History Commons Groups

April 27, 2009

Newly Released Memo: Government ‘Minders’ at 9/11 Commission Interviews ‘Intimidated’ Witnesses


A recently released 9/11 Commission memo highlights the role of government “minders” who accompanied witnesses interviewed by the commission. It was added to the National Archives’ files at the start of the year and discovered there by History Commons contributor paxvector.

The memo, entitled “Executive Branch Minders’ Intimidation of Witnesses,” complains that:

  • Minders “answer[ed] questions directed at witnesses;”
  • Minders acted as “monitors, reporting to their respective agencies on Commission staffs lines of inquiry and witnesses’ verbatim responses.” The staff thought this “conveys to witnesses that their superiors will review their statements and may engage in retribution;” and
  • Minders “positioned themselves physically and have conducted themselves in a manner that we believe intimidates witnesses from giving full and candid responses to our questions.”

The memo was drafted by three staffers on the commission’s Team 2, which reviewed the overall structure of the US intelligence community. One of the drafters was Kevin Scheid, a senior staffer who led the team. His co-writers were Lorry Fenner, an air force intelligence officer, and lawyer Gordon Lederman. The complaint was sent to the commission’s counsels, Daniel Marcus and Steve Dunne, in October 2003, about halfway through the commission’s 19-month life.

The memo makes clear that the problems were not occurring only with witnesses talking to Team 2, but also in “other teams’ interviews.” A hand-written note on a draft of the memo says, “not one agency or minder – also where we’ve sat in on other Teams’ interviews.”

According to the memo, some minders merely policed prior agreements between the commission and their parent agency about what the commission could ask witnesses, and others were simply there to make a list of documents the commission might want based on a witness’ testimony. However, some minders saw their role differently.

Intimidation through Physical Positioning

The three staffers argued minders should not answer questions for witnesses because they needed to understand not how the intelligence community was supposed to function, but “how the Intelligence Community functions in actuality.” However: “When we have asked witnesses about certain roles and responsibilities within the Intelligence Community, minders have preempted witnesses’ responses by referencing formal polices and procedures. As a result, witnesses have not responded to our questions and have deprived us from understanding the Intelligence Community’s actual functioning and witnesses’ view of their roles and responsibilities.”

The memo also describes the minders’ conduct in detail: “… [M]inders have positioned themselves physically and have conducted themselves in a manner that we believe intimidates witnesses from giving full and candid responses to our questions. Minders generally have sat next to witnesses at the table and across from Commission staff, conveying to witnesses that minders are participants in interviews and are of equal status to witnesses.”

The staffers also worried about minders taking “verbatim notes of witnesses’ statements,” as they thought this “conveys to witnesses that their superiors will review their statements and may engage in retribution.” They believed that “the net effect of minders’ conduct, whether intentionally or not, is to intimidate witnesses and to interfere with witnesses providing full and candid responses.”

Another problem with the verbatim notetaking was that it “facilitates agencies in alerting future witnesses to the Commission’s lines of inquiry and permits agencies to prepare future witnesses either explicitly or implicitly.”

Proposals

In response to this, the three staffers proposed not that minders be banned from interviews, but a set of rules governing minders’ conduct. For example, minders were to keep a “low profile,” sit out of witnesses’ sight, not take verbatim notes and not answer any questions directed at the witnesses.

Perhaps the most remarkable proposal is that the number of minders be limited to one per witness. The memo indicates that where an interviewee had served in multiple agencies, more than one minder would accompany the witness. The memo therefore requests, “Only one minder may attend an interview even if the witness served in multiple agencies,” meaning a witness would at least not be outnumbered by his minders.

False Statement by Chairman Kean

Commission Chairman Tom Kean, a Republican, first raised the issue of minders in a press briefing in early July 2003 . He said, “I think the commission feels unanimously that it’s some intimidation to have somebody sitting behind you all the time who you either work for or works for your agency. You might get less testimony than you would.”

He was asked about the minders again on September 23 at another press briefing. Instead of saying the minders represented “intimidation,” he commented: “Talking to staff, what they have told me is that as they’ve done these interviews, that the interviewees are encouragingly frank; that they by and large have not seemed to be intimidated in any way in their answers. … I’m glad to hear that it’s — from the staff that they don’t feel it’s inhibiting the process of the interviews.”

The commission’s Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, commented, “it is our feeling that thus far, the minders have not been an impediment, in almost all cases.” He added that there were “one or two instances where the question has arisen,” but, “neither are we aware at this point that the presence of a minder has substantially impeded our inquiry. And nor have we run into a situation where we think a witness has refrained from speaking their minds.”

However, the Team 2 memo, sent a mere nine days after Kean and Hamilton’s remarks, shows Kean’s statements to have been untrue. The memo even referenced “Minders’ Intimidation of Witnesses” in the title, contained unusually strong language and was co-drafted by a leader of one of the commission’s teams.

Nevertheless, it is unclear whether Kean and Hamilton made the false statements knowingly. One of the criticisms at the commission was that the ten commissioners were cut off from the body of the staff, and all information that flowed from the staff to the commissioners went through the commission’s executive director, Philip Zelikow.

Author Philip Shenon, who wrote a history of the commission, found that at the start of the commission’s work Zelikow drafted a welcome memo containing ground rules for staffers, such as not talking to journalists. One of the rules was that the staff should not talk freely to the commissioners. If a staffer were contacted by a commissioner, he should not deal with the commissioner himself, but contact Zelikow or his deputy, who would then “be sure that the appropriate members of the commission’s staff are responsive.”

This rule was rescinded after complaints from some of the commissioners, including former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. Nevertheless, Zelikow’s control of information continued. When the commission’s counterterrorism team found a draft of the final report to be overly deferential to the FBI, they did not launch a formal objection to the draft’s language though the commission’s bureaucracy, but a female staffer cornered Gorelick “where Zelikow would not see it”–in the ladies room.

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50 Comments »

  1. The fact that they had minders at all is wrong on its face. 911 was an inside job.

    Comment by ROBinDALLAS — April 27, 2009 @ 11:34 am | Reply

  2. But, but, but, you mean the 9/11 Commission might of been a whitewash? That more than 19 crazed Muzzies were involved?

    But, but, our government wouldn’t lie to us, would they?

    Comment by Greg Bacon — April 27, 2009 @ 3:03 pm | Reply

  3. We all knew at the time that this was a whitewash commission.

    Comment by sobe — April 27, 2009 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

  4. [...] Newly Released Memo: Government ‘Minders’ at 9/11 Commission Interviews ‘Intimidated’ Witne… Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 1:07 am Tags: 9/11 Commission, 9/11, 9/11 Commission Team 2, Kevin Scheid, Gordon Lederman, Lorry Fenner, Tom Kean, Lee Hamilton [...]

    Pingback by The Progressive Mind » Newly Released Memo: Government ‘Minders’ at 9/11 Commission Interviews ‘Intimidated’ Witnesses « History Commons Groups — April 27, 2009 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

  5. [...] 2.  “Newly Released Memo: Government ‘Minders’ at 9/11 Commission Interviews ‘Intimidated’ Witne… [...]

    Pingback by April 27, 2009 « Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? — April 27, 2009 @ 3:27 pm | Reply

  6. Did anyone catch this pile of shit Zelikow on television the other day, trying to defend his sorry ass against
    allegations that he aided and abetted torture?? The miserable pile of shit stuttered and stammered about how he was the ‘lone voice of reason’ in the Bush bastard mis-administration, and that memos he wrote in protest of the TORTURE were DESTROYED by the Bush bastards.

    [Edited for advocacy of physical violence. A second instance will result in banning.]

    Comment by Hang Zelikow — April 27, 2009 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

  7. [Edited for advocacy of terroristic actions.]

    Comment by Ron — April 27, 2009 @ 5:18 pm | Reply

  8. Why would so much of an allegedly free investigation be conducted to constrain and control the flow of information to the investigators? Because the “investigation” is a coverup, obviously.

    Comment by Zolo — April 27, 2009 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  9. Foxs in the hen house beating the shit out of the hens…

    Comment by 86theFED — April 27, 2009 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

  10. [...]  Newly Released Memo: Government ‘Minders’ at 9/11 Commission Interviews ‘Intimid… A recently released 9/11 Commission memo highlights the role of government “minders” who accompanied witnesses [...] [...]

    Pingback by Μπράβο στον Δημήτρη Ιατρίδη, που όλα τα προλαβαίνει! « Τσουκνίδα — April 27, 2009 @ 11:50 pm | Reply

  11. [...] Newly Released Memo: Government ‘Minders’ at 9/11 Commission Interviews ‘Intimidated’ Witne… [...]

    Pingback by Newly Released Memo: Government ‘Minders’ at 9/11 Commission Interviews ‘Intimidated’ Witnesses « Muslim in Suffer — April 28, 2009 @ 3:11 am | Reply

  12. Let’s go over this one more time folks.

    Al-Qaeda did the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    They spent several years and millions of dollars to prepare for this attack – they sent 20 of their best men to the US – had 9 of them learn how to fly just for the purposes of the attack – several of those men made martyr tapes to be played after the attacks – and after the raid was done, al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks.

    Got it now?

    The conspiracy theory stuff is pure BS – the US government didn’t bomb the towers, al-Qaeda did!

    Comment by gangbox — April 28, 2009 @ 7:42 am | Reply

    • Narrow minded thinking and complacency has aloud politicians to bend the laws to their liking. And moronic comments like this show the type of mentality most of the lemmings that can’t see past their nose have.

      Answer this: Why were the rules of engagement put on hold for the air force in that day, when a commercial plane veered of course???? The answer is simple, nothing that contradicts a compliant way of thinking can’t be formulated in the mind.

      Comment by Chuy — May 31, 2009 @ 5:12 am | Reply

  13. User banned for spamming and flaming.

    Comment by Paul Isaac (Sentinel) — April 28, 2009 @ 11:24 am | Reply

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    Comment by paul isaac (Sentinel) — April 28, 2009 @ 11:34 am | Reply

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    Comment by paul isaac (Sentinel) — April 28, 2009 @ 11:40 am | Reply

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    Comment by paul isaac (Sentinel) — April 28, 2009 @ 11:41 am | Reply

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    Comment by paul isaac (Sentinel) — April 28, 2009 @ 11:45 am | Reply

  23. yesterday’s ecapade in NYC was just a warning to Obama and America from the guys who gave us 911. The cops were told to not warn anyone, even the mayor (their supposed boss!) about the flight. That’s the smoking gun right there. 911 coverup artist Bloombeg just plays along in his usual ass-kissing Zionist role. This weaponized flu attack and this 911 flashback are all part of the mind diversions designed to take our minds off the great financial swindles going down. Babylon goes down hard….

    Comment by binkee1 — April 28, 2009 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

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  26. [...] April 27, 2009 History Commons Groups [...]

    Pingback by .911truth.org Headlines « The Ruthless Truth blog — May 1, 2009 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

  27. To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.
    – George Orwell

    Comment by OldUncleDave — May 2, 2009 @ 10:15 am | Reply

  28. We will have to vote in a real President, a real Congress, and a real Justice Department….a real government, who actually works for the people, by the people and of the people, before we get the answers, transparency, truth or the justice that “we” (who pay the bills) deserve…….as opposed to the government we have had for decades, who work for their own personal gains, corporations, big money and their own re-election (so they can continue their “lifes” work, of becoming even more wealthy and powerful (untouchable) at taxpayers expense, blood and tears) it doesn’t appear to matter which “political party” is in

    Comment by chabuka — May 3, 2009 @ 2:43 pm | Reply

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    Comment by Paul Isaac (Sentinel) — May 7, 2009 @ 3:37 pm | Reply

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  32. User banned for spamming and flaming.

    Comment by Paul Isaac (sentinel) — May 7, 2009 @ 6:30 pm | Reply

  33. User banned for spamming and flaming.

    Comment by Paul Isaac (sentinel) — May 8, 2009 @ 7:55 am | Reply

  34. [...] Newly Released Memo: Government ‘Minders’ at 9/11 Commission Interviews ‘Intmidate… [...]

    Pingback by 9/11 Commission Documents Masterlist « History Commons Groups — May 24, 2009 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  35. [...] during the panel’s lifetime, but a memo recently found in the National Archives and blogged here a couple of weeks ago showed how prevalent they [...]

    Pingback by Those 9/11 Commission Minders Again « History Commons Groups — May 27, 2009 @ 3:35 am | Reply

  36. [...] during the panel’s lifetime, but a memo recently found in the National Archives and blogged here a couple of weeks ago showed how prevalent they [...]

    Pingback by May 27, 2009 « Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? — May 27, 2009 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

  37. [...] during the panel’s lifetime, but a memo recently found in the National Archives and blogged here a couple of weeks ago showed how prevalent they [...]

    Pingback by Those 9/11 Commission Minders Again « 9/11 Reports — May 30, 2009 @ 3:01 pm | Reply

  38. [...] were assigned handlers to direct what they could and couldn’t talk about in their testimony [Link] and that the war games taking place before 9/11 also included simulations of hijacked jets being [...]

    Pingback by 9/11 Truth Cannot Be Stopped « Norcaltruth — September 11, 2009 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  39. [...] were assigned handlers to direct what they could and couldn’t talk about in their testimony [Link] and that the war games taking place before 9/11 also included simulations of hijacked jets being [...]

    Pingback by 9/11 Truth Cannot Be Stopped « Truth Junkie News & Info — September 11, 2009 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  40. [...] were assigned handlers to direct what they could and couldn’t talk about in their testimony [Link] and that the war games taking place before 9/11 also included simulations of hijacked jets being [...]

    Pingback by 9/11 Truth Cannot Be Stopped « Wide Spectrum Analysis — September 11, 2009 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

  41. [...] were assigned handlers to direct what they could and couldn’t talk about in their testimony [Link] and that the war games taking place before 9/11 also included simulations of hijacked jets being [...]

    Pingback by 9/11 Truth Cannot Be Stopped by James Corbett « Dandelion Salad — September 11, 2009 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

  42. [...] an advertising campaign was started that asked for people to be held under oath. On 4/27/2009, a memo was discovered that talked about “Government Minders” intimidating witnesses. According [...]

    Pingback by The Facts Speak For Themselves by Jon Gold « 9/11 Reports — October 2, 2009 @ 9:31 pm | Reply

  43. [...] Specifically: A recently released 9/11 Commission memo [released in January 2009 from the Commission to the National Archives; referenced in the The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Finding Aid: Series Descriptions and Folder Title Lists, page 52, "Memo Concerning Minders Conduct" *] highlights the role of government “minders” who accompanied witnesses interviewed by the commission. It was added to the National Archives’ files at the start of the year and discovered there by History Commons contributor paxvector. [...]

    Pingback by The Progressive Mind » Washington’s Blog: Colleen Rowley: Minders Ensured She Didn’t Say Anything About 9/11 the FBI Didn’t WANT Told — March 17, 2010 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  44. [...] “As a result, witnesses have not responded to our questions.” It doesn’t matter ho… [...]

    Pingback by 911 research « 911researchblog — March 18, 2010 @ 12:00 am | Reply

  45. [...] an advertising campaign was started that asked for people to be held under oath. On 4/27/2009, a memowas discovered that talked about “Government Minders” intimidating witnesses. According [...]

    Pingback by 9/11: The Facts Speak for Themselves « london truth action — August 25, 2010 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

  46. [...] 4/27/2009, a memo was discovered that talked about “Government Minders” intimidating witnesses. According to [...]

    Pingback by 50 9/11 Facts That Speak For Themselves – | infowebstorm.com — September 11, 2012 @ 10:50 am | Reply


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