the last two days, President Bush and the White
House have claimed that they are going to establish
an "independent" commission to promptly investigate
the over-hyping of intelligence before the Iraq
war. But as details come out about the White House's
proposal, it appears the commission will be neither
independent nor prompt.
the president will appoint the entire commission
himself, breaking the previous tradition of allowing
lawmakers from both parties to appoint commission
members. Although lawmakers have raised objections
to the commission's lack of independence, the
White House is moving forward with its plans.
despite the fact that the commission's work will
be critical to national security, the president
will only authorize a commission that produces
a report after the election -- so as to minimize
any political fallout for himself. This contrasts
sharply to British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
who is putting national security ahead of politics.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, "in contrast
to a bipartisan investigating committee announced
by Bush, the British panel is to announce its
conclusions by July. That would put any damaging
disclosures for Blair's government well in advance
of parliamentary elections, expected in 2005."
It also contrasts with similar investigations
in the United States. In 1983, after the terrorist
attacks on U.S. troops in Beirut, a commission
was appointed and finished its work within 3 months.
one major newspaper editorial board summed up,
"The president's goal is to delay any objective
findings about prewar intelligence until after
the election, leaving him free to decide what
the administration knew and didn't know and who
is to blame." And the President's continued misleading
on WMD could come at a price. As Republican Senator
Chuck Hagel said, a failure to convince the public
that Bush did not "exaggerate" the case for war
"would put the president in a very bad position.
He said people would start asking, "Do we trust
his word? Do we trust him to lead this country?"
Posted: February 5, 2004