…deepened a bit yesterday as its Chairman and Vice-Chairman engaged in a public dispute with Vice-President Cheney, releasing this terse public statement:
After examining available transcripts of the vice president’s public remarks, the 9/11 commission believes it has access to the same information the vice president has seen regarding contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq prior to the 9/11 attacks.
This was in response to Cheney’s statement that he “probably” has seen intelligence on Iraq and al Qaeda of which the commission was unaware.
Given the fact that the commission was charged only with investigating the events leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks, and not with investigating the broader question of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, it is easy to believe that the Vice-President has broader access to intelligence about Iraq than the commission. And the commission’s staff report, which concluded without any extended analysis that there was no evidence of a “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda, didn’t even mention the publicly-available evidence on the subject (with one partial exception), let alone try to rebut it.
But Cheney apparently wants a truce, as his office released a lame statement to the effect that the commissioners’ statement confirms, “as we have said all along,” that the executive branch cooperated fully with the commission’s investigation. So this issue comes to rest with a whimper, for now, at least.