The president has consistently stated a policy of strong support for the commission and instructed the executive branch to provide unprecedented and extraordinary access to the commission. To my knowledge, the executive branch has provided access to documents or information in response to each of the requests issued by the commission to date, including many highly classified and extremely sensitive documents that have seldom, if ever, been made available outside the executive branch.
Ah, but wait, there’s more:
The necessary conditions are as follows. First, the commission must agree in writing that Dr. Rice’s testimony before the commission does not set any precedent for future commission requests, or requests in any other context, for testimony by a national security adviser or any other White House official.
Second, the commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice. …
Nice. One shot guys, and that’s it. Let’s leave aside the fact that the commission is not an arm of Congress and is a presidentially appointed body, so the separation of powers argument is shaky, at best. What this is, is a face-saving move as Josh Marshall notes. He also makes the excellent point that without any followup sessions allowed, what happens if Rice’s testimony contradicts Clarke’s?
Regardless, it’s about time. After a week of surging storm clouds, Team Bush has finally decided that the only way to rebut Richard Clarke’s remarks is to make Rice talk, publicly and under oath. The question is, will she be able to avoid perjuring herself and will anyone be able to do anything about it if she does?
Those of us who opposed the war and just about everything the Bush administration has done obviously suspect the Administration has been resistant to Rice’s testimony because we think the administration has something to hide — likely gross incompetence, obsession and a small-minded agenda. Nothing criminal, but it would be very, very damaging to Bush’s halo as a “war president.”
Those who support the war and the White House think Clarke is a propagandist for the evil doers, aka the Democratic Party, that _he’s_ the liar and — the horror! — that he’s a big ol’ gay. Now if they can just finger him as a Canadian or Frenchman, the demonization will be complete.
Speaking of complete, I’ve spent too much time on l’affaire de Clarke. People like Josh Marshall, Billmon, Kevin Drum and George Paine are doing a better job and I urge you to check on them for Washington politicking re Clarke. We will now return to our regularly scheduled war in Iraq.