administration officials sternly cautioned the 9/11 Commission against
probing too deeply into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,
according to a document recently obtained by the ACLU.
came in a letter
dated January 6, 2004, addressed by Attorney General John Ashcroft,
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and CIA Director George J.
Tenet. The ACLU described it as a fax sent by David Addington, then-counsel
to former vice president Dick Cheney.
In the message,
the officials denied the bipartisan commission’s request to question
terrorist detainees, informing its two senior-most members that
doing so would "cross" a "line" and obstruct
the administration’s ability to protect the nation.
to the Commission’s expansive requests for access to secrets, the
executive branch has provided such access in full cooperation,"
the letter read. "There is, however, a line that the Commission
should not cross – the line separating the Commission’s proper
inquiry into the September 11, 2001 attacks from interference with
the Government’s ability to safeguard the national security, including
protection of Americans from future terrorist attacks."
The 9/11 Commission,
officially called the National
Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was
formed by President Bush in November of 2002 "to prepare a
full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks" and to offer recommendations for
preventing future attacks.
staff’s proposed participation in questioning of detainees would
cross that line," the letter continued. "As the officers
of the United States responsible for the law enforcement, defense
and intelligence functions of the Government, we urge your Commission
not to further pursue the proposed request to participate in the
questioning of detainees."