November 13, 2003
Success! Some Members of 9/11 Panel May See White House Papers From Distance; Binoculars Allowed

The White House vowed to drop the pretense of stonewalling the independent commission on 9/11 and struck a significant deal giving panel members access to critical CIA daily intelligence briefings provided to the President.

Under the terms of the deal, two members of the commission panel will be able to view the entire library of presidential daily briefings from across a crowded room. The two members of the panel who will "see" the documents will not be able to tell the other members of the panel what they have seen. Two other members of the panel will be able to see selected documents which the White House determines are "relevant" to the commission's inquiry, but will only be able to discuss their findings in Swahili.

"I'm so glad we didn't subpoena them," Commission member Thomas Kean said of the White House.

There are some potential snags, several people waiting at a bus stop at Pocatella, Idaho, pointed out. The Commission doesn't know which two members of the panel will be permitted to view the whole library of briefings, and they are not allowed to ask. And the White House, which will determine which documents are relevant to the scope of the commission's inquiry, does not know what the scope of the commission's inquiry is.

"Something about boats?" guessed Ronald Factenheimer, the White House liaison to the Commission.

"I'm sorry, that's incorrect," said Mr. Kean, "You have twelve questions left before I flip over the cards and consider the panel stumped."

Posted by Tom Burka at 10:12 AM in News