A cruel sham is being perpetrated on the American public and especially on
the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the
World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. One of the expectations of the public
is that the Commission established to investigate the attacks will find out
what the government (in particular intelligence agencies) knew prior to the
attacks. However, both the restrictions on the Commission and the composition
of its members are designed to prevent just that.
The Commission was established by the 2003 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R.
4628) to (1) conduct an investigation, (2) identify, review and evaluate lessons
learned, and (3) issue a report to the President and Congress containing findings,
conclusions and recommendations. While the first part of Section 604 of the
Act defining the Commission's functions appears to give it a broad mandate of
areas for investigation (including intelligence agencies), a following provision
limits its inquiry into the 'intelligence community' to areas not covered by
the 'Joint Inquiry' of Congressional Intelligence Committees unless there is
new information not reviewed by the congressional investigation.
Commission members and staff will be required to have appropriate security
clearances before they are given access to classified information. This probably
means that any final report to the public will be 'sanitized' of classified
information, as is the report of the congressional 'Joint Inquiry.' In other
words, any meaningful information the Commission might find (despite the restrictions
on it) will not be made public. Committee staff members are considered government
employees and are subject to severe penalties for leaking classified information.
Some public hearings may be held but obviously will not deal with classified
information. Each agency furnishing information to the Commission establishes
its own classifications. The Commission can issue subpoenas for information
or compelling testimony but only if at least six of the ten members approve
or both the chairman and vice chairman approve. If a subpoena is ignored, a
U.S. District Court can issue an order to comply and if still ignored, cite
the person or persons for contempt. Alternatively, by majority vote the commission
can issue a non-binding request to a U.S. Attorney to bring the matter before
a grand jury. U.S. Attorneys report to the Attorney General, or a subordinate,
in the Department of Justice. The Commission is required to issue its final
report eighteen months after the authorizing legislation went into effect.
If the limited scope of the commission is not enough, the membership of the
commission virtually guarantees that nothing meaningful will emerge. In this
writers opinion there are three general categories of persons who should have
been excluded from the commission. The first is anyone who is a member of an
organization that advocates abdicating U.S. sovereignty in favor of governance
by a regional or world body. The premier organization pushing that concept for
the last eight decades is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Members of
the CFR hold a significant number of high-level government positions. A second
category would be anyone who has had involvement with the 'intelligence community.'
This would include members of congress who have been on intelligence committees
as well as some private sector members of advisory boards. The rationale is
that those persons likely have either been co-opted or have become inured to
accepting assertions of intelligence agencies at face value. The third criterion,
which would mostly apply to government officials and members of congress, is
anyone who participated in a cover-up of illegal activity related to organizations
or groups involved in terrorism or the related activities of drug distribution
and money laundering. COMMISSION MEMBERS
Then let's begin with the chairman of the commission Thomas Kean, former New
Jersey Governor and President of Drew University. When Kean was appointed to
replace severely conflicted Henry Kissinger, he asserted his only constituency
was the students at Drew. Well, it turns out that is not exactly true. Kean
sits on the Board of Directors of Amerada Hess, one of the world's leading independent
oil and gas companies. The company is coupled with Delta Oil, a Saudi Arabia
company in a joint venture called Delta-Hess. Delta-Hess in turn is a partner
in Azerbaijan with a consortium developing Caspian Sea oil resources. Delta
Oil is owned by the two Saudi families of Khalid bin Mahfouz and Mohammed Hussein
al Amoudi. Both are alleged to be major financial backers of Osama bin Laden
and have been named in a lawsuit by families and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist
attacks. Bin Mahfouz is Osama's brother-in-law. His sister married bin Laden.
Delta-Hess owns 20% of the Azerbaijan consortium. SOCOL, the state owned Oil
Company has 50% and Frontera owns the remaining 30%. Frontera is headed by Bill
White who was Deputy Secretary of Energy in the first Clinton administration
and the architect of Azerbaijans first Caspian Sea offshore gas and oil consortium.
Familiar names among its Board of Directors and advisors include Lloyd Bentsen,
former Senator and Treasury Secretary and John Deutch, former Director of the
CIA. Kean also is co-chairman of Homeland Security Project, which had significant
input into the drafting of the Office of Homeland Security legislation. The
long-time member of the CFR also forgot to mention his role as general partner
in Quad Ventures LLC. Quad is a limited partnership operating in the $815 billion
education industry whose partners include; Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Merrill
Lynch Community Development, Wells Fargo bank and insurance giants Prudential
Financial and Wachovia. Top officials in most of those companies are also CFR
members. Both Citigroup and Morgan Chase are deeply involved in the Enron scandal.
Citigroup received a slap on the wrist when found to have laundered hundreds
of millions of dollars in drug money which some suspect helped fund terrorism.
Commission vice chairman and former congressman Lee Hamilton was appointed
to replace former senate majority leader George Mitchell (CFR), who like Kissinger
declined to disclose potential conflicts of interest and resigned. Hamilton,
a CFR member since at least 1988, was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs
Committee and the House Select Intelligence Committee. In 1987, House Speaker
Jim Wright (who later resigned in disgrace) appointed Hamilton to chair a committee
investigating the Iran/Contra affair. When a question was raised about CIA/Contra
drug smuggling, the response was release by Hamilton of a cursory review that
concluded there was no truth to the charges. The CIA recently released a report
(that received almost no publicity) admitting the drug connection. Jamie Gorelick
Considered one of the fifty most powerful women in the country, CFR member
Jamie Gorelick is currently vice-chair of the giant mortgage lender and insurer
Fannie Mae. From March 1994 until she joined Fannie Mae in May 1997 she was
Deputy Attorney General, the number two spot in Janet Renos Department of Justice.
In May 1995, the Intelligence Community Law Enforcement Policy Board was established
to meet quarterly and discuss mutual concerns of the Attorney General and Director
of Central Intelligence. The board was co-chaired by Gorelick and DCI George
Tenet. Other members included all of the law enforcement agencies, the Assistant
Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research and the Defense Department
General Counsel. This is the same time frame (spring of 1995) in which the Philippine
government apprised the FBI, CIA and State Department of Project Bojinka an
Islamic terrorist plot which included hijacking commercial airlines planes and
flying them into the Pentagon, World Trade Center towers and, several other
buildings. The BCCI scandal involved a number of powerful individuals. Clark
Clifford and Robert Altman were the top two officers in First American, the
new name given Financial General Bankshares when it was taken over by BCCI (known
as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals International in the corridors of Washington)
with the help of the Jackson Stephens/Lippo Worthen Bank and the Rose Law Firm.
First American is said to have been using the notorious PROMIS software. When
BCCI and First American were exposed, the legal defense team for Clifford and
Altman attracted a bevy of well-known names including Robert Fiske (later the
first 'independent counsel' investigating Whitewater and Vince Foster's 'suicide'),
Robert Bennett (later attorney for Bill Clinton), and Jamie Gorelick. In a somewhat
related case in 1978, Financial General Bankshares sued BCCI, two Jackson Stephens'
companies (one was Systematics) and a number of individuals. Two of the attorneys
representing Systematics in the controversy over PROMIS software were Webster
Hubbell and Hillary Rodham. In 1998, while at Fannie Mae, Gorelick served on
Clintons Central Intelligence National Security Advisory Panel as well as the
President's Review of Intelligence.
Ben-Veniste is a high-visibility Washington attorney and Democrat power broker.
He was Democrat counsel to the Senate Whitewater investigation where he blocked
inquiries about Webster Hubbell's hiring by the Lippo group and others administered
by Truman Arnold. According to investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker, Ben-Veniste
then turned around and defended Arnold (the man he was supposed to be investigating)
before Ken Starr's Whitewater grand jury, for which he was roundly criticized.
Hopsicker also reveals that Arnold had furnished a $2 million airplane to his
friend Wally Hilliard for $1. Hilliard, Hopsicker says, owned the Flight school
in Venice, Florida where four of the Islamic terrorist pilots were trained that
flew the suicide missions on 9/11. Another of Ben-Venistes clients was Barry
Seal, the drug running CIA asset of Iran/Contra and Mena, Arkansas notoriety.
In fact, Hopsicker relates Ben-Veniste told the Wall Street Journal, "I
did my part by launching him (Seal) into the arms of Vice President Bush who
embraced him as an undercover operative."
Fielding is another one who has been around the centers of power for a while
on the Republican side. In the Nixon administration he was a deputy counsel
working under John Dean. In the Watergate scandal he helped his boss (Dean)
handle Howard Hunt's safe full of documents. They wore rubber gloves so as not
to leave fingerprints. Fielding was not one of the twenty or so Nixon associates
(including John Dean) that went to jail over their involvement. Later Fielding
served as White House Counsel to President Reagan. More recently he was at least
partly responsible for getting George W. Bush's political mentor Karl Rove in
hot water over failure to divest his stock in Intel Corporation valued at over
$100,000. Fielding advised Rove, who was planning to divest all of his stock,
to hold onto it until a 'government certificate of divestiture' could be obtained.
The certificate would have allowed deferral of capital gains taxes on stock
While he still held the stock, Rove met with Intel executives and Vice President
Chaney at which a proposed merger with a Dutch company was discussed. This was
a breech of administration ethics rules.
Fielding served on the Bush transition team in early 2001. According to Clay
Johnson, Director of Presidential Personnel and Deputy Chief of Staff, the Vice
President asked Fred Fielding, who had been President Reagan's counsel, to come
in and he volunteered to--as soon as we had a Cabinet Secretary-to-be, he would
sit down with that person and they'd have a nice little chat for an hour or
two. And then Fred would tell us whether he was confident that there were no
clearance problems or not. If there was something that he thought might be problematic,
he would explore it further, and maybe they had to go get some information,
whatever. Johnson said the process now takes sixty days.
Jim Thompson was the longest serving governor in Illinois history completing
four terms in office leaving in 1991. He is currently chairman of the large
Chicago-based law firm Winston and Strawn. While he was governor, sensational
charges were leveled against him and the law firm by Chicago author and investigator
Sherman Skolnick. Skolnick claimed that the First National Bank of Chicago had
loaned (Communist) China billions of dollars to be repaid in gold. When China
defaulted on the gold payments, according to Skolnick, the CIA and bank arranged
for massive amounts of high purity heroin to be smuggled into the U.S. in lieu
of the gold payments. Skolnick alleged shipments came in through Joliet, just
south of Chicago, and were supervised by Thompson and the Winston and Strawn
law firm. As with most claims of CIA involvement in illegal drugs, nothing came
of the allegations. Thompson got caught in the middle of a messy political battle
between outgoing Governor George Ryan and Attorney General Jim Ryan, both Republicans.
Ryan was running against Democrat Rod Blagojevich, the victor and incoming governor.
At the same time AG Ryan was suing Governor George Ryan over the pardoning of
death row inmates.
George Ryan hired former governor Jim Thompson to defend against the lawsuit.
Blagojevich had railed in his campaign against the 26 years of Republican corruption
and mismanagement. That included 12 of the years when Thompson was governor.
To the astonishment of practically everyone, Blagojevich appointed Thompson
to lead his transition team.
John Lehman is an investment banker who has served in a number of government
positions including as Secretary of the Navy from 1981 to 1987 under President
Reagan. His first government job was as special counsel and senior staff member
to Henry Kissinger on the National Security Council in the Nixon administration.
Lehman currently serves on several boards of directors including those of Ball
Corporation, as chairman of OAO Technology Solutions, Inc. and his own J.F.
Lehman & Company. He is a former chairman of Sperry Marine and investment
banker with Paine Webber. Lehman served 25 years as a naval aviator in the selected
Slade Gorton is a former senator from the State of Washington. After he lost
his reelection bid in 2000, he joined the Seattle Law firm of Preston, Gates
& Ellis, which specializes in environmental issues. If jury selection rules
were being used, Gorton would probably be dismissed from consideration for the
commission for cause. Two days after the 9/11 attacks he told a public-television
audience there was nothing government intelligence officials could have done
to thwart the attack, according to the Seattle Times. The Times quotes Gorton
as saying, I doubt we can expect to get too much inside information no matter
what we do. Gorton served two years on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He
says that experience and his personal friendship with Trent Lott were responsible
for his appointment by Lott. Tim Roemer
Tim Roemer is a moderate Democrat congressman (at least compared to the Democrat
leadership) who is retiring from Congress at the end of this year. He was one
of the prime movers in the House championing creation of the Independent Commission.
He is credited with bringing the organization representing survivors and families
of victims of the 9/11 attacks into the mix of support for the commission. Roemer
is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Max Cleland is a one-term Senator from Georgia who lost his reelection bid
this year in a close contest. He is a triple amputee from wounds received in
Vietnam. At the age of 28, Cleland was the youngest person and first Vietnam
veteran elected to the Georgia State Senate. In 1977, he became the youngest
ever head of the Veterans' Administration when appointed by President Jimmy
Carter. In 1982 Cleland became the youngest person elected as Georgia Secretary
of State. He resigned that position in 1996 to run for the seat being vacated
by retiring U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. He was sworn in as a U.S. Senator in 1997.
Barring (intentional) leaks, we will have to wait another 17 months to see what
the product of the commission will be. By that time the publics attention will
undoubtedly be focused on other things.