9/11 Commissioner: 'We had to go through Karl Rove'
Nick Langewis and David Edwards
Published: Sunday February 3, 2008

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Two recent segments delve into a new book that accuses the head of the ostensibly independent 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, of being beholden to the Bush Administration during his tenure.

The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, by New York Times reporter Philip Shenon, indicts Zelikow on his ties with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and his frequent contact with senior political adviser Karl Rove, during what was touted as an independent investigation into the events surrounding the 2001 World Trade Center attack. This seeming conflict of interest, the book says, led Commission staffers not to trust Zelikow.

"We found him to be very fair-minded," counters co-chair Lee Hamilton, "quite impartial, very rigorous in his searching out of the facts; and he certainly did not try to protect the Bush Administration, or to protect anybody else."

9/11 Commission member John Lehman goes on to tell MSNBC that it was impossible not to go through Karl Rove when documents such as presidential daily briefings were needed. Many Commission members, he says, pressed the White House to provide more information and lift restrictions on a regular basis.

"We had to go through Karl Rove, and through [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales and the other most senior members," says Lehman. He indeed hoped that Zelikow was talking to Karl Rove, although he expressed disappointment that contact with the White House wasn't more frequent towards the beginning of the investigations.

On charges that a mass of NSA records on al-Qaeda went unreviewed by the Commission, Lehman says that nothing new would have come about as a result of obtaining that data besides more text to put into the final Commission report.

The Commission is due to be published on February 5.

The following video is from NBC's Nightly News and MSNBC's News Live, broadcast February 2 and 3, 2008.