The roadmap to investigating the attack on the World Trade Center is littered with detours, roadblocks, and ?no trespassing? signs. According to David Corn?s recent report for The Nation, the Bush administration appears to be stonewalling the 9/11 Commission?s investigation into intelligence and security failures that contributed to the worst terrorist attack ever to occur on American soil. As a result of Bush?s hesitation to cooperate, some members of the group Families of September 11th wonder if the delays may be the result of an attempted cover-up. In light of the commission?s history, the possibility is not entirely unlikely.
According to Corn, President Bush opposed the creation of an independent commission until Congress granted him the right to select its chairman. After Henry Kissinger?s controversial appointment and subsequent resignation, Jeffrey Zelikow was named the committee?s executive director. An advisor of both the first and second Bush Administrations, Zelikow has not only served with Condoleeza Rice on the National Security Council during the reign of Poppy Bush, he was also appointed to G.W.?s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in October, 2001. Since the committee?s inception, three commissioners have recused themselves as a result of their association with law firms representing the airlines, yet Zelikow?s leadership remains unchallenged.
When committee member Rep. Tim Roemer attempted to view records of security and intelligence failures, he was prohibited from seeing the material, as it was not vetted by the administration. Eventually Roemer and others were granted access to the documents, ?as long as they were willing to trek to a secured office in a House [of Representatives] Annex.? After much trepidation, the Joint House and Senate intelligence committees are expected to declassify a 900-page report on security breaches as early as next week, according to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer report.
Although the commission now has access to the information it needs, time is of the essence, Corn argues. The law permitting the committee to investigate the attack expires in June, 2004. Thus, the commission now has less than a year to investigate and analyze nine separate issues: Al Qaeda and terrorism, the intelligence community, U.S. counterterrorism policy, terrorist financing, border control and terrorist watchlists, domestic law enforcement and intelligence, aviation and transportation security, the emergency responses to the attacks, and the White House?s and federal government?s reaction to the strikes. Each topic on its own, Corn points out, ?Could occupy a single commission for a year.?