we saw in the 9/11 Commission hearing with Condoleeza
Rice is a brilliantly conceived and orchestrated
exercise in reverse psychology. The major objective
of the hearing (a cooperative effort between the
administration represented by Rice and the commission
itself supposedly representing the public) was
to convince the public that, based on the "intelligence"
information it had, no one could have foreseen
the use of hijacked commercial airliners in suicide
attacks on U.S. landmarks.
order to guarantee the largest possible viewing
audience for the televised and scripted "show"
commission chair Thomas Kean announced it was
asking Rice to appear at a public hearing under
oath. Rice and the administration fought that
saying Rice would appear before the commission
but not in public and not under oath. This led
to a pr blitz in the media stoked by perceived
Bush enemies and proponents of the Bush knew in
the administration "capitulated" and agreed to
let Rice testify for two and a half hours before
the commission in public and under oath. Those
who remember the Uncle Remus stories of Joel Chandler
Harris should recognize this ploy as coming straight
out of his story about Brer Rabbit and the Tar
Baby, where Brer Rabbit pleaded not to be thrown
into the briar patch (his only sure avenue of
escape). Brer Fox, intent on doing as much damage
to Brer Rabbit as he could, then threw him into
the briar patch from which the wily Brer Rabbit
scampered to safety.
was in trouble comparable to being stuck on the
tar baby because of her widely quoted statement
that no one (in the administration) could have
imagined the use of commercial airplanes as missiles
as was done on 9/11. She quickly backed off from
that statement saying I should have said "I" couldn't
have imagined that explaining that several people
had explained to her that at least some were aware
of that kind of threat Of course she was never
asked who those people were.
whetted the public's appetite for what some saw
as the "public lynching" of Condi Rice, the TV
networks then took the almost unheard of step
of preempting all of their soaps to telecast the
hearing live. The stage for the big show was set.
understand what unfolded during the hearing, the
reader should be familiar with the 1995 three-phase
terrorist plot code named "Bojinka." An exposition
of the details of the plots and the background
is available in this author's June 18, 2002 article
"Bojinka The Dog That Didn't Bark" available at
the URL at the end of this article
that code name was not mentioned, the entire thrust
of Rice's testimony and commission questioning
was focused on denying any knowledge of the details
of that plot concocted by Ramzi Yousef, convicted
mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the WTC which
later planned to hijack commercial airlines and
fly them into U.S. landmarks. Specifically named
as targets in the documentation recovered by Philippine
authorities (and furnished to the FBI, CIA and
State Department in 1995) were the Pentagon, World
Trade Center and the Sears Tower in Chicago.
called for in the script (each commissioner had
a carefully prepared "brief" from which most of
the questions were taken. Richard Ben Veniste
was chosen to apparently "trap" Rice into admitting
to the existence of an intelligence report that
contained warnings of possible hijackings. He
asked her to give the title of the President's
daily briefing (PDB) presented to Bush on August
5, 2001 at his ranch in Texas by CIA Director
George Tenet. Rice, feigning reluctance, disclosed
the title as "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside
the United States."
admitted that the document did mention the possibility
of hijacked airliners but only in the context
of obtaining hostages to trade for convicted terrorists.
She maintained that throughout her testimony.
Several commissioners and the Chair challenged
Rice to have the PDB declassified. She would not
commit to that. However, with remarkable speed
the White House declassified the PDB and copies
appeared in the media by the weekend.
from being the "smoking gun" critics were expecting,
the PDB backed Rice's testimony about potential
hijackings to get hostages (from an uncorroborated
and unidentified "source"). However, the PDB did
say that the FBI saw patterns of "suspicious"
activity in the country consistent with preparations
the period of five years, from 1996 to 2001, the
FBI made numerous inquiries about suspected bin
Laden associates taking pilot training in at least
four flight schools in Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma
and Florida. The last inquiry took place at the
Airman Flight School in Norman Oklahoma just three
weeks before the Sept. 11 disaster.
administration has admitted that during the summer
of 2001, many reports of a catastrophic terrorist
strike were circulating. While the taking of hostages
hardly qualifies as "catastrophic, anyone familiar
with the details of the third phase of the Bojinka
plot would have immediately recognized the preparations
to execute it.
should have recognized the threat? Certainly Richard
Clarke who supervised John O'Neill the FBI's Al
Quaeda expert in New York who was involved in
the capture and prosecution of Ramzi Yousef for
the first phase of Bojinka to blow up 11 airliners
simultaneously over the Pacific. Clarke admitted
as much when he said analysts should be forgiven
for "forgetting" about the plot, which was six
DIA Director Tenet and Commission member Jamie
Gorelick almost certainly knew about Bojinka.
March 1994 until she joined Fannie Mae in May
1997 Gorelick was Deputy Attorney General, the
number two spot in Janet Reno's Department of
May 1995, the Intelligence Community Law Enforcement
Policy Board was established to meet quarterly
and discuss mutual concerns of the Attorney General
and Director of Central Intelligence. The board
was co-chaired by Gorelick and DCI George Tenet.
Other members included all of the law enforcement
agencies, the Assistant Secretary of State for
Intelligence and Research and the Defense Department
is the same time frame (spring of 1995) in which
the Philippine government apprised the FBI, CIA
and State Department of "Project Bojinka" an Islamic
terrorist plot which included hijacking commercial
airlines planes and flying them into the Pentagon,
World Trade Center towers and, several other buildings.
beggars belief that Bojinka was not discussed
at that meeting especially since one part of the
plot was to fly an explosive laden small plane
(not a hijacked airliner) into CIA headquarters.
That should have gotten Tenet's attention.
another unprecedented step, the White House released
a transcript of the 42-minute "background" briefing
given selected reporters shortly after the conclusion
of the Rice hearing. It emphasized several times
that the only mention of hijacking was in the
context of obtaining hostages.
9/11 the insiders' propaganda and disinformation
assets in the New York Times and Washington Post
have brazenly maintained that project Bojinka
did not include hijacking commercial airliners
to fly them into U.S. landmarks.
instance, Mathew Brzezinski the Washington Post's
intelligence expert (nephew of Zbigniew Brzezinski)
published the following, "No one imagined something
like this possible, and there was no US precedent
to justify heightened security. Bojinka was about
blowing planes up not hijacking them."
D. Kristof, intelligence "expert" for the New
York Times, published a full-length article that
was syndicated widely to other newspapers purporting
to explain Operation Bojinka, which entirely omitted
the third phase about the hijacking of airliners.
far, the media, government, and the 911 commission
have succeeded in "dodging the bullet." Before
the commission ends its "mandate" and issues its
report the public and the families of the victims
of 9/11 should demand the commission obtain answers
from the relevant officials (as well as commissioner
Jamie Gorelick) in the format made famous by Howard
Baker in the Watergate hearings, "What did they
know about Bojinka and when did they know it?"
Medium Rare articles back to October 2001 are
author is a freelance writer based in Romulus,
Michigan. He is a former newspaper editor and
investigative reporter, a retired customs administrator
and accountant, and a student of history and the
Posted: April 23, 2004