Paul Jay interviews Senator Bob Graham, former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chair of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, eight weeks after the release of the “28 pages” that the Bush White House had redacted from the joint inquiry’s report.
PAUL JAY: I want to jump to something else, which we discussed in the previous interview. And that has to do with the role of the American government in this, particularly the Bush-Cheney administration. I’m going to play for you a little exchange we had in the previous interview.
Senator Bob Graham, former Co-Chair of the Joint Congressional Committee investigating 9/11, says President Bush was like a “head coach” ordering intelligence agencies to all move in the same direction -- not preventing the attacks and covering up the role of Bandar and the Saudi government.
JAY: [I]f you are right that Bandar knew this was going on, then he’s sitting, meeting with his friend President Bush regularly in the days leading up to 9/11, and either not saying anything or somehow does. I mean, I know you know there’s a lot of theory--and, I think, a lot of evidence that would at least require an inquiry--that there’s a deliberate attempt not to know.
GRAHAM: Well, and also the fact that it was so pervasive, that virtually all of the agencies of the federal government were moving in the same direction, from a customs agent at an airport in Orlando who was chastised when he denied entry into the United States to a Saudi, to the president of the United States authorizing large numbers of Saudis to leave the country, possibly denying us--forever--important insights and information on what happened. You don’t have everybody moving in the same direction without there being a head coach somewhere who was giving them instructions as to where he wants them to move.
JAY: So that includes before and after the events.
GRAHAM: Primarily before the event. After the event, it shifts from being an action that supports the activities of the Saudis to actions that cover up the results of that permission given to the Saudis to act.
GRAHAM: Let me say, I no longer use the words cover up to describe what’s going on. I find more accurate the words aggressive deception. The federal government has attempted to rewrite the narrative of 9/11 in order to exclude the role of the Saudis from that horrific story.
JAY: I just want to focus on this line: “You don’t have everybody moving in the same direction without there being a head coach somewhere who was giving them instructions as to where he wants them to move.” And that’s in reference to me talking about the various examples of American intelligence agencies that in fact did generate intelligence that could have prevented 9/11 if it had been followed up. And I had asked you if there was a deliberate culture created to the American intelligence agencies of not wanting to know, which in itself could prohibit the sharing of information that people talk about. So who’s the coach?
GRAHAM: Well, I think the coach is the president of the United States. He’s the only one who could have commanded agencies, from the Department of State to the Treasury Department, to the intelligence community, to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, to all act in the same manner, because they are all ultimately responsible to the president.
JAY: If all this is true, what might have motivated it is a real convergence of interests between the Saudi regime and President Bush and Dick Cheney and the neocons around them. We know there’s a document that comes out called Project for the New American Century, which essentially calls for regime change, first of all in Iraq, then in Syria, and the ultimate prize being Iran. And we know the Saudis are extremely motivated to try to overthrow the regime in Iran.They hate the Iranians, and it frames itself as hating Shia. And it’s certainly a convergence of interests between the Saudi government and al-Qaeda that hate Shia probably more than they hate America. And, of course, Bush-Cheney’s stated objective was regime change in Iran. In fact, there was a time when they hoped to go to war with Iran, and perhaps only generals from the Pentagon stopped it from happening, that there was a real convergence of interests to create the conditions of what was called, in that Project for the New American Century, the need for a “new Pearl Harbor”, that they’re conniving in this. There’s no other way to say it.
GRAHAM: A lot of intriguing questions. I hope that we will have some answers. I only hope we don’t have to wait another decade and a half to get at the business of providing those answers.
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(Included in article above.)