Lance has followed-up his book,
1000 Years for Revenge (reviewed
at lewrockwell.com on Saturday, 9/11/04), with a new blockbuster,
Cover Up: What the Government Is Still Hiding About the War On
Terror. Out of necessity, Lance restates the details outlined
in his first book at the beginning of Cover Up.
In 1000 Years for Revenge Lance demonstrated that culpability
for what happened on 9-11 ran through the three presidential administrations
of Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. The FBI infiltrated a terrorist
cell operating within a Brooklyn mosque in 1991 but then drove off
their "mole" prior to Ramzi Yousef joining the cell in
1992. Yousef went on to mastermind the plot and build the explosive
device used in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
Yousef escaped New York after the bombing and set up another terrorist
cell in the Philippines with his uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM).
In the early 1990's Yousef and KSM planned three terrorist plots
together: the assassination of the Pope, the simultaneous bombing
of eleven commercial airliners and the "crashing of airplanes
into buildings" tactic used on 9-11.
All three of these plots were uncovered in 1994 when a man associated
with Yousef and KSM was captured and successfully interrogated by
Philippine authorities. Their findings were forwarded on to the
U.S. embassy in Manila which passed them on to the FBI in 1995.
Around this time Yousef was captured in an Osama bin Laden–sponsored
boarding house in Pakistan and handed over to FBI officials in that
country. Incredibly, KSM was staying in the same compound but went
undiscovered by the FBI. A TIME magazine reporter, however,
found KSM while the FBI was taking over the arrest of Yousef and
interviewed him (using KSM's real name) for an article about how
Yousef was captured.
Yousef went on to plan and communicate the plot that ultimately
led to the bombing of TWA Flight 800 in 1996 from his jail cell.
The FBI was made aware of this plot through an informant that they
had working as an asset for them in the same jail.
The work to cover up these unpleasant facts was begun by the 9-11
Commission coincident with its formation. As one commissioner, Jamie
Gorelick, admitted in April of 2004, the "vast preponderance
of our work, including with regard to the Department of Justice,
focuses on the period of 1998 forward."
How convenient and how telling! What's the point of looking into
the FBI's infiltration of the Brooklyn terrorist cell during the
administration of George H. W. Bush? Why bother noting the ties
established in 1992 between this cell and Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind
behind the World Trade Center bombing that took place just after
the first Bush administration transferred power to the Clinton administration
in February of 2003?
What about the information obtained by Philippine authorities regarding
the Manila terrorist cell established by Yousef and KSM in the early
1990s? How about the information regarding the three terrorist plots
uncovered in the Philippines and turned over to the FBI in 1995?
What about the failure of Clinton's FBI to capture KSM at the same
time as Pakistani officials handed Yousef over to them in 1995?
Why did the FBI under both Clinton and George W. Bush keep the hunt
for KSM such a secret until after 9-11? Why was the 1996 federal
indictment against KSM kept sealed until 1998?
Doesn't the FBI ultimately answer to the Attorney General at the
Department of Justice? Wasn't Commissioner Gorelick a high ranking
Justice Department official during the Clinton years? And with such
an obvious conflict, why was Gorelick named to the 9-11 Commission
in the first place?
This last question is a relatively easy one to answer. Gorelick
was probably put on the 9-11 Commission to counterbalance the appointment
of Phillip Zelikow to be the commission's staff director. Beginning
in October of 2001, Zelikow had been appointed to President Bush's
Intelligence Advisory Board. This meant that if he reviewed the
work of the NSC on behalf of the 9-11 Commission, he would effectively
be investigating himself.
Zelikow had also previously co-authored a book with NSC Director
Condi Rice. Mindy Kleinberg (one of the "Jersey Girls")
summarized the situation in this way, "What an incredible conflict!
The evidence was pointing to a series of key memos issued in the
summer of 2001 and included the August 6th Presidential
Daily Briefing. Condi Rice was at the heart of all of that. How
could we expect Zelikow to fairly investigate his own friend and
The role of the Zelikow-Gorelick axis became more prominent as the
9-11 Commission pursued its work. The only commissioners ever allowed
by the White House to personally review classified NSC documents
were Zelikow and Gorelick. As Patty Casazza (another of the "Jersey
Girls") summarized things, "We called it the two-to-four-to-ten
Casazza went on to explain that, "instead of allowing all ten
Commissioners to go in and examine key documents like the President
Daily Briefing of August 6th, they set up this system
in which Zelikow and Gorelick would go in and then Kean and Hamilton
would review their report, which could be edited by the White House.
Then this final version would get seen by everybody."
But what if the 9-11 Commission had been made aware of Peter Lance's
investigative work that was completed in 2003? Well, they were made
aware of it and largely ignored Lance's findings.
In late 2003 a copy of Lance's 1000 Years For Revenge was
made available to the Chairman of the 9-11 Commission, Thomas Kean.
In January of 2004, Kean wrote a letter to Lance indicating that
Kean had read the book and was forwarding Lance's findings to Phillip
Zelikow also wrote Lance a letter that same month indicating that
Zelikow wanted Lance to be interviewed by a 9-11 Commission staff
member, Dietrich Snell. This former Assistant U.S. Attorney had
successfully prosecuted Yousef in the case that involved the plot
to simultaneously bomb eleven commercial airlines flying from Asia
to the United States. KSM was a key co-conspirator in this plot
but was never mentioned by the prosecution in the case. Snell would
have made an excellent witness for the 9-11 Commission to question
about Yousef and KSM. He was, instead, one of the investigators.
Peter Lance's findings were mentioned once in a footnote to the
9-11 Commission's report.
After the Watergate scandals resulted in the resignation of President
Richard M. Nixon, the saying "it's not the crime that gets
you, it's the cover up" became popular. Because of Peter Lance's
new book, Cover Up, regarding the terrorist attacks of September
11, 2001 and the work of the 9-11 Commission, it will (hopefully)
be both that ultimately leads to the punishment of all parties involved
in the crime and the cover up.
W. Tofte [send him mail] is
the manager of the BWIA Private Investment Fund and the author of
Principled and Grow Rich: Your Guide to Investing Successfully in
Both Bull and Bear Markets. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa.