For most of 2002, President Bush argued that a commission created to look into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks would only distract from the post-Sept. 11 war on terrorism. Now, in 17 preliminary staff reports, that panel has called into question nearly every aspect of the administration’s response to terror, including the idea that Iraq and Al Qaeda were somehow the same foe, says the New York Times.
The commission has demonstrated over the last 19 months that the Sept. 11 attacks were foreseen, at least in general terms, and might well have been prevented, had it not been for misjudgments, mistakes and glitches, some within the White House. In the face of those findings, Bush stood firm, disputing the particular finding in a staff report that there was no “collaborative relationship” between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist organization. Bush’s assertions may now be perceived by Americans as having less credibility than they did before the commission’s staff began in January to rewrite the history of Sept. 11, in one extraordinarily detailed report after another. With its historic access to government secrets, the panel was able to shed new light on old accountings, demonstrating, for example, that Bush himself, in the weeks before the attack, had received more detailed warnings about Al Qaeda’s intentions than the White House had acknowledged.