Despite complaints made public by 9/11 Commission members and staff this week, the Department of Defense did not knowingly lie in testimony to the panel, according to the Inspector General. The New York Times reports this morning that the IG’s report blames the inaccuracies on poor record-keeping:
The Defense Department’s watchdog agency said Friday that it had no evidence that senior Pentagon commanders intentionally provided false testimony to the Sept. 11 commission about the military’s actions on the morning of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The agency, the Pentagon’s office of inspector general, said the Defense Department’s initial inaccurate accounts could be attributed largely to poor record-keeping.
The Pentagon initially suggested that the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the military’s domestic air-defense operation, had reacted quickly to reports of the hijackings and had been prepared to intercept and possibly shoot down one of the hijacked planes.
The Sept. 11 commission, which uncovered the inconsistencies in the Pentagon’s account, made a formal request in July 2004 for the inspector general to investigate why senior military officials who testified to the commission had made so many inaccurate statements.
This investigation lasted two years, and yet suddenly it made news this week when the 9/11 Commission members went public with their accusations of perjury. The media jumped all over this, playing up the frustration of the truth-seekers of the panel with the dastardly witnesses determined to keep the truth from them. Now we find out that no one did anything of the sort, but that they had poor record-keeping — another scandal, but not a conspiracy — and didn’t do enough to correct their assumptions based on those records.
Does anyone else smell a plan to get ahead of the IG’s report? Why would the Commission suddenly make this a big issue just before the release of the investigation they themselves requested? It certainly looks like a pre-emptive attack on the DoD by panel members hoping to get the public’s blood boiling regardless of what the report would finally indicate. It certainly gave them yet another opportunity to burnish their own image as truth-seekers, when the ABLE DANGER fiasco showed otherwise.
The DoD has problems it needs to fix, and hopefully the report will expedite that effort. However, this cynical ploy by the 9/11 Commission should remind everyone yet again how the members exploited their positions for their own aggrandizement and to shelter the bureaucrats from blame.
UPDATE: A Newer World says that I am misleading readers, in a post titled “More Inattention To Detail”. He (?) says that the report got released Friday and so the 9/11 Commission had nothing to do with this story. I know that — this story exonerates the DoD based on the IG’s report. Had ANW bothered checking my links, he would have found that the Washington Post reported on this on Wednesday with the accusations of perjury — and Dan Eggen based his story on “several commission sources”. Readers can judge the motives behind those “commission sources” and attention to detail for themselves.
UPDATE II: ANW has updated again, but still misses the point. Two days before the report was released, “several commission sources” went to Dan Eggen to get their allegations of perjury in print — without waiting to see what the IG found. They got their headlines and pre-empted the weekend release of the actual report, which found no evidence of perjury. Which version of this story got the most play, and who got to define it first? That was the point of this post. No one disputes that the DoD gave the commission incorrect information. The point is that “commission sources” set out to spin this story ahead of the IG report, a continuation of their efforts to cover a mediocre performance on their own part.