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PRESIDENT BUSH: Stop the Stonewalling
from Common Cause
April 9, 2004

Common Cause has long advocated for open, transparent, and accountable government. If ever there was a time for openness and accountability, the investigation of 9/11 is it - not only for the victim's families but also for the sake of our nation's future security.

Since 9/11, efforts have been made to investigate the failures that led to the tragic events that day. Yet, the Bush Administration has consistently attempted to interfere with a thorough examination.

Although National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice just testified before the independent 9/11 Commission, President Bush had refused for weeks to allow this testimony, wrongly placing the principle of executive privilege above the Commission's and the public's right to know about this singular historic event.[i] Under intense pressure, the President finally relented, but only on condition that neither she nor any White House aide publicly testify after her testimony.[ii]

This struggle over Ms. Rice's testimony was just the latest example of White House stonewalling:

The Bush Administration at first vehemently opposed the creation of the 9/11 Commission.[iii]

The President refused to turn over information from his Daily Briefing until the Republican Chairman of the commission, Thomas Kean, threatened a subpoena. Even then, the full committee was not allowed to read the original documents or even see the notes from selected committee members who did.[iv]

The White House refused to extend the Commission's deadline by 60 days, to July 27. White House sources say the administration was concerned about a potentially critical report being issued closer to the presidential election.[v] The President later relented.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney insisted that they appear before just two commissioners, for one hour (in contrast, President Clinton and Vice President Gore agreed to unlimited meetings before the entire commission).[vi] President Bush eventually reversed himself but then added a new demand: he will appear only with Vice President Cheney by his side.[vii]

After administration critic Richard Clarke's first day of testimony, the White House's top lawyer called two Republican commissioners who then challenged Clarke's credibility and integrity during his testimony the next day. Calling Commission members just before a witness's testimony is "unusual" and "improper" because "the conduct of the White House is one of the key issues being investigated by the commission."[viii]

The Bush Administration blocked the Commission's request to see thousands of pages of material relevant to its work released by the Clinton Administration.[ix] One again, after a dispute with the commission, the administration agreed to release some, but not all, of the Clinton papers. [ix]

The public has a right to know what led to 9/11. The White House has engaged in a pattern of stonewalling the 9/11 Commission. It is only after pressure from you -- the public -- that the President relents and gives the Commission what it needs. The latest document being withheld by the administration is the August 6 President's Daily Briefing (PDB) entitled Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States. All the Commissioners want the document declassified -- we agree.

Take Action. Call on President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Administration officials to stop the stonewalling and start cooperating with the 9/11 Commission.

Information from the National Security Archive: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB116/press.htm

Posted: April 21, 2004


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