Report: Some 9/11 Commission members mulled criminal referrals for military officials

Published: Wednesday August 2, 2006

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Some 9/11 Commission members mulled criminal referrals for military and aviation officials suspected of lying to cover-up for "bungling," according to a story in Wednesday's Washington Post.

"Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon's initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate," writes Dan Eggan.

"Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources," the article continues.

"Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, these sources said," writes Eggan.

"In the end, the panel agreed to a compromise, turning over the allegations to the inspectors general for the Defense and Transportation departments, who can make criminal referrals if they believe they are warranted, officials said," Eggan writes.

Republican commission member John F. Lehman agrees that officials lied, but "whether it was willful or just the fog of stupid bureaucracy," the former Navy secretary doesn't think that "in the order of magnitude of things, going after bureaucrats because they misled the commission" makes sense.

The Post also reports that a report is expected to be released shortly by the inspector general's office which will address "whether testimony delivered to the commission was 'knowingly false.'"

On Tuesday, a federal court posted online nearly all of the evidence in the sentencing portion of the trial of convicted 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. All totalled, just 7 of the 1,202 exhibits introduced in the case are now under seal. Among those are the voice recording from United Flight 93, which crashed before hitting its target, into a Pennsylvania field. A transcript of the tape, however, was released during the trial.

Also, a new poll by Scripps News shows that a third of Americans suspect some sort of a US government conspiracy in regards to the events before, during or after September 11, 2001.

Excerpt from the Post article:


"We to this day don't know why NORAD [the North American Aerospace Command] told us what they told us," said Thomas H. Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor who led the commission. "It was just so far from the truth. . . . It's one of those loose ends that never got tied."

Although the commission's landmark report made it clear that the Defense Department's early versions of events on the day of the attacks were inaccurate, the revelation that it considered criminal referrals reveals how skeptically those reports were viewed by the panel and provides a glimpse of the tension between it and the Bush administration.