Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 30, 2004
WAR: Walking Out

I've long thought the September 11 Commission was, at best, pointless, since there had already been numerous official and unofficial inquiries into September 11, leading to overhauls of airport security, the Homeland Security Department, the Patriot Act, the war in Afghanistan and the new preemption posture leading to the war in Iraq, etc. Much of the really important stuff was public record anyway. The relevant question 2 1/2 years later is how those efforts are working, and not why policies that are no longer in place failed.

Anyway, for months and months now we've been hearing about the necessity of having the president testify, and the usual suspects have been up in arms about how it's beyond the pale for Bush and Cheney to testify together rather than have the president testify alone. (Never mind that Bush is, at the end of all this, the primary person with responsibility for national security to whom the commission must report anyway). So, how important was the president's testimony? Two Democrats on the panel didn't even bother to stay for the whole thing due to minor speaking engagements. And how appalling was it that Bush was permitted to testify with his #2 man at his side? Well, Henry Hanks reminds us of a fact the critics have consistently omitted: that Bill Clinton was allowed to show up to testify before the commission with his lawyer/damage control expert Bruce Lindsey and his National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, in tow.

So much for that storyline.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:44 AM | War 2004 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

You see no distinction between Clinton appearing with his attorney and NSA and Bush appearing with the Vice President and a host of others?

No distinction at all?

None?

You don't find it odd that Bush needed to sit in front of the committee with Cheney?

If it were his father (biological father, that is) and Quayle it wouldn't be second guessed. But then again. most everybody would assume that Quayle was there to take notes.

Personally, I can't recall a Vice President having so much vital input and responsibilities as Cheney does in this administration, and that's even before taking into account my biases against Bush.

Posted by: C Giddy at April 30, 2004 9:25 AM

No, there's no difference. Why is appearing with one trusted advisor different from appearing with another?

Posted by: The Crank at April 30, 2004 9:28 AM

I see a difference: Cheney is an elected official that faces re-election. Lindsay was a political hack whose entire portfolio was simply to defend Clinton. I don't see how Bush bringing a fellow elected official is worse than Clinton bringing an unelected damage control expert.

I also don't see what's wrong with a VP that has substantial responsibilites. Again, they are elected officials. Moreover, they're a heartbeat away from being the President.

As a reminder, in 1992 Clinton/Gore campaign pitched the two candidates as a working team.

Posted by: Kiner's Korner at April 30, 2004 9:57 AM

Bush did most of the talking, Cheney only piped up when Bush's memory was fuzzy on something. So the only real complaint anyone could have here is that Cheney didn't say enough, not that he was "acting as a puppetmaster" or what have you.

Posted by: HH at April 30, 2004 11:16 AM

Clinton needed someone to remind him was the meaning of "is" is.

I think it rather disrespectful to the office of the presidency that Hamilton and Kerrey left early. I think you could be excused from any appointment with the "I was meeting with the President in the Oval Office" claim.

The whole commission is BS. Gorelick, Kerrey and Benveneste(sp?) are absolute jokes.

Posted by: roux at April 30, 2004 11:53 AM

There is absolutely no excuse for Kerrey and Hamilton to leave the session early if that is indeed true. Don't they know how distracting and rude that can be during a live ventriloquist performance?

Seriously, that's a bulls--t move. Got any other source besides that ridiculous Post Op-Ed? This Administration has handled this Commission with nothing short of scorn and contempt, not to mention obstruction and dissembling, but there is no excuse for Commission members to walk out on the POTUS during his interview. I mean, youre in a meeting with THE PRESIDENT! Who the Hell is your "other engagement" with? Outrageous.

Posted by: Mr Furious at May 1, 2004 1:02 AM

"This Administration has handled this Commission with nothing short of scorn and contempt, not to mention obstruction and dissembling..."

How so? The administration wasn’t exactly quick in accepting the need for this commission, but it has fully complied with it.

Ok, so they didn’t want Rice to testify in public, but she had already given several hours of testimony to the commission. And they withheld some documents that some commissioners deemed necessary, but they did eventually give them up and they were found to be worthless.

You can’t blame the administration for being hesitant to get into this thing whole-heartedly because they’re the only ones who stand to lose anything, what with certain commission members acting as if the President is on trial. Plus you have to think that they genuinely believe that this commission is a worthless exercise for the reasons Crank has already pointed out.

Posted by: Richard at May 1, 2004 5:26 PM

The administration wasn’t exactly quick in accepting the need for this commission, but it has fully complied with it.

They fought this (and the previous Congressional Commission) every step of the way. Stonewalling and refusing to release information until the political pressure (and price) becomes unbearable. Kean had to threaten to subpeona them on more than one occasion. The whole Rice fiasco just made them look foolish.

I loved this bit from the NY Post Op-Ed that Crank linked:

"First came the quashing of Bush's selection of a truly serious candidate, Henry Kissinger, to head the probe."

Yeah, Kissinger's serious all right. But that's about it. Can anyone here honestly say he's the guy you want in charge of anything but a complete whitewash? Perhaps we can bring back a few more Nixon cronies to really get to the bottom of things. I'm sure everyone will feel comfortable with the conclusions.

Just to show I'm not a complete partisan, the guy I always thought should have been picked to lead this Commission is Guiliani. I have plenty of problems with Rudy, I lived in NYC the whole time he was mayor until right before the attacks (thankfully), but he was the right man for this task. A bulldog prosecutor and investigator, a Republican, not afraid to take any probe wherever it leads, not beholden (too much) to party loyalties, takes no shit and most of all perhaps more than any other major player, the man most motivated to get to the bottom of what happened to HIS City on HIS watch. Plus it would allow him to grandstand a bit, and you can't tell me he wouldn't relish the role. You lawyers tell me if perhaps he was a bit to intimately involved to be truly effective, but from where I sit, he was perfect.

I like this one too:

"Imagine the furor had the White House declined to participate (or even sought to end the meeting early - say, to tend to the war)."

Tend to the War. They've been doing a bang-up job. The Commission's lucky they didn't have to go to Crawford to meet with Bush.

I'm not going to act like this Commission has been perfect, but it is hardly worthless. "...they’re the only ones who stand to lose anything" Something else besides the precious political careers of Administration officials stood to be lost if this never occured. Accountability and transparency of government has all but disappeared during this Administration, and while this Commission may be little more than an exercise in looking busy, it needed to happen. This isn't merely the Bush Administration's dirty laundry being hung out. People wanted to know and deserve to know what happened, what went wrong, and what is being done about it. I don't think any of those questions will be fully answered to everyone's satisfaction, but thay should be asked and asked publicly.

Posted by: Mr Furious at May 2, 2004 12:54 AM

The administration wasn’t exactly quick in accepting the need for this commission, but it has fully complied with it.

They fought this (and the previous Congressional Commission) every step of the way. Stonewalling and refusing to release information until the political pressure (and price) becomes unbearable. Kean had to threaten to subpeona them on more than one occasion. The whole Rice fiasco just made them look foolish.

I loved this bit from the NY Post Op-Ed that Crank linked:

"First came the quashing of Bush's selection of a truly serious candidate, Henry Kissinger, to head the probe."

Yeah, Kissinger's serious all right. But that's about it. Can anyone here honestly say he's the guy you want in charge of anything but a complete whitewash? Perhaps we can bring back a few more Nixon cronies to really get to the bottom of things. I'm sure everyone will feel comfortable with the conclusions.

Just to show I'm not a complete partisan, the guy I always thought should have been picked to lead this Commission is Guiliani. I have plenty of problems with Rudy, I lived in NYC the whole time he was mayor until right before the attacks (thankfully), but he was the right man for this task. A bulldog prosecutor and investigator, a Republican, not afraid to take any probe wherever it leads, not beholden (too much) to party loyalties, takes no shit and most of all perhaps more than any other major player, the man most motivated to get to the bottom of what happened to HIS City on HIS watch. Plus it would allow him to grandstand a bit, and you can't tell me he wouldn't relish the role. You lawyers tell me if perhaps he was a bit to intimately involved to be truly effective, but from where I sit, he was perfect.

I like this one too:

"Imagine the furor had the White House declined to participate (or even sought to end the meeting early - say, to tend to the war)."

Tend to the War. They've been doing a bang-up job. The Commission's lucky they didn't have to go to Crawford to meet with Bush.

I'm not going to act like this Commission has been perfect, but it is hardly worthless. "...they’re the only ones who stand to lose anything" Something else besides the precious political careers of Administration officials stood to be lost if this never occured. Accountability and transparency of government has all but disappeared during this Administration, and while this Commission may be little more than an exercise in looking busy, it needed to happen. This isn't merely the Bush Administration's dirty laundry being hung out. People wanted to know and deserve to know what happened, what went wrong, and what is being done about it. I don't think any of those questions will be fully answered to everyone's satisfaction, but thay should be asked and asked publicly.

Posted by: Mr Furious at May 2, 2004 12:55 AM

“Accountability and transparency of government has all but disappeared during this Administration…”

Hello, welcome to the United States of America- you’re obviously new here. Seriously- what country have you been living in over the past 50+ years? No administration has ever held themselves accountable to the people. If you think the Bush and Nixon administrations were the only ones who were hiding something from the public, you’re just kidding yourself.

But anyway, I like how you criticize Crank for linking to an Op-Ed piece, then proceed on a tirade of your own. I think the crux of this argument is that we just don’t see eye-to-eye on the merits of this commission. Why do we need a public discussion of flaws in an anti-terrorism plan that no longer exists? Shouldn’t we be focusing solely on ways to stop terrorism now? Placing blame for 9/11 is a completely pointless exercise, especially when we already know who was to blame (everybody who had the slightest role in crafting anti-terror policy over the bast 20 years).

Oh, and once again I'm going to have to insist on some specific examples of how the administration "fought this every step of the way." Just saying that they did doesn’t make it true…

Posted by: Richard at May 2, 2004 5:04 AM

First of all, I don't know what's going on with the double posts. Sorry especially with such a long one...

I'll try and link / find some specific examples of what I'm talking about. It was a little late for research, and I don't have time now either.

I haven't been here fifty years, but I didn't just fall off the turnip truck either. It is fair to say that I pay much closer attention to all of this stuff (politics) over the last five or six years however. Obviously no Administration, or politician for that matter, is going to release or admit anything it doesn't have to. It has been pretty widely acknowledged by commenters of all stripes that this Administration plays things much closer to the vest than most if not being the most secretive Administration since or even including the Nixon Admin.

With the benefit of national tragedy and the resulting "wars" this Admin has pushed that secrecy and linked every goddamn thing under the sun to national security in an effort to close doors or classify just abount evertything they can. I'm not saying a Dem President woundn't try the same, but it still wouldn't be right.

The Constitution exists for a reason, and not only when it's politically convenient for those agencies and Administrations subject to it.

Posted by: Mr Furious at May 2, 2004 11:12 AM

Show me where in the constitution it says anything about “transparency of government.” Here’s a dirty little secret about the founding fathers: they thought the American people were idiots. Sure, they wrote “for the people, by the people…” but they spent much of their time thinking up ways to check the public’s power.

You don’t often see Democrats (I assume you are a Democrat) trying to invoke the founding fathers while trying to make a point. That takes some balls…

Posted by: Richard at May 2, 2004 2:39 PM
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