Ex-9/11 Panel Chief Denies Secret White House Ties
Book charges Zelikow may have interfered with the 9/11 commission's report.
Jan. 30, 2008— -- The former executive director of the 9/11 Commission denies explosive charges of undisclosed ties to the Bush White House or interference with the panel's report.
The charges are said to be contained in New York Times reporter Philip Shenon's unreleased book, "The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation," according to Max Holland, an author and blogger, and generally confirmed by the book's publisher. Although the book is not slated to hit stores until early next month, Holland says he bought a copy of the audio version at a bookstore. (Attempts to purchase the book, in any format, at the Barnes & Noble across the street from ABC News headquarters were unsuccessful.)
9/11 Commission co-chairs Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton hired former Condoleezza Rice aide Philip Zelikow to be executive director, Zelikow failed to tell them about his role helping Rice set up President George W. Bush's National Security Council in early 2001 – and that he was "instrumental" in demoting Richard Clarke, the onetime White House counterterrorism czar who was fixated on the threat from Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, according to Holland's version of Shenon's tome.
"[Zelikow] had laid the groundwork for much of what went wrong at the White House in the weeks and months before September 11. Would he want people to know that?" Shenon writes, according to Holland.
Zelikow denied that was the case. "It was very well-known I had served on this transition team and had declined to go into the administration. I worked there for a total of one month. I had interviewed Sandy Berger, Dick Clarke and most of the NSC staff." He noted he recused himself from working on the section of the panel's report addressing the NSC transition, and that other staffers had held conflicting positions in the Clinton administration.
In his book, Shenon also says that while working for the panel, Zelikow appears to have had private conversations with former White House political director Karl Rove, despite a ban on such communication, according to Holland. Shenon reports that Zelikow later ordered his assistant to stop keeping a log of his calls, although the commission's general counsel overruled him, Holland wrote.