In what they acknowledged was an effort to bring public pressure on the White House to meet the panel's demands for classified information, the [9/11] commission's Republican chairman and Democratic vice chairman released a statement, declaring that they had received only a small part of the millions of sensitive government documents they have requested from the executive branch.
..."While thousands of documents are flowing in — some in boxes and some digitized — most of the documents we need are still to come," the statement said.
--lead article in today's New York Times
For example, let me focus on the now famous declaration that Iraq submitted to this Council on December 7th. Iraq never had any intention of complying with this Council's mandate. Instead, Iraq planned to use the declaration to overwhelm us and to overwhelm the inspectors with useless information about Iraq's permitted weapons so that we would not have time to pursue Iraq's prohibited weapons. Iraq's goal was to give us in this room, to give those of us on this Council, the false impression that the inspection process was working.
You saw the result. Dr. Blix pronounced the 12,200-page declaration "rich in volume" but "poor in information and practically devoid of new evidence." Could any member of this Council honestly rise in defense of this false declaration?
--UN presentation by Secretary of State Colin Powell, February 5, 2003
Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton suggested that the Justice Department was behind a directive barring intelligence officials from being interviewed by the panel without the presence of agency colleagues.
At a news conference, Mr. Kean described the presence of "minders" at the interviews as a form of intimidation. "I think the commission feels unanimously that it's some intimidation to have somebody sitting behind you all the time who you either work for or works for your agency," he said.
Iraq has not complied with its obligation to allow immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted and private access to all officials and other persons, as required by Resolution 1441. The regime only allows interviews with inspectors in the presence of an Iraqi official, a minder. The official Iraqi organization charged with facilitating inspections announced publicly and announced ominously, that, "Nobody is ready" to leave Iraq to be interviewed.
Claire Buchan, a White House spokeswoman, said today in response to the statement from the panel, known formally as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: "The president is committed to ensuring that the commission has all the information it needs. The president has directed federal agencies to cooperate and to do so quickly."
It was General Sa'di who last fall publicly pledged that Iraq was prepared to cooperate unconditionally with inspectors. Quite the contrary, Sa'di's job is not to cooperate; it is to deceive, not to disarm, but to undermine the inspectors; not to support them, but to frustrate them and to make sure they learn nothing.
Under the law creating the bipartisan, 10-member panel last year, the commission, which met for the first time in January, is required to complete its investigation by next May. "While thousands of documents are flowing in — some in boxes and some digitized — most of the documents we need are still to come," the statement said. "Time is slipping by."
This issue before us is not how much time we are willing to give the inspectors to be frustrated by Iraqi obstruction. But how much longer are we willing to put up with Iraq's non-compliance before we, as a Council, we as the United Nations say, "Enough. Enough."