...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
      ( 1:31 PM )
What We Don't Know... Killed Us

Atrios links to a spectacular and at the same time dismal report by Gail Sheehy in the New York Observer today about what the 9/11 Commission is ignoring. Like Atrios, I'm stunned at the information in this article, and wonder why reporters are so uncurious - more so, I'm concerned that we as citizens have become uncurious and in fact uncaring about what really happened. The president's entire platform at this point is based on September 12, 2001 and forward. What happened before that is erased, as far as he's concerned. He is a war president and that's that. But 9/11 is so much more than a place-holder in history. It's about this country and what our government is doing or not doing to prevent it from happening again.

One thing Sheehy emphasizes is the 9/11 Commission's error in not reviewing the phone call from Amy Sweeney, a flight attendant on Flight 11. Because of her call to American Airlines, it was known well before the second plane crashed that this was Al Qaida at work. She gave seat locations and described everything that was happening until the last moments to American Airlines service employee Michael Woodward who took detailed notes of the entire episode.

At 8:46 a.m., Mr. Woodward lost contact with
Amy Sweeney—the moment of metamorphosis,
when her plane became a missile guided into
the tower holding thousands of unsuspecting
civilians. "So sometime between 8:30 and 8:46,
American must have known that the hijacking
was connected to Al Qaeda," said Mike Sweeney.
That would be 16 to 32 minutes before the second
plane perforated the south tower.

Because of the information Ms. Sweeney gave American, customs officials were able to identify the hijackers almost immediately.

Robert Bonner, the head of Customs and Border
Protection, finally shot back at the panel with a
startling boast.

"We ran passenger manifests through the
system used by Customs—two were hits on our
watch list of August 2001," Mr. Bonner testified.
"And by looking at the Arab names and their
seat locations, ticket purchases and other
passenger information, it didn’t take a lot to
do a rudimentary link analysis. Customs officers
were able to ID 19 probable hijackers within
45 minutes."

He meant 45 minutes after four planes had
been hijacked and turned into missiles. "I saw
the sheet by 11 a.m.," he said, adding proudly,
"And that analysis did indeed correctly identify
the terrorists."

How has American Airlines responded? According
to the widower Mike Sweeney, "Ever since Sept. 11,
AMR [the parent company of American Airlines] just
wants to forget this whole thing happened. They
wouldn’t allow me to talk to Michael Woodward,
and five months or so: they let him go." The
Families Steering Committee urged the commission
to interview Michael Woodward about the Sweeney
information, as did Ms. Ong’s brother, Harry Ong.
A couple of days before the hearing on aviation
security, a staffer did call Mr. Woodward and ask
a few questions. But the explosive narrative
offered by Amy Sweeney in her last 23 minutes of
life was not included in the 9/11 commission’s
hearing on aviation security.

This is only one of the disturbing elements of this non-investigation. Sheehy goes on to discuss the mystery of the 49 minutes between the time NORAD was informed of the hijacking to when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. F-16's were already airborne and only 129 miles from where the flight eventually crashed. But what disturbs me most of all is the behavior of the president during this entire situation. These days, he is a man convinced that he is a "wartime president" and that he had and has the decision making abilities to lead this country through these fearful times. Yet no one questions the fact that he didn't really MAKE any effective decisions that morning, when he could have.

"Whether or not my husband’s plane was shot
down," the widowed Mrs. Homer [husband was the
pilot]said, "the most angering part is reading
about how the President handled this."

Mr. Bush was notified 14 minutes after the first
attack, at 9 a.m., when he arrived at an elementary
school in Sarasota, Fla. He went into a private
room and spoke by phone with his national security
advisor, Condoleezza Rice, and glanced at a TV in
the room. Mrs. Homer’s soft voice curdles when she
describes his reaction: "I can’t get over what Bush
said when he was called about the first plane
hitting the tower: ‘That’s some bad pilot.’ Why did
people on the street assume right away it was a
terrorist hijacking, but our President didn’t know?
Why did it take so long to ground all civilian aircraft?
In the time between when my husband’s plane
took off [at 8:41 a.m.] and when the second plane hit
in New York [9:02 a.m.], they could have turned
back to airfield."

This behavior is still incomprehensible to me. I don't have words to describe my disgust at his response to this situation, or if he IS an idiot, the people around him not making better decisions at the time. Either way, he and his administration continue to be the cog in the wheel when it comes to investigating what truly happened. Tim Russert asked him on Sunday about appointing yet another commission to investigate these issues that all intertwine (though the president, nor Tim Russert wants to mention that). He clearly refused to testify before the 9/11 commission and he says this new commission will give a "big picture" look at what has gone on.

Congress has already given him a big-picture look
—in a scathing 900-page report by the joint House
and Senate inquiry into the intelligence failures
pre-9/11. But the Bush administration doesn’t look
at what it doesn’t want to see.

"It is incomprehensible why this administration
has refused to aggressively pursue the leads that
our inquiry developed," fumes Senator Bob Graham,
the former co-chairman of the inquiry, which ended
in 2003. The Bush White House has ignored all
but one or two of the joint inquiry’s 19 urgent
recommendations to make the nation safer against
the next attempted terrorist attack. The White
House also allowed large portions of the inquiry’s
final report to be censored (redacted), claiming
national security, so that even some members of
the current 9/11 commission—whose mandate was
to build on the work of the congressional panel—
cannot read the evidence.

The citizens of this nation cannot expect to ever hear the truth come out while this administration is in office. I would hope that a new administration would not be afraid of finding the truth and acting upon realistic recommendations for change. So far, all we have is a new mammoth beaurocracy (Homeland Security), a horrifyingly uneccessary war, and a bunch of liars and criminals running things, and no answers. This is not right. Why isn't anyone pointing this out?

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