Along the Tracks

Friday, November 29, 2002
 

Times ‘independence’


The New York Times’ argument that Kissinger isn’t “independent” enough to lead the 9/11 investigation is real hoot, considering what “independent” has come to mean in Rainesian terms.

Setting aside the Times’ complaint, which centers on the administration’s reluctance to establish such a commission in the first place, I think there is something else going on with Bush’s management of this whole process. I believe he and his advisers wanted to get a thorough classified congressional investigation first, a nuts-and-bolts effort that actually would find where problems existed and suggest remedies - all without the drip-drip-drip of revelations in the media. The effort wasn’t entirely successful, as certain leaked memos attest, but basically did the job. Now, with an independent investigation, the media can have its little circus, but with emotional temperatures cooled by time.

Also, I think the administration really was trying to “hide” something, or at least delay its release: the malfeasance of the Clinton administration. Bush didn’t want to get into partisan finger-pointing in the year after September 11. He wanted to maintain unity on the war and have an opportunity to focus the mid-term elections on “directional” issues like the war, homeland security, taxes - agenda items that are part of his overall vision for America, rather than the “whose fault” arguments inevitably to arise from an open, independent investigation.

Now, he has named a respected hand known for his realism and willingness to criticize the present administration (as last summer’s Kissinger op-ed proposing limitations on the Iraq policy attests). Kissinger and team (which already includes former Democratic Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell) will dig up a lot of bones. They have just nine months worth of burials in the Bush administration's yard. They’ve got eight years of bodies in Clinton’s.

P.S. - As a little proof on this theory of mine, look at the recent revelation that the FBI halted an investigation of Saudi royals funding al Qaeda. What is almost never mentioned is when the investigation was stopped: Late in 2000, when Bill Clinton was president. There will be a lot more of such dereliction found, I’ll bet.


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