Volume 73, Number 40 | February 04 - 10, 2004


9/11 report must not be a rush job

We never imagined anyone would have to say this: A report explaining if there were any security lapses that allowed the deadliest attack on civilians in America to occur, and outlining future preventive measures that can be taken, is too important to be rushed or delayed for partisan reasons.

Thomas Kean, a Republican and former governor of New Jersey, has so far done a good job of handling the responsibility of leading the bipartisan commission that is examining the 9/11 attacks since President George W. Bush appointed him at the end of 2002.

After first resisting the commission’s creation and then making a disastrous choice — Henry Kissenger — to lead it, Bush settled on Kean, a man of obvious integrity. Kean negotiated quietly for months as the Bush administration repeatedly blocked access to vital information. This week Kean said the commission needs an extension of the May 27 deadline for the final report.

Bush and Republican congressional leaders oppose any extension — likely to be about two months — because it would put the report’s release closer to Bush’s bid for reelection in November.

The need for an extension is due to White House action — or rather, inaction — and if administration officials have reason to fear the report, it would be an outrage if they benefited from their own intransigence.

If the only way the Republican-led Congress would agree to a delay is if the commission agreed to wait until after the election, that would be less than ideal but certainly preferable to a rushed report.

If the White House insists on an incomplete report or if it eventually maneuvers for a post-election document, the only reasonable conclusion to make is that George Bush is afraid of facing voters who know the truth about the Sept. 11 attack.

Intelligence inquiry can’t let Bush off hook

In a similar vein, there is also concern about the Intelligence Commission the president has been forced into setting up, under increasing pressure, after no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. The president will appoint the commission’s members, who will investigate the “intel” on Iraq’s weapons — the basis for branding Iraq an imminent threat — and whether it was tailored to suit the administration’s agenda.

The commission reportedly won’t release its findings until after the November election. However, Bush and his cabinet members should not be let off the hook, by being allowed until then to claim they can’t discuss the intelligence fiasco because of the ongoing investigation.

There’s no question this is an election issue — and voters have a right to know why they were so misled by the administration on Iraq — and want assurances the same mistakes — or was it deception? — won’t happen again in Korea, Iran and other countries the administration considers “imminent threats.”


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