CIA lied to 9/11 Commission

The September 11 commission asked the CIA in 2003 and 2004 for information on the interrogation of al Qaeda suspects, only to be told the agency provided all that was requested, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

The CIA said on December 6 it destroyed hundreds of hours of videotape in 2005 showing interrogations of al Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, prompting former members of the commission to review classified documents.

The taped interrogations were believed to show a simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding that rights activists have condemned as torture.

The September 11 commission’s chairmen, Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean, said their reading of the review, a copy of which the newspaper obtained, convinced them the CIA made a conscious decision to impede the panel’s inquiry, the Times said.

A memo prepared by Philip Zelikow, the panel’s former executive director, concluded that “further investigation is needed” to determine whether the CIA’s withholding of the interrogation tapes from the commission violated U.S. law, the paper reported.

The CIA said it destroyed the tapes lawfully to protect the agents involved in the interrogations, but the news prompted an outcry from rights activists and Democrats in Congress, as well as investigations by the Bush administration and Congress.

The commission investigated what went wrong before and after al Qaeda militants used hijacked commercial airliners to attack the United States on September 11, 2001. The panel’s report called for an overhaul of the U.S. intelligence community.

Kean, a Republican and former New Jersey governor, said the panel would give the memo to federal prosecutors and lawmakers looking into the destruction of the tapes.

A spokesman for the CIA told the Times the agency had been prepared to provide the September 11 commission with the tapes but was never asked to do so.

“I don’t know whether that’s illegal or not, but it’s certainly wrong,” Kean said of the CIA’s decision not to disclose the existence of the tapes. Hamilton, a Democrat and former Indiana congressman, said the agency “clearly obstructed” the commission’s investigation.


Among statements that the memo suggested were misleading was a June 2004 assertion by John McLaughlin, deputy director of central intelligence, that the CIA had “taken and completed all reasonable steps necessary to find the documents in its possession, custody or control” in response to the panel’s requests and “has produced or made available for review” all such documents, the Times said.

Kean and Hamilton expressed anger once it was revealed the tapes had been destroyed, the paper said.

The Times said Zelikow’s report provides more evidence to bolster their views about the CIA’s actions and was likely to put more pressure on the Bush administration over its handling of the matter.

McLaughlin told the Times agency officials had always been candid with the commission and that information from the CIA proved central to their work.

“We weren’t playing games with them, and we weren’t holding anything back,” the paper quoted him as saying.

The memo draws no conclusions about whether the withholding of the tapes was unlawful but notes that federal law penalizes anyone who knowingly withholds or covers up a material fact from a federal inquiry or makes a false statement to investigators, the Times reported.

A CIA spokesman said the agency had gone to “great lengths” to meet the commission’s requests and that the panel’s members had been given detailed information from interrogations of detainees, the Times said.

The tapes “were not destroyed while the commission was active,” the spokesman said.


  1. Sandra Price

    Is there any possible doubt that the CIA knew the truth about 9/11? Everybody is protecting Bush’s ass! How much longer must this continue? We must open this can worms and air out the stench……. Where is the oversight? If we can’t do this immediatly, we are lost to the corruption.

    How I yearn to waterboard Bush and Cheney but it would be illegal and immoral…

  2. DejaVuAllOver

    This looks to me like a power-struggle between the CIA and the neocon-zionist cabal, now joined by the New York Times. (I’m shocked….of course) The film version will be called “The Revenge of Judith Miller.”

    The $10,000 dollar question is: Who’s better at lying, the Neo-cons or the CIA?

    And I do tend to have some sympathy for the CIA, since Dick Cheney was probably pointing his hunting rifle at some poor bureaucrat while being questioned. Off-camera, of course.

  3. SEAL

    Yesterday I talked to an old shipmate of mine, not a SEAL, but a friend for many years. He is now an Admiral aboard one of the carriers in the Middle East. We were on cell phones so that we could be candid. I wanted his opinion as to just how far I could go in releasing any information. Like myself, he lives by a code of honor we would never break.

    As I watch all this hoopala about the CIA, waterboarding, and torture I shake my head at the naievity being demonstated as if we, the CIA in particular, had never engaged in tortuous practices before Bush. I cannot tell you for a fact that anyone has ever tortured a prisoner or how they did it. I can’t tell you that I have seen this or done that. But I can ask you to think about the reality of war and the passions and emotions that result from life or death conflict and how those would express themselves when you got your hands on one of those that had been doing his damdest to kill you and you needed information from him RIGHT NOW while a battle rages just outside the door. Anyone who thinks you will nicely ask him questions and hope he will answer is extremely naive. How far would you go to get the info you needed to save the lives of yourself and your mates?

    It is great that the CIA has been exposed for destroying evidence of their actions with prisoners and withholding information. All the outrage being expressed may have some temporary effect and will probably result in new laws which will be ignored just as all others have been. Any reasonable person should not think this is some isolated incidence. This must be considered as only the one they were caught doing.

    Ask yourself to consider what the CIA’s role is in the grand scheme of war. Cold war or hot. They are charged with gathering intelligence. That is information. Good information is golden to the combat officers. It enables them to reach the objective, to win, to save the lives of their men. Is it a stretch of the imagination to consider that some of those charged with the responsiblity of obtaining information might go to extremes? Or that those extemes might become a “normal” practice. Especially when there is a great deal of “pressure” applied on them to learn what is needed.

    Is it hard to imagine the position they find themselves in? What they do to get the information is wrong. We have hung others for doing what we do. They cannot reveal what they do but it must be done to satisfy the need. That is the mentaltiy that has evolved. Therefore, it must be a secret which compounds into – the CIA must become a secret organization in every respect, operating outside the law. Of course they will withhold information. Of course they will lie. It’s a secret.

    What makes this event unique is the exposure that the President not only has/had direct knowledge of what was done, he ordered it. He directed the CIA to break the law,violate the moral and ethical standards of our nation, and violate the convention on the treatment of prisoners all nations have agreed to.

    Presidents have always known what the CIA does but there was a don’t ask-don’t tell arrangement. That no longer exists. This president has stupidly exposed himself and us to the world as being no different than any third world country in our attitude and treatment of humanity. I doubt we will ever be able to regain the trust and prestige of the world we once enjoyed.