to Head 9/11 Terror Probe
December 5, 2002
By Jerome Doolittle
DC - President Bush today named Osama Bin Laden, a polarizing
figure who is viewed with suspicion by some in the West but
enjoys great credibility in the Arab street, to lead an independent
investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Democratic leaders in Congress, who will appoint half of
the ten members of the investigatory commission, immediately
named Strom Thurmond as vice chairman.
Thurmond, a U.S. senator from South Carolina until his chief
of staff took over the seat sometime in the last century,
was a Democrat until 1964.
The presidents unconventional choice of Mr. Bin Laden
was made at the urging of Vice President Richard Cheney, who
has been close to the controversial Saudi Arabian ever since
they moved across the street from each other in an undisclosed
location. Both men are said to share a love of secrets.
The mandate of the new commission is to conduct a wide-ranging
inquiry into the causes of the attacks, whether they could
have been averted, and what changes are needed to prevent
"No man in or out of government is better qualified
to answer these questions," said Defense Secretary Donald
Secretary Rumsfeld disclosed that in preliminary discussions
between the president and the tall, bearded Saudi businessman,
the two wealthy scions established, "an easy working
relationship," growing out of their shared belief that
the Clinton presidency would be the most fruitful area for
the commission to probe.
"It may be too late to impeach the lascivious son of
a bitch," chuckled White House scholar Karl Rove, "but
we can sure as hell impeach his historical legacy."
The job of chairman of the commission is to be part time,
although White House officials said they expected that Mr.
Bin Laden would dedicate considerable time to it. They said
he would not resign as chairman of Al Qaeda, his international
consulting firm, and would serve as the commission's chairman
Not only is Mr. Bin Laden independently wealthy, but he
will share with Mr. Cheney the $25 million finder's fee placed
on his own head last year by the administration. "He's
wanted dead," the vice president explained, pausing to
flash his trademark lopsided leer before finishing the sentence,
"or alive. We chose Plan B."
The reaction to the appointment on Capitol Hill was generally
positive, with Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who
is the outgoing chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee,
saying, "this bad boy brings a great depth of experience,
wisdom and respect to the job."
Stephen Push, the leader of Families of Sept. 11, a group
that lobbied for the establishment of the commission over
the ultimately futile resistance of President Bush, said the
combination of Mr. Bin Laden and Mr. Thurmond was a strong
"We're pleased with both appointments," he said.
The choice of Mr. Bin Laden in particular showed that "the
Administration is taking this very seriously," he added.
"Except for the ten years or so that Clinton and Reagan
had him on the CIA's payroll in Afghanistan, nobody can call
Osama a crony of the White House."
Critics of the daring appointment feared a possible conflict
of interest between Bin Laden's past terrorist activities
and his work on the commission, but defenders termed these
"By now that old boy knows more about CIA and FBI methods
than they do themselves," Senator Graham said. "You
don't want to hire a hen to patch the holes in the henhouse.
You want to hire the fox that managed to get in."
The description might equally have fit an earlier contender
for the chairman's slot, Henry Kissinger, since the revered
elderly statesman had waged successful terror campaigns in
Timor, Chile, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere.
And Mr. Bush was indeed tempted, White House sources say,
but ultimately rejected Mr. Kissinger as insufficiently evil.
Jerome Doolittle's Bad Attitudes Journal can be found at