Terrorist attacks cannot prompt U.S. to change into place of secrets, fear

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2003

The longer the Bush administration continues to withhold important information requested by the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the more the White House will lend credibility to those who warn of a government all too ready to trample precious civil liberties in the name of homeland security.

The bipartisan panel, headed by Thomas Kean, a Republican and former governor of New Jersey, and Lee Hamilton, a Democrat and former congressman from Indiana, has been promised the full cooperation of the White House. That is how it should be. ...

But the panel has only until next May to complete its report, and its leaders have now gone public with a complaint that the Bush administration isn't making it easy to obtain information. Worse, the panel also accuses the administration of trying to intimidate those officials being interviewed by the panel by assigning ''minders,'' or agency personnel, to observe the proceedings and the exchange of information. At a news conference, Mr. Kean warned that the presence of such monitors could well impede the flow of vital information. ...

The commission's complaint should be a wake-up call for Congress.

... Sept. 11 changed America in many ways. But it cannot be allowed to transform it into a nation of fear and a government of secrets. And Congress must say so.

Times Union, Albany, N.Y.

July 10

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