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9/11 Probe: Aiming High
The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks wants to talk to top Bush Administration officials
Sunday, January 26, 2003
By Timothy J. Burger
After a bumpy start that included the resignation
of Henry Kissinger as its first chairman, the commission
investigating pre-Sept. 11 government lapses may remain just as
controversial. Two commissioners of the bipartisan panel, which
holds its first meeting this week, told TIME they will push for a
wide-ranging, aggressive probe that will include testimony from
top Bush Administration officials who didn't testify last year in
a joint inquiry by the House and Senate intelligence
One panelist, Tim Roemer, a Democrat who just
retired from Congress, complained in a statement he issued last
month as a member of the House-Senate panel that the
congressional probe suffered because such officials as Donald
Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, John Ashcroft and Condoleezza Rice "were
not questioned directly about issues related to the Sept. 11
attacks." A Rumsfeld spokesman refused to "speculate on what
participation will be extended" to the commission.
But Roemer told TIME that all relevant Bush
officials must be interviewed this time around, along with
officials from prior Administrations.
His view is echoed by another commissioner, who
says, "I can't imagine that we wouldn't be talking to them."
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, a key architect of the
legislation forming the commission, said the Bush Administration
"slow-walked and stonewalled" the House-Senate inquiry. "I don't
see how you can have a thorough investigation without talking to
the people who were in charge throughout the time period prior to
9/11," he told TIME. McCain said the new investigation should go
at least as far back as 1989, when U.S.-backed mujahedin drove
the Soviet Union out of the Afghanistan region.
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