UNFINISHED BUSINESS

The independent 9/11 commission, href="http://www.artsjournal.com/herman/archives20031102.shtml#59184"> color=#003399>which had me worried me, just lost so much of its
independence you have to wonder whether American democracy has become a charade. The
commission’s job — to find out what the Bush administration knew about the 9/11 Al Qaeda
attacks and whether they could have been prevented — has turned into the equivalent of asking the
Saudis to show us their bank records.


Track the progression from last week’s headlines: href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/07/national/07TERR.html"> color=#003399>“9/11 Panel May Reject Offer of Limited Access to
Briefings”
(Nov. 7), href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/13/politics/13TERR.html?hp"> color=#003399>“Panel Reaches Deal on Access to 9/11 Papers”
(Nov. 11), href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/14/national/14TERR.html"> color=#003399>“Deal on 9/11 Briefings Lets White House Edit
Papers”
(Nov. 13).


Although the headlines tell the story in broad outline, they don’t give the devilish details. The
“deal” means that Bush and his cronies will not only have the right to edit sensitive Oval Office
documents (chiefly Bush’s daily intelligence reports) before letting the commission see
them, but will also have the right to choose what reports to show the commission.


That’s terrific. After all, according to The New York Times, “administration officials
acknowledge that they fear that information in the reports might be construed to suggest that the
White House had clues before Sept. 11, 2001, that Al Qaeda was planning a catastrophic attack.”
Why shouldn’t the maximum leader of a developing banana republic be entitled to sanitize the
records?


color=#003399>Here’s why. (Isn’t it about time Ron Rosenbaum
apologized to Gore Vidal?)


Meantime, Bruce Fierstein gets my vote for href="http://www.observer.com/pages/newyorkdiary.asp"> color=#003399>funniest take on Der Gropenfuhrer’s plan to investigate
himself.
 Fierstein thinks it’s a trend to watch — Martha Stewart,
Karl Rove and Kobe Bryant might latch onto it. We’ve already seen how it’s caught on at
the White House.

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