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Welcome to "Whitewasher"
March 26, 2004
By Joe Fields

Does anyone really believe that anything will come from the 9/11 commission hearings? So far we have witnessed a lot of sound and a little fury, with some finger pointing and self-righteous indignation thrown in by all of the principal players. But substance? Hardly.

Given George W. Bush's penchant for squashing and manipulating investigations, the answer must be a resounding no. These are strong words, to be sure, yet, in the case of our 43rd president, numerous examples result in more than mere coincidence.

There has been much speculation by the press and the public concerning George Bush's private life before he turned the age of 40. His family and their influential contacts have done fairly well in sanitizing a number of things, from Dubya's drinking and drug abuse, and possible cocaine arrest, to his military record. Never before has a president's life been shrouded in such secrecy and intrigue.

While Bush's youthful indiscretions may be forgiven by some, what should not be overlooked - or worse yet, allowed to remain covered up - are matters concerning his military history, illegal business practices and illegal conduct while holding public office. It is precisely these things he seems best at.

Harken oil is but one example. Not only was Bush guilty of using his father's influence as president to gain overseas drilling contracts, he was equally guilty of numerous insider trading violations. But, as he found himself under investigation by the SEC, he must have taken comfort in knowing that Poppy was occupying the White House, SEC chairman Richard Breedon was George Sr.'s former deputy counsel, and the general counsel, James Doty, had, at one time, been G.W.'s personal lawyer. Funny thing; no evidence of any wrongdoing was found.

This lifelong pattern of deceit and cover-up continued as Bush governed the state of Texas. As governor, he became involved in yet another scandal which was mysteriously swept under the rug. SCI, the world's largest funeral home company, was under investigation by the Texas state commission on funeral homes (TFSC), for allowing unlicensed people to embalm corpses.

After having donated $45,000 to Governor Bush, ponying up $100,000 to George Bush Sr.'s presidential library, as well as paying the elder Bush $70,000 for a speaking engagement, the head of SCI, Robert Waltrip, felt that it was time for a favor. Soon after a meeting with Governor Bush, the inquiry was dropped, and the investigator for the commission was fired, after all of his findings were confiscated.

And now it appears that this pattern will continue with the 9/11 commission. It is clearly an investigation that George Bush didn't want and tried hard to squash. When he couldn't stop the formation of the commission from happening he decided to do the next best thing - stack the deck.

The commission's credibility has been tainted from the beginning by Bush's appointment of Phillip Zelikow as executive director of the commission. Zelikow had participated in administration briefings on al Qaeda prior to 9/11, and enjoyed a close working relationship with Condoleeza Rice. Also, the president's restriction of information, and his tap dance, regarding his appearance in front of the commission, insures a whitewash by the administration.

There is something quite telling about a president who is more interested in holding back information concerning his administration's intelligence, planning, and readiness to combat terrorism before 9/11. A president with nothing to hide might want to demand answers to some embarrassing questions. A president who claims that terrorism was a top priority might want to pay heed to his top counterterrorism expert, maybe even allow him to sit in on a meeting or two.

Unfortunately, it looks like we are in for more of the same. The whitewasher is once again stuck on the spin cycle.

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