UQ Wire: Review - Peter Lance's ''Cover Up''
S.B. Writer Peter Lance Dismisses
Commission Report in Cover Up
Review by Nick Welsh
Peter Lance is one outraged man. An award-winning, freelance investigative reporter now ensconced in Montecito, Lance has just released a new book, Cover Up: What the Government Is Still Hiding About the War on Terror, blasting the official report recently completed by the 9/11 Commission that details some of the wholesale intelligence failures preceding the most deadly attack ever to take place on American soil.
"The last official body created and funded to get a 'full account' of the greatest mass murder in U.S. history has cherrypicked the evidence, skewed the findings, covered up compelling evidence of negligence on the part of the U.S. intelligence community," Lance said in a recent interview. "When they set out, the commissioners said they would conduct the most thorough and complete investigation ever. They haven't. Instead they've tried to give us a false sense of assurance they got to the bottom of what went wrong. It's a fraud upon the American people."
'They've tried to give us a false sense of assurance they got to the bottom of what went wrong. It's a fraud upon the American people.'
- Cover Up author Peter Lance
Most inflammatory, in his book Lance claims that in 1996, high-ranking FBI and Justice Department officials turned a deliberate blind eye on documentary evidence provided by a high-ranking mob snitch that a key Al Qaeda terrorist, Ramzi Yousef, behind bars for the original bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, was actively plotting to blow up what turned out to be TWA Flight 800, which exploded 13,000 feet in the air above Long Island in the summer of 1996, killing all 230 passengers and crewmembers on board. After a 16-month investigation, the FBI blamed that tragedy on mechanical failure. Given that Yousef's uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, was one of the masterminds behind the September 11 plot, Lance contends the FBI blew yet another golden opportunity to prevent 9/11 from ever occurring.
Intense, wiry, and endowed with James Bondian good looks and a crisp handshake, Lance is given to exhaling huge volumes of difficult-to-pronounce names, incriminating facts, and startling revelations in a single breath, all delivered in the semi-sensational rat-a-tat-rhythm of tabloid journalism. Only the alarm clock ring of his cell phone gives him cause for pause. Lance strives to be cool and professional, but radiates the urgency of a man on fire. After 10 minutes in his presence, you wonder whether he's had a good night's sleep in the three years since Osama bin Laden attacked the World Trade Center. But after half an hour, you begin to wonder how you'll get to sleep in the future.
Lance is upset, in part, because the commission chose not to name names or assign blame. "They haven't admitted that any person failed anything. Instead they talk about 'institutional flaws.' Well, institutions are filled with individuals, spear-carriers and policymakers alike. This is akin to saying, 'We have a problem with Enron, but we're going to let the company keep operating with the same people at the top.'"
But most fundamentally, Lance is angry because the commissioners didn't go further in their investigation. By limiting most of their inquiry to events that occurred since 1998 - and by setting the start of the 9/11 conspiracy in 1998 rather than 1995 - Lance charged that members of the commission never acknowledged, let alone addressed, a host of missed opportunities that would have allowed federal justice officials to stop the lethal chain of events that concluded with the attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "And that's a cover-up," he said.
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