Friday, June 25, 2004

More fun from the 9/11 commission report.

Now while calling it a 'coup' as Kos does is a little harsh -- it's not like anyone should be surprised to find evidence that Cheney has his hand up Bush's ass -- I thought the fight over the report itself more interesting:

NEWSWEEK has learned that some on the commission staff were, in fact, highly skeptical of the vice president's account and made their views clearer in an earlier draft of their staff report. According to one knowledgeable source, some staffers "flat out didn't believe the call ever took place." When the early draft conveying that skepticism was circulated to the administration, it provoked an angry reaction. In a letter from White House lawyers last Tuesday and a series of phone calls, the White House vigorously lobbied the commission to change the language in its report. "We didn't think it was written in a way that clearly reflected the accounting the president and vice president had given to the commission," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett told NEWSWEEK. Ultimately the chairman and vice chair of the commission, former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean and former representative Lee Hamilton—both of whom have sought mightily to appear nonpartisan—agreed to remove some of the offending language. The report "was watered down," groused one staffer.

I like that. The White House wasn't worried whether the report reflected the truth; they were worried whether the report "reflected the accounting the president and vice president had given to the commission." Nice to know what their priorities are.

But why is the administration in such a tizzy over such a horribly partisan, biased effort?

Two years ago, when the commission was created after emotional lobbying by 9/11 victims' families, the White House didn't take the probe terribly seriously. The administration initially ignored its requests for some key documents, snubbed efforts to get Bush and others to testify and shrugged off threats of subpoenas. But the commission persevered, stoked by the passion of the victims' families, and persuaded the administration to cave on most issues. The skirmishing continues—and it's starting to get personal. Now, with a final report due next month, the Bush team is increasingly aware that the commission's body of work might someday stand as the nation's official record of 9/11. And Bush's credibility on key national-security issues—upon which he's staked his re-election bid—could well turn on whether the public believes the administration's version or the commission's.

Again, the priorities are clear, just as they've been along regarding the administration's attitude towards the commission.

Re-election above closure. Politics above truth.

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