It looks like the Bush administration is still playing fast and loose with the 9/11 Commission and the public’s right to know.
Recall just a few of the tactics we’ve already seen:
First, the administration argued that an independent inquiry was simply a bad idea (“I think it’s the wrong way to go,” said Cheney). Then, when the bipartisan Commission was formed, the White House dragged its feet in every way possible. It opposed handing over daily intelligence briefings (“Those are very sensitive documents,” said Bush). It tried to bar Condoleeza Rice from testifying (“Historically, White House staffers do not testify before legislative bodies,” claimed Scott McClellan). It rejected the Commission’s request for an extension (“We expect they will be able to meet that deadline,” said spokeswoman Erin Healy). It even set time limits on how long Bush could testify (“We have discussed with the Commission what we believe is a reasonable period of time,” intoned McClellan).
And then, in a mind-boggling reversal, the administration offered up praise when the Commission’s report was actually released. On July 22, 2004, Bush said:
They’ve done a really good job of learning about our country, learning about what went wrong prior to September the 11th and making very solid, sound recommendations about how to move forward.
And now? Unsurprisingly, the post-release sentiment didn’t last, and the administration is back to stonewalling. This morning’s New York Times reports that, despite publicly acknowledging the Commission’s importance, the White House has done nothing–literally nothing–to provide more information to the group’s members, who are planning on releasing an intelligence “report card” next month:
“[Former Commission Chairman Thomas] Kean said there had been no response of any sort to interview requests for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Porter J. Goss, the C.I.A. director; Robert S. Mueller III, the F.B.I. director, and Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, among others.”
As Bush begins the longest vacation in presidential history, this is more evidence that this administration is not taking intelligence reform seriously.
— Conor Clarke