9/11 Panel Leaders Accuse CIA, White House of Obstructing Inquiry
On Wednesday, the same day that Attorney General Mukasey announced the launching of a federal probe into the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes, the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, respectively, published an explosive Op-Ed piece in The New York Times slamming the CIA and the Bush administration for “stonewalling” their investigation.
Kean and Hamilton writing in N.Y. Times:
The commission’s mandate was sweeping and it explicitly included the intelligence agencies. But the recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.
There could have been absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone at the C.I.A. — or the White House — of the commission’s interest in any and all information related to Qaeda detainees involved in the 9/11 plot. Yet no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations.
When the press reported that, in 2002 and maybe at other times, the C.I.A. had recorded hundreds of hours of interrogations of at least two Qaeda detainees, we went back to check our records. We found that we did ask, repeatedly, for the kind of information that would have been contained in such videotapes.