Former Sen. Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9/11 Commission, has an interesting piece in today’s WSJ [james@otb].
Today’s appearance of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will test the commission’s resilience to the partisan pressures which threaten to collapse the goodwill needed to achieve consensus. Among the most dangerous forces is the tendency in politics to become personal and question motives instead of confronting the substance of the argument made by any individual. If we yield to this tendency, all hope for an honest and constructive report is lost. We will most certainly fail.
I heard about an hour’s worth of the questionning on the way to work this morning and thought they missed the mark on this. Both Chairman Tom Kean and Vice-Chairman Lee Hamilton were quite professional, but it degenerated into a partisan spectacle afterwards. Richard Ben-Veniste was rude and grandstanding during his entire session, playing to the audience. The idea that this charade is going to actually produce useful information is absurd.
The transcript of Rice’s opening statement is available from CNN.
Reuters has a summary.
Update: The AP account gives some idea of the tone:
Rice’s appearance first turned contentious when Ben-Veniste pressed her on what was known about the terrorist threat in advance of the Sept. 11 attacks.
They interrupted one another repeatedly, the interrogator and the witness.
“I would like to finish my point,” she said when he began speaking while she was.
“I didn’t know there was a point,” he replied.