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  xFriday, June 13, 2003

bush administration 9/11 evasions infuriate survivors


Families of some of the vistims of the 9/11 attacks are far from satisfied with the updates the Bush Administration has provided on the investigations of events leading up to the attacks -- which, let's not forget, occurred on Bush's watch after he failed to take any action in response to warnings that al Qaeda wanted to hijack a US airliner and which, let's not forget, Bush lied about, claiming the attacks game with no warning at all.
In a long-awaited, closed-door meeting, FBI director Robert Mueller ran into a buzz saw of criticism this week from irate family members of September 11 victims over the bureau’s handling of a range of matters relating to the terror attacks.

family members who attended the meeting at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington told NEWSWEEK the meeting quickly grew contentious as soon as bureau officials finished the inevitable PowerPoint presentation on the status of the 9-11 probe. Many of those present were visibly annoyed with Mueller’s responses—especially over his refusal to commit to holding any bureau officials accountable for intelligence failures that preceded the attacks.

“A lot of family members were angry, and there was a lot of shouting out of turn,” said Steve Push, the leader of one of the 9-11 victims’-family groups. “There was a lot of unhappiness with quite a few of the responses.”

Much of the stiffest criticism came from “the Jersey Girls”—a group of feisty young widows from northern New Jersey whose husbands died in the World Trade Center and who have become increasingly radicalized by what they view as the U.S. government’s failure to provide them with answers to many key questions about the attacks.

The women from New Jersey got especially frustrated when Mueller and other top bureau officials at the meeting repeatedly brushed aside their questions, saying they couldn’t respond because the answers might jeopardize the Justice Department’s pending case against Zacarias Moussaoui, the accused Al Qaeda terrorist who is facing charges that he was a co-conspirator in the 9-11 attacks.

“I don’t give a rat’s a— about Moussaoui!” said Patty Casazza, a 38-year-old New Jersey resident whose husband, John, died in the World Trade Center’s north tower. “Send him to Guantanamo Bay and … get what you can from him there.”

Another key issue for the Jersey widows—who peppered Mueller with questions throughout the session and sometimes interrupted his responses—is accountability. Kristin Breitweiser, 32, pressed to know why bureau officials had not put together information from the so-called Phoenix memo—a July 2001 communiqué from a Phoenix-based FBI agent reporting that a suspiciously large number of Middle Eastern men were enrolling in U.S. flight schools—with information from the FBI’s Minneapolis office the following month about the detention of one flight-school student in particular, Moussaoui.

More broadly, family members say they are sickened by the fact that nearly two years after the attacks, no one in the U.S. government—neither at the FBI, CIA nor anywhere else—has been dismissed or otherwise disciplined for the multiple mistakes and intelligence foul-ups that preceded the attacks.

Remember when Bush insisted it was critical to national security that he have the ability to disregard civil service protections in his massive new homeland security bureaucracy? Obviously, he isn't interested in cleaning up prior failures. Or could it be that, much like the CIA is declining to take the fall for Bush's Iraq exaggerations, that disciplined security agents might reveal how much they reported? Regardless, it's obvious that Bush doesn't want the American public -- including the survivors of 9/11 victims -- from learning what he knew and when he knew it. This may just be a manifestation of Bush's anti-(small-d)democratic obsession with secrecy; then again, it may be a desire to cover something up. If so, Bush may learn that it isn't the scandal that gets you; it's the cover-up. Either way would do for me, of course.
I've said before (permalinks are temporarily bloggered) that 9/11 can -- and should -- prove to be Bush's Achilles heel. Long before establishing a record of dishonesty over Iraq -- but after demonstrating his willingness to use mendacity to achieve policy aims, such as his first tax cut -- Bush lied to the nation about what he knew prior to the 9/11 attacks -- and no wonder, since he didn't do anything about the warnings. Bush enjoyed the benefit of having his opponent's reputation smeared with allegations of "little lies" -- many of which were not lies at all. It's long past time for the spotlight to shine on Bush's lies, little and large, and it's absolutely essential for the Democrats to have the courage -- and the courage of their principles -- to do so. To do anything lest would be not only to condone Bush's dishonesty, and the damage that his policies cause, but to become a willing participant. The Democrats should leave that dishonor to the conservative pundits.

(via the same open thread at Daily Kos)






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