Abel Danger Retrospective: The Hero of the 9-11 Commission Was Max Cleland
Senator Max Cleland, who served on the 9-11 Commission from late 2002 until his appointment to a position on the board of the Export-Import Bank in November of 2003, compared it to the Warren Commission in this derogatory fashion: "The Warren Commission blew it. I'm not going to be part of that. I'm not going to be part of looking at information only partially. I'm not going to be part of just coming to quick conclusions. I'm not going to be part of political pressure to do this or not do that."
After recent Able Danger revelations, Cleland was absolutely correct and appears uniquely honorable. Here is why:
The 9-11 Commission was much less powerful and much more limited than the often maligned Warren Commission, which had LBJ's Presidential mandate to conduct its own independent investigation into "all the facts and circumstances" deemed relevant. The Warren Commission not only had the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, but power to compel testimony with grants of immunity from prosecution.
Unlike the Warren Commission, however, the 9-11 Commission could only subpoena a witness or document if both Republican and Democratic Chairs concurred in writing, or six of the other eight members agreed. Even when subpoenas were used, the 9-11 Commission had no power to compel testimony with grants of immunity.
Moreover, the 9-11 Commission had no mandate to conduct an independent review of "matters relating to the intelligence community." The 9-11 Commission was required to review existing reports of the Joint Inquiry of Congress before pursuing any intelligence-related matter. Then it could proceed only if Congress's Joint Inquiry had omitted or not completed an investigation of some issue. In effect, it was little more than a library research effort.
Again, either Democrats or Republicans on the 9-11 Commission could still block the Commission from looking into any intelligence-related issue.
Conclusion: The bipartisan 9-11 Commission was created by joint resolution of the Congress for political expediency. Its sole purpose was to provde cover for Republican and clout for Democrat incumbents prior to 2006's elections. It was rigged in a manner assuring nothing except Congress's earlier conclusions would be reached or reported. It wasted over $15 million in taxpayer dollars and a golden opportunity to generate a solid report on Terrorist Attacks Upon The United States. How shameful of Commission chairmen, its members (except Sen. Cleland), their staffs and the U.S. Congress.