portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary united states

9.11 investigation

Why Bother To Interview Bush & Cheney At All?

The terms and conditions of this interview invalidate anything that may come of it.
While making it clear that it does not wish the inquiry to "set a precedent of appearances by Presidents before other commissions and create legal problems down the road" and steering away from any appearance of a legal proceeding, the Bush administration did not neglect to insist that the President's counsel, Alberto Gonzales, attend the session as well. This is turning into a slumber party rather than solely a fact-finding question session with the President of the United States.

Let's look at the conditions that turn this hearing into a useless joke, an insult to the American people, and a waste of time:

1) The 9/11 panel is not allowed to record the proceedings. It may take notes, but cannot keep a formal transcript. A Bush official will also be present to take notes. White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, told reporters that the session would not be officially transcribed because the White House considered it a 'private meeting' that would include highly classified information. How he could know this without having seen the questions in advance, we can only speculate.

2) Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will not be under oath and the White House has been adamant that what they say will not be considered official testimony. The New York Times wrote that, "Legal scholars said the lack of an official transcript would give the White House some deniability and make it more difficult to use the president's words as evidence in a future suit against the government."

3) The 9/11 commission had originally requested that Bush and Cheney be interviewed separately and that they testify under oath. The commission dropped these specifications when the President insisted that he and Cheney be interviewed together and that he would be "talking", not "testifying."

4) The content of the interviews will be held confidential and not released to the American public or to the media.

Hard questions or soft? How long? Will the President and Vice President be frank and direct in their answers? Will they tell the truth?

We may never know.
Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain 29.Apr.2004 10:18

Cheney Watch

Bush, Cheney Questioned Over Sept. 11 Attacks
By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney took questions on Thursday for more than three hours from the Sept. 11 commission about whether they considered al Qaeda an urgent priority before the catastrophic attacks.

The White House announced Bush would make brief remarks in the Rose Garden at 1:15 p.m. EDT to talk about the meeting.

Bush and Cheney, in a historic session with potential election-year ramifications, sat down in the Oval Office with the panel of five Republicans and five Democrats. The session ended after three hours and 10 minutes.

An hour earlier two Democrats on the panel, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton and former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, left the White House before the meeting was over.

Bush agreed under pressure from victims' families and the commission to answer questions from all panel members, but only on condition he have Cheney at his side and they meet in private, with no recording of the session. They were not under oath.

The meeting took place in the very heart of presidential power, the Oval Office, rather than in a room that would have provided a traditional table-and-chair setting.

Bush and Cheney took up opposite seats in front of the fireplace, and commission members were clustered in the room on couches and chairs.

Bush was joined by White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales and two other, unidentified White House lawyers who were there to take notes. The commission was allowed to bring one staffer for note-taking.

Past testimony has established that elements of the U.S. intelligence apparatus were aware of threats to American targets from the militant al Qaeda network, led by Osama bin Laden, before the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacking attacks.

Bush was braced for close questioning about his response to an Aug. 6, 2001, presidential intelligence memo entitled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike In US." It said al Qaeda members were in the United States and that the FBI had detected suspicious patterns of activity "consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks."

Bush was likely to be asked why he did not launch the U.S. government into battle stations based on the memo, which he received while on vacation in Texas.

Bush has already said the memo's usefulness was limited because it did not point to a specific target and did not provide "actionable intelligence." He was unlikely to give any ground on that position.

"This is a good opportunity for the president to sit down with members of the commission and talk to them about the seriousness with which we took the threat from al Qaeda, the steps we were taking to confront it, and how we have been responding to the attacks of September 11," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said after the meeting got started.

Bush's advisers were worried the commission's findings will be critical of the president, who is running for re-election in November on his record of fighting terrorism. The panel is working to complete its final report by July 26, well into the campaign season.

"It's good to see that after opposing and then stonewalling it, President Bush and Vice President Cheney will finally be testifying before the 9/11 commission," said Chad Clanton, a campaign spokesman for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites).

"Let's hope they are open and forthcoming," Clanton said.

A Harris Poll released on Wednesday said 62 percent of those polled believed the Bush administration was warned by intelligence reports "about possible terrorist attacks in this country."

Bush, who initially opposed creation of the independent commission, was likely to be asked what he had done to prepare the United States for the possibility of al Qaeda attacks in the months after they took office.

Former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke has said Bush did not heed his warnings that al Qaeda was an urgent threat.

(Additional reporting by Adam Entous)

The Emperor's Hearing 29.Apr.2004 10:41

Whhhaaaa

In his Rose Garden briefing following the three-hour "talk" with the 9/11 commission, Bush stated that he had answered "every question" and cooperated fully. I guess we have to take his word for it which makes me distinctly uneasy, given his record of prevaricating. We will certainly never see a transcript.

Apparently forgotten is that his administration initially opposed the formation of the commission and that he is apparently so fearful of damaging his bid for reelection that he had to have Dick Cheney and three lawyers present during the questioning . . . lawyers that the American public is paying for.

Being reelected is obviously more important to him than presenting a frank accounting of activities related to 9/11.

Hamilton & Kerrey Early Departure 29.Apr.2004 10:44

Samsonite

"An hour earlier two Democrats on the panel, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton and former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, left the White House before the meeting was over."

Does anybody know the reason for this early departure?

Yeah, I know whey they left the hearing.................... 29.Apr.2004 15:10

RED, WHITE, and BLUE

John Kerry flew his barber into town and was offering cuts for half price, I think it was about $2,000. They wanted to get in on the great deal, so when they address the common folk tomorrow they will have that 'haircut without a haircut look'.

Beatin' around the bush 29.Apr.2004 21:25

Inside every bush, there is a p*ssy

All this machismo devotion to a man who couldn't last a round in the ring. Tsk. But then, his devotees can't tell the difference between Bob Kerrey and John Kerry either.

"Does anybody know the reason for this early departure?"

Maybe because the little teleprompter Bush had installed in his desk broke and they had to end early? I'm not quite believing it took place in the Oval Office just because Chicken George feels more comfortable there when he's on the ropes.

I can hope they left either in disgust or because they'd gotten all they needed. I was glad to see them get snippy with Rice, they at least know when they're being jerked around, maybe they can figure out when they're being fed a total crock.

I also just want to remind the President that obstructing an investigation is a serious offence, just ask Martha Stewart. Maybe they could be cellmates before this is over, and she can show him how to go stuff himself.