It behaved disgracefully and in a nakedly partisan fashion, with former officials of the Clinton administration attempting to use the platform to damage the president’s reelection chances. Then, after months of ludicrous conduct, out of nowhere came the brilliantly conceived and written report that set a new standard of eloquence and coherence for government documents, became a major bestseller and redeemed the commission’s reputation.
Well, that didn’t last long.
In a story filed at 7:10 PM, the Associated Press is now confirming all the particulars of what will now forever be called the Able Danger disaster. The 9/11 Commission staff did hear about intelligence-gathering efforts that hit pay dirt on the whereabouts of Mohammed Atta — in 1999 — and deliberately chose to omit word of those efforts.
And why? Because to do so might upset the timeline the Commission had established on Atta.
And why is that significant? Because the Mohammed Atta timeline established by the Commission pointedly insisted Atta did not meet with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague.
And why is that significant? Because debunking the Atta-Iraq connection was of vital importance to Democrats, who had become focused almost obsessively on the preposterous notion that there was no relation whatever between Al Qaeda and Iraq — that Al Qaeda and Iraq might even have been enemies.
I was very skeptical of this Able Danger stuff about Atta, thought it was just sme way Rep. Curt Weldon was trying to sell a book. No longer. This is clearly becoming the biggest story of the summer — the fact that, as Andy McCarthy alluded to, the “intelligence wall” set up by 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick when she was in the Justice Department did, in fact, cause the linchpin of the 9/11 attacks to evade capture by American law enforcement.
So was the staff a) protecting the Atta timeline or b) Jamie Gorelick or c) the Clinton administration or d) itself, because it got hold of the information relatively late and the staff was lazy?
More important, what will co-chairmen Tom (pound his fist on the table) Kean and Lee (look sorrowful) Hamilton do and say in the next 36 hours about this calamity?