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Homeland Security

SLUG: 6-13000 9/11 Commission Controversy










INTRO: This week, the government-appointed commission probing the September terrorist attacks of 9 / 11 complained that the Bush administration is hampering its efforts. The co-chairman of the bi-partisan group says the Pentagon and Justice Department are among several administrative agencies that are dragging their feet when asked for records and other information. The claims caused an immediate debate among politicians and in the editorial pages, and we get a sampling now from V-O-A's ______________ in today's U-S Opinion Roundup.

TEXT: When terrorists commandeered three planes and crashed them into both World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, the nation fell into shock. A major war against global terrorism began, and Congress quickly investigated whether there had been an intelligence failure. A large, bi-partisan commission was also created to conduct an even wider, 18-month probe of the events and what led up to them. Now the two former politicians heading the group, former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton and former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean say the Bush administration is failing to fully cooperate.

Ohio's Dayton Daily News is pleased the charges are being publicly aired.

VOICE: It's been a good couple of weeks for truth, that precious commodity so often said to be war's first casualty. Some of the fog seems to be lifting. Thomas . Kean . and Lee Hamilton . stepped up by speaking out . [complaining] that the commission isn't getting the cooperation it needs from federal agencies. For instance . the Department of Justice is . insisting that it have monitors present at interviews of Justice Department personnel. Mr. Kean called them "minders" and said their presence intimidates witnesses.

Problems with the Defense Department are becoming "particularly serious," the commission leaders added, with the agency failing even to respond to some. information. requests. Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton .[have] put the problems squarely in the White House's lap, calling its response over the next few weeks crucial.

TEXT: The Los Angeles Times weighs in.

VOICE: The administration - - which opposed the creation of the independent commission, then reluctantly endorsed it - - may still succeed in crippling its work. If government agencies can string out [Editors: "delay"] the process long enough, the commission won't be able to meet its congressional deadline of May [2004] for producing a substantive report. Congress should extend the deadline.

TEXT: This criticism is just typical Washington political warfare, grumbles New York's Wall Street Journal.

VOICE: Every American wants to know what went wrong in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. So it would be nice to think that the people charged with finding.. out . were more interested in the task . than in politics as usual. That's apparently too much to ask from the National . Commission. . Its first notable business has been to orchestrate a campaign of media leaks and quotes . that the Bush administration is impeding its investigation . A better question is why the administration is cooperating at all with what looks more and more like a probe with a partisan edge.

TEXT: Ohio's Cleveland Plain Dealer however sided with the commission.

VOICE: Time is "slipping by," said [Governor] Kean [looking] . toward the May 2-thousand-four deadline. The investigation that he and Vice Chairman Hamilton head is the "most wide ranging outside investigation of American national security in . history." and the level of the administration's cooperation will determine whether the commission can meet that schedule.

That [the commission statement] had to be issued at all should concern anyone who wants a clear accounting of U-S intelligence and military preparedness . before the terrorists struck.

/// BEGIN OPT ///

TEXT: In Washington State, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is upset at the lack of information on several crucial, interrelated issues.

VOICE: .why is it that we still don't know enough about miscues involving the federal government and September 11 [Th]? Or, why the president misled the country in the State of the Union speech about the nuclear threat from Iraq? And what about other intelligence concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? These questions involve serious applications of national policy.

/// END OPT ///

TEXT: A somewhat different view from Missouri, where The Kansas City Star says the Commission's trouble is that it has "bitten off more than it can chew."

VOICE: The commission may be trying to do too much, however. For instance, in the new report, [Governor] Kean and [Congressman] Hamilton say "the Commission has launched the most wide-ranging outside investigation of American national security in . history." That's too grandiose a vision. The commission should tighten its focus so the final report [focuses on] government failures to anticipate the September attacks.

TEXT: On that analytical note, we conclude this editorial sampling of complaints regarding government cooperation from the 9/11 terrorist assessment Commission.


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