When the Village needs to plant a story to counter a growing narrative, they know who to call: Michael Isikoff. And true to form, Isikoff writes a review of Philip Shenon’s book on the 9/11 Commission that–while it presents abundant evidence that agrees with Max Holland’s post on the book–still tries to refute Holland’s post.
Holland makes two main points in his post. First (as covered in this post), that Zelikow and Rove carried on back-channel communication after the Commission heads told him to stop. And, more generally, Holland argues that Zelikow used his position to,
… exploit his central position to negate or neutralize criticism of the Bush administration so that the White House would not bear, in November 2004, the political burden of failing to prevent the attacks.
To which, Isikoff scolds,
In any case, the suggestion by conspiracy theorists—who have seized on the evidence in Shenon’s book—that Zelikow was serving as a secret White House "mole" is hard to sustain.
Nosiree, Zelikow wasn’t the secret White House mole! While Isikoff includes a quote from Lee Hamilton, a Democrat with a long history of excusing Republican shortcomings, in which Hamilton vouches for Zelikow’s interest in exposing all the facts, Isikoff also presents the following evidence that supports and expands on Holland’s post:
- After Commission investigator Warren Bass found emails from Richard Clarke warning of "hundreds of Americans [lying] dead in several countries," Zelikow, "disparaged Clarke as an egomaniac and braggart who was unjustly slandering his friend Rice."
- Isikoff numbers "at least four" calls between Rove and Zelikow; Isikoff repeats Zelikow’s excuse that these were related to Zelikow’s academic job, but he doesn’t include the allegation that Zelikow tried to have his Executive Secretary stop logging his calls.
- He repeats Shenon’s claim that Rove specifically said that a report that blamed Bush for 9/11 could most easily sink his re-election bid.
So to make his argument that Zelikow wasn’t a White House mole trying to prevent a critical report from hurting Bush’s re-election chances, Isikoff provides the quote of someone not known for candid speech, lauding the report itself. But Isikoff doesn’t refute the claim that Rove and Zelikow were communicating, he doesn’t refute the claim that Rove thought a favorable report was important, and he even adds another witness describing Zelikow as "bullying" the Commision to protect the reputation of his gal Condi! Read more