February 10, 2004

9/11 Panel Threatens to Issue Subpoena for Bush's Briefings

"Out, out damn spot!"

New York Times: Members of the independent commission
investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks warned
the White House on Monday that it could face a
politically damaging subpoena this week if it refused
to turn over information from the highly classified
Oval Office intelligence reports given to President
Bush before 9/11.

Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies,
Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/10/politics/10PANE.html

February 10, 2004
9/11 Panel Threatens to Issue Subpoena for Bush's Briefings
By PHILIP SHENON

ASHINGTON, Feb. 9 Members of the independent
commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks warned the White House on Monday that it could
face a politically damaging subpoena this week if it
refused to turn over information from the highly
classified Oval Office intelligence reports given to
President Bush before 9/11.

The panel's chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a Republican and
the former governor of New Jersey, said through a
spokesman that he was hopeful an agreement would be
worked out before the commission's next meeting, on
Tuesday. Commission officials said that negotiations
continued throughout the day on Monday and into the
evening with the office of Alberto R. Gonzales, the
White House counsel.

But other members of the commission said that without
an immediate resolution, they would call for a vote on
Tuesday on issuing a subpoena to the White House for
access to information in the documents. The papers are
known as the President's Daily Brief, the intelligence
summary prepared each morning for Mr. Bush by the
Central Intelligence Agency.

Responding to earlier threats of a subpoena, the White
House agreed last year to allow three members of the
10-member commission and the panel's Republican staff
director to review portions of the daily briefings
from before the Sept. 11 attacks that referred to
intelligence warnings about Al Qaeda and its plans for
terrorist attacks.

The commission has described the briefings as vital
since they would show whether the White House had
warnings of a catastrophic terrorist attack. The White
House has acknowledged that one briefing Mr. Bush saw
in August 2001 referred to the possibility of a Qaeda
strike with commercial airplanes.

In recent weeks, however, the White House has refused
to give permission for the four members of the
delegation to share their handwritten and computerized
notes which have been retained by the White House
under the agreement with the full commission. That
has outraged Democrats and Republicans on the panel
and prompted the renewed threat of a subpoena.

"I'm determined to resolve this with a subpoena vote,"
said one of the Democrats, Timothy J. Roemer, a former
congressman from Indiana. "We need to get access to
the notes. There needs to be full information to all
10 commissioners. So far, the White House has vetoed
that."

Another Democrat on the panel, Richard Ben-Veniste, a
former Watergate prosecutor, said he would be prepared
to support the subpoena.

"This thing has dragged on for months," Mr.
Ben-Veniste said Monday, adding that he was not
convinced by repeated statements from the White House
that it intended to cooperate fully with the
commission.

"Saying that they have cooperated just doesn't get
them over the finish line," he said.

The delegation that has reviewed the briefing reports
is made up of Mr. Kean; Lee H. Hamilton, another
former Democratic congressman from Indiana and the
commission's vice chairman; Jamie S. Gorelick, deputy
attorney general in the Clinton administration; and
Philip D. Zelikow, the executive director.

The panel, known formally as the National Commission
on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was
created by Congress over the initial objections of Mr.
Bush.

It has made use of its subpoena authority three times:
against the Defense Department, the Federal Aviation
Administration and the City of New York. A subpoena to
the White House could be politically damaging to Mr.
Bush, because it would allow his Democratic opponents
to suggest he was stonewalling the panel, and because
it would raise the prospect of an extended
election-year court fight between the commission and
the White House.

A spokesman for the commission, Al Felzenberg, said
that Mr. Kean was involved Monday in the negotiations
and that there had been "some positive action."

"It's fair to say that the governor is hopeful that
things are going to move in a good direction," Mr.
Felzenberg added, "that we will have access to
everything we need."

The subpoena threat comes a week after the White House
reversed itself and agreed to support the commission's
request to Congress for an additional two months to
complete its work, extending the deadline for a final
report until July.

That is subject to approval by Congress, and spokesmen
for the two crucial Senate authors of the bill
creating the commission John McCain, Republican of
Arizona, and Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of
Connecticut said on Monday they were negotiating
with the commission and victims' families over how
much extra time the commission should get.


Posted by richard at February 10, 2004 11:04 AM