last week is nowhere to be found in the 9/11 Report or anywhere else. It just does not exist.

Yesterday, I contacted Lee Hamilton, the 9/11 Commission Vice Chairman, to ask him whether the Commission was ever told about Mukasey's alleged Afghan Terrorist 9/11-planning telephone calls and/or the Bush administration's failure/inability to eavesdrop on such calls. Hamilton refused to comment, first claiming that he was in meetings all day yesterday and had no time to talk to me. When asked if he would comment today or whenever he had time, he said he was not going to comment on this ever, since he had not read Mukasey's speech. Calls to 9/11 Executive Director Philip Zelikow seeking comment were not returned and 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean could not yet be reached.

It's unacceptable for Hamilton to refuse to comment on Mukasey's claims. The whole purpose of the 9/11 Commission was to ensure that there was full-scale investigation and disclosure of all facts relevant to the 9/11 attacks, including the Government's actions and inactions in preventing that attack from occurring.

If the Attorney General of the United States, out of the blue, makes an extraordinary and new assertion in a public speech about an easy opportunity the Bush administration had to detect those attacks — an opportunity he claims was lost because of eavesdropping laws — Hamilton ought to say whether the Commission was ever told about this incident and/or whether Mukasey is telling the truth. Preventing high government officials from lying about the 9/11 attacks or exposing concealment of key 9/11 facts is his obligation as Vice Chairman of the Commission. Some type of comment from 9/11 Commission officials on Mukasey's claims is vital for generating further attention to this story and for compelling Mukasey to account for what he said.

Hamilton is currently the President and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and director of The Center on Congress at Indiana University. Please email him at the address below, politely set forth the extraordinary claims the Attorney General just made about the 9/11 attacks (with citations to media sources about the speech — including here, here, and here), and urge him to fulfill his obligation as 9/11 Commission Vice Chair by confirming whether Mukasey's revelations are true and/or were disclosed to the Commission during its investigation: Lee.hamilton@wilsoncenter.org.

This isn't just a matter of academic and historical interest about the 9/11 attacks, although it is that. One of two things almost certainly happened here, each of which is of great importance. Either Mukasey is lying about the 9/11 attacks in order to manipulate Americans into believing that FISA's warrant requirements are what prevented discovery of the 9/11 attacks and caused 3,000 American deaths — a completely disgusting act by the Attorney General which obviously cannot be ignored. Or, Mukasey has just revealed the most damning fact yet about the Bush's administration's ability and failure to have prevented the attacks — facts that, until now, were apparently concealed from the 9/11 Commission and the public.

Since I wrote about this on Saturday, there has been some slowly evolving media attention paid to it. On Monday, I discussed the story on the radio with Rachel Maddow who, as always, grasped completely its importance. The following night, she was on Countdown with Keith Olbermman, which had a lengthy and detailed segment, highlighting all of the right questions (video below). Raw Story compiled a very thorough article with the key facts, and the top Daily Kos post this morning does the same.

The great significance of this story — that Mukasey either completely fabricated a key 9/11 event or just revealed a heretofore unknown 9/11 bombshell — is self-evident and made clear by these growing accounts. Having Hamilton, Kean and/or Zelikow comment on the veracity of Mukasey's claims about the 9/11 attacks — as they ought to do — is vital for advancing the story.

UPDATE: Philip Zelikow, the 9/11 Commission Executive Director (and former Counselor to Condolleeza Rice), obviously has no idea what Mukasey is talking about, as he replies by email (ellipses in original):

Not sure of course what the AG had in mind, although the most important signals intelligence leads related to our report — that related to the Hazmi-Mihdhar issues of January 2000 or to al Qaeda activities or transits connected to Iran — was not of this character. If, as he says, the USG didn't know where the call went in the US, neither did we. So unless we had some reason to link this information to the 9/11 story ....

th several covert action issues for instance, the Commission sought (and succeeded) in publishing details about sensitive intelligence matters where the details were material to the investigative mandate in our law.

That's polite Beltway talk for saying that nothing like what Mukasey described actually happened. Does anyone on TV other than Keith Olbermann care that the United States just invented a critical episode about 9/11 that never actually happened — tearing up as he did it — in order to scare Americans into supporting the administration's desired elimination of spying restrictions and blame FISA supporters for the 9/11 attacks? We still ought to hear from Hamilton and/or Kean.

UPDATE II: I'll be on Rachel Maddow's show at 7:30 p.m. EST today to discuss these developments. Local listings and live audio feed are here.

At Daily Kos, McJoan — who wrote about this matter today here — has written about it again, and included contact information for key members of Congress to demand that Mukasey be compelled to account for his 9/11 claims, preferably under oath.

The reason this story has the potential to be significant is because it's easy to understand — Mukasey's story is either true or false — and, more importantly, nothing like it happened. He can't claim that he just misspoke or was confused because not only was there no such call from Afghanistan (at least according to everything that is known, including by the 9/11 Commission's version), but FISA could never possibly have prevented interception of any calls remotely like the one Mukasey described.

He just made this up out of whole cloth in order to mislead Americans into supporting the administration's efforts to eliminate spying safeguards and basic constitutional liberties and to stifle the pending surveillance lawsuits against telecoms. That isn't hard for anyone — even including those who play the role of journalists on TV — to understand and convey.

Finally, numerous people have sent me their emails to Lee Hamilton, who still hasn't commented or responded. If he doesn't soon, I think mass (though civil) calling of his office will be in order. I don't think he has the option of simply remaining quiet when the Attorney General makes a statement of this sort about the 9/11 attacks.

UPDATE III: With the help of readers, I was able to find and get in contact with Tom Kean's office, who asked that an email be sent to him requesting comment. The email I sent is here, along with the email I sent to the DOJ (at their request) asking for comment from Mukasey.

Dan Gilmor of the Center for Citizen Media — affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University Law School — has posted a superb piece on this matter, focusing on what it reflects about establishment press behavior. The whole thing is worth reading.

UPDATE IV: House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, along with two Subcommittee Chairs, just sent a letter to Michael Mukasey demanding answers to all the right questions about his 9/11 claims as well as the bizarre (though unsurprising) reference in the Yoo Memorandum to the suspension of the Fourth Amendment inside the U.S. That letter will need to be followed up with action, but it's a good start.

— Glenn Greenwald

RLCC Comment: This is fairly clear thinking on Glenn Greenwald's part. Mukasey was a terrible choice. The Democrats who voted for him did an inside deal with the neocon devils at the White House. It's a cesspool. The people must become aware so they may have a change of heart moving as far away from the Machiavellian demonic ideology as possible. Purge evil now.

Link to source-webpage by RLR, obtained via: True Blue Liberal, April 3, 2008, 12:15pm

Donate


The following should appear at the end of every post:

According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":

Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.

Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.

Political Campaign Intervention

Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.

Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:

  • Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
  • Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
  • Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
  • Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
  • Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office

Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:

  • The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
  • Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
  • We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
  • When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
  • It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
  • We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
  • We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
  • When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
  • We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
  • It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)

  • Subscribe


  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
    This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.