Friday, July 23, 2004

Local Boy Makes Great

It's been quite evident for quite sometime now that the 9/11 commission has been doing suprisingly well at its job -- and a significant amount of the credit goes to New Jersey's ex-governor, Republican Tom Kean. Usually such bi-partisan commissions are worthless, and had this commission been dominated by its aging Democratic co-Chairman, Indiana's ex-Congressman, Lee Hamilton, it most likely would have produced a far less important document. It's also true that the real unsung heroes of the 9/11 commission have been its largely anonymous staff, who ferreted out the details and produced a clean and honest narrative that has amazing authority. All that said, hats off to Tom Kean, who backed them fearlessly all the way and put his prestige and credibility to work forcing the Bush Administration into cooperating. The final report, most especially its executive summary, carries a faint whiff of bi-partisan blarney that is "even-handed" to a minor fault. But it is still the best thing to emerge from Washington in living memory.

Fred Kaplan in Slate does a terrific job of analyzing the report itself, pushing past the inevitable politics to the core:

The 9/11 commission's report is superb, but will it change anything?

By Fred Kaplan

The biggest puzzle about the 9/11 commission's report is why Thomas Kean, the panel's chairman, said at the start of his press conference this morning that the U.S. government's failure to stop the attack on the World Trade Center was, "above all, a failure of imagination."

It was a strange comment because the actual report—a superb, if somewhat dry, piece of work—says nothing of the sort. The failure was not one of imagination but rather of incentives. It turns out that many individuals, panels, and agencies had predicted an attack uncannily similar to what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. The problem was that nobody in a position of power felt compelled to do anything about it.

Wextry, wextry, read all about the continuation of Kaplan's thoughts here:

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