March 30, 2004

Trying To Cut A Deal. Condoleezza Rice will testify in public and under oath before 9/11 Commission, as the White House has reversed its position (i.e., flip-flopped) that she was prevented from doing so by executive privilege. The White House is willing to allow George Bush and Dick Cheney to testify in private (not under oath) before all 10 commission members (they had previously said they would appear only before the chairman and co-chairman).

If Rice testifies, the pressure to have Bush do the same will increase -- and that is probably the White House's worst nightmare. It looks like the administration is trying to fashion some type of deal (a plea bargain?) that if Rice talks, the Commission will ease up on Bush and Cheney. Under this scenario, Bush wouldn't be questioned alone. Cheney will hold his hand and probably spend half of his time saying some variation of: "Uh, what George really means is ..."

From the text of the White House's letter to the Commission: "As we discussed last night, the president is prepared, subject to the conditions set forth below, to agree to the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States for public testimony, under oath, by the assistant to the president for national security affairs, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. ... The necessary conditions are as follows. First, the commission must agree in writing that Dr. Rice's testimony before the commission does not set any precedent for future commission requests, or requests in any other context, for testimony by a national security adviser or any other White House official. Second, the commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice. ..."

This is pure 100% horseshit. When the Commission decides to accept or reject these conditions -- and I can't believe they are even considering them -- one important question will be answered: Who is in charge of this "independent" commission?

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