I wouldn’t have thought there was much new to say about Richard Clarke and his testimony before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, but Linda Chavez makes a good point in the Washington Times. She notes that Clarke’s testimony has left the Commission “so politicized and [so] poisoned [its] work, it is doubtful it can be salvaged.” Thanks to Clarke, she adds, “the commission has become just another forum for partisan bickering, score-settling and finger-pointing.” At least this is how it is likely to be perceived.
Chavez’s piece also makes it clear enough that, perceptions aside, the Commission was never more than a partisan forum: “From the moment its members were named, this commission labored under a cloud of suspicion. For the most part, commission members were not chosen because of their national security expertise, and some members have reputations for fierce partisanship, not to mention vested interests in the inquiry’s outcome.” For example, two of its members, Richard Ben-Veniste and Jamie Gorelick, are essentially Democrat lawyer-operatives, while Fred Fielding belongs to the same species only on the Republican side. (Gorelick, moreover, served during the Clinton administration in one or more positions that could give her a personal stake in defending Clinton anti-terrorism policies). As Chavez concludes, “you can go down the commission list on both sides of the partisan divide, and with the possible exception of former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, most members seem either inexperienced in the areas they are to examine, or too political.”
Our politics may be at a place where it is nearly impossible to come up with a “blue ribbon commission” that would not be susceptible to highly plausible charges of intense partisanship. However, one could have come closer to that ideal than this Commission does. The result of not doing so, says Chavez, is that “we may never learn the necessary lessons from our past intelligence and policy failures to prevent future ones
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