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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Quick note on Rice

I've got lots of stuff on my plate this week, so this will be quick:

As everyone knows by now, Condi Rice is going to testify to the 9/11 Commission. It should be noted that the separation of powers argument was always a ruse. She already testified for four hours in February -- in private. Thus, the claims about executive-legislative power are false.

The entire controversy has really been about public accountability. Will Rice have to answer questions in a public forum, so that you and I can consider her responses to the questions we want answered? Up until today, the Bush administration has tried to avoid just that accountability.

And today, they may yet have achieved victory.

As Paul Sperry notes, the deal the Commission made with the White House includes a lot of concessions that actually hurt transparency and public accountability.

Rice will be the final Bush administration official to testify in public. She cannot be recalled and no one else can be asked to explain anything else from now forward. Every process needs an endpoint, but this seems like a bad deal.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney are also going to testify together, in private, before all the commissioners.

They will not be under oath.

Why not?

I suspect the White House has concerns about the Clinton precedent. The Special Prosecutor ended up going after Clinton for alleged lies under oath -- not for other specific crimes committed as President. That's largely why impeachment failed. The public thought his behavior was bad, but not impeachable.

In any case, without taking such an oath, the current President and Vice President are freed to bend the truth and "forget" potentially important facts.

Think I'm being paranoid?

On March 22, 2004, the Wall Street Journal published a lengthy story detailing how "some official accounts of Sept. 11 are incorrect, incomplete or in dispute."

Despite what the President said, he did not personally put the nation on higher alert that morning.

The President claimed to have seen a video of the first plane striking the World Trade Center even before he read to the classroom full of students that day -- but this was impossible. Despite his personal anecdote about seeing a "bad pilot," no tape was available until the night of 9/11.

Uncut videotape reveals that the President was not immediately pulled from the class when informed of the second attack. He remained in the room for at least 7 additional minutes. White House officials claim to have acted within seconds.

There was no threat to Air Force One, despite the fact that Vice President Cheney has claimed there was. There were no remaining jets in the sky that would have posed lingering threats to air safety, as has been claimed by the White House.

The FAA alerted the military immediately when it knew it had hijackings underway that day, but the jets remained on the ground. Nobody can really explain why.

Read the WSJ piece, it raises additional doubts about the official story.

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