March 30, 2004
Toothless Commission; Holes in the Investigation
BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
The "9-11 Commission" (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States) faces monumental obstacles. The Pentagon has not cooperated, along with other major agencies asked to produce pertinent testimony and documents. The White House opposed the formation of a commission from the beginning, insisted on "bipartisan" members limited to the two major parties, and mandated that they be split five to five. Congress initially funded $3 million for the Commission, subsequently raising the amount. Dr. Henry Kissinger was first named to head the Commission, but along with others had to withdraw because of conflicts of interest. The prolonged stonewalling, lack of funding, and lack of access impeded and delayed hiring of adequate research and investigative staff. The Commission was given an impossible eighteen months to complete its investigation, with the deadline extended only after, again, White House opposition. Bush people are now urging that only "unanimous" findings or recommendations be allowed in the Commission’s final public report.
Given that the attacks of September 11, 2001, were the worst assault ever on American soil, it is amazing that the Bush White House claims a record of "anti-terrorism." Actual counterterrorism would have begun with genuine investigation and would have pulled in Osama bin Laden, alive, to stand trial and more importantly to disclose his knowledge of the events. Our intelligence community, guided by the NSA, could have done it.
By the way, the NSA is among topics not being aired much at Commission hearings. But then, there are several such topics. The Family Steering Committee, composed of relatives of 9-11 victims, has posed a number of significant questions, none of which have been answered, or even asked, during several public hearings. The full range of questions still unanswered exceeds the scope of a single article. But even a short list of the questions pertaining to that one day suggests the scope of inquiry:
The timeline of the day is published online by a nonprofit at www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline/main/essayaninterestingday.html.
Interestingly, the Commission unanimously demanded that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice appear to testify, although her testifying depended entirely on the White House, and it is unlikely that Rice ever had much to do with "national security" anyway. High profile, low stakes: looks like some sort of Washington game. As such, it thus far corroborates claims by gadfly Republican presidential candidate John Buchanan, in a lengthy interview during the primaries. His congressional sources, according to Buchanan, were telling him that Rice would be out before the end of the year. First Rice, he said; then Rumsfeld; then Cheney.
The differences between this kind of games-playing, on one hand, and genuine investigation of grave matters, on the other, should be self-evident. But meanwhile, it will be intriguing to see how the subsequent phases of Bush’s liability-dumping are carried out.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
Margie Burns writes freelance in the DC area. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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