The Magazine

Still Time for an Investigation

Jun 10, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 38 • By ROBERT KAGAN and WILLIAM KRISTOL
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If the president and his advisers would stop circling the wagons for a moment, they would realize that an independent commission is in their interest. Congressional investigations are unlikely to be the solution: Given the level of partisanship on both sides, no one can have any confidence in a report produced by Congress. Vice President Cheney claims to be worried that an independent commission would leak classified information. Our guess is that a blue-ribbon commission would be a good deal more careful with sensitive information than members of Congress generally are. An independent commission is also more likely to come up with constructive criticism and useful recommendations for change, rather than simply engage in finger-pointing. Done right, such a commission could give the public something it now lacks: confidence that somebody is taking an honest look at what went wrong, and confidence that the administration will be put under pressure to change the ways its agencies operate. How could that be bad?

--Robert Kagan and William Kristol