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Profile: Lee Hamilton

 
  

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Lee Hamilton actively participated in the following events:

 
  

(Between 10:00-10:15 a.m.): Bush and Cheney Said to Confer on Shootdown Orders, 9/11 Commission Doubts Their Account      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to a 9/11 Commission staff report, Vice President Cheney is told that a combat air patrol has been established over Washington. Cheney then calls President Bush to discuss the rules of engagement for the pilots. Bush authorizes the shootdown of hijacked aircraft at this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] According to a Washington Post article, which places the call after 9:55 a.m., “Cheney recommended that Bush authorize the military to shoot down any such civilian airliners—as momentous a decision as the president was asked to make in those first hours.” Bush then talks to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to clarify the procedure, and Rumsfeld passes word down the chain of command. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Cheney and Bush recall having this phone call, and National Security Adviser Rice recalls overhearing it. However, as the commission notes, “Among the sources that reflect other important events that morning there is no documentary evidence for this call, although the relevant sources are incomplete. Others nearby who were taking notes, such as the vice president's chief of staff, [I. Lewis ‘Scooter’] Libby, who sat next to him, and [Lynne] Cheney, did not note a call between the president and vice president immediately after the vice president entered the conference room.” The commission also apparently concludes that no evidence exists to support the claim that Bush and Rumsfeld talked about such procedures at this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Commission Chairman Thomas Kean says, “The phone logs don't exist, because they evidently got so fouled up in communications that the phone logs have nothing. So that's the evidence we have.” Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton says of the shootdown order, “Well, I'm not sure it was carried out.” [New York Daily News, 6/18/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (C)] Newsweek reports that it “has learned that some on the commission staff were, in fact, highly skeptical of the vice president's account and made their views clearer in an earlier draft of their staff report. According to one knowledgeable source, some staffers ‘flat out didn't believe the call ever took place.’ ” According to a 9/11 Commission staffer, the report “was watered down” after vigorous lobbying from the White House. [Newsweek, 6/20/04] An account by Canadian Captain Mike Jellinek (who was overseeing NORAD's Colorado headquarters, where he claims to hear Bush give a shootdown order), as well as the order to empty the skies of aircraft, appears to be discredited. [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01]
People and organizations involved: Lee Hamilton, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, 9/11 Commission, George W. Bush, Mike Jellinek
          

December 11, 2002: Mitchell Resigns from New 9/11 Commission      Complete 911 Timeline

      
George Mitchell.
George Mitchell resigns as vice chairman of the recently-created 9/11 investigative commission. Lee Hamilton, an Indiana congressman for more than 30 years and chairman of the committee which investigated the Iran-Contra affair, is named as his replacement. [CNN, 12/11/02] Mitchell cites time constraints as his reason for stepping down, but he also does not want to sever ties with his lawyer-lobbying firm, Piper Rudnick, or reveal his list of clients. Recent clients include the governments of Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. [Newsweek, 12/15/02]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, George Mitchell, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Lee Hamilton
          

December 16, 2002: Members of 9/11 Commission Have Potential Conflicts of Interest      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Richard Ben-Veniste.
The ten members of the new 9/11 Commission are appointed by this date, and are: Republicans Thomas Kean (Chairman), Slade Gorton, James Thompson, Fred Fielding, and John Lehman, and Democrats Lee Hamilton (Vice Chairman), Max Cleland, Tim Roemer, Richard Ben-Veniste, and Jamie Gorelick. [New York Times, 12/17/02; Washington Post, 12/15/02; Chicago Tribune, 12/12/02; Associated Press, 12/16/02] Senators Richard Shelby (R) and John McCain (R) had a say in the choice of one of the Republican positions. They and many 9/11 victims' relatives wanted former Senator Warren Rudman (R), who cowrote an acclaimed report about terrorism before 9/11. But Senate Republican leader Trent Lott blocks Rudman's appointment and chooses John Lehman instead. [Reuters, 12/16/02; St. Petersburg Times, 12/12/02; Associated Press, 12/13/02] It slowly emerges over the next several months that at least six of the ten commissioners have ties to the airline industry. [CBS News, 3/5/03] Henry Kissinger (see December 13, 2002) and his replacement Thomas Kean (see December 16, 2002) both caused controversy when they were named. In addition, the other nine members of the commission are later shown to all have potential conflicts of interest. Republican commissioners:
Fred Fielding also works for a law firm lobbying for Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. [Associated Press, 2/14/03; CBS News, 3/5/03]
Slade Gorton has close ties to Boeing, which built all the planes destroyed on 9/11, and his law firm represents several major airlines, including Delta Airlines. [Associated Press, 12/12/02; CBS News, 3/5/03]
John Lehman, former secretary of the Navy, has large investments in Ball Corp., which has many US military contracts. [Associated Press, 3/27/03 (B)]
James Thompson, former Illinois governor, is the head of a law firm that lobbies for American Airlines, and he has previously represented United Airlines. [Associated Press, 1/31/03; CBS News, 3/5/03] Democratic commissioners:
Richard Ben-Veniste represents Boeing and United Airlines. [CBS News, 3/5/03] Ben-Veniste also has other curious connections, according to a 2001 book on CIA ties to drug running written by Daniel Hopsicker, which has an entire chapter called “Who is Richard Ben-Veniste?” Lawyer Ben-Veniste, Hopsicker says, “has made a career of defending political crooks, specializing in cases that involve drugs and politics.” Ben-Veniste has been referred to in print as a “Mob lawyer,” and was a long-time lawyer for Barry Seal, one of the most famous drug dealers in US history who also is alleged to have had CIA connections. [Hopsicker, 2001, pp 325-30]
Max Cleland, former US senator, has received $300,000 from the airline industry. [CBS News, 3/5/03]
James Gorelick is a director of United Technologies, one of the Pentagon's biggest defense contractors and a supplier of engines to airline manufacturers. [Associated Press, 3/27/03 (B)]
Lee Hamilton sits on many advisory boards, including those to the CIA, the president's Homeland Security Advisory Council, and the US Army. [Associated Press, 3/27/03 (B)]
Tim Roemer represents Boeing and Lockheed Martin. [CBS News, 3/5/03]
People and organizations involved: Richard Ben-Veniste, James Thompson, John Lehman, Max Cleland, Slade Gorton, Jamie Gorelick, Lee Hamilton, United Airlines, Warren Rudman, Tim Roemer, Fred Fielding, Richard Shelby, John McCain, Trent Lott, American Airlines, 9/11 Commission
          

January 27, 2003: 9/11 Commission Starts Off with Little Funding      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Commission, officially titled the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, holds its first meeting in Washington. The commission has $3 million and only a year and a half to explore the causes of the attacks. By comparison, a 1996 federal commission to study legalized gambling was given two years and $5 million. [Associated Press, 1/27/03] Two months later the Bush administration grudgingly increases the funding to $12 million total (see March 26, 2003). Philip Zelikow, the director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and formerly in the National Security Council during George H. W. Bush's administration, is also appointed executive director of the commission. [Associated Press, 1/27/03] Zelikow cowrote a book with National Security Adviser Rice. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/03] A few days later, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton says, “The focus of the commission will be on the future. We want to make recommendations that will make the American people more secure. ... We're not interested in trying to assess blame, we do not consider that part of the commission's responsibility.” [UPI, 2/6/03]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Philip Zelikow, Lee Hamilton, 9/11 Commission
          

March 27, 2003: Security Clearance of 9/11 Commission Members Stalled      Complete 911 Timeline

       It is reported that “most members” of the 9/11 Commission still have not received security clearances. [Washington Post, 3/27/03] For instance, Slade Gorton, picked in December 2002, is a former senator with a long background in intelligence issues. Fellow commissioner Lee Hamilton says, “It's kind of astounding that someone like Senator Gorton can't get immediate clearance. It's a matter we are concerned about.” The commission is said to be at a “standstill” because of the security clearance issue, and cannot even read the classified findings of the previous 9/11 Congressional Inquiry. [Seattle Times, 3/12/03]
People and organizations involved: Slade Gorton, Lee Hamilton, 9/11 Commission, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry
          

April 29, 2004: Bush and Cheney Privately Meet with 9/11 Commission; Decline to Provide Testimony Under Oath      Complete 911 Timeline

      
There were no pictures allowed of the Bush and Cheney joint testimony before the 9/11 Commission. Here are Commissioners Thomas Kean, Fred Fielding, and Lee Hamilton preparing to begin the testimony.
President Bush and Vice President Cheney appear for three hours of private questioning before the 9/11 Commission. (Former President Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore met privately and separately with the commission earlier in the month. [New York Times, 4/30/04; Washington Post, 4/30/04] ) The commission permits Bush and Cheney to appear together, in private, and not under oath. The testimony is not recorded. Commissioners can take notes, but the notes are censored by the White House. [Knight Ridder, 3/31/04; New York Times, 4/3/04; Newsweek, 4/2/04] The commission drew most of their questions from a list submitted to the White House before the interview, but few details about the questions or the answers given are available. [Washington Post, 4/29/04] Two commissioners, Lee Hamilton and Bob Kerrey, leave the session early for other engagements. They claim they had not expected the interview to last more than the previously agreed upon two-hour length. [New York Times, 5/1/04]
People and organizations involved: Lee Hamilton, Bob Kerrey, 9/11 Commission, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush
          

August 11, 2005: 9/11 Commission Admits Being Informed of Intelligence Unit That Identified Mohamed Atta in 2000      Complete 911 Timeline

       In response to new revelations about a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which allegedly identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks (see August 9, 2005), Al Felzenberg—formerly the chief spokesman for the 9/11 Commission—admits that a uniformed officer, when briefing two of the commission's staff members about the unit in July 2004, had indeed mentioned Mohamed Atta. [New York Times, 8/11/05] Previously, Felzenberg had said that commission staff members briefed about Able Danger in October 2003 by a different officer involved with it were informed of the program, but not told anything about Mohamed Atta or an al-Qaeda cell in the US. [New York Times, 8/9/05; New York Times, 8/11/05] Subsequently, the former leaders of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, release a statement saying that panel staff members have found no documents or other witnesses to back up the claims made by the officer in July 2004. They say, “The interviewee had no documentary evidence” to back up his claims, and that “the Commission staff concluded that the officer's account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation.” [Washington Post, 8/13/05; Kean-Hamilton statement, 8/12/05] The final report of the 9/11 Commission, released in July 2004, made no mention of Able Danger.
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton, Thomas Kean, Al Felzenberg, Mohamed Atta, Able Danger, al-Qaeda
          

September 13, 2005: Revised Version of 9/11's Commission's FAA Report Released; Some Material Still Blacked Out      Complete 911 Timeline

       A new version of a report by the 9/11 Commission on the FAA and 9/11, which was completed in August 2004, is publicly released. A heavily censored version of the same report came out in February 2005 (see February 10, 2005). Commission members complained that the deleted material included information crucial to understanding what went wrong on 9/11. The newly released version restores dozens of portions of the report, but numerous references to shortcomings in aviation security remain blacked out. Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the former heads of the 9/11 Commission, state: “While we still believe that the entire document could be made available to the public without damaging national security, we welcome this step forward.” Commission officials say they were perplexed by the White House's original attempts to black out material that they considered trivial or mundane. [New York Times, 09/14/05; Associated Press, 9/13/05]
People and organizations involved: Thomas Kean, Federal Aviation Administration, Lee Hamilton, 9/11 Commission
          

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