White House 'delayed 9-11 report'
By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
Published 7/25/2003 8:11 PM
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(Editor's note: What follows is a corrected and updated version of a
story originally published by UPI on July 23, 2003, under the headline
"9/11 report: No Iraq link to al-Qaida.")
July 25 (UPI) -- A member of the independent commission set up to
investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has accused the Bush
administration of deliberately delaying publication of an earlier
congressional inquiry into the attacks.
Max Cleland, D-Ga., told United Press International that the White
House did not want the report made public before launching military
action in Iraq. He said the administration feared publication might
undermine the administration's case for war, which was based in part on
the allegation that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had supported Osama bin
Laden -- and the attendant possibility that Iraq might supply al-Qaida
with weapons of mass destruction.
administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaida) to scare
the pants off the American people and justify the war," said Cleland.
"There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of bin
Laden's terrorist followers ... What you've seen here is the
manipulation of intelligence for political ends."
Cleland accused the administration of deliberately delaying the report's release to avoid having its case for war undercut.
this report was delayed for so long -- deliberately opposed at first,
then slow-walked after it was created -- is that the administration
wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over ... before (it) came out," he
report come out in January like it should have done, we would have
known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited
congressional inquiry, by members of both the House and Senate
intelligence committees, was launched in February 2002 amid growing
concerns that failures by U.S. intelligence had allowed 19 al-Qaida
members to enter the United States, hijack four airliners and kill
almost 3,000 people.
committee completed its work at the end of last year, publication of
the report has been delayed by what one committee staffer called
"vigorous discussion" with administration officials over which parts of
it could be declassified.
The 800-page report -- 50 pages of which were censored to protect still-classified information -- was published Thursday.
It is a
litany of poor management, bad communication and flawed policy that
enabled the 19 hijackers to carry out their deadly plan. Failures by
the CIA, the FBI and the super-secret National Security Agency are
Many of the
censored pages concern the question of support for al-Qaida from
foreign countries. Anonymous officials have told news organizations
that much of the still-classified material concerns Saudi Arabia, and
the question of whether Saudi officials -- perhaps acting as rogue
agents -- assisted the 19 men, 15 of whom were Saudis.
would not comment to UPI about the issue, but one did say that the
section contained references to "more one country."
Prior to the
report's publication, a person who had read it told UPI that it showed
U.S. intelligence agencies had no evidence linking Iraq to the 9-11
attacks or to al-Qaida. In fact, the issue is not addressed in the
declassified sections of the report.
person who has seen the classified version of the document told UPI
subsequently that the Iraq issue is not addressed in the
still-classified section, either. "They didn't ask that question," the
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