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9/11 panel assertions wanting

Don Rogers

Scholar, pundit and “Comedy Central” commentator Norm Ornstein opened his remarks at the World Forum’s public discussion Thursday with a joke: He said he’d just been handed a news flash. The CIA discovered this very morning that Ronald Reagan had died. … But they were angry. The FBI found out yesterday and didn’t share.Such is the confidence these days in American “intelligence” that the laughter in the audience was genuine and ringing.Actually, the joke is a quite serious backdrop to the day’s headlines that the 9/11 commission had divined that al Qaida’s plot far surpassed the attack that they actually carried out, and that while Osama Bin Laden made overtures of cooperation with Saddam Hussein, as far as the panel could tell Iraq did not agree to do so. As far as the panel could tell.Of course, the papers dutifully led their editions with these reports. But after we’ve firmly established these past months just how rotten U.S. intelligence in the murky world of Middle Eastern terrorism really was, now we’re apparently swallowing a commission report as if a fact akin to the sun setting in the West?Just what rock-solid information does the panel have that the best minds in the business turned out to be so, so wrong about?Well, it turns out this is all largely based on the coerced – but not technically tortured, under the current legalistic definition – confessions of two Al Qaida leaders.According to these guys, interrogated with special permission to use, er, persuasion, Osama oversaw every detail of the plane hijackings and deadly flights. Only they were going to fly nine jumbos into big or important buildings on both coasts. On the 10th plane, they would kill all the male passengers before landing, then make a grand speech and let the women and children go. Then off to paradise …It all sounds a bit fantastic, doesn’t it? Haven’t we learned anything? Are we supposed to feel somehow at ease that the commission could track Osama suggesting to Saddam’s people in Sudan that they work together but not whether Iraq thought that might be a good idea? Is that because Saddam rejected Osama’s ideas about going after a mutual enemy – us – or the commission’s intellegence is so much better than the rest of America’s spy network?Granted, out here in the hinterlands, we’re not privvy to all the inside dope. But captured al Qaida leaders with a grudge, Chalabi with his agenda, etc. – who to believe? A bit more skepticism all around might be in order here.


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