doesnt need hand-holding
gave White House too sweet a deal
week National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice defended
the Bush administration before the September 11 Commission.
Her testimon y was quickly dissected and digested by the
But mostly ignored in the cacophony of instant analysis
from talking heads on both sides of the political spectrum
was the deal the administration struck with the commission
to get Rice to testify.
(A brief bit of background if you havent been paying
attention: The administration had vigorously refused to
allow Rice to testify on principle of executive privilege,
claiming it would create a precedent that would allow
national security advisers to be hauled in front of congressional
committees at will. But the position became politically
untenable and is logically incoherent the commission,
for starters, is not congressionally appointed, meaning
it would not, by definition, create such a precedent.)
No matter who wins the spin battle, its hard not
to conclude that Bush didnt work out a sweet deal.
The White House, which had agreed to questioning by only
two members of the commission, backtracked and consented
to questioning by all 10 panel members. But theres
a catch: In exchange of the Rice testimony, the commission
will privately question Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney
The president, apparently, needs somebody to hold his
You dont have to be a legal scholar to understand
the absurdity of this arrangement. When police question
two victims or suspects, or witnesses, or anyone,
for that matter they do so separately. Why? To
see if their stories match up.
The administrations defenders might say that joint
testimony can save time for both the commission and the
administration. But it seems that Bush has no problem
making time to campaign on a platform of strong
defense and homeland security at that or visit
his Crawford ranch, which is where he was, incidentally,
when he received the now infamous Aug. 6, 2001, memo.
There is no good reason for Bush and Cheney not to testify
separately to the commission. We hope the administrations
attempts to stonewall continue to backfire.