Tuesday, September 20, 2011

9/11 Commission Visits Bloomington

Bob Baldwin

September 19, 2011

If anyone ever needed proof that the two major parties are complicit in promoting and perpetuating America's national security state, the September 15th visit to Bloomington by members of the 9/11 Commission offered the evidence required. 

Eight of the ten Commission members, including Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, spoke at the I.U. Auditorium during a two hour panel discussion hosted by Ken Bode.  Bode, who currently teaches journalism at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana is the former host of PBS's Washington Week in Review.  Approximately 2,000 people attended the event.

The two commission members who did not appear were former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman and Richard Ben-Veniste.1

The orgy of self-congratulation that characterized the event began with Chairman Thomas Kean stating, "Everybody has respect for Lee Hamilton, an extraordinary public servant." 

Lee Hamilton, who represented Indiana's 9th District, which encompasses Bloomington, from 1965 to 1999, provided the impetus for bringing together the commission members on the I.U. campus for the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of 9/11.  This was the first time all eight had been together since completing their controversial report.

The hastily arranged decision to hold the discussion at Indiana University in Bloomington may have been in part motivated by the decision of the College of Arts and Sciences, American Studies Program to sponsor a "Themester" series: "Extreme Politics: Provoking the Body Politic to War?"  The date they chose for their panel discussion coincided with a talk given later that evening by Peter Dale Scott on  the "American War Machine: Deep Politics and the Road to Extended Wars."

In his opening remarks, Chairman Kean rather revealingly let slip, in referring to his fellow commissioners, "Everybody has had experience with the intelligence community and it sucks you in."  His remark sounded something like a confession.

Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton certainly fits that bill.  While in Congress, Hamilton served as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  He also chaired the committee that investigated Iran Contra.   As Michel Chossudovsky of the Center for Research on Globalization has noted, by failing to investigate wrongdoing by President Reagan and Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush, Hamilton helped to perform "damage control" for the administration.2

In 1992, Lee Hamilton also chaired the committee that investigated The October Surprise, a covert plot by the 1980 Reagan Campaign to encourage the Iranians to withhold release of American Hostages until after the election in order to deprive President Carter a last minute boost in the polls.  According to the late Sarah McClendon, who served as White House correspondent for decades, Lee Hamilton cut a deal with his Republican counterpart on the committee, Henry Hyde, to exonerate President Bush who was suspected of having traveled to Paris as Reagan's running-mate at the time to negotiate the deal with the Iranians.3   Suspiciously, the hostages were finally released on the day of Reagan's inauguration after 444 days in captivity.  In return, the Reagan Administration would secretly begin supplying arms to the Iranians, which would become the basis for the Iran Contra affair.

Another Hoosier who served on the 9/11 Commission was Tim Roemer, a native of South Bend who represented Indiana's 3rd Congressional District between 1991 and 2003.  Roemer set the tone of bi-partisanship that was a recurring theme throughout the discussion.  After stating that there were "no shy or wilting flowers up here," he lavished praise on Lee Hamilton for early on stating that he would not issue any press conferences without Thomas Kean by his side.

Although the response of the audience was tepid at best, whenever bipartisanship was brought up the audience would applaud.  After all, if Democrats and Republicans both agree on something it must be good, or so goes the conventional wisdom.

Roemer noted that the 9/11 victim's families were instrumental in their coming together and their unity of purpose.

Jamie Gorelick, who had served as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration, was the lone female on the panel.  She emphasized, "If you have an engaged citizenry you get better government."  She went on to add, "We asked the tough questions because we knew the public was watching us."

While serving under Attorney General Janet Reno, Gorelick had been responsible for issuing the "wall memo" that would later be used as the excuse for why the FBI intelligence division was unable to "connect the dots" with its own criminal division.  This would later be used to explain the bizarre behavior of senior personnel in the FBI to refuse to allow field agents to investigate Zacharias Moussaoui, despite as many as 70 requests for a warrant to search his belongings after he raised suspicions among flight instructors at the Pan-Am International flight school in Eagan, Minnesota.4

The wall had allegedly been put in place as a result of the Aldrich Aimes case in order to prevent evidence gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which has less stringent requirements than a criminal warrant from jeopardizing prosecutions.  At least that's the excuse that was given.  Gorelick's "wall memo" would be cited as one of the excuses for why the FBI was unable to "connect the dots."

As a portent of draconian measures to come, commission member James Thompson warned of vulnerabilities to our nation's civilian sector as a result of cyber threats.  He warned that more stringent security measures needed to be implemented to protect such critical infrastructure as utilities, and the financial system that are vulnerable to attack over the Internet. 

Lee Hamilton chimed in that, in the last few months there had been a rapid increase in the awareness of policy makers to the threat posed by cyber attacks. (Of course, he didn't mention that the Internet is also the source of most of the information exposing inconsistencies about 9/11 and official wrong-doing.)

Some of the most ominous remarks came from former Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska (not to be confused with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry), who repeatedly extolled the virtues of the Bush and Obama Administration policies of extra-judicial assassination, stating that, "Anyone who threatens to kill Americans are going to be taken out."  During the Vietnam War Kerrey lead a Navy Seal assassination squad as part of Operation Phoenix that was implicated in the massacre of unarmed men, women and children in the South Vietnamese Village of Thanh Phong.5

When the subject of Ben Laden's death came up, Kerrey responded, "What did the death of Osama bin Laden accomplish?  It made me feel better."

Timothy Roemer pointed out that he was in India when Osama bin Laden was "brought to justice" and taken out.  Even according to official accounts, the person claimed to have been Bin Laden was unarmed at the time of his killing.  The members of the 9/11 Commission seemed little concerned about the rule of law or the suspicious manner in which "Osama's" body was quickly disposed of in the Arabian Sea.6  

Bob Kerrey dismissed charges of a government conspiracy surrounding 9/11, saying, "Two people can't keep a secret in Washington."  He neglected to mention that the National Institute of Standards and Technology is still refusing to release the data for their computer models used to determine that Building 7 collapsed as a result of fire.  The reason given that "it might jeopardize public safety."7

Slade Gorton, a former Senator from Washington State whose law firm represents Boeing, the company that built the planes used in the 9/11 attacks, observed that halfway through the 9/11 Commission hearings marked the twentieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.  He then went on to tout a "persuasive" National Geographic documentary that he claimed proved conclusively that conspiracy theories about 9/11 are without merit.

He then posed the question, "Do we need another investigation?  Hell no!"

Commission member Fred Fielding, who Richard Nixon once suspected of being "Deep Throat," postulated that the failure to prevent 9/11 was the result of  "a lack of imagination."  He added, "No one had any idea that planes might be used as a weapon."

As Peter Dale Scott would note later that evening at a talk he gave elsewhere on campus, on the very day of 9/11 the National Reconnaissance Office was in the process of conducting a simulated drill in which an airplane would be "crashed" into its high-rise headquarters.8 

For two years leading up to 9/11 the North American Aerospace Defense Command ran drills with scenarios in which hijacked airlines would be used as weapons against targets, including the World Trade Center.9

Interestingly, after completing his work with the 9/11 Commission, Fielding, who served as counsel for the George W. Bush Administration, would go on to represent the security firm Blackwater.10

In response to a question submitted in advance about why Building 7 had not been included in the 9/11 Commission Report, Lee Hamilton said the reason was because it was still being investigated at the time they issued their report.  He added, "We had the best engineers to look at building 7."  According to the experts he cited, debris fell on building 7, causing fires and heat to build up resulting in the building's collapse.

Hamilton claimed that he had not seen any credible professional challenge to the conclusions of the American Society of Consulting Engineers or National Institute for Standards and Technology (the name of which he trouble recalling). 

Throughout the appearance there was heckling from the crowd.  At the conclusion, one member of the audience stood up and shouted, "We need a new investigation!  1500 Architects and Engineers want a new investigation!"  He was then hustled from the auditorium by police, a rather fitting end for the tenth anniversary commemoration of 9/11.


1 As author Daniel Hopsicker has noted in his book Barry & the Boys, Richard Ben-Veniste had once served as the attorney for convicted CIA drug smuggler Barry Seal.  Seal was a major figure in the guns for drugs operation out of Mena, Arkansas when Bill Clinton was governor.  As a teenager, Seal had served in the Louisiana Civil Air Patrol along with David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald. (Chapter Twenty-Nine "Who is Richard Ben-Veniste?" pp. 341-347)

2 "Who's Who on the 9/11 'Independent' Commission;" Michel Chossudovsky; July 17, 2003; http://web.archive.org/web/20030721201531/http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO307B.html

3 "Will Lee Hamilton Be the Next CIA Director?  Rumors Floating in Washington DC Think So;" http://www.rumormillnews.com/LEE_HAMILTON_DCI.html

4 "August 15-September 10, 2001: Minneapolis Agent Warns Superiors of Moussaoui Seventy Times, Obstructed by Headquarters;" http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=fbi_headquarters

5 "Fragging Bob: Bob Kerrey, CIA War Crimes, And the Need For a War Crimes Trial;" Douglas Valentine; May 17, 2001; http://www.counterpunch.org/2001/05/17/fragging-bob/

6 "Bin Laden unarmed during raid White House says;" Mimi Hall, Richard Wolf and Kevin Johnson; May 4, 2011; http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-05-03-Bin-Laden-White-House-raid-_n.htm

7 "NIST Denies Access to WTC7 Data;" http://911blogger.com/news/2010-07-12/nist-denies-access-wtc-collapse-data

8 "Agency planned exercise on Sept. 11 built around a plane into a building;" John J. Lumpkin; http://www.boston.com/news/packages/sept11/anniversary/wire_stories/0903_plane_exercise.htm

9 "NORAD had drills of planes as weapons;" Steven Kamarow and Tom Squitieri; April 18, 2004; http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-04-18-norad_x.htm

10 "Blackwater Mounts a Defense With Top Talent;" John Broder and James Risen; November 1, 2007; http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/01/washington/01blackwater-sub.html


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