Food for Thought

In the search for intelligence life, Porter Goss is strictly from hunger

Here's the news that made many people in the Eastern Time Zone heave up their breakfasts at 8:31 this morning: President Bush introduced Porter Goss as the new CIA director.

Bush called Goss a "reformer." The two of them ought to be toast.

How fitting that this is the same House Intelligence chairman Porter Goss who was having breakfast in D.C. on 9/11 with Pakistan's security chief, Lieutenant General Mahmoud Ahmad—who was later revealed to be hijacker Mohammed Atta's bagman.

The Washington Post's Rich Leiby mentioned the breakfast as a cheery aside in a May 18, 2002, puff profile of Goss. Florida senator Bob Graham was also munching with Mahmoud, as the Post and others, including the Asia Times have reported. But why didn't the Post mention the chowdown in its first lengthy stories this morning?

Digest this: The two Floridians wound up running the joint congressional inquiry into 9/11 in their roles as chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence committees. Not a word of the breakfast appears in Goss-Graham 858-page report. No one's saying that Goss and Graham are necessarily hiding any big thing. But the breakfast, in retrospect, is at least somewhat embarrassing. And is it really such a worthless fact that it merited no mention at all?

And chew on another factoid: This is the same Porter Goss who stood up on the floor of the U.S. House on October 9, 2002, during the crucial debate about whether to authorize Bush to go to war against Iraq, and said, according to the Congressional Record, that the 9/11 attack "was delivered by depraved men."

Two quick questions: Was the Pakistani general too depraved to have another cinnamon roll that morning? Or was he just full?

Goss also said on October 9, 2002:

Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and their radical ilk are at the epicenter of terrorist activity in the Middle East. Nobody doubts that. It is not debatable. President Bush, Prime Minister Blair and others have made convincing cases about the threats the despotic Iraqi regime poses to world peace and stability today—today as well as tomorrow.

And he added:

Iraq has expanded its weapons of mass destruction capabilities against its pledge not to. It still has deadly chemical weapons hidden throughout the country, and it has tried to develop nuclear devices as well. It is certain that Iraq has ties to many Islamic terror groups in the region, including Al Qaeda. Evidence supports Iraq's involvement in the first and probably the second World Trade Center bombing.

So, let's see: Goss, a former CIA agent, ignored studying something that did happen—his breakfast with the bagman of a 9/11 hijacker—while strongly pushing for a war based on a "threat" to our security that didn't exist.

Sure, let's make him CIA director. What the hell. He's been an effective stonewaller and excuse-maker ever since 9/11.

"No smoking gun," he said in 2002, when the Goss-Graham report was released.

It's "not about blame," he said in 2003. Here's his full quote from that rare public hearing of his House panel on 9/11 investigations, as reported by PBS at the time: "None of remarks we're talking about, nor any of history, and this certainly carries over to the 9/11 review, it's not about blame. This is about better protecting the United States of America in the world as it is today."

Keep this in mind: Since 9/11, various probes have found that the hijackers and other Al Qaeda operatives were constantly coming and going through Pakistan before the fateful day.

In the Goss-Graham report, you'll find Pakistan all over the 858 pages, but not a crumb from the 9/11 breakfast. What was talked about? Why was Pakistan's version of a CIA-FBI director in D.C. at that time? Who knew what? And when?

At the time of the attacks, the U.S. had a complex and rocky relationship with Pakistan. During the Reagan era, the U.S. helped finance and arm Arab militants so they could drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. It's common knowledge that neighboring Pakistan was the base for those militants. And the agency Ahmad ran, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was often on friendly terms with the Taliban and other Arab militants but on shaky terms with the U.S.

Judge for yourself who's smoking what by going to the Center for Cooperative Research's unparalleled website of heavily annotated 9/11 timelines and essays. Search "Goss" and see what comes up.

The best analysis of this naggingly curious breakfast is perhaps this piece by Michel Chossudovsky, director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, a Canadian outfit that boldly goes where most other probers don't.

It's more interesting than the congressional report produced by Goss and Graham. Or is it? Would you like an after-meal HUMINT?


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