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Responding to Bush on NBC’s “Meet The Press”


BUSH: White House Cooperating With 9/11 Commission

Bush: We have given extraordinary cooperation with Chairmen Kean and Hamilton. As you know, we made an agreement on what's called "Presidential Daily Briefs," and they could see the information the CIA provided me that is unique… know, we’re going to second guess that which you told the President. I need good, honest information, but we have shared this information with both those gentlemen, gentlemen I trust, so they could get a better picture of what took place prior to September the 11th. And again, we want… I want the truth to be known. [“Meet the Press”, 2/8/04, emphasis added]

FACT: White House Stonewalled 9/11 Commission Every Step Of The Way

From The Outset, Bush Strongly Opposed Independent Inquiry Into 9/11 Attacks. In July 2002, the Bush administration issued a “statement of policy” that read “…the Administration would oppose an amendment that would create a new commission to conduct a similar review [to Congress’s investigation]. Such an amendment is duplicative and would cause a further diversion of essential personnel from their duties fighting the war.” Members of Congress “and relatives of victims of the attacks pushed for the independent commission, arguing that it would not be as limited as the congressional inquiry.” [Statement of Administration Policy, Executive Office of the President, 7/24/02, emphasis added; Los Angeles Times, 11/28/02]

White House Fought Independent Investigators To Hide Briefings Bush Received On 9/11. In November 2003, the White House reached a deal with the independent commission to release some of Bush’s Presidential Daily Briefings, which provided potential information on the attacks.

Administration officials admitted that they feared “information in the reports might be construed to suggest that the White House had clues before Sept. 11, 2001, that Al Qaeda was planning a catastrophic attack,” and Bush had argued that executive privilege allowed him to keep the reports hidden. [NY Times, 11/13/03; Wash. Post, 11/16/03]

White House Fought To Deny Commission Members Access To Their Own Notes. The 9/11 commission had to threaten a subpoena in the face of the “White House's refusal to let…three members share their notes on the information with the seven others. The White House has cited executive privilege.” Thomas Kean, the panel’s chairman, said, “‘Angry’is not the right word…‘Frustrated’ might be a better word. We feel as a commission -- unanimously, I think -- that all commissioners are equal, that they should all have the same information.’” [New York Times, 2/5/04]

Republican Commission Chairman Said Limiting White House Documents Would “Leave Questions Unanswered.” Kean called on Bush to provide access to the requested documents, saying, “Any document that has to do with this investigation cannot be beyond our reach. I will not stand for it… There are a lot of theories about 9/11, and as long as there is any document out there that bears on any of those theories, we're going to leave questions unanswered. And we cannot leave questions unanswered.” [New York Times, 10/26/03]

BUSH: Iraq Commission Needs Time To Work Russert: Shouldn't the American people have the benefit of the commission before the election?

Bush: Well, the reason why we gave it time is because we didn't want it to be hurried.This is a strategic look, kind of a big picture look about the intelligence gathering capacities of the United States of America, whether it be the capacity to gather intelligence in North Korea or how we've used our intelligence to, for example, learn more information about AQ Kahn. And it's important that this investigation take its time. [“Meet the Press”,2/8/04, emphasis added]

FACT: White House Stonewalling Slowed 9/11 Commission—White House Said Commission Should Hurry Up Commission Ran Out Of Time Due To Bush Stonewalling On Evidence. Members of the 9/11 commission “said there was no way to finish their work on time, a situation they attribute in part to delays by the Bush administration in turning over documents and other evidence.” On February 4, 2004, the White House reversed its position and announced support for a two-month extension of the commission’s deadline from May until July 2004. [New York Times, 1/28/04, 2/5/04]

White House Said Commission’s Report Should Be Rushed To Prevent Future Attacks. White House spokesman Scott McClellan defended the White House’s opposition to extending the commission’s deadline by saying “we continue to believe that they ought to move forward as quickly as possible to gather the information that they can that can help us prevent something like September 11th from ever happening again.” [White House Press Briefing, 1/27/04]