Hugh Hewitt - Principal Contributor
Hewitt is senior member of the CaliforniaRepublic.org editorial
board. [go to Hewitt index]
Commission of cronyism and arrogance…
[Hugh Hewitt] 4/21/04
In Sunday's Washington
Post, former Clinton administration senior
official Jamie Gorelick wrote about her tenure as Deputy Attorney
General and her now-infamous "building a wall" memo
that has become a centerpiece of the debate over why the 9-11
terrorists could move through the United States without detection.
The issue is not whether "the wall" was a necessity
compelled by law, or whether the early decisions of the Bush
administration to keep "the wall" in place were themselves
correct, as Gorelick asserted.
The only issues are who is going to judge the issue of "the
wall," and whether Gorelick ought to be among them?
When 9-11 Chair Thomas Kean growled last week that voices objecting
to Gorelick's membership as a judge of the panel deciding the
wisdom of her own record should "stay out of our business," the
folks who heard him recoiled first in shock and then in anger.
Of course the Commission is not pursuing its own business, but
the country's business. Kean's outburst tells us all we need
to know about the clubby, chummy partnership at work to protect
Gorelick at the expense of Commission credibility.
Kean might have more usefully argued that the 9-11 Commission
is already so thoroughly discredited by the antics of Commission
hack Richard ben Veniste, with assists to Robert Kerrey and Tim
Roemer, that not even Gorelick's glaring conflict of interest
could do any additional damage. The disease has metastasized,
he might have argued, so why bother with surgery on a patient
that cannot be saved?
But that's not what Kean blurted out. Rather, he angrily claimed
ownership of the process and declared Gorelick non-partisan and
bi-partisan in the same breath. Some other Republicans joined
the "Defend Jamie" club, a tribute to Washington, D.C.'s
legendary stick-together imperative.
By all accounts Gorelick is well and widely liked in D.C. But
so what? Could the chief of Dallas Police have served on the
Warren Commission? No central figure in the decisions leading
up to the intelligence collapse that failed to see 9-11 coming
can sit on the commission – period. She can recuse herself
from A, B and C all day long, but that doesn't make her qualified
to judge the alphabet. She's a witness – not a judge – and
she's got to go.
Even a year from now, this will be completely obvious – as
obvious as it is today. There isn't a serious student of government
ethics that can offer any plausible case for keeping Gorelick
on the job. Just expediency and friendship mixed together – her
self-interest, and the loyalty of her friends.
Her real friends should buy her dinner, and perhaps a weekend
at a nice resort where she can bind up her wounds before returning
to appear before her ex-colleagues under oath and on television.
Unless this transpires, the Commission, already a comedy full
of clowns, will turn into a bitter tragedy for Americans expecting
an inquiry and answers – not another piece of Clinton-era
political performance art. CRO
Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television
and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh
Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country.
He blogs regularly at HughHewitt.com and he frequently contributes opinion pieces to the Weekly
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