New York Times
Deal on 9/11 Briefings Lets White House Edit Papers
Fri Nov 14 15:07:04 2003
The New York Times In America
November 14, 2003
Deal on 9/11 Briefings Lets White House Edit Papers
By PHILIP SHENON
WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 — The commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks
said on Thursday that its deal with the White House for access to highly
classified Oval Office intelligence reports would let the White House edit the
documents before they were released to the commission's representatives.
The agreement, announced on Wednesday, has led to the first public split on the
commission. Two Democrats on the 10-member panel say that the commission should
have demanded full access to the intelligence summaries, known as the
President's Daily Brief, and that the White House should not be allowed to
determine what is relevant to the investigation.
An umbrella group of victims' families joined the criticism, saying the terms of
the accord should be public.
While spokesmen for panel refused again to provide the terms, citing the
sensitivity of the talks with the White House, its executive director
acknowledged that the White House would be able to remove information from the
reports unrelated to Al Qaeda and to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
"An entire P.D.B. will have articles about China, South Africa, Venezuela," the
executive director, Philip D. Zelikow, said in an interview. "The notion that
the commission should want to read P.D.B. articles that have nothing to do with
Al Qaeda would be a novel suggestion. The commission has not asked to see the
country's most sensitive intelligence information on China or North Korea."
A Democrat on the panel who has criticized the accord, former Representative
Timothy J. Roemer of Indiana, said in an interview that he believed that the
panel had agreed to terms that would let the White House edit the reports to
remove the contexts in which the intelligence was presented and to hide any
"The President's Daily Brief can run 9 to 12 pages long," Mr. Roemer said. "But
under this agreement, the commission will be allowed to see only specific
articles or paragraphs within the P.D.B.'s. Our members may see only two or
three paragraphs out of a nine-page report."
He said the commission should have insisted on access to the full reports,
because "you need the context of how the P.D.B. was presented to the president
in order to determine whether or not there were smoking guns."
The other Democratic critic on the panel, former Senator Max Cleland of Georgia,
has described the agreement as unconscionable.
Administration officials have acknowledged that they are concerned that
intelligence reports received by Mr. Bush in the weeks before 9/11 might be
construed to suggest that the White House failed to respond to evidence
suggesting that Al Qaeda was planning a catastrophic attack. The White House
acknowledged last year in response to news reports that a copy of the Daily
Brief in August 2001 noted that Al Qaeda might use hijacked planes in an attack.
Commission officials have said that under the agreement the panel will be able
to designate four members to read the reports. They will be allowed to take
notes on the documents, and the White House will be allowed to review and edit
the notes to remove especially sensitive information.
In its statement, the victims' family group, the Family Steering Committee, said
the agreement would "prevent a full uncovering of the truth and is
unacceptable." The group is led by many advocates who were most responsible for
pressuring Congress to create the commission last year over the initial
objections of the White House.
"As it now stands, a limited number of commissioners will have restricted access
to a limited number of P.D.B. documents," the group said. "The commission should
issue a statement to the American public fully explaining why this agreement was
chosen in lieu of issuing subpoenas to the C.I.A. and executive branch."
The group said, "All 10 commissioners should have full, unfettered and
unrestricted access to all evidence, including but not limited to all
Presidential Daily Briefings."
A spokesman for the group, Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, was
killed at the World Trade Center, said the families were alarmed that the terms
of the accord were kept secret.
`'I think this entire deal needs to be explained to the public," Ms. Breitweiser
said. "This is an independent commission that is supposed to be transparent,
that is supposed to be open."
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
"Ten Commandments Judge Removed from Bench."
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THE RECRUITERS OF 9/11 Chaim Kupferberg, Fri Nov 14 15:27
Autopsy: No Arabs on Flight 77 Thomas R. Olmsted. M.D., Fri Nov 14 17:20
They did explain RH, Sun Nov 16 14:04
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I'm damned if I can find flight 77 Ron Winn, Sun Nov 16 15:23
OP MOCKINGBIRD AGENT MIKE RUPPERT & OTHERS! RESEARCHER, Fri Nov 14 16:16
Art Bell and ADVANCED Ranger Rick, Sun Nov 16 19:15
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