The Democratic panel hearing, today, on the background of the failures to prevent 9/11 is summarized by David Corn this evening. It was an all-Democratic panel, convened to hear from Lawrence Wilkerson, Paul Pillar, Carl Ford and other high ranking military and intelligence analysts.
Well, almost all-Democratic. Representative Walter Jones, described by Corn as "a hawkish Republican from North Carolina," sat in on the hearings and asked what Corn describes as the most potent and unexpected question.
So after all this, Representative Jones, who had voted to grant Bush the authority to invade Iraq, had a question. He noted that "my heart has ached ever since I found out that the intelligence...was flawed and possibly manipulated." He said that he had written letters to relatives of every American soldier who has died in Iraq--8000 letters so far. "What perplexes me," he said, "is how in the world could [intelligence] professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?"
It was an important question. Within the intelligence community, there were professionals who knew that critical parts of the Bush administration's case for war--which relied primarily on the argument that Saddam posed a direct WMD threat to the United States--had serious holes. Those who dissented internally did not go public--they worked within the system. But the system did not work. The White House made certain not to pay attention to any of the dissents, and it did not share the disputes with the voters. Why had the entire intelligence community allowed Bush and his aides to get away with this?
The panelists did not get a chance to respond to Jones, for he kept on talking--right over that query--and he segued to another subject, asking how it could be that the neoconservative hawks in the Bush administration gained so much power and had more influence than "you, the professionals."
Wilkerson fielded the question, first noting that as a Republican he was "embarrassed" that Jones was the only GOPer to attend the hearing (which was open to legislators of both parties). Then Wilkerson replied, "I'll answer you with three words: the vice president." That seemed to satisfy Jones. Neither he nor Wilkerson mentioned the two-word answer: the president.
We know that now. We know the intelligence professionals did speak out. We know that Bush separated himself from reality. We know that Dick Cheney took over responsibility and even shut the President out of some communications. And if we need any further evidence of just how and why this all played out, who stopped us from anticipating and avoiding 9/11, who got us into Iraq, Ron Suskind's "One Percent Doctrine" has pretty much the whole story.
Why and how the deliberate, well-calculated failures -- not of the intelligence professionals but of the two top elected officials -- are not (yet) the subjects of prosecution is something I've yet to grasp.