9/11 coverup watch
Not even the Wall Street Journal can swallow the Bush Administration's stonewalling of the 9/11 commission.
For the White House, there is little obvious benefit to handing over documents to a panel determined to look for vulnerabilities in the country's defenses. White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett says that the administration isn't reluctant to turn over documents, but he points out that some of the memos at issue are highly classified. "The president believes that the commission should carefully investigate the evidence and follow all the facts wherever they should lead," he says. "What the investigation or public record would show is that we took terrorism very seriously."
...and yet, the Bush Administration resists letting even the official commission investigate the record.
President Bush successfully opposed the creation of the commission for more than a year. He said publicly that an independent investigation would distract leaders from his newly-declared war on terrorism. After a joint House and Senate intelligence committee inquiry found that some information related to the Sept. 11 hijackers had been mishandled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency, Congressional support for a commission mushroomed. The White House then reversed itself and on Sept. 20, 2002, announced its "strong support" for a commission.
A fight then ensued over the bill creating the commission. Sen. McCain pushed for a 24-month deadline for the investigation. The White House demanded that the commission complete work in 12 months, and won a compromise for 18 months, according to Senate staffers.
Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey who serves as chairman of the commission, says that he intends to meet the deadline next May, although it will be difficult. He has ruled out asking for an extension because, he says, "the White House has made it known they don't want it to go into the election period." [Emphasis added]
There you go: National security -- supposedly an unassailable Republican strength -- is the Bush Administration's Achilles heel, and they know it. If they didn't feel the eventual report would be damaging, they would -- and should -- insist on its full and public airing.
National security, of course, is a legitimate concern, but so is accountability in government. Principled conservatives should join all loyal Americans in outrage over the Bush Administration's obsession with secrecy in general and failure to account for the failings surrounding 9/11 in particular.
Update: Via Oliver Willis, more on the Administration's hampering here and here.