April 5, 2004
Bush, Cheney, and Rice to Testify: How They Will Avoid Telling the Truth.
by The Angry Liberal
In case you're not keeping tabs on the 9/11 investigation, there was an interesting development in the proceedings last week. After negotiating with the 9/11 commission (like a criminal would negotiate a plea bargain, not like a president who was in charge of the nation when the biggest terrorist attack in American history took place), it looks like Bush's people have figured out a way to let national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, testify before the commission. And it looks like the commission, the truth, and the nation all got screwed in the process.
Here's a quick recap of the political landscape surrounding this development: Two weeks ago, Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism expert under Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Dubya, pulled back the curtain enshrouding the incompetent morons who work the Great and Powerful Wizard of Shock and Awez. Clarke charged that Bush and Company were too distracted with planning an attack on Iraq to heed the warnings from him and others to that al Qaeda posed an imminent threat to America. He charged that Bush's plan to fight terrorism was too little, too late. And he charged that Bush's war in Iraq was not only unrelated to the war on terror, but actually undermined our ability to prosecute the war on terror. In other words, he told the truth. And if the Bush administration is to remain in power, it can't afford to let the truth go unanswered.
The problem with disputing Clarke's charges is that doing so under oath could involve jail time. The 9/11 commission is not a campaign ad. There will be no adoring crowd of hand-picked party hacks cheering the administration's answers. There will be no banner behind them proclaiming, "Kicking Ass on Terrorism." When you open your mouth in front of the 9/11 commission, you usually have to tell at least some form of the truth or face serious consequences. Hence, the necessity for negotiations before the White House agreed to testify.
So here's the plan. George, Dick, and Condi (or in this case, "Con" will do) agree to testify, provided the following:
1. The commission provides written assurance that having Rice testify doesn't set any sort of precedent that might allow actual oversight over the executive branch. This is, of course, a red herring. Asking somebody to testify before an independent commission that Bush helped create is much different than compelling somebody to testify before a congressional committee.
2. Bush and Cheney will not testify under oath or in public. This is the single dumbest thing to come out of this agreement. What possible reason could these two have for inserting this demand into the negotiation? Why would the commission want to hear from them at all if they weren't prepared to tell the truth? Given Bush's and Cheney's long and well-documented record of lying their asses off about war in Iraq and the war on terror, wouldn't somebody on the commission be a little concerned that the duo's testimony might be somewhat less than truthful? I mean, I realize that these two guys regard taking an oath the same way vampires regard a crucifix, but come on. Anybody on the commission who is only interested in getting the truth from Bush and Cheney may as well bring along their Gameboys to this hearing.
3. Bush and Cheney will testify simultaneously. That means that each can hear the other's answers, allowing father and son to get their stories straight on the fly. Cheney can lie with the best of them, and hearing Cheney's answers means Bush won't have to remember all of those complicated fabrications. This will invariably lead to Bush's single most popular answer throughout the hearing: "I agree with whatever the vice-president just said." Cheney's recurring phrase will be, "What the president meant to say was . . ." On the other hand, the entertainment value could still be pretty high. I hear Cheney has been practicing, and that Bush may actually answer a couple of questions while Dick drinks a glass of water. Now, that's talent.
4. Rice will testify under oath and in public, but,
5. Once the trio is finished testifying, the panel will not be allowed to call any more witnesses from the Bush administration. This will allow Rice to adopt a strategy of simply denying that she and Richard Clarke had much contact prior to 9/11. Since the Bush administration demoted Clarke's position from cabinet-level to staff-level, a sure sign that Bush took terrorism seriously, Clarke would have reported to Rice's subordinates. Therefore, Rice's pat answer for each of Clarke's charges will be either, "I never received that information from my underlings," or, "My underlings blew it." And, thanks to Bush's deal with the commission, those underlings can't be called before the commission to defend themselves.
So, there you have it. The Bush Administration's 9/11 Commission Testimony Playbook. Deny when possible, blame others when necessary, and make sure that those who get saddled with the blame don't have to respond. Risky, to be sure, but when a majority of Americans believes that Bush is hiding something related to 9/11, there's not much choice.
Relax, George. You can always bury the whole nasty episode in $180 million worth of campaign advertising. And nobody ever goes to jail for lying in a campaign ad.
otherwise noted, all original