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August 30, 2005
More Dots Missing From The Omission Commission

The invaluable Steven Hayes presents yet even more information that never made it into the supposedly comprehensive 9/11 Commission report in this week's edition of the Weekly Standard. Hayes reports that two figures tied to both the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and Iraq also have ties to the 9/11 hijackers -- but Americans relying on the independent panel tasked with providing the definitive look into the latter would never know it:

AHMED HIKMAT SHAKIR IS A shadowy figure who provided logistical assistance to one, maybe two, of the 9/11 hijackers. Years before, he had received a phone call from the Jersey City, New Jersey, safehouse of the plotters who would soon, in February 1993, park a truck bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center. The safehouse was the apartment of Musab Yasin, brother of Abdul Rahman Yasin, who scorched his own leg while mixing the chemicals for the 1993 bomb.

When Shakir was arrested shortly after the 9/11 attacks, his "pocket litter," in the parlance of the investigators, included contact information for Musab Yasin and another 1993 plotter, a Kuwaiti native named Ibrahim Suleiman.

These facts alone, linking the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, would seem to cry out for additional scrutiny, no?

The Yasin brothers and Shakir have more in common. They are all Iraqis. And two of them--Abdul Rahman Yasin and Shakir--went free, despite their participation in attacks on the World Trade Center, at least partly because of efforts made on their behalf by the regime of Saddam Hussein. Both men returned to Iraq--Yasin fled there in 1993 with the active assistance of the Iraqi government. For ten years in Iraq, Abdul Rahman Yasin was provided safe haven and financing by the regime, support that ended only with the coalition intervention in March 2003.

Readers of The Weekly Standard may be familiar with the stories of Abdul Rahman Yasin, Musab Yasin, and Ahmed Hikmat Shakir. Readers of the 9/11 Commission's final report are not. Those three individuals are nowhere mentioned in the 428 pages that comprise the body of the 9/11 Commission report. Their names do not appear among the 172 listed in Appendix B of the report, a table of individuals who are mentioned in the text. Two brief footnotes mention Shakir.

A year after receiving almost-universal adulation, the Commission and its report have lost the credibility and authority that it held. Unlike other attempts at historical review that suffer only through the passage of time and accessibility of fresh information and evidence, the panel wrote its own epitaph through the ignorance of data already in the public sphere. Whether that ignorance came from inept investigation, the reliance on predetermined assumptions, or something more sinister may never get answered, unless Congress holds their creation responsible in public hearings for these oversights. The sudden discovery of the trove of data left out of the Commission's report and apparently their deliberations clearly shows that the report and its conclusions can only be called incomplete in the most charitable interpretation of events.

As Hayes points out, the problem with the charitable interpretation is that it ignores a certain pattern of "ignorance". The Commission appears to have included every data point that supports the popular notion (even before their start) that the 9/11 attacks came with almost no state support other than the Taliban in Afghanistan, and even then only in sheltering the al-Qaeda strategists who ordered the attacks. The "dots" that the Commission excluded from even a mention -- if only just to debunk them -- all seem to point to state assistance from either Iran, Iraq, or both. Most of them show that the intelligence community actually did uncover some interesting data, on which the bureaucracy either explicitly blocked further investigation or discouraged action. Why would the Commission want to do that? Could it be that the collection of bureaucrats that comprised the panel wanted to believe that the bureacracy could save America, and that the intelligence communities needed more constraints, post-9/11? Or could they have wanted to underscore the meme, during a presidential election, that our "unilateral" approach to policy regarding the two potential state actors had no basis in national-security requirements?

We can speculate as to the why, but we cannot speculate as to the what any longer. My column in tomorrow's Daily Standard will provide a list of data and events that the Commission failed to include in its review, and the pattern becomes even more clear when shown in this format. (I wanted to comment last night on Hayes' article, as AJ Strata did, but I needed to meet the deadline.) I wish I could claim it to be comprehensive, but the last two weeks have shown that any such list will likely need updates within a few hours of its composition.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 30, 2005 6:49 AM

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