Panel studying terrorism should be free from politics What others say

Posted: Monday, February 02, 2004

The bipartisan panel reviewing the federal government's performance before and after the 2001 terrorist attacks has a solemn obligation to provide the country with a thorough report, regardless of what the findings are. The timetable for making that report to the nation should not be affected by political considerations.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States is seeking a two-month extension of the May 27 deadline for completing its work. That proposal is not popular with the Bush administration or with the leadership of the House of Representatives because it would push the report's release deeper into the presidential election campaign. ...

What the commission already has learned is troubling. The objective is not finger-pointing, however, but instead a broad-based analysis of the problems in immigration, intelligence and security that contributed to the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. It is important to determine where mistakes were made, but far more important to use the information to plug the holes and to prevent lapses from occurring again.

The commission has found that two of the hijackers' passports were "clearly doctored" and two other hijackers had passports with "suspicious indicators." Three hijackers submitted applications with false statements that could have been easily checked. ...

These and other findings raise at least the possibility that the

attacks could have been thwarted. The national interest demands that the report be thorough. If its timing conflicts with the plans of political strategists, so be it.

Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser - Jan. 28

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