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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

'I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described'

UPDATED with a link to Vanity Fair online and actual audio tapes. --pseudolus
Despite claims to the contrary, the Bush White House repeatedly stonewalled the 9/11 Commission at every available opportunity. Apparently, commission members believe that the Pentagon followed the president's example — and may have "deliberately misled" investigators. "Read More" click link below


Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon's initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.

Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, these sources said. (emphasis added)

In the end, the panel agreed to a compromise, turning over the allegations to the inspectors general for the Defense and Transportation departments, who can make criminal referrals if they believe they are warranted, officials said.

This isn't a situation in which different Pentagon officials had slightly different recollections about similar events, leading to harmless contradictions. We're talking about crucial information the 9/11 Commission needed about the actual hijackings and the military response.

For example, officials with NORAD and the FAA told commission members, and others, that air defenses reacted quickly to word of the hijackings and jets had not only been scrambled in response, but were also prepared to shoot down United Airlines Flight 93 if it threatened Washington.

Except that wasn't true.

In fact, the commission reported a year later, audiotapes from NORAD's Northeast headquarters and other evidence showed clearly that the military never had any of the hijacked airliners in its sights and at one point chased a phantom aircraft — American Airlines Flight 11 — long after it had crashed into the World Trade Center.

As it turned out, Pentagon officials also learned about Flight 93 — after it already crashed.

In fact, the only reason the Commission found out the truth about the air defenses is because the panel used subpoenas to obtain audiotapes that the FAA and NORAD refused to make available. In other words, officials lied and then went to considerable lengths to try and cover-up the misstatements.

Thomas Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor who led the commission, said, "We to this day don't know why NORAD [the North American Aerospace Command] told us what they told us…. It was just so far from the truth."

John Farmer, a former New Jersey attorney general who led the staff inquiry, added, "I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described. The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years. . . . This is not spin. This is not true."

Under normal rules of a functioning administration, a lot of people would lose their jobs over something like this.

The Carpetbagger Report » Blog Archive » 'I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described'

9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes
How did the U.S. Air Force respond on 9/11? Could it have shot down United 93, as conspiracy theorists claim? Obtaining 30 hours of never-before-released tapes from the control room of NORAD's Northeast headquarters, the author reconstructs the chaotic military history of that day—and the Pentagon's apparent attempt to cover it up. exclusive: Hear excerpts from the September 11 NORAD tapes. Click PLAY after each transcript to listen


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