Thursday, January 31, 2008
By Max Holland
Wednesday 30 January 2008
In a revelation bound to cast a pall over the 9/11 Commission, Philip Shenon will report in a forthcoming book that the panel's executive director, Philip Zelikow, engaged in "surreptitious" communications with presidential adviser Karl Rove and other Bush administration officials during the commission's 20 - month investigation into the 9/11 attacks.
Shenon, who led The New York Times' coverage of the 9/11 panel, reveals the Zelikow - Rove connection in a new book entitled The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, to be published next month by TWELVE books. The Commission is under an embargo until its February 5 publication, but Washington DeCoded managed to purchase a copy of the abridged audio version from a New York bookstore.
In what's termed an "investigation of the investigation," Shenon purports to tell the story of the commission from start to finish. The book's critical revelations, however, revolve almost entirely around the figure of Philip Zelikow, a University of Virginia professor and director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs prior to his service as the commission's executive director. Shenon delivers a blistering account of Zelikow's role and leadership, and an implicit criticism of the commissioners for appointing Zelikow in the first place - and then allowing him to stay on after his myriad conflicts - of - interest were revealed under oath.
Shenon's narrative is built from extensive interviews with staff members and several, if not all, the commissioners. He depicts Zelikow as exploiting his central position to negate or neutralize criticism of the Bush administration so that the White House would not bear, in November 2004, the political burden of failing to prevent the attacks.
The Commission includes these specific revelations:
* Kean and Hamilton appreciated that Zelikow was a friend and former colleague of then - national security adviser Condoleeza Rice, one of the principal officials whose conduct would be scrutinized. Zelikow had served with her on the National Security Council (NSC) during the presidency of Bush's father, and they had written a book together about German reunification. The commission co-chairmen also knew of Zelikow's October 2001 appointment to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. According to Shenon, however, Zelikow failed to disclose several additional and egregious conflicts-of-interest, among them, the fact that he had been a member of Rice's NSC transition team in 2000-01. In that capacity, Zelikow had been the "architect" responsible for demoting Richard Clarke and his counter-terrorism team within the NSC. As Shenon puts it, Zelikow "had laid the groundwork for much of went wrong at the White House in the weeks and months before September 11. Would he want people to know that?"
* Karen Heitkotter, the commission's executive secretary, was taken aback on June 23, 2003 when she answered the telephone for Zelikow at 4:40 PM and heard a voice intone, "This is Karl Rove. I'm looking for Philip." Heitkotter knew that Zelikow had promised the commissioners he would cut off all contact with senior officials in the Bush administration. Nonetheless, she gave Zelikow's cell phone number to Rove. The next day there was another call from Rove at 11:35 AM. Subsequently, Zelikow would claim that these calls pertained to his "old job" at the University of Virginia's Miller Center.
* The full extent of Zelikow's involvement with the incumbent administration administration only became evident within the commission on October 8, 2003, almost halfway into the panel's term. Determined to blunt the Jersey Girls' call for his resignation or recusal, Zelikow proposed that he be questioned under oath about his activities. General counsel Daniel Marcus, who conducted the sworn interview, brought a copy of the resume Zelikow had provided to Kean and Hamilton. None of the activities Zelikow now detailed - his role on Rice's transition team, his instrumental role in Clarke's demotion, his authorship of a post - 9/11 pre-emptive attack doctrine - were mentioned in the resume. Zelikow blandly asserted to Marcus that he did not see "any of this as a major conflict of interest." Marcus's conclusion was that Zelikow "should never have been hired" as executive director. But the only upshot from these shocking disclosures was that Zelikow was involuntarily recused from that part of the investigation which involved the presidential transition, and barred from participating in subsequent interviews of senior Bush administration officials.
* Some two months later, as Bob Kerrey replaced disgruntled ex-Senator Max Cleland on the panel, the former Nebraska senator became astounded once he understood Zelikow's obvious conflicts-of-interest and his very limited recusal. Kerrey could not understand how Kean and Hamilton had ever agreed to put Zelikow in charge. "Look Tom," Kerrey told Kean, "either he goes or I go." But Kean persuaded Kerrey to drop his ultimatum.
* In late 2003, around the time his involuntary recusal was imposed, Zelikow called executive secretary Karen Heitkotter into his office and ordered her to stop creating records of his incoming telephone calls. Concerned that the order was improper, a nervous Heitkotter soon told general counsel Marcus. He advised her to ignore Zelikow's order and continue to keep a log of his telephone calls, insofar as she knew about them.
* Although Shenon could not obtain from the GAO an unredacted record of Zelikow's cell phone use - and Zelikow used his cell phone for most of his outgoing calls - the Times reporter was able to establish that Zelikow made numerous calls to "456" numbers in the 202 area code, which is the exclusive prefix of the White House.
* Even after his recusal, Zelikow continued to insert himself into the work of "Team 3," the task force responsible for the most politically-sensitive part of the investigation, counter-terrorism policy. This brief encompassed the White House, which meant investigating the conduct of Condoleeza Rice and Richard Clarke during the months prior to 9/11. Team 3 staffers would come to believe that Zelikow prevented them from submitting a report that would have depicted Rice's performance as "amount[ing] to incompetence, or something not far from it."
In Without Precedent, Kean and Hamilton's 2006 account of the 9/11 panel, the two co-chairmen wrote that Zelikow was a controversial choice
. . . [but] we had full confidence in Zelikow's independence and ability - and frankly, we wanted somebody who was unafraid to roil the waters from time to time. He recused himself from anything involving his work on the NSC transition. He made clear his determination to conduct an aggressive investigation. And he was above all a historian dedicated to a full airing of the facts. It was clear from people who knew and worked with him that Zelikow would not lead a staff inquiry that did anything less than uncover the most detailed and accurate history of 9/11.
Shenon's radically different account of the commission's inner workings promises to achieve what none of the crackpot conspiracy theorists have managed to do so far: put the 9/11 Commission in disrepute.
The Commission will be reviewed in the February issue of Washington DeCoded.
Monday, January 28, 2008
How should our tax dollars be spent? Should we HAVE to pay income tax. After all, there are many other taxes we pay all the time, just for basic needs. Heating oil, property tax, vehicle tax, sales tax. And those people were pissed about tea!!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I found video of the bus fire. The bus was called 'The Yellow Rose of Texas' and belonged to Veterans for Peace member, Jim Goodnow. He used it to transport many Iraq Veterans Against the War members to various events. You can keep up to date on their situation and make a donation at the link above.
Jim saw, in retrospect, some suspicious activity outside the bus, and about 20 minutes later, the entire engine compartment, and back of the bus was engulfed in flames.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
This bus, often mired in controversy since the IVAW 'Dirty South' tour that left Philly in June, and had Active Duty BBQ's @ Ft Meade, Ft Jackson, Camp Lejeune, Ft Benning, and other Southern Military Posts(Including an IVAW benefit by Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine, and AudioSlave, in Virginia) as well as backdrop for many a Demonstration, and Ft Drum, NY, organizing parties, has finally died.
This photo shows the huge 'Don't Attack Iran' and 'Impeach Bush'
logos, that let everybody on the highway know just how the occupants
felt about the state of the state.
Driver ( and Veteran ) Jim Goodnow pulled into a South Jersey Truck Stop, to catch a 3 or 4 hour nap. Jim saw, in retrospect, some suspicious activity outside the bus, and about 20 minutes later, the entire engine compartment, and back of the bus was engulfed in flames.Stay tuned....
Mr Goodnow speculates that the cause could have been anything from ARSON, to ATTEMPTED MURDER. He plans to notify the ATF Arson Squad on Saturday morning.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Nothing like being waterboarded by death on a late fall afternoon.
This picture was lifted from the Asheville Citizen-Times. Check out the article they wrote about the vigil and upcoming Veterans Voices - Veterans Speak Out on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM
Death says, "Bush's health plan keeps me as busy as his foreign policy".
Busy filling goody bags. The bags were brought to Fort Bragg by two Iraq Vets Against the War members who, after handing out about 150 bags, were detained for hours. Read Jason Hurd's, President of the Asheville chapter of IVAW, account of events.
Brownies Will Get You Five to Ten:
A Boondocks Chapter Christmas at Fort Bragg
By Jason Hurd
On the morning of December 17, 2007, Steve Casey and I awoke
bright and early at the Quaker House in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Steve and I had driven nearly three hundred miles from our home-base
in Asheville, North Carolina to distribute holiday gift bags to the
wonderful servicewomen and men stationed at our nation's busiest
military post--Fort Bragg. Our friends and supporters in Asheville
stuffed nearly three hundred small lunch bags full of holiday cards,
chocolates, cookies and home-made brownies. The gift bags had a
humble feel to them: brown paper lunch sacks with the tops folded
down, green and red ribbons, a copy of our newsletter Sit-Rep stapled
to the outside and a small sticker that said, "To: A Warrior, From:
IVAW." Our mission was to ensure that these bags--each made with love
and kindness--got into the hands of our deserving soldiers.
With gift bags in hand, Steve and I drove to Fort Bragg's Mini
Mall and set up a small collapsible table to distribute the bags
from. We taped two large poster boards to the front of the table; one
said, "Happy Holidays From Your Fellow Veterans," and the other
proclaimed, "We Love Our Service Women and Men." Immediately, Steve
and I began handing the packages to soldiers as they exited the Mini
Mall. I greeted each soldier by saying, "Hello. My friend and I are
veterans and we are giving holiday gift bags to our soldiers to show
our appreciation for your service. Thank you and happy holidays."
Nearly every soldier I spoke with replied with a large smile, "Thank
you very much. I'm glad there are people like you doing this. Happy
holidays to you too!" Within an hour, Steve and I had given out
nearly one hundred and fifty bags. In that time, only one soldier
reacted negatively toward us; every one else seemed extremely
Around one o'clock in the afternoon, a female manager who worked
for the Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AFFES) came out of the
Mini Mall and said, "Hey guys I'm glad your giving out packages to
soldiers, but you can't do this on Fort Bragg without a permit." I
replied, "Great! Where do we get a permit?" The manager explained
where we needed to go, and we began packing up shop to go get our
permit. That's when the Military Police showed up. Three MP's--SSG
Netwig, PFC Murray and PVT Garren--approached us and began questioning
us about our gift bags. SSG Netwig glared at a copy of Sit-Rep and
said, "I'm going to keep my personal opinion out of this, but you are
disrupting the order and discipline of my post." I explained that we
were on our way to get a permit for our bags and we had no intentions
of disrupting the order and discipline of Fort Bragg. SSG Netwig
replied that we had offended a lot of people with our bags (which was
news to Steve and I) and that he would not allow us to continue
At that moment, a Special Forces Captain (apparently one of the
people we had offended) approached SSG Netwig and spoke with him
privately. Immediately, SSG Netwig said that we were going to the
Provost Marshall's office to answer questions.
"Are we being arrested?" I said.
"No. But you are being detained," SSG Netwig replied.
At that moment, the MP's shoved Steve and I against their patrol
car, searched us, handcuffed us and placed us in the patrol car like
criminals. They drove us away leaving a box of gift bags on the trunk
of Steve's car. In the back of the patrol car, I looked at Steve and
said, "Don't worry, this is a good thing--trust me." "OK," Steve
said. SSG netwig drove us to the Provost Marshall's office where,
after being searched a second time, we spent the next four hours as
detainees. One investigator told Steve that Fort Bragg is a
conservative post and that anti-war views were in the minority. The
officers separated Steve and I and began questioning us. I asked four
times to make a phone call so that I could consult with an attorney;
the officers denied my right each time. A criminal investigator
entered my room.
"Are you affiliated with any other groups besides IVAW?" he
"No, I am not, " I replied.
"How did you and this Steve guy meet?"
"Look," I said, "I'm not going to continue answering questions
without consulting an attorney."
"But you aren't under arrest. You're merely detained and we are
trying to have a friendly conversation with you," the investigator
"I feel like it is in my best interests to consult with an
attorney before continuing," I replied.
Then the investigator and officers walked out leaving me alone in the
room. Against my captor's wishes, I began text messaging the Quaker
House and IVAW members to let them know what was happening (the
officers had mistakenly left my phone). Immediately, the
investigators began receiving calls from every peace activist from
North Carolina to Philadelphia urging them to release Steve and I.
The MP's knew they had a situation on their hands.
Before we knew it, an investigator apologized to Steve and I for
the inconvenience and released us. The investigator informed us that
we just needed to get a permit for future activities of this nature.
Two young MP's escorted Steve and I back to our car and we talked
about Iraq on the way. One of the young MP's said, "Yeah, fuck Iraq.
I hate that place. I had friends die there. I don't ever want to go
back." We pulled up to Steve's car and rubbing the cuts on our wrists
from the handcuffs, we saw the perfect ending to our day. The box of
gift bags was still sitting atop Steve's trunk and some passerby had
written on it the following:
"Hi, I heard what happened. Listen up cops, politicians, and OVER
EGOTISTIC DRAMA QUEEN SENIOR NCO'S AND OFFICERS! Many friends in my
platoon DIED BRUTALLY for the First Amendment. We have the right to
peaceful protest, damn you! Why did you arrest these guys? To all
ya'll who don't believe in: freedom of speech, press, council,
religion, assembly, and petition...GO TO HELL!! Sincerely, A
concerned passerby and witness to the arrest of protesters."
So much for being the minority.
Monday, January 7, 2008
We spent the Saturday before Christmas at the mall. No, we weren't shopping (not with the Raging Grannies)...it was Operation Stop Buying Bush's Wars. With more planning, we would have been able to sing more songs. We met an hour earlier to plan our action. Instead of planning, we practiced the songs. But it didn't matter how well the songs were sung. There is "no singing in the mall" as the security guard told us before he pointed us to the nearest door and before we could get through a single verse of our second song. Location was a major issue. We were standing right next to a side exit. We'll be back again with greater numbers and with a detailed plan. Unless by some amazing turn of events, the war on terror ends.
After being threatened with arrest, with we found a spot next to the road to sing our songs of a world without materialism, debt and war. Thank you, Raging Grannies.