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9/11 Commission Says Confusion and Miscommunication Left U.S. Unprepared For Sept. 11

Plagued by miscommunication and confusion, US aviation and military officials were entirely unprepared for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the 9/11 Commission reported yesterday.

In its final public hearing, the commission detailed a series of communications breakdowns at the White House, Pentagon and Federal Aviation Administration so severe that jet fighters were sent to chase phantom aircraft while real airliners crashed undisturbed into their targets, killing nearly 3,000 people.

The top commander at NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command told the commission that the military could have shot down the hijacked planes that subsequently hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon if it had received more timely information from the FAA.

We’ll have more on this in a few minutes.

White House Reasserts Iraq–al-Qaeda Links Despite 9/11 Commission Debunking

Earlier in the week the 9/11 commission’s announced it had found no credible evidence that Iraq aided Al Qaeda in the Sept. 11 attacks and that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida had never established close ties.

This finding directly contradicts earlier statements from both President Bush and Vice President Cheney. On Thursday both appeared publicly to claim again that such ties did indeed exist

President Bush spoke at the White House: "The reason I keep insisting that there is a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda."

Cheney added, "The fact of the matter is, the evidence is overwhelming."

Meanwhile over at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said if the US fails in Iraq it is not because of what took place on the battlefield but how the media has portrayed it. He said: "This much is certain: coalition forces cannot be defeated on the battlefield. The only way this effort could fail is if people were to be persuaded that the cause is lost or that it’s not worth the pain, or if those who seem to measure progress in Iraq against a more perfect world convince others to throw in the towel."

Rumsfeld also admitted on Thursday that he ordered an Iraqi man to be secretly held without giving giving him an official detainee number or informing the International Committee of the Red Cross of his existence.

41 Dead in Baghdad Blast, Iraq Defense Minister Considers Martial Law

The newly appointed Iraqi Defense Minister said Iraq is considering declaring martial law in response to a pair of car bombings on Thursday that killed 41 and injured 150. House-to-house searches may also take place to look for the killers.

The Minister Hazem al-Shalan said, "We will cut off the hands of those people, we will slit their throats if it is necessary to do so"

CIA Contractor Indicted in Prison Abuse

A federal grand jury has indicted a private contractor working for the CIA for beating to death a detainee in Afghanistan. This marks the first time a civilian has faced criminal charges related to the detainee torture scandal.

Meanwhile in Iraq, the US military has charged an army officer with the murder of a follower of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.

UN’s Kofi Says US Not Exempt From War Crimes

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to stop exempting the U.S. from international prosecution for war crimes in part because of the abuses carried out by US forces in Iraq.

Annan said on Thursday "It would be unfortunate for one to press for such an exemption, given the prisoner abuse in Iraq. It would be even more unwise on the part of the Security Council to grant it. It would discredit the council and the United Nations that stands for rule of law and the primacy of rule of law." The current exemption for the U.S. ends on June 30.

Senate Votes Down Amendment Making War Profiteering a Crime

The Los Angeles Times is reporting the Republican-led Senate has voted down an amendment by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy that would have made war profiteering a crime. The Senate also rejected a proposal to prohibit private contractors from interrogating detainees.

Poll: 95% of African Americans Say Country Headed in Wrong Direction

A new poll commissioned by Mother Jones magazine has found that 95 percent of African-Americans feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. The poll found the overall percentage of Americans who felt that way was 62 percent.

Reps. For Edwards As Kerry Running Mate

On the campaign front, 22 Democratic members of Congress have co-signed a letter to John Kerry urging him to select Senator John Edwards as his running mate over former House minority leader Richard Gephardt. This according to a report in The Hill.

94 Year-Old Granny D To Run For Senate

In New Hampshire, 94-year-old Doris Haddock, better known as Granny D, has announced she will challenge Republican Judd Gregg for his Senate seat.

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