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Accounting for the Final Report

The 9/11 Commission's report was once thought of as definitive. Now it looks more rickety with each passing day.

12:00 AM, Aug 31, 2005 • By EDWARD MORRISSEY
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INSTEAD OF BEING THE DEFINITIVE WORD on September 11, the report has begun to resemble a literary equivalent of Swiss cheese as more and more data came out about what else the Commission missed in its report, either by chance or by design. These data points, or dots as the Commissioners themselves called them, did not have the opportunity for connection in their report:

* The target=_blank>trial and conviction of Mohammed Afroze in India, for his part in a conspiracy to use airplanes to bomb four overseas targets on 9/11/01 using commercial flights out of Heathrow Airport in London.

* The second memo from U.S. District Attorney Mary Jo White in response to the notorious memo from Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick, warning that the implications of the memo will create insurmountable obstacles for prevention of terrorist attacks in the United States. In fact, the report barely mentions the Gorelick memo at all. It certainly never mentions the fact that the Gorelick memo was sent to the Office of Intelligence and Policy Review, which provided legal advice to all government agencies on the use and sharing of intelligence information with Department of Justice agencies.

* A July 21, 2001 editorial in a state-run Iraqi newspaper, al-Nasiriyah, which predicted the three targets of the September 11 attacks two months beforehand. This editorial read was read into the Congressional record by Senator Fritz Hollings on September 12, 2002.

* On July 26, 2001, an Iranian espionage agent told CIA agents in Baku, Azerbaijan, that Osama bin Laden would attack the United States on 9/11 using six men who had already entered the country via Iran. When pressed for his sources, the agent told them that Iranian intelligence knew all about the plot.

* The discovery and arrest of two Iraqi spies in Germany in February 2001, which the Germans claimed at the time exposed an extensive Iraqi espionage network operating in several German cities--at the same time three of the four 9/11 lead hijackers traveled to or through Germany, the only time it ever happened after their successful entry into the United States. Almost six moths to the day before the 9/11 attacks, an Arabic newspaper in Paris described the arrests as relating to the suspicion that radical Islamists, and specifically Osama bin Laden, had started working with the Iraqis to target American interests around the world.

* A memo from the State Department warned Bill Clinton in 1996 that its intelligence services had determined that the United States had to stop Osama bin Laden from relocating to Afghanistan, or al Qaeda would grow into an even more dangerous threat. The report also fails to mention a later Clinton administration effort to offer the Taliban official recognition if they handed bin Laden over to our custody.

* German intelligence analysts concluded in 2002 that radical Islamist terrorists such as al Qaeda worked with Iraqi intelligence services through contacts in the German neo-Nazi community.

* As Stephen Hayes points out, the Commission failed to include Ahmed Hikmat Shakir and Abdul Rahman Yasin--despite their connections to the first World Trade Center bombing and the 9/11 hijackers.

None of the above data points is mentioned in the Commission's final report. They all indicate a possibility that other state sponsors had close ties to al Qaeda. They also indicate that the scope of the Islamist war has little to do with American policy but instead with the establishment of a latter-day caliphate for the ummah, and after that, global Islamist domination. More to the point, however, they all demonstrate--along with Able Danger--that the intelligence services had recognized the threat and tried to take at least some action to stop it before it could fully form against the United States.