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June 20, 2003

STONEWALLING....Glenn Reynolds links to a Salon article about George Bush's resistance to various 9/11 investigations and notes that he's been critical of this too. That's correct, and to his credit, but then he says this:

Karl Rove should be thankful, though, for the screechily partisan note of these calls for an investigation, which have so far made them easier to ignore. But my advice to Karl is not to depend too much on the shrillness of his enemies, and to remember that if you act like you're hiding something, people will sooner or later conclude that you've got something to hide.

Bush and his team have been stonewalling for about a year and a half now, so I really have to ask: how long does "sooner or later" last? Even if I were a Bush partisan I think I'd be a little suspicious by now that maybe there's some fairly damning stuff being hidden behind the national security smokescreen.

Unless, of course, "sooner or later" really means anytime after November 2004....

Posted by Kevin Drum at June 20, 2003 04:34 PM | TrackBack


Comments

Kevin writes: "Bush and his team have been stonewalling for about a year and a half now, so I really have to ask: how long does "sooner or later" last? "

Well, they've been stalling longer on Cheney's energy task force meetings, haven't they?

I think they're planning on stalling until the second Bush administration is replaced by another GOP administration, at which time Bush can fess up and be pardoned, secretly, without any actual information being released about the mess.

That's the plan, anyway.

Posted by: Jon H at June 20, 2003 05:30 PM | PERMALINK

it sure is nice of professor instanitwit to give his blessing to all of us simple shrill folk who would have thought that investigating 9/11 would be the president's automatic top priority and can't understand how anyone could possibly imagine otherwise.

And i imagine that the 9/11 victim families must really appreciate that the good prof thinks they are naught but "screechily partisan."

Why do we even discuss what prof nitwit thinks?

as for when will the bushies release something, jon h is much too generous. If it's up to them, the answer is somewhere between 20 years and never. Only the shrill voices of the screechily partisan that are so upsetting down in knoxville stand a chance of embarassing the essentially shameless bush team into no longer blocking release of the congressional report, at a minimum.

Posted by: howard at June 20, 2003 05:42 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, imagine if the blogosphere actually advocated for democracy right here in our very own country. Wait a sec...that might hurt Bush, which is obviously never on Instasullykaus' agenda.

Heh, indeed, and that sounds about right to me.

Posted by: SamAm at June 20, 2003 06:39 PM | PERMALINK

How long have they been stalling on releasing papers from Daddy's administration?

Why isn't the SCLM asking about this every single day? Aren't they breaking the law every single day that they don't release them?

Contempt contempt contempt for America, for legal process, for democracy, for the huddled masses yearning to vote cleanly.

Posted by: craigie at June 20, 2003 09:46 PM | PERMALINK

I could not care less about this. Do we really need another investigation? Only two things can come of one:

1. It'll tell us what we already know (intelligence agencies should stop having turf wars and start coordinating their efforts, we need a new database, let's work with foreign governments, blah, blah, blah).

2. In the alternative, it'll give credence to wacked-out conspiracy theories for decades to come (Did Roosevelt know about Pearl Harbor? Was there a gunman on the grassy knoll? Were prominent Saudi friends of the Bush family funneling money to Al Quaeda?)

I suppose we do need an investigation, but it's hard to get all excited about it. It's not like it'll produce anything useful, and the odds of it turning into a partisan football are depressingly high. I'm certainly not going to be waiting for the blue-ribbon commission's report with bated breath.

The one thing that does bother me is that Bush gave the kiss of death to the original investigation by appointing Kissinger to head it. I would like to know why. Still, it's not like we are going to find out that Bush is really Osama Bin Laden.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at June 20, 2003 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

I get mildly ill listening to Joe Schmoe and Instapundit carefully minimize this topic, both of them knowing pretty well that there's something stinky out there. Because, God forbid, the Democrats can't be allowed to score any points. So we get Schmoe's eleborate not-caring, Instapundit's custom snarky remark about screechy partisans. And they both think they're being so cool.

What a bunch of lames we're stuck with in this country. Someone should yell "affirmative action" really good and loud to wake them up.

Posted by: zizka at June 20, 2003 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

If only we could all be as un-shrill as glenn.

Posted by: Atrios at June 21, 2003 02:05 AM | PERMALINK

If only we could all be as un-shrill as Republican partisans when they're out of the White House.

Posted by: Demetrios at June 21, 2003 05:42 AM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe,

So you're saying we don't need an investigation because only two things can happen:

1. We won't learn anything new, or
2. We will learn something new

If it's such an innocuous matter, why does Bush resist it tooth and nail? We won't find out he's Osama in disguise, but we might learn some fairly unpleasant things about his Saudi ties, or his general incompetence.

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov at June 21, 2003 07:09 AM | PERMALINK

Seems to me the Right ought to be uttering shrill cries for an investigation of 9/11. If indeed our intelligence agencies failed their various missions, then we need to get to the bottom of it all and identify the problems. Then the Right can make the case that we need to increase the budgets for the intelligence and security branches.....

Posted by: peter jung at June 21, 2003 09:17 AM | PERMALINK

Also, an investigation will expose how woefully unprepared and underfunded Clinton left the intelligence agencies, right? Because 9/11 was Clinton's fault. See, this is where the right is really losing it. If they had ramped this thing up from the very beginning, the report could have been made to coincide with Hillary's book release. It would have been beautiful, and a marvelous tonic to the lingering misapprehension that anyone but radical conservative Texas oil millionaires can govern the country. So why didn't they want it? Won't the 9/11 report show that it was all Clinton's fault?

Posted by: Demetrios at June 21, 2003 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

We might also get some recommendations for actions that would actually address the very real failures, rather than the band-aids that the current administration favors.

Posted by: PaulB at June 21, 2003 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Hasn't history taught us anything?

Political investigations are almost always useful. I mean, just think of all the good that came of Whitewater, Travelgate, the Vince Foster inquiry, the Henrey Cisneros investigation, the fundrasing at-the-Bhuddist-temple hearings, the Waco hearings...the list goes on and on.

Where would we be as a nation without these valuable investigations?

Investigations always produce such useful information, too. I mean, look at how the Warren Commission conclusively solved the JFK assassination mystery, putting the controversy surrounding it to rest once and for all.

And let's not forget the valuable contributions that investigations have made to our public policy. The recommendations issued by the Pearl Harbor investigation ensured that never again would our nation fall prey to a surpirse attack via air. The hearings into the bombing of Cambodia stopped all future presidents from fighting secret wars without Congressional approval. Thank goodness!

On a more serious note, there have been a few investigations that have turned up some pretty serious stuff: Watergate and Iran-Contra come to mind. But to me, this means that investigations are good for ferreting out *intentional* wrongdoing.

There is no reasonable possibility that a 9/11 investigation will discover any intentional wrongdoing. George Bush is not an Islamic fundamentalist. Dick Cheney is not a member of an Al-Queada sleeper cell. There was no sinister conspiracy here. 9/11 is not Iran-Contra.

The question then becomes what kind of neglignece is an investigation likely to turn up. That we need to share intelligence? Well, no kidding. Like we need an investigation to tell us that. That intelligence agencies need to stop being so territorial? Duh. That local, state, and federal law enforcement should form joint anti-terrorism task forces? Again, we already knew that.

All this being said, I do think that we need an investigation, for two reasons. First, it probably can shed light on some of the bureacratic problems that helped impede the discovery of the 9/11 plot. Most of them, like the need for sharing intelligene, we undoubtedly already know, but maybe an investigation could turn up a few more. Second, the fact that Bush appointed Kissinger to head the first one does bother me. He was obviously trying to hide something.

But what was he trying to hide? His ties to Islamic terror groups? The two weeks he spent at an Al-Quaeda training camp in 1997? I don't know what he's trying to hide, but if I had to guess, he's probably trying to politically embarrassing stuff that has absoultely no substance but will provide limitless ammunition for his partisan opponnents. Maybe Bush Sr. was on the board of a Saudi company that funnled money to bin Laden. Maybe a Saudi prince who stayed overnight at the Cheney family home sent money to one of the hijackers. None of this will be of any use to the war on terrorism, but such "Saudi Connections" will provide Bush's poltiical enemies with a big pile of mud to sling at him. I don't see how that can be considered something of vital national importance.

Again, I do think that an investigation is necessary. But it's crazy to think that it should be our absolute highest priority, or that Bush is somehow grossly irresponsbile for refusing to call for one. And yes, I'd be saying the same thing if we were dicussing the Gore administration. The history of politcal investigaitons has led me to conclude that they are not terribly useful. We should have one of 9/11, but the odds that it will provide helpful information is low, while the odds that it will turn into a cheap partisan witch hunt are high.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at June 21, 2003 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Joe, saying we all know that "intelligence agencies need to share information" is a starting point, not an end point. That's the primary reason that we need a real investigation to what went wrong.

It needn't have become - although it certainly now is - a political issue. Although studying success is useful, studying failure is even more useful, in order to not make the same mistakes.

Had Bush appointed a real commission (headed by Hart and Rudman, who had the background, expertise, and bipartisan support) by, say, 9/18/01, who knows what benefits we might now reap.

At a minimum, we wouldn't have, willy-nilly, created a stupid bureaucracy, the department of homeland security, in order to distract attention from the fact that maybe the Bush Administration wasn't quite the innocent victim on 9/11 that it claimed.

And just so i'm clear, what i mean by that is that the high bush myth is that no one could possibly have anticipated 9/11, so there was nothing that bush could have done to prevent it, and so we should all just stand up and salute president backbone on his moral clarity in response. A truer, more nuanced version would be (since we already know some of this from the information that was coming out before the administration changed the subject by pushing the department of homeland security) that the bush administration didn't take the threat of terrorism as seriously as it should have, caught up as it was in the belief that the real security problem facing america was that we didn't have a "rogue state missile defense."

Besides, joe, do you really prefer myths to facts?

Posted by: howard at June 21, 2003 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Joe actually seems to agree with us. It's just that he feels obligated to be sort of a shit about it. Otherwise he would seem to be on our side for an instant, and that cannot be allowed to happen. Dumping on us is his role in life

And he wonders why we call him a troll.

Posted by: zizka at June 21, 2003 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Howard, you are convincing me. A true bipartisan investigation would probably be ok.

Actually, I think there is a third reason why people are calling for a 9/11 investigation: it's psychological. People want to feel like we can study disasters like 9/11 and, in doing so, prevent them from happening again. I do not agree with this. I cannot imagine how we could have prevented 9/11. Nor will we be able to prevent all future terrorist attacks, even though we are doing everything possible to try.

Still, though, you are right, a serious bipartisan investigation, headed by responsible people, probably is a good idea. You have convinced me.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at June 21, 2003 04:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Again, I do think that an investigation is necessary. But it's crazy to think that it should be our absolute highest priority, or that Bush is somehow grossly irresponsbile for refusing to call for one."

Er..."Refusing to call for one" and "fighting tooth and nail to stop one" are not equivocal, sorry. As for the idea that 9-11 could have been stopped, a couple of interceptors scambled to force the planes down would have done the job nicely.

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Al-Reynolds says there could never be any unbelievers in Washington DC! We will roast their stomachs in Hell, etc etc.

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