9/11 commission is a joke.

Partly by fate: There is no way that such an event, held during an election year, can help but become hopelessly politicized.

Partly by design: instead of jurists, or law-enforcement people, or military types, or corporate-management gurus or specialists of any kind, it was formed exclusively of politicians.

Partly by stupidity: We now have found that one of the major problems was that the CIA and the FBI were not communicting as well as they could have. Of course, part of the reason that was so was because restricting was official policy as advocated by a member of the commission among others.

The end result is a public hearing in which the public is told to “stay out of our business” by the chairman.

The whole thing is a waste of time, sez I. We’ll know “the whole, true story of 9/11” in about 25 years.

You forgot “Partially by obstructionist behavior from the Bush White House.” Look at all the contortions that were necessary before Bush or Cheney would even agree to testify. Hell, Condoleezza Rice almost had to be dragged and publically shamed before she’d agree to testify under oath.

I agree with you, furt. It’s political bloodsport and neither party holds the moral high ground. I’ll be extremely surprised if they hold to their claim that they’ll only issue a report if it’s unanimous (at least, I think they’ve claimed this).


They did not want to testify b/c if they admit errors, it would have political consequences.
Conversely, if they deny making any errors at all, it would have political consequences.
And if they said nothing and refused to testify, that would have political consequences.

oops, that was for you, rjung.

A necessary joke. Beginning of a long process. Gotta get the ball rolling. Some new bits and pieces of information will be ferreted out and followed upon, which might eventually lead to some important changes. Don’t think anything even remotely close to “whole, true story” will come out of this one.

I tend to agree with New Inskander. Gotta do it, but don’t expect much. I think most of what need to be known about the screw-ups in process and organization were found out in the first few months after the attacks. And can anyone expect anything of serious quality to come out in a report that has to be crafted unanimously by committee?

It should have been delayed until after the election. And I don’t say that because I think one party or the other will be hurt or benefit from this, but because the whole process has just gotten ridiculous.

The important things to discover aren’t individual lapses (although there are many going back several administrations), but systemic failures that prevent the system from working at all. Why did the FBI have such antiquated computer systems that you couldn’t even get E-mails in and out of the building by 2000? Why couldn’t the CIA and FBI talk to each other? How come the CIA has developed such a culture of fear and ass-protecting? Were budgets big enough for the missions? That sort of stuff.

Maybe that information will still come out, but this rank-closing around Gorelick and her obvious conflict of interest makes me dubious.

I am 100% in favor of letting the commission do its work. And Kean did not tell the public to keep out of the commission’s business, he told the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to butt out. It is supposed to be an independent commission, not one at the mercy of the White House or members of Congress.

I also think that the commission has been very useful so far. It has added a lot to the public record so far, the August 6 PDB just to name one bit.

Yeah, there’s been a lot of recriminations and finger pointing. There’s been a lot of noise. But so what? As Donald Rumsfeld has said, “Freedom is messy, democracy is messy.” Or, as Rumsfeld has famously written, “If you are not criticized, you must not be doing much.”

I do have two criticisms about the commission, though.

First, it should have been created in 2002, not 2003. Congress’ joint intelligence inquiry was probably a waste of time. The answers that the commission is getting now should have been public knowledge last year. OTOH, if it were not an election year, I bet that White House cooperation, as spotty as it is now, would have been worse.

Second, I think the commission undermines its stature by that small group of commissioners who just can’t stay off talk shows for one goddamned day. Who the hell do they think they are, John McCain? It is one thing to have the commission operate in a transparent manner, which is a reasonable goal, but it must not fall into media hound territory.

Related to that, Gorelick probably wasn’t a good choice. But she is there, and she should be allowed to finish the work she was appointed to do.

Well, he may have had him in mind, but it was not directed as such.


Many of the people on the commission, especially the chairman, have what I consider obvious conflicts of interest.

And I dunno: maybe others do as well, but the current administration isn’t selectively declassifying information for anything but purely partisan advantage about everyone else.

Let’s just take that a step further and declare that 9/11 itself was a joke. That’d completely eliminate the need for introspection, whining about conflicts of interest, and the war on terror itself. It’d save us a lot of money, and Bush could lower our taxes again without having to worry about a great big deficit.

I disagree with that. The scope of the Commission includes the actions of the Justice Department under both Administrations. Gorelick was the #2 at Justice under Reno/Clinton. She should be a witness, not a Commissioner.

Actually, I’d favor treating it like an act of war. I’m all for introspection. I’m all for failure analysis. But this commission, the way it’s set up, isn’t. It reminds me much more of an especially puerile episode of Hannity and Colmes.

All things being equal, I wholeheartedly agree with your last point.

But the commission is in the process of wrapping up its work in the very near future – it’s already done with ten hearings, there’s just two left, and the report will be done within what, two and a half months?

Sensenbrenner does have a point. I don’t want to accuse him of political grandstanding, because my bet is that Gorelick’s background only recently came to his attention. But if he raised his criticism of her when the commission was first getting together, one year ago, I’d be with him. Right now, however, it’d be changing horses midstream.

Also, on another point, in accusing the 9-11 commission of grandstanding, noone has seemed to acknowledge that they have been at work for nearly 13 months now. It’s pretty much because of the Richard Clarke issue that people are now wringing their hands about partisanship on the commission. I think this is a rather shortsighted view.

Sure, it’d have been so much better under Kissinger, the way the president wanted it. No conflict of interest there I tell you.
Now if Jamie Gorelick had gone Duck Hunting with Bin Laden… :wink:

No, I don’t think it would. So much for assuming.

No chance. The Bushiviks hit the chutzpah wall, there was no chance, none whatsoever, that Hank Kissinger, winner of the Nobel Putz Prize, was ever going to actually sit in that chair.

Some guys have skeletons in thier closets. His are pounding on the door and jiggling the door knob. A just and loving God would fix things so Kissinger would be offered a chance to be SecState again if he could do a year as ambassador to the Kurds. They would probably just love to get thier…see him again.

Actually, I wasn’t assuming anything, just pointing out that if you think the commission’s a joke, then Mr. Bush bears much of the responsibility for that, just as he does for the timing of the group’s report.

Wait a minute guys. Politics is the way that public policy is decided. I can’t see much wrong with using the information gained from hearings like these for political purposes.

In my opinion a proper complaint would be distortion of the information gained for political purposes.