Saturday, February 12, 2005

Democracy Denied- American Style 

All right, all right, I know I’m probably a day late and a dollar short on this news flash, but it’s been burning a hole in my stomach lining since Thursday morning…

So the Administration has ‘redacted’ (I love that word—when you mean censored, but really feel you shouldn’t say so) portions of the 9/11 Commission Report regarding some 50-odd alert memos to the FAA during the spring and summer of 2001. The memos mentioned warnings about, let’s see… Al Queda attacks, skyjackings, and WHOA—suicide attacks. They mention all the elements of the 9/11 attacks, not all together with a bow on them, but all the elements.

Now, I can see how the fact that the FAA did NOTHING about this might be spun for the public as part of the general lack of preparedness of the Administration for an attack on the ‘homeland,’ or as somehow a legacy of all things bad, the Clinton Administration. Certainly, the Bush campaign, oops, Administration would have found a way to distract us from thinking of the huge vacation the President was on all summer of 2001, clearing brush and clearing his mind of the possible implications of these warnings.

No, that’s actually NOT what’s really burning me up inside about this little morsel of uncovered secrecy. It’s the idea that this news would be hidden from the public until months AFTER the November 2004 election. Obviously, the existence of warning memos to the FAA in 2001 is of no more national security sensitivity than the 9/11 Commission Report information that was released in August 2004, becoming a national bestseller in the process. Nonetheless, this tidbit was hidden away. The only difference is that this information gives lie to the contention by Administration officials (like Condi Rice, who testified before the commission itself) that “no one could have known” this sort of terror was possible.

Whether or not the FAA warnings were filtering up to Dr. Rice, the President, or other White House officials, the question would be asked of the White House (and Dr. Rice in particular), “Were you lying to the 9/11 Commission about the lack of knowledge or was your Administration simply so inept that this kind of information, supplied to and ignored by the FAA, was not making it’s way to the upper echelons of the Government?”

The fact that this information was hidden from the American public speaks more volumes about the Administration’s unwillingness to enter into the ‘accountability moment’ the President has described the election as. Clearly, no one in the White House wanted to have to spin this information. Whether or not they could have brazened it out is less important and far less disgusting than the presumption that they would classify the information itself until after the people had spoken in November.…this, while running a campaign based on 9/11— 24/7. It’s breathtaking in its duplicity and in it’s authoritarian presumption that the people are better off not knowing things that are inconvenient.

This news should prompt outrage and a demand for a complete accounting of all ‘redactions’ from the 9/11 Commission Report. Immediately.

The Administration has skated along for far too long, opposing the creation of the Commission itself, then withholding resources from it, then withholding information from it, then attempting to testify without oath, then testifying only with a buddy (as the President did with the Vice President) and only on their turf (in the Oval office, ushering the Commission out when they’d had enough). None of that compares to censoring the Commission’s report itself. This is an insult to the people —who, after all, run the government and should be taken as such. We need answers now.

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