May 20, 2002


Cheney Rejects Broader Access to Terror Brief : The debate over how to investigate Sept. 11 has become part of a larger battle between Congress and the Bush administration over the limits of presidential authority. (Alison Mitchell, 5/20/02, NY Times)
Vice President Dick Cheney said today that he would advise President Bush not to turn over to Congress the August intelligence briefing that warned that terrorists were interested in hijacking airplanes, and he insisted that the investigation into Sept. 11 should be handled by the Congressional intelligence committees, not an independent commission.

In appearances on several television news programs, Mr. Cheney said "it would be a mistake" to give broad Congressional access to the Aug. 6 memorandum to the president, which ignited a political uproar over whether the nation could have anticipated the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"That presidential daily brief is developed from some of our most secret operations and it has to be treated that way," Mr. Cheney said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "It's never been provided to the Congress before, to my knowledge."

This is the surest indicator yet--even more significant than the statements of Congressional leaders who have now seen and dismissed the significance of the briefing material--that there's no smoking gun amidst these warnings. The President will of course be forced to share the contents of this briefing with Congress and the American people. The price to be paid in public opinion simply outweighs the principle involved. But by having Cheney come out and be the bad guy and by making it seem like it's a big deal to the administration, you allow President Bush to step up and say how normally they'd not share such information, but the extraordinary circumstances require it. Then, after all the build up from Democrats and the press, when there's nothing concrete there, the story will redound to the administration's favor : first, because they were "open"; second, because it exonerates them. It's another well played bureaucratic political maneuver by an administration that seems significantly better at such machinations than their opponents. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 20, 2002 9:40 AM
Comments for this post are closed.