Thursday, July 22, 2004

9/11 Commissioner: We Were Hijacked By the Kerry Campaign

In a stunning indictment of the Kerry Campaign and Richard Clarke, commissioner Tom Lehman (a republican member of the commission) has stated that the commission was "hijacked" by Richard Clarke, the Kerry campaign and Viacom (owner of CBS & 60 minutes):

"I think we were mugged by Viacom," Lehman told NRO in a phone interview on Thursday afternoon. "Because they changed the release date of the book and geared up 60 Minutes to launch his book to time them with his testimony and they edited his book to take out all of the criticisms of Clinton from his [original private] testimony. Because they wanted to make it a jihad against Bush."

Lehman says that Clarke's original testimony included "a searing indictment of some Clinton officials and Clinton policies." That was the Clarke, evenhanded in his criticisms of both the Bush and Clinton administrations, who Lehman and other Republican commissioners expected to show up at the public hearings. It was a surprise "that he would come out against Bush that way." Republicans were taken aback: "It caught us flat-footed, but not the Democrats."

He stated this in a phone interview with Rich Lowry of the National Review after the release of the commissions report this morning. He continued:

Clarke's performance poisoned the public hearings, leading to weeks of a partisan slugfest. Lehman says Republican commissioners felt they had to fight back, adding to the partisan atmosphere. "What triggered it was Dick Clarke," says Lehman. "We couldn't sit back and let him get away with what he wanted to get away with." He adds, "We were hijacked by a combination of Viacom and the Kerry campaign in the handling of Clarke's testimony."

Although Lehman is a Republican commissioner the truth of his statement was obvious in the televised hearings. The investigation into the deadliest attack on American soil in the history of the nation was used as a campaign pulpit by the Democrats. Richard Clarke used the commission and its public hearings to advertise his book and to campaign against George W. Bush. There is no line the Democrats are not willing to cross in their desire to destroy President Bush. The actions of Richard Clarke and by extension the Kerry campaign during the hearings were disgraceful. However the episode does serve to highlight the fact that the Democrats place a higher priority on their own power than they do the national security of the Untied States. This is a party that cannot be handed the reigns of power during a time of war.