April 30 - Even as White House political aides plot a 2004 campaign plan designed to capitalize on the emotions and issues raised by the September 11 terror attacks, administration officials are waging a behind-the-scenes battle to restrict public disclosure of key events relating to the attacks.
AT THE CENTER of the dispute is a more-than-800-page secret report prepared by a joint congressional inquiry detailing the intelligence and law-enforcement failures that preceded the attacks�including provocative, if unheeded warnings, given President Bush and his top advisers during the summer of 2001.
The report was completed last December; only a bare-bones list of �findings� with virtually no details was made public. But nearly six months later, a �working group� of Bush administration intelligence officials assigned to review the document has taken a hard line against further public disclosure. By refusing to declassify many of its most significant conclusions, the administration has essentially thwarted congressional plans to release the report by the end of this month, congressional and administration sources tell NEWSWEEK. In some cases, these sources say, the administration has even sought to �reclassify� some material that was already discussed in public testimony
I'm sure they have more to hide than how the President shirked his duty that morning. For example, the investigation might reveal exactly how the Rowley memo was ignored. Or how the CIA could fail to act even though it had tracked two of the 9-11 terrorists from Malaysia to Los Angeles well in advance. Or why the Air Force failed to provide protection from nearby Andrews AFB to Washington, even though the Pentagon was attacked a full 40 minutes after the first WTC tower. Or why NORAD decided speed wasn't of the essence.
Of course, the real reason has probably more to do with re-election than with coverup:
The tensions over the release of 9-11 related material seems especially relevant�if not ironic�in light of recent reports that the president�s political advisers have devised an unusual re-election strategy that essentially uses the story of September 11 as the liftoff for his campaign. The White House is delaying the Republican nominating convention, scheduled for New York City, until the first week in September 2004�the latest in the party�s history. That would allow Bush�s acceptance speech, now slated for Sept. 2, to meld seamlessly into 9-11 commemoration events due to take place in the city the next week.
astoundingly, a Bush apologist in my comments section accused me of trying to leverage 9-11 for political purposes with this post. I encourage others of similar cluelessness to consider the President's record of invoking 9-11 for his political advantage.