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Accountability

Rep. Holt Introduces Anthrax Commission Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2009

Contact: Zach Goldberg 202-225-5801 (office)

HOLT INTRODUCES ANTHRAX COMMISSION LEGISLATION Bill Would Create 9/11 Commission-Style Panel to Investigate Anthrax Attacks and Government Response

(Washington, D.C.) — Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today introduced the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009, legislation that would establish a Congressional commission to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks and the federal government’s response to and investigation of the attacks. The bipartisan commission would make recommendations to the President and Congress on how the country can best prevent and respond to any future bioterrorism attack. The attacks evidently originated from a postal box in Holt’s Central New Jersey congressional district, disrupting the lives and livelihoods of many of his constituents. Holt has consistently raised questions about the federal investigation into the attacks.

“All of us — but especially the families of the victims of the anthrax attacks — deserve credible answers about how the attacks happened and whether the case really is closed,” Holt said. “The Commission, like the 9/11 Commission, would do that, and it would help American families know that the government is better prepared to protect them and their children from future bioterrorism attacks.”

Under Holt’s legislation, the commission would be comprised of no more than six members of from the same political party. The commission would hold public hearings, except in situations where classified information would be discussed. The commission would have to consult the National Academies of Sciences for recommendations on scientific staff to serve on… Continue reading

9/11 Commission Senior Counsel & Team Leader to Testify at ‘Truth Commission’ Hearing Today

Sen. Leahy Proceeds With Truth Commission
Today on C-Span, 10am Eastern

Senate Judiciary Cmte. Chairman Leahy (D-VT) holds a hearing on the creation
of a nonpartisan commission to investigate past national security policies.
Sen. Leahy (D-VT) first called for a truth commission, which would inquire into
alleged wrongdoing by past Administrations, during an event on Capitol Hill.

watch Truth
Commission: C-SPAN3
at 10am (ET)

Continue reading

Obama and Holder Must Prosecute War Crimes or Become Guilty of Them Themselves

by Dave Lindorff
March 3, 2009
ThisCantBeHappening.net

The dithering and ducking going on in the Obama White House and the Holder
Justice Department over the crimes of the Bush administration are taking on
a comic aspect.

On the one hand, we have President Obama assuring us that under his administration,
there will be respect for the rule of law, and on the other hand we have this
one-time constitutional law professor and his attorney general declaiming that
there is no need for the appointment of a prosecutor to bring charges against
the people in the last administration, in the CIA, in the National Security
Agency and in the Defense Department and the military who clearly have broken
the law in serious and felonious ways.

What gets silly is that America is either a nation of laws…or it isn’t.
It is either a place where “nobody is above the law”…or it
isn’t.

There is really no middle ground here.

The latest solid and incontrovertible evidence of outrageous and criminal behavior
by the White House is the discovery–and the public release by the Obama
administration–of documentary evidence that the CIA committed not just
torture but willful obstruction of justice by destroying video tapes of some
92 interrogations of terrorism suspects and captives in the so-called Bush “War”
on Terror. Plus the release of a stack of nine legal opinions by White House
and Justice Department lawyers providing legal cover for torture, including
executive orders from President Bush and directives from then Secretary… Continue reading

CIA Destroyed Tapes Admission Comes In ACLU Lawsuit Over Torture Documents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK — According to a letter filed by the government in court today,
the CIA acknowledged it destroyed 92 tapes of interrogations. The admission
comes in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking records of the treatment
of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad. In December 2007, the ACLU filed a motion
to hold the CIA in contempt for its destruction of videotapes recording the
harsh interrogation of prisoners in violation of a court order requiring the
agency to produce or identify all the requested records. That motion is still
pending.

The following can be attributed to Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU:

“This letter provides further evidence for holding the CIA in contempt
of court. The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency
engaged in a systemic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations
and to evade the court’s order. Our contempt motion has been pending in court
for over a year now — it is time to hold the CIA accountable for its flagrant
disregard for the rule of law.”

The tapes, which show CIA operatives subjecting suspects to extremely harsh
interrogation methods, should have been identified and processed for the ACLU
in response to its FOIA request demanding information on the treatment and interrogation
of detainees in U.S. custody. The tapes were also withheld from the 9/11 Commission,
appointed by former President Bush and Congress, which had formally requested
that the CIA hand over transcripts and… Continue reading

CIA destroyed 92 interrogation tapes

By Devlin Barrett
Associated Press on ABC News
March 2, 2009

WASHINGTON — New documents show the CIA destroyed nearly 100 tapes of
terror interrogations, far more than has previously been acknowledged.

The revelation Monday comes as a criminal prosecutor is wrapping up his investigation
in the matter.

The acknowledgment of dozens of destroyed tapes came in a letter filed by government
lawyers in New York, where the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit
seeking more details of terror interrogation programs.

“The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed,”
said the letter by Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin. “Ninety two videotapes
were destroyed.”

ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said the CIA should be held in contempt of court for holding back the information for so long.

“The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systematic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court’s order,” Singh said in a statement.

The tapes became a contentious issue in the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias
Moussaoui, after prosecutors initially claimed no such recordings existed, then
acknowledged two videotapes and one audiotape had been made.

The letter, dated March 2 to Judge Alvin Hellerstein, says the CIA is now gathering
more details for the lawsuit, including a list of the destroyed records, any
secondary accounts that describe the destroyed contents, and the identities
of those who may have viewed or possessed the recordings before they were destroyed.

But… Continue reading

Obama administration backs Bush, tries to kill ‘lost’ White House emails lawsuit

RAW STORY

Missing email includes day Cheney’s office told to preserve emails in CIA leak case WASHINGTON — Welcome to change.

The Obama administration, siding with former President George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails in a stunning reversal of Obama’s rhetoric about Bush secrecy on the campaign trail.

Two advocacy groups suing the Executive Office of the President, including one of the groups that helped derail former House Speaker Tom DeLay, say that large amounts of White House e-mail documenting Bush’s eight years in office may still be missing, and that the government must undertake an extensive recovery effort. They expressed disappointment that Obama’s Justice Department is continuing the Bush administration’s bid to get the lawsuits dismissed.

During its first term, the Bush White House failed to install electronic record-keeping for e-mail when it switched to a new system, allegedly resulting in millions of messages that could not be found.

The Bush White House “discovered the problem” in 2005 and rejected a proposed solution.

The exact number of missing e-mails is unknown, but several days on which e-mails were not archived covered key dates in a Justice Department inquiry into the roles of Vice President Dick Cheney and his aides in leaking the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

Ironically, Cheney’s office is missing emails from the very day President Bush told reporters he’d “take care of” whatever staff member had actually… Continue reading

Statement on Prosecution of Former High Officials

We urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a non-partisan independent Special Counsel to immediately commence a prosecutorial investigation into the most serious alleged crimes of former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the attorneys formerly employed by the Department of Justice whose memos sought to justify torture, and other former top officials of the Bush Administration.

Show Editor’s Note »

UPDATE 2/27/09 6pm: In response to the many email questions we’ve received asking why we have not endorsed this call for a Special Prosecutor: On 2/24, when this statement/petition was posted at AfterDowningStreet.org, 911truth.org immediately signed on as an endorsing organization via the signup at that site. As of now, our name does not appear on that list. Nonetheless, we did submit endorsement. We are not, yet, encouraging 9/11 truth advocates to politely contact David Swanson asking him why he would permanently post a video statement from Willie Rodriguez on the front page of his site, yet continue to ignore/ban the burgeoning 9/11 truth movement from being heard as the powerful voice we are, in calling for truth and accountability. We believe that Mr. Swanson is acting in good faith, all in all, and will post our endorsement with the others on the list shortly.

Our laws, and treaties that under Article VI of our Constitution are the supreme law of the land, require the prosecution of crimes that strong evidence suggests these individuals have committed. Both the former president and the former vice president have confessed to authorizing a torture procedure that is illegal under our law and treaty obligations.…

Continue reading

Poll: Most want inquiry into anti-terror tactics

By Jill Lawrence
February 16, 2009
USA Today

WASHINGTON – Even as Americans struggle with two wars and an economy in
tatters, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds majorities in favor of investigating
some of the thorniest unfinished business from the Bush administration: Whether
its tactics in the “war on terror” broke the law.

Close
to two-thirds of those surveyed said there should be investigations into allegations
that the Bush team used torture to interrogate terrorism suspects and its program
of wiretapping U.S. citizens without getting warrants. Almost four in 10 favor
criminal investigations and about a quarter want investigations without criminal
charges. One-third said they want nothing to be done.

CALLS TO MOVE ON: Even reversed, Bush policies divide

Even more people want action on alleged attempts by the Bush team to use the
Justice Department for political purposes. Four in 10 favored a criminal probe,
three in 10 an independent panel, and 25% neither.

The ACLU and other groups are pressing for inquiries into whether the Bush
administration violated U.S. and international bans on torture and the constitutional
right to privacy. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and his Senate counterpart,
Patrick Leahy, have proposed commissions to investigate.

Asked Monday about Leahy’s plan, President Obama said he would look at it.
He added, “my general orientation is to say, let’s get it right moving
forward.” Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have declined to rule
out prosecutions. Leon Panetta, named to head the CIA, said this month that
CIA officers… Continue reading

Obama: Reopen the 9/11 Investigation

by Melissa Rossi
Author, What Every American Should Know about the Middle East (Plume/Penguin,
Jan. 2009)
February 10, 2009
HuffingtonPost.com

Patrick Leahy has a point when he urges President Obama to open investigations about the Bush administration. However, he’s not pointing at the issue that we need to start with. Namely, September 11th. What really happened? More than a few people know – and I am not alone in calling for those who know to start talking and fess up. Let’s not let this go the way of the JFK assassination – and whether with subpoenas or on their own volition, I demand that Dick Cheney, George W. Bush – both of whom refused to testify under oath during the 9/11 Commission proceedings — Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, Larry Wilkerson, George Tenet, Robert Mueller and the rest – as well as Bill Clinton and Al Gore (both of whom also refused to testify under oath) — start talking, and in a public arena. And I’m calling on the Obama administration to open up a probe and unravel the web of deceit.

Before we tuck the Bush administration into bed and hiss, “Nighty Night, you lying scoundrels,” before we go on to lock the door on that heinous era of American history, we do indeed need to probe what happened under their watch. But the event that most concerns me is what happened on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Oh yeah, that’s history, old news, the 9/11 Commission figured it all out, right?…

Continue reading

Obama to Meet Victims, Relatives of 9/11 Attacks

Michael D. Shear, Peter Finn and Dan Eggen
The Washington Post
Thursday, February 5, 2009; 6:23 PM

President Obama will gather tomorrow with victims and families of the 9/11
terrorist attacks and U.S.S. Cole bombing for a face-to-face meeting as his
administration struggles to decide how to handle detainees at Guatanamo Bay,
Cuba, several of those invited said.

The previously undisclosed meeting at the White House tomorrow afternoon will
give the new president a chance to explain his decision to close the controversial
prison facility where the U.S. has placed many suspected terrorists since the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Obama has been assailed by conservative critics who say the decision to close
the facility within a year will lead to putting many of those terrorists back
on the street. In a recent interview, former vice president Dick Cheney, an
architect of the Bush administration’s war on terror, criticized the decision
as reckless.

In an interview with Politico.com, Cheney accused the Obama administration
of following “campaign rhetoric” on Guantánamo and warned that the
new president’s policies could put the country at greater risk of a new attack.

“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to
an al-Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against
people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans,
then I worry,” Cheney said.

Obama has defended his decision, saying that closing the facility will make
the country safer by putting an end to one… Continue reading

Eric Holder Signals No Prosecutions of Bush War Criminals

By Dennis Loo
January 30, 2009
WorldCantWait.net

Attorney General nominee Eric Holder in written response to a question posed to him during his Senate confirmation hearing by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) stated:

“Prosecutorial and investigative judgments must depend on the facts, and no one is above the law. But where it is clear that a government agent has acted in ‘reasonable and good-faith reliance on Justice Department legal opinions’ authoritatively permitting his conduct, I would find it difficult to justify commencing a full-blown criminal investigation, let alone a prosecution.”

Newsweek described
this written statement as “carefully vetted by Obama’s White House lawyers.”
In other words, Holder’s statement fairly reflects Obama’s and Holder’s intentions
in this regard.

Holder’s comment came to light when a Holder aide pointed to it in an attempt to refute a Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) assertion, reported by the Washington Times (“Holder Assures GOP on Prosecution”) on January 28, 2009 that Holder had promised him that he was not going to prosecute Bush officials for war crimes. The Washington Times article created a storm of concern among human rights groups and others who are rightfully determined that the Bush White House’s crimes against humanity be prosecuted. Holder and the White House rushed to try to reassure people that Holder has not promised the GOP anything.

Sen. Bond had been threatening to block Holder’s nomination in committee over this issue. Bond met with Holder privately this week twice and Sen. Bond emerged from those meetings supporting Holder’s nomination.… Continue reading

PBS: NSA could have prevented 9/11 hijackings

Muriel Kane

RawStory.com

The super-secretive National Security Agency has been quietly monitoring, decrypting, and interpreting foreign communications for decades, starting long before it came under criticism as a result of recent revelations about the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. Now a forthcoming PBS documentary asks whether the NSA could have prevented 9/11 if it had been more willing to share its data with other agencies.

Author James Bamford looked into the performance of the NSA in his 2008 book, The Shadow Factory, and found that it had been closely monitoring the 9/11 hijackers as they moved freely around the United States and communicated with Osama bin Laden’s operations center in Yemen. The NSA had even tapped bin Laden’s satellite phone, starting in 1996.

“The NSA never alerted any other agency that the terrorists were in the United States and moving across the country towards Washington,” Bamford told PBS.

PBS also found that “the 9/11 Commission never looked closely into NSA’s role in the broad intelligence breakdown behind the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. If they had, they would have understood the full extent to which the agency had major pieces of the puzzle but never put them together or disclosed their entire body of knowledge to the CIA and the FBI.”

In a review of Bamford’s book, former senator and 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey wrote, “As the 9/11 Commission later established, U.S. intelligence officials knew that al-Qaeda had held a planning meeting in Malaysia, found out the names of two recruits who had been present — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — and suspected that one and maybe both of them had flown to Los Angeles.…

Continue reading

Obama order could present problems for Rove

John Byrne
January 27, 2009
RawStory.com

A little-noticed twist in an order issued by President Barack Obama the day
after his inauguration may present problems for former White House Deputy Chief
of Staff Karl Rove and other Bush Administration officials that have been targeted
for their alleged role in various scandals.

Rove was subpoenaed Monday afternoon by House Judiciary Committee Chairman
John Conyers (D-MI). When the dogged Democrat subpoenaed him last year, Bush
Administration lawyers invoked “executive immunity” to prevent Rove
from testifying.

This year, however, George W. Bush is no longer in the president’s chair. Determination
of executive privilege must now also be examined by President Obama’s lawyers.
In fact, Rove’s lawyer made direct reference to Obama’s role in any future decision
to enjoin Rove’s appearance on the congressional witness stand Monday night.

“It’s generally agreed that former presidents retain executive privilege
as to matters occurring during their term,” Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin,
told The Washington Post. “We’ll solicit the views of the new White House
counsel and, if there is a disagreement, assume that the matter will be resolved
among the courts, the president and the former president.”

Luskin doesn’t concede that Rove isn’t covered by Bush’s blanket immunity,
but appears to acknowledge that the question of keeping Rove off the witness
stand has become more complex.

“The Attorney General and the Counsel to the President, in the exercise
of their discretion and after appropriate review and consultation under subsection
(a) of this section, may jointly determine that… Continue reading

September 11th Advocates Statement Re. Gitmo Closing

For immediate release
January 23, 2009

The Guantánamo Bay Detention Center continues to be an enormous stain on America’s
reputation. Newly elected President Obama has taken the first step in removing
this stain by keeping his campaign promise to the American people.

The temporary halting of proceedings at Gitmo gives us the “audacity
to hope” that President Obama will be able to restore America’s good name,
which has been repeatedly tarnished during the past eight years.

We appreciate the tough decisions that President Obama has been forced to make
and admire him for taking these difficult tasks on. We look forward to hearing
his plan for closing Guantánamo Bay forever, finding a just way to try the detainees
and putting an end to this horrific chapter in America’s history.

# # #

Patty Casazza
Monica Gabrielle
Mindy Kleinberg
Lorie Van Auken

Additonally, please see earlier statement below, which further explains our
position.

September 11th Advocates Statement

April 3, 2008

As women whose husbands were killed on September 11 2001, we feel strongly
that the perpetrators of that horrific crime should be brought to justice. But
first it is imperative to prove that these six detainees are indeed the guilty
parties.

Unfortunately, the Administration insists on trying the suspects in the broken
military commissions system. Prosecuting these men within a system that is secretive
in nature and lacking in due process, and which uses evidence tainted by questionable
interrogation methods and possibly even torture, is a dangerous endeavor. All
Americans, and… Continue reading

Letter from Open Government Groups to Senate Armed Services Committee re. Nomination of William J. Lynn III

January 23, 2009
Project on Government Oversight

Honorable Carl Levin, Chairman
U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Honorable John McCain, Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Levin and Senator McCain,

The undersigned groups commends you, Chairman Levin, for your decision to wait to evaluate the impact of President Obama’s new revolving door restrictions requiring appointees to recuse themselves from work related to their former employer or clients, as well as from matters or issues for which he lobbied. Proceeding with the nomination of William J. Lynn III, a former Raytheon Company lobbyist, to the position of Deputy Secretary of Defense clearly violates President Obama’s Executive Order (EO). We believe your cautious approach is an important exercise of congressional oversight. Upon reviewing the President’s just released EO and its waiver provisions we urge you to go one step further and reject the nomination of Mr. Lynn.

This letter is not to suggest that Mr. Lynn is not qualified for the position. Before the President issued his Ethics Commitment by Executive Branch Personnel Executive Order, there would have been little ground for questioning the proposed nomination of Mr. Lynn. However, given that the new pledge required by President Obama is written to preclude any appointee from participating “in any particular matter on which I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment,” or accepting “employment with any executive agency… Continue reading

UN Rapporteur: Initiate criminal proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld now

By Scott Horton
January 22, 2009
Harper’s

In an interview on Tuesday evening with the German television program “Frontal 21,” on channel ZDF Professor Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Rapporteur responsible for torture, stated that with George W. Bush’s head of state immunity now terminated, the new government of Barack Obama was obligated by international law to commence a criminal investigation into Bush’s torture practices.

“The evidence is sitting on the table,” he stated. “There is no avoiding the fact that this was torture.” He pointed to the U.S. undertakings under the Convention Against Torture in which the country committed that it would criminally prosecute anyone who tortured, or extradite the person to a state that would prosecute him. “The government of the United States is required to take all necessary steps to bring George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld before a court,” Nowak said.

Manfred Nowak, an internationally renowned law professor at the University of Vienna, currently serves as an independent expert for the United Nations looking at allegations of torture affecting member states. In 2006, he undertook a special investigation of conditions at the U.S. detention facilities at Guantánamo in which he concluded that practices approved by the Bush Administration violated human rights norms, including the prohibition against torture.

The ZDF piece also includes an interview with attorney Wolfgang Kaleck, who brought charges against Rumsfeld before German prosecutors. He states that the Obama administration is “off to a good beginning” with its explicit renunciation of torture,… Continue reading

Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official–Trial Overseer Cites ‘Abusive’ Methods Against 9/11 Suspect

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Page A01

The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantánamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”

“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution.

Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantánamo to publicly state that a detainee was tortured.

Crawford, 61, said the combination of the interrogation techniques, their duration and the impact on Qahtani’s health led to her conclusion. “The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his… Continue reading

Will We Get Accountability? Obama’s Reply to Blogger Bob Fertik’s Special Prosecutor Question

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

As Bush gives his final press conference today, lamenting the “mistakes” of his presidency, some are wondering if he and other members of his administration will get a chance to tell such tales to a special prosecutor.

“History will look back,” he told reporters, most likely hoping the next administration’s Justice Department will solely look forward. Judging from the most recent comments from his successor, that may very well be the case.

It all started when Bob Fertik, progressive writer and co-founder of Democrats.com, posed this question to President-elect Barack Obama:

“Will you appoint a special prosecutor — ideally Patrick Fitzgerald — to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?”

Fertik submitted the question to Change.gov, the official transition Web site for the incoming Obama Administration. The site has a forum called “Open for Questions” where people can post items of particular concern for the Obama team to review. Fertik’s question got so much attention and approval from other users on the site that it made its way to the top of the Change.gov list and onto the Sunday talk shows, finally garnering this response from Obama when George Stephanopoulos asked the question directly:

“We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions and so forth. And obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the… Continue reading