Monday, 23 June 2003
Bush accused of obstructing the 9/11 investigation
Congressmen from both parties believe that the government is concealing information
Several Democrat and Republican congressmen have accused the Bush Administration
of obstructing the 9/11 investigation and censoring what has been published
so far. They suspect that the Government wishes to hide the errors it committed
and halt embarrassing revelations concerning possible allies such as Saudi
SUNDAY CUSTOM. Bush and his wife on their way to church for Sunday services
Photo: CHARLES DHARAPAK/AP
EUSEBIO VAL, Washington correspondent. - 9/11 was not
only the greatest collective trauma suffered by the American soul. The attacks
exposed deficiencies in the superpower's gigantic espionage and security
bureaucracy, with the CIA and the FBI at the top of the list. Raking through
this other wound is very uncomfortable and the Bush Government is putting
up resistance. Several prominent congressmen, the majority Democrats but
also some Republicans, have accused the Administration of obstructing the
investigation underway and hindering the public at large from being informed
on the details that are already known.
The White House was criticised in recent declarations by senators before
a national commission investigating the attacks, a body chaired by the Republican
Thomas Kean, ex-governor of New Jersey, who took up the post after the resignation
of the veteran Henry Kissinger.
"The American people deserve to know as full and as objective a truth as it is
possible to establish, yet, unfortunately, we haven't been given it",
claimed senator Joseph Lieberman, from Connecticut, a pre-candidate for the
presidency. His colleague from Florida, Bob Graham, also a contender for
the Democrat nomination, added to the complaints with his customary emphasis.
"Ignoring the facts, simply because they make some people uncomfortable and
may damage short-term political goals, will prevent Americans from knowing
the truth about 9/11", he charged. The senator urged the investigating committee
to "vigorously look into the links between foreign governments and the 9/11
terrorists. The Republican John McCain, a Republican who is very independent
in his views, warned of the threat of "bureaucratic filibustering".
In addition to the criticisms of the investigation, the Administration is
accused of blocking the full publication of the 800-page report on the attacks
drawn up by Congress. The governmental censorship is curious, as part of
the information is already accessible of the CIA's web site.
Gaps in security
According to Newsweek, the more sensitive passages which the Administration
refuses to declassify refer to Bush's daily briefings with CIA and FBI chiefs
before 9/11 and signs of links between Al Qaeda and the Saudi authorities.
One of the most delicate documents covers the meeting —"Presidential daily
brief" in White House jargon— held on 6 August 2003, where Bush was informed of
the discovery of plans to hijack planes in the US. The White House denies
political censorship and claims reasons of national security.
Kean's commission has heard stunning claims from people outside politics.
For example, Bogdan Dzakovic, who works for the Federal Aviation Administration
and responsible for detecting security gaps in airports for years, stressed
that "the system was designed to fail" and that the 9/11 hijackers, armed
with cutters, showed how easy it was to fool security. The basis for their
success was not sophistication, but simplicity, and that was the most vulnerable
feature. Dzakovic admitted that a lot of improvements have been introduced
since the attacks, but he does not feel safe flying because protection from
terrorism is poor. "What I know is that if a terrorist wants to, he can slip
the system", he observed.