What is Philip Zelikow Hiding? A History of Zelikow’s Efforts to Block Public Access to 28 Pages

By Elizabeth Woodworth

Most people have never heard of Philip D. Zelikow, who is perhaps best known for his role as executive director of the 9/11 Commission back in 2003-2004. .
As a White House insider, Zelikow’s appointment to this task was controversial on grounds of conflict of interest. [1]

Before the investigation even got underway, Zelikow alarmed Commission staff by writing a detailed outline for the report, “complete with chapter headings, subheadings, and sub-subheadings.”[2]

After the staff learned of this outline, some of them wrote a parody entitled “The Warren Commission Report – Preemptive Outline,” with one chapter headed, “Single Bullet: We Haven’t Seen the Evidence Yet. But Really. We’re Sure.”

As this parodied outline indicated, Zelikow had decided in advance what the 9/11 Commission’s report would say and, as documented by then-New York Times reporter Philip Shenon, used iron-fisted control over virtually every aspect of the Final Report (2004)[3]

Last week Zelikow was again in the news about an earlier 9/11 report, which he did not supervise — the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities (2002). [4]

This report contains 28 pages, blank to the public, that deal with the financing of the attacks. They were classified 12 years ago by President George W. Bush for national security reasons.

Closely guarded in a basement room under Capitol Hill, these pages may only be read by legislators following a formal application process — and even then only under the watchful eyes of staffers who forbid note-taking.

A group of 23 members of Congress agree that they shed essential light on the 9/11 attacks and are pressing for their declassification so that the American people might finally have the truth.

On Wednesday, January 7, Congressmen Walter Jones (R) and Stephen Lynch (D), co-sponsors of House Resolution 428[5] calling for the President to release the information, held a press conference on Capitol Hill, together with three people who had lost family members in the attacks. [6]

Before and after this press conference, Jones and Lynch were interviewed by national networks, including CNN, CBS, ABC, CBC, and Fox News.

In at least two cases, news agencies referred to statements by Zelikow, who, after running the 9/11 Commission returned to academics at the University of Virginia in 2007, where he is now:[7]

The CBS anchor commented: “Philip Zelikow, who was the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, says that the pages should not be released, saying that the pages are full of unproven facts.”[8] (Congressman Lynch replied that the same people who wrote these pages drafted the entire report, the rest of whose 858 pages have been public all along.)

Newsweek reported: “Philip D. Zelikow, who was executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and has read the pages, thinks they should remains secret. Now a professor of history at the University of Virginia, Zelikow compared the 28 pages to grand jury testimony and raw police interviews — full of unproven facts, rumors and innuendo.”[9]

Equally intriguing is that Zelikow fired a 9/11 Commission investigator, Dana Leseman, back in 2003 over the same issue. Leseman and a colleague had been researching a possible link between two of the 9/11 hijackers — Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi — and elements of the government of Saudi Arabia.

Leseman asked Zelikow to provide her with a document she needed for her work — 28 redacted pages from the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report that she herself had helped to research — but Zelikow blocked her access to it. This led to an argument that resulted in her dismissal. [10]

The situation now is that just as President Bush had the authority to censor the pages, President Obama has the authority to release them.

Congressmen Jones and Lynch say they wrote to Obama in April 2014, asking for their release (as Obama had once promised the 9/11 families he would do. [11])

Sometime later, having received no reply, they phoned the White House and were told only that they “were working on it.”[12]

This is not the first time elected representatives have tried to get their hands on the 28 pages.

Back in 2003 — while Zelikow was directing the 9/11 Commission — a group of 46 senators, including Democrats Hilary Clinton, John Kerry, and Joe Biden, wrote to President Bush requesting the pages from the 2002 report, but to no avail. [13]

Why, given the change to a Democratic administration in 2008, has there not been more progress?

Could it partly be that Zelikow was appointed to Obama’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board — where he had also served under George W. Bush [14] — in September 2011?

One thing is clear: Zelikow is never far away when the 28 pages threaten to become public.

What is Zelikow hiding?

One possibility involves a 2004 Los Angeles Times story based on interviews with “several senior members” of the 9/11 Commission, who reportedly said that the Commission had uncovered evidence that “Saudi Arabia provided funds and equipment to the Taliban and probably directly to Bin Laden.”[15]

“Now,” said the reporter, “the bipartisan commission is wrestling with how to characterize such politically sensitive information in its final report, and even whether to include it.”[16]

The result of the Zelikow-controlled commission’s “wrestling” was to say that it had “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.”[17]

Might Zelikow want to hide this lie and the facts that this lie was meant to bury?

Given that the 9/11 wars have been the defining international tragedy of this century, the world needs to know.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_the_9/11_Commission, as accessed January 10, 2014.

[2] Philip Shenon, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, Grand Central Publishing, 2008, p. 388-89.

[3] The 9/11 Commission Report, 2004 (http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf).

[4] Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, 2002, 858 p. (www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_rpt/911rept.pdf).

[5] H.Res.428 – Urging the president to release information regarding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States (https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-resolution/428/all-info).

[6] “Congressmen demand release of report on Saudi role in 9/11 attacks,” CBS News, January 8, 2015 (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/congressmen-demand-release-of-report-on-saudi-role-in-911-attacks/).

[7] Wikipedia, on January 8, 2015 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_D._Zelikow).

[8] “Congressmen demand release of report on Saudi role in 9/11 attacks,” CBS News, January 8, 2015. See 4:44 min. mark on video (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/congressmen-demand-release-of-report-on-saudi-role-in-911-attacks/).

[9] Jeff Stein, “The Saudi Role in Sept. 11 and the Hidden 9/11 Report Pages,” Newsweek, January 7, 2015 (http://www.newsweek.com/saudi-arabia-911-george-w-bush-barack-obama-prince-bandar-bin-sultan-bob-297170).

[10] History Commons, April 2003: 9/11 Commission’s Zelikow Blocks Access to Key Document by ‘Saudi Connection’ Investigators (click here).

[11] “Why hasn’t Obama kept promise to declassify 28 pages of a report about 9/11?” CNN, September 8, 2014 (http://thelead.blogs.cnn.com/2014/09/08/why-hasnt-obama-kept-promise-to-declassify-28-pages-about-911/).

[12] “Congressmen demand release of report on Saudi role in 9/11 attacks,” CBS News, January 8, 2015 (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/congressmen-demand-release-of-report-on-saudi-role-in-911-attacks/).

[13] “The 46 Senators Who Urged Bush to Declassify the 28 Pages,” (http://28pages.org/2014/12/30/the-46-senators-who-urged-bush-to-declassify-the-28-pages/ ). The Senators’ letter is at click here.

[14] Bush regime retread, Philip Zelikow, appointed to Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board, Altheo News, September 19, 2011 (https://alethonews.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/bush-regime-retread-philip-zelikow-appointed-to-obamas-intelligence-advisory-board/).

[15] Josh Meyer, “2 Allies Aided Bin Laden, Say Panel Members,” Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2004 (http://articles.latimes.com/2004/jun/20/world/fg-alqaeda20).

[16] Josh Meyer, “2 Allies Aided Bin Laden, Say Panel Members,” Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2004 (articles.latimes.com/2004/jun/20/world/fg-alqaeda20/2).

[17] The 9/11 Commission Report, 2004, 171 (http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf).
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