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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

9/11 disclosures
rock Washington

President Bush and his aides were repeatedly and sternly warned of an impending al Qaeda strike prior to Sept. 11, 2001, but let the attack happen by refusing to take basic precautions, according to top secret documents cited by a New York reporter.

The New York Times published the sensational charges by Kurt Eichenwald, one of its former reporters, as an opinion piece yesterday, Sept. 11. Eichenwald, who now works for Vanity Fair, is the author of the book 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars. Vanity Fair published an except of Eichenwald's book.

CNN's Anderson Cooper last night had Eichenwald and Ari Fleischer, a former Bush spokesman, on the air clashing over whether the charges were politically motivated, with Eichenwald demanding that Fleischer show him one falsehood. Fleischer's response was to say that the 9/11 commission had reviewed the presidential daily briefings.

Fleischer pointed out that Eichenwald wrote a piece urging the defeat of Mitt Romney.

Eichenwald reported that he had read excerpts of presidential daily briefs provided by the CIA in the months before the attacks and that they were severe enough about the certainty of an al Qaeda strike that defensive measures should have been taken, but weren't.

Eichenwald's report raises important questions:

# Who leaked the top-secret information to him, and why? The most likely pipelines are the CIA -- perhaps CIA chief Leon Panetta -- or the Obama White House, which would have direct access to the 2001 briefings.

# Were the leaks intended to hurt the Republican campaign, as Fleischer suggests, or were CIA professionals laying down covering fire as more and more experts express contempt for the official account of 9/11. After all, the leaked excerpts actually bolster the CIA-FBI cover story.

As Dina Temple-Raston pointed out in a Washington Post book review, Eichenwald "presents the anthrax-mailing case, for example, as if it were without controversy, portraying Army researcher Bruce Ivins as a deranged man and the unequivocal killer." But, writes Temple-Raston, "Ivins committed suicide before he was charged with any crime, and plenty of people think there is enough wiggle room in the FBI’s circumstantial case against him to provide the benefit of the doubt."

# Did anyone from the 9/11 commission see the briefing papers cited by Eichenwald? Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, a former Justice Department official, had been granted the right to review such classified data. If she saw such evidence, did she play down its significance as part of a GOP-Democratic whitewash deal made to avoid a partisan feud over responsibility?

# Does airing of the Eichenwald-Fleischer squabble imply that that deal is dead, now that political stakes are so high as the campaign gets into full swing?

# Will news professionals declare "open season" on 9/11 coverup? That is, if the New York Times lifts the lid slightly on the treacherous circumstances of 9/11, will "the system" be in a position to try to keep that lid in only one position, or will the press disclose more bombshells?

# Will politicians become more specific about problems with the official 9/11 story? Politicians generally follow the code that if something appears "in the paper," that topic is fair game for public discussion.

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