A look at reviews of "Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission" in the NYT and the Independent Institute plus a look at the book.
From James Bamford's review, Intelligence Test, in the NYT:
"the commission was charged with explaining not only what happened, but also why it happened. In looking into the background of the hijackers, the staff found that religious orthodoxy was not a common denominator since some of the members "reportedly even consumed alcohol and abused drugs." Others engaged in casual sex. Instead, hatred of American foreign policy in the Middle East seemed to be the key factor. Speaking to the F.B.I. agents who investigated the attacks, Hamilton asked: "You’ve looked [at] and examined the lives of these people as closely as anybody. . . . What have you found out about why these men did what they did? What motivated them to do it?"This review in the NYT overlooks the fact that there were no recommendations in the 9/11 commission's report addressing US support for Israel. Bamford's review in the NYT does not reveal the fact that there was "some disagreement over foreign policy issues. Much of it revolved around the question of al Qaeda's motivation." and that "this was sensitive ground." The review doesn't reveal the ugly fact that some commissioners were able to pressure the group into not putting any recommendations in the report addressing US support for Israel. It is a scandal that commissioners bowed to pressure to suppress what was the main motive for the 9/11 attacks. Their compromise was to write in their report that "America's policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong," They were too worried about playing politics to admit that biased US government policy in the Middle East in favor of Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict motivates the terrorists. They coped out and wrote that "American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary." These "American actions" or more accurately, the actions dictated by the policies of special interests, are resulting in much more than "commentary!"
These questions fell to Supervisory Special Agent James Fitzgerald. "I believe they feel a sense of outrage against the United States," he said. "They identify with the Palestinian problem, they identify with people who oppose repressive regimes and I believe they tend to focus their anger on the United States." As if to reinforce the point, the commission discovered that the original plan for 9/11 envisioned an even larger attack. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the strategist of the 9/11 plot, "was going to fly the final plane, land it and make 'a speech denouncing U.S. policies in the Middle East,'" Kean and Hamilton say, quoting a staff statement. And they continue: "Lee felt that there had to be an acknowledgment that a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was vital to America's long-term relationship with the Islamic world, and that the presence of American forces in the Middle East was a major motivating factor in Al Qaeda's actions."
Given the Bush administration's current policies in the region, another 9/11-style attack is less a matter of if than when."
Ivan Eland's review, "9/11 Commission Chairmen Admit Whitewashing the Cause of the Attacks" is the review that clued me in on the fact that the "book by the chairmen of the 9/11 commission admits that the commission whitewashed the root cause of the 9/11 attacks." Eland makes these critical points in his review:
"The book usefully details the administration's willful misrepresentation of its incompetent actions that day, but makes the shocking admission that some commission members deliberately wanted to distort an even more important issue. Apparently, unidentified commissioners wanted to cover up the fact that U.S. support for Israel was one of the motivating factors behind al Qaeda's 9/11 attack. Although Hamilton, to his credit, argued for saying that the reasons al Qaeda committed the heinous strike were the U.S. military presence in the Middle East and American support for Israel, the panel watered down that frank conclusion to state that U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. policy on Iraq are "dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world."
Some commissioners wanted to cover up the link between the 9/11 attack and U.S. support for Israel because this might imply that the United States should alter policy and lessen its support for Israeli actions. How right they were. The question is simple: if the vast bulk of Americans would be safer if U.S. politicians moderated their slavish support of Israel, designed to win the support of key pressure groups at home, wouldn't it be a good idea to make this change in course? Average U.S. citizens might attenuate their support for Israel if the link between the 9/11 attacks and unquestioning U.S. favoritism for Israeli excesses were more widely known."
The book, "Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission" does reveal what those studying this issue have suspected, that some commissioners on the 9/11 Commission argued against and stopped the Commission from making a recommendation about the main motive for the 9/11 attacks: US support of Israel.
From Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission pp. 284-285:
"We did however, have some disagreement over foreign policy issues. Much of it revolved around the question of al Qaeda's motivation. For instance, Lee felt that there had to be an acknowledgment that a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was vital to America's long-term relationship with the Islamic world, and that the presence of American forces in the Middle East was a major motivating factor in al Qaeda's actions. Similarly, several commissioners pointed out that we had to acknowledge that the American presence in Iraq had become the dominant issue in the way the world's Muslims viewed the United States.This book lets this flawed argument stand as the excuse for why they ended up agreeing on what they put in the 9/11 Commission's Report. Commissioners who argued that al Qaeda was motivated primarily by a religious ideology and against mentioning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the report ignored the findings of the Commission's own staff!:
--- This was sensitive ground. Commissioners who argued that al Qaeda was motivated primarily by a religious ideology - and not by opposition to American policies - rejected mentioning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the report. In their view, listing U.S. support for Israel as a root cause of al Qaeda's opposition to the United States indicated that the United States should reassess that policy. To Lee, though, it was not a question of altering support for Israel but merely stating a fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was central to the relations between the Islamic world and the United States - and to Bin Laden's ideology and the support he gained throughout the Islamic world for his jihad against America. ... We ended up agreeing on language that acknowledged the importance of the two issues without passing judgment:
America's policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world. That does not mean U.S. choices have been wrong. It means those choices must be integrated with America's message of opportunity to the Arab and Muslim world. Neither Israel nor the new Iraq will be safer if worldwide Islamist terrorism grows stronger.
- "The staff found that religious orthodoxy was not a common denominator since some of the members "reportedly even consumed alcohol and abused drugs." Others engaged in casual sex."
- By 1992, Bin Ladin was focused on attacking the United States. He argued that other extremists, aimed at local rulers or Israel, had not gone far enough; they had not attacked what he called 'the head of the snake,' the United States. He charged that the United States, in addition to backing Israel, kept in power repressive Arab regimes not true to Islam. He also excoriated the continued presence of U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War as a defilement of holy Muslim land.
MR. SNELL: Atta was chosen as the emir, or leader of the mission. He met with Bin Ladin to discuss the targets, the World Trade Center, which represented the United States economy, the Pentagon, a symbol of the U.S. military, and the U.S. Capitol, the perceived source of U.S. policy in support of Israel....These Commissioners ignored what made it into the 9/11 Comission's own report!:
MR. HAMILTON: But what have you found out about why these men did what they did? What motivated them to do it?
MR. FITZGERALD: I believe they feel a sense of outrage against the United States. They identify with the Palestinian problem, they identify with people who oppose repressive regimes, and I believe they tend to focus their anger on the United States
The report showed that the two terrorist pilots shared the same motivation. Both Mohammed Atta, the leader of the mission and terrorist pilot who crashed into World Trade Center 1, and Marwan al Shehhi, the terrorist pilot who crashed into WTC 2, were angry about what Israel was doing to the Palestinians:
- "when someone asked why he and Atta never laughed, Shehhi retorted, 'How can you laugh when people are dying in Palestine?'" p 162
- "By his own account, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel." Chapter 5
- Abdulaziz Alomari, one of the hijackers aboard Flight 11 with Mohammed Atta, said in his video will, "My work is a message those who heard me and to all those who saw me at the same time it is a message to the infidels that you should leave the Arabian peninsula defeated and stop giving a hand of help to the coward Jews in Palestine."
- Ahmed Al Haznawi, a hijacker aboard Flight 93, said in his video will, "Here is Palestine for more than a half-century, its wound has continued to bleed."
"We swore that America wouldn't live in security until we live it truly in Palestine. This showed the reality of America, which puts Israel's interest above its own people's interest. America won't get out of this crisis until it gets out of the Arabian Peninsula, and until it stops its support of Israel." -Osama bin Laden, October 2001"... the Mujahideen saw the black gang of thugs in the White House hiding the Truth, and their stupid and foolish leader, who is elected and supported by his people, denying reality and proclaiming that we (the Mujahideen) were striking them because we were jealous of them (the Americans), whereas the reality is that we are striking them because of their evil and injustice in the whole of the Islamic World, especially in Iraq and Palestine and their occupation of the Land of the Two Holy Sanctuaries." -Osama Bin Laden , February 14 , 2003
These facts point to a motive for attacking the WTC in 2001 that is consistent with the motive expressed by terrorists in a letter sent to the New York Times after the 1993 bombing attack of the WTC, "We declare our responsibility for the explosion on the mentioned building. This action was done in response for the American political, economical, and military support to Israel the state of terrorism and to the rest of the dictator countries in the region."
It is also the same motive that Mir Aimal Kasi had for killing CIA employees Frank Darling and Lansing Bennett outside CIA headquarters in Langley,Virginia in 1993 . Mir Aimal Kasi said, "What I did was a retaliation against the US government for American policy in the Middle East and its support of Israel ." Mir Aimal Kasi once professed a love for this country, his uncle testified. "He always say that 'I like America, I love America and I want to go there,'" Amanullah Kasi said at a sentencing hearing for his nephew, Mir Aimal Kasi . Kasi's roommate, who had reported him missing after the shootings, told police that Kasi would get incensed watching CNN when he heard how Muslims were being treated. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Kasi said he did not approve of the attack on the World Trade Center because innocent were killed. He understood, however, the attack on the Pentagon, the symbol of government might. - Motives for 9/11 Terrorist Attacks
Also see these blog posts: