Yet the new panel conspicuously omitted the "Powers That Be" e-mail that appeared in the Senate report. In fact, commission leaders seemed to not even know of its existence. "What e-mail are you talking about?" Judge Lawrence Silberman, the chairman, testily responded when asked by a NEWSWEEK reporter why it wasn't included in the report. "I'm mystified." Two hours later, after NEWSWEEK supplied the panel with a copy of the e-mail from the Senate report, a commission spokesman explained that the panel was aware of it but chose not to include it because its contents were already known. But its absence from the report raises questions of whether the Silberman panel may have "cherry-picked" evidence to exclude anything politically embarrassing to the "Powers That Be." Not so, says the White House. A senior official says the report lays to rest any notion that the administration lied or falsified intelligence. "People now understand that what we were saying publicly is what we were being told privately," the official said.
Commission members insist the intel analysts they interviewed "universally assert that in no instance did political pressure cause them to change" their judgments. But the panel report leaves open the critical question of why doubts about the quality of the intelligence were not taken more seriously.