Documents newly found at the National Archives show that in the weeks before the 9/11 Commission issued a subpoena for tapes of events at the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) on the day of the attacks, it told the military not to send some or all of them to the commission. The documents are internal commission e-mails and a memo, as well as communications between the commission and the military. They were found at the National Archives by History Commons contributor Erik Larson (a.k.a. paxvector) and posted to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd.
November 9, 2009
October 29, 2009
The Real News Network recently carried an interview of former FBI lawyer Coleen Rowley by Paul Jay (part 1, part 2 and part 3), dealing with what it called the “unanswered questions about the lead up to 9/11.” Rowley was stationed at the bureau’s Minneapolis office during the Zacarias Moussaoui case in August and September 2001, but later became a whistleblower and left the organisation.
While many aspects of the interview are good and interesting, it leaves out what is probably the most important known fact about the Moussaoui case: the identity of the most senior FBI headquarters official involved fully involved in the case.
October 14, 2009
One of the things that I always wondered about in the 9/11 Commission’s public questioning of former FAA Administrator Jane Garvey is that they never asked her about what she did on the day of 9/11–at least as far as I can tell. I’ve been through the record of her public testimony at the hearing on 22 May 2003 a couple of times and I don’t see anything about what she personally did on the day of the attacks, although she is questioned about several others issues (such as aviation security and actions by other FAA officials on the day of the attacks).
I had wondered about this primarily because of a passage in Richard Clarke’s Against All Enemies conference the White House-initiated video conference:
I resumed the video conference. “FAA, FAA, go. Status report. How many aircraft do you still carry as hijacked?”
Garvey read from a list: “All aircraft have been ordered to land at the nearest field. Here’s what we have as potential hijacks: Delta 1989 over West Virginia, United 93 over Pennsylvania…”
Clarke places this at just before notice of the Pentagon impact, which was at 9:38. I know questions have been raised about the accuracy of Clarke’s memory, but the idea that Garvey was on the video conference and failed to mention once that United 93 had been hijacked has never sat well with me. FAA headquarters found out about the hijacking of United 93 at 9:34 (according to the commission’s report), seven minutes after the place was taken over, and Clarke has her passing on the notification of the hijacking about four minutes later, which seems unsurprising.
In this context, I can’t help but recall the commission’s seemingly lack of curiousity about the video conference–it’s investigation did not extend to determining which defense official was on the video conference for the first hour. Possibly the commission’s investigators did not trouble themselves to ask, possibly the interviewees had their brains scrambled by the high-tech memory loss field sometimes emitted by investigators :-).
Where were you when the hijacking took place on September 11, when and how were you notified, and what did you do? Were your actions and responses following the incident guided by any prepared protocol, or were your required to respond spontaneously?
However, as far as I can see, this question was never put to Garvey in the public hearing, although the memo of an interview with her in October 2003 does discuss her actions on the day of 9/11. In the memo she talks about being on the video conference, but does not mention updating it with information about either United 93 or Delta 1989. I still find this odd. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what she knew about United 93, when she knew it, and whether she communicated it over the video conference?
October 2, 2009
This post lists all the documents we are finding in the 9/11 Commission’s archives about the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. The documents have been posted at the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. I am reading through the commission’s documents gradually and highlighting interesting information. This post will be updated if I find any more information related to the “Blind Sheikh.”
(-) A 6-page document request submitted by the 9/11 Commission in July 2003 to the State Department for materials concerning the issue of visas to the 9/11 hijackers and the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, among other issues.
(-) A letter from State Department official Mary Ryan to State Department Inspector General Sherman Funk about visas issued to the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar-Abdul-Rahman. The letter says she does not know whether the visa issued to the sheikh in 1990 was issued rightly or wrongly.
An earlier letter from Funk to Ryan asking her whether her department (Consular Affairs) thinks the visa should have been granted or denied.
Also a 6-page State Department memo about the issue of the 1990 visa and others to the sheikh. The memo says the State Department does not know whether the visa should have been issued or denied on grounds of his support for terrorism.
(-) A November 2000 State Department cable revoking US visas issued to the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman.
Also a related cable from the US embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, and two withdrawal notices for a total of approx. 50 pages of State Department cables about the Blind Sheikh.
(-) A withdrawal notice for a 156-page report on the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman.
(-) Withdrawal notices for (a) a 9-page memo from the CIA Director about the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, (b) a 2-page memo about the issue from the State Department, (c) an 89-page audit report about the sheikh, and (d) a 5-page letter from the CIA to the 9/11 Commission about the matter.
(-) A withdrawal notice for a 56-page CIA report on the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman.
The masterlist for all documents the History Commons has obtained and is analysing can be found here.
August 22, 2009
Meandering through reams of 9/11 Commission notes, I found the following about the Predator program:
Predator Case Study
No one would get hurt except the bad guys. Low and acceptable cost
Use technology as our answer
We rely on hi-tech, enemies rely on low-tech
This reflects just how much no one wanted to go to war
Predator Case Study
Typical American response, solution to a problem: throw technology at it, kill one guy. Was the answer for CIA and for DoD. Meant none of the good guys would get killed or injured. American answer, apply technology, solve the messy problem of terrorism with a magic bullet.
Started out as an intelligence collection platform, then became weaponized, was going to solve the problem
Big pissing contest b/w DoD and CIA as to who would pay. But, more importantly, who would have responsibility to pull the trigger, and make a mistake.
I think there is a lot of truth in that, especially the last line about the “Big pissing contest…”
I just went back and read some of the sections in the final report about the Predator (like “Covert Action and the Predator” starting on page 210 and a section about a meeting on 4 September 2001 on pages 213-214). I have to say that the notes convey extremely important concepts in pithy language, whereas the final report does not. Shame, they should have used the “pissing contest” line.
August 7, 2009
An outline of the 9/11 Commission’s report apparently drafted in the spring of 2003, about 16 months before the commission reported, has been found in the National Archives by History Commons contributor paxvector and posted to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. The outline, which consists of chapter headings and sub-headings, was mentioned first in Without Precedent, the official account of the commission by its chair and vice-chair Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, and then in Philip Shenon’s The Commission. Three versions of the document were found (here, here and here).
August 4, 2009
I recently found an interesting 9/11 Commission document about the NSA in the National Archives. The handwritten note from one of the commission’s staffers, Gordon Lederman, shows that one of his acquaintances had lunch with NSA Director Michael Hayden on May 7, 2003. Before the lunch, the acquaintance called Lederman and asked him whether he had any questions he wanted put to Hayden. According to the note, Lederman’s reply was, “I suggested that [the acquaintance] ask what the 9/11 Comm could do in its investigation that would be most useful to DirNSA [Hayden].”
August 3, 2009
This post lists all workplans for the 9/11 Commission’s various teams. The documents have been posted at the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. I am reading through the commission’s documents gradually and highlighting interesting information. This post will be updated if I find any more workplan related information.
June 26, 2009
This post lists withdrawal noices for documents moved from the 9/11 Commission’s files to the National Archives, but not released by the archives. The withdrawal notices have been posted at the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. This post will be updated continuously.
You might wonder why we are posting withdrawal notices. It’s paxvector’s idea and we figure it will at least give people a decent idea of what is being kept secret.
April 27, 2009
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.