July 23, 2004
The 9/11 Report
The 9/11 Commission Report was released today. That it even completed its work is a marvel, considering the Bush Administration tried to hinder it at every turn:
1. It opposed the formation of the Commission, and relented a year later only because of pressure from the families of the 9/11 victims;
2. It appointed Henry Kissinger to head the Commission and contain what it may find. Kissinger resigned only after the 9/11 families complained about his conflict of interest [he heads a consulting firm that may be doing business with entities and/or political figures that may be the subject of the Commission's investigations];
3. It limited the Commission's funds even though the latter requested more so it can do its work;
4. It refused the Commission's request to extend its report deadline by two months;
5. It claimed Executive Privilege to keep Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney and George Bush himself from testifying;
6. It placed limits on the Commission's ability to seek additional testimony, limited Bush's testimony to just one hour and demanded a joint, closed-door Bush/Cheney testimony which is unprecedented in commission investigations;
7. It refused to release the Presidential Daily Briefs and up to 75% of documents that the Commission needed in its investigation. It even refused to let the Commission have access to its own notes!
Every step of the way, the 9/11 families and the Commission had to struggle with an Administration that stonewalled its efforts. From Condoleeza Rice's convoluted testimony and the unforgettable memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States"--disproving Bush and Cheney's claim that intelligence said Al Qaeda planned to attack overseas and not the U.S.--to Cheney's insistence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda in spite of the Commission's interim report indicating there isn't any, this was an Administration more occupied with covering its back than getting to the truth.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert was already playing politics by putting most of the blame on the Clinton Administration, when in fact the report referred to "ten missed opportunities" to prevent the attacks, four during President Clinton's eight years in office and six during Bush's eight months in office.
The Commission made specific recommendations to reduce the risk of a terrorist attack. Ironically, Bush used the report to defend his Administration's record on fighting terrorism. He downplayed its findings, saying it confirmed the things he is already doing that made the nation safer. He called it "a serious and comprehensive report with thoughtful recommendations," and said, "we will carefully study all their proposals, of course".
The truth is, the Commission did not report a rosy picture of his Administration. It specifically criticized his loosely defined "war on terror" and the non-existent Iraq-Al Qaeda connection. Why else would he resist cooperating so vigorously in the first place?
Already there is report that swift action on the recommendations is unlikely and that the White House is showing reluctance to act on them.
On the other hand, Kerry echoed the Commission's call for a complete shakeup of the intelligence system:
Looks to me the choice is clear come November if we want real change to happen. For the meantime, the 9/11 Commission isn't going away. It's going on a national tour to promote its recommendations and put pressure on the government to act immediately.
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Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.
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