Bipartisan Reports

In an update to a post on the Bush lied business by Dale Franks, Jon Henke rebuts Josh Marshall‘s argument that the supposedly “unanimous bipartisan” Senate Intelligence Committee report on 9-11 is really a Republican report since Democrats on the committee take exception with parts of it. Jon notes, correctly, that the disagreement isn’t over substance but over interpretion.

This reminds me, though of a point that has occured to me several times while watching television or listening to the radio but not until now while in front of a computer: The Democrats have very shrewdly joined onto two different “bipartisan” panels (this one and the 9/11 Commission) with the understanding that there be a unanimous report issued. The ostensible rationale for this is to lend crediblity to the report: The Democrats and Republicans are unanimous here; it must be right.

Instead, however, the intention is something far less conciliatory. They have given the Republicans incentive to be as honest as possible in their criticism of the Bush Administration in exchange for keeping the Democrats to only those that are demonstrably true. A fair enough bargain if kept. However, the Democrats rather clearly never intended to keep this bargain but rather to use the very moderate “bipartisan” reports as a “Republican” baseline from which to assail the Administration.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. dw says:

    I think you’re being disingenuous. Until the mud starting flying last spring, this committee did a damn good job of seeking the truth in spite of the demands of politics. Did the Dems try to steer things? Absolutely. The whole point of setting these committees up was to figure out who was to blame, and the guy in power at the time would be front and center. Did the GOP try to steer things? Absolutely. They tried to dodge the committee’s interviews and take the report out of play for the election year. However, even after the mud and dreck and flying feces we saw last spring, the committee has, in the end, agreed only to a report that they can all stand behind, filtered of most of its politics. Dems will complain that the report is GOP spin. The GOP will complain that the blame is not squarely on Clinton. But, in the end, it appears to lay out the blame fairly and with a 36oz aluminum bat squarely to the back of the head of both parties and the bureaucracies they built.

    Once the report hits the streets, Fox News will be ten deep in GOP committee members squawking about all the stuff that was left out because of a lack of consensus, and MSNBC will be ten deep with Dems saying the same thing. Their din will drown out the important and germane findings of the report, and that’s a damn shame.

    To paraphrase Elvis Costello, I wish that I could push a button and make them talk in a bipartisan and not a partisan sense.

  2. The Democrats intentions here are much more sinister. Remember the memo written by the Democratic staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that suggests ways to politicize intelligence data and use it in the presidential campaign. Democratic Senator Zell Miller said, “If what has happened here is not treason, it is its first cousin.”

  3. Paul says:

    You mean Democrats would be lying scumbag weasels that cheat?

    Now- where would you get an idea like that?