The chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States says that the White House is continuing to withhold several highly classified intelligence documents from the panel and that he is prepared to subpoena the documents if they are not turned over within weeks. (New York Times Article)
The chairman, Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, also said in an interview on Friday that he believed the bipartisan 10-member commission would soon be forced to issue subpoenas to other executive branch agencies because of continuing delays by the Bush administration in providing documents and other evidence needed by the panel.
"Any document that has to do with this investigation cannot be beyond our reach," Mr. Kean said on Friday in his first explicit public warning to the White House that it risked a subpoena and a politically damaging courtroom showdown with the commission over access to the documents, including Oval Office intelligence reports that reached President Bush's desk in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.
He said that while he had not directly threatened a subpoena in his recent conversations with the White House legal counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, "it's always on the table, because they know that Congress in their wisdom gave us the power to subpoena, to use it if necessary."
Earlier this month, the commission voted to subpoena the Federal Aviation Administration after it decided the agency withheld documents related to the attacks.
The commission has "been very successful in getting a lot of materials that I don't think anybody has ever seen before," he said. "Within the legal constraints that (the White House) seem to have, they've been fully cooperative. But we're not going to be satisfied until we get every document that we need."
The commission, created by Congress last year, must complete its work by May 2004, a deadline some members have said might be impossible to meet because of the administration's delays.
The commission is the latest body to complain about access to administration documents.
In August, the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, said Vice President Dick Cheney stymied its probe into his energy task force by refusing to turn over key documents.
Senator John McCain has said he may subpoena the Pentagon for documents related to an Air Force plan to lease Boeing Co. 767s as refuelling planes. The Arizona Republican said the Defense Department has refused to hand over relevant records.Posted by tstubbs at October 26, 2003 07:28 AM | Trackback