… Despite intense attention paid to Sept. 11, public understanding of that day — how government officials responded, what went smoothly and what didn't — remains shrouded in confusion and misunderstanding. The independent commission appointed to study the terror strikes has said it considers piecing together a minute-by-minute picture of that day's events crucial to its task of deciding whether the country needs to take further steps to prepare for potential future crises.
Scores of interviews with those who played key roles that day or directly witnessed events suggest that some official accounts of Sept. 11 are incorrect, incomplete or in dispute.
That's from Scot J. Paltrow of The Wall Street Journal (via Atrios). And it's yet another example in the mainstream media of journalists rubbing the sleep from their eyes and waking up to the fact that we seem to have a whole lot of unanswered questions about what the heck happened that day.
Here's another example, Joe Klein in TIME offers a set of unanswered questions about 9/11 that he'd like the commission to ask. Many of these questions are along the lines of the issues raised by former counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke regarding the apparent lack of any Bush administration strategy for dealing with al-Qaida prior to Sept. 11, 2001. But Klein also has questions about the president's actions on that day and immediately afterward:
Specifically, why did he allow planeloads of Saudi nationals, including members of the bin Laden family, out of the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks? Who asked him to give the Saudis special treatment? Was he aware that the Saudi Arabian government and members of the royal family gave money to charities that funded al-Qaeda?
The closest thing to a "minute-by-minute picture of that day's events" I've seen regarding Sept. 11 is the extensively detailed report from Allan Wood and Paul Thompson of the Center for Cooperative Research.
When I first read this, it seemed uncomfortably conspiratorial and I dismissed it as too "tinfoil hat," just as I dismissed the talk I was then hearing about bin Laden family members being allowed to fly out of the country. But now I find myself, like Paltrow and Klein, doing a kind of double-take. How is it we still don't have a coherent timeline of what the president did or didn't do that day? How can the entire country have watched a single event unfold before our eyes on television and yet none of us can say with any authority what it was that happened?
That's not to say that I'm leaning toward a more conspiratorial view, but my skepticism about the official accounts of that day increases in direct proportion to the evasiveness of those accounts.
Anyway, the Family Steering Committee of the 9/11 Independent Commission would like to ask President Bush:
Please explain why you remained at the Sarasota, Florida, elementary school for a press conference after you had finished listening to the children read, when as a terrorist target, your presence potentially jeopardized the lives of the children?