9-11 Panelists Eye Bush, Bill

by James Gordon Meek
New York Daily News
Monday, Jan 12, 2004

WASHINGTON – The federal 9/11 commission has formally decided to ask President Bush and former President Bill Clinton to meet with the panel and to extend its investigation by several months.

Vice President Cheney and former Clinton veep Al Gore also would be called, a spokesman told the Daily News yesterday.

Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton will approach the four men, said spokesman Alvin Felzenberg. The request to appear is just that, a request, and not a legal subpoena.

Felzenberg said if Bush and Clinton agree, the sessions likely won’t be in public. It was unclear yesterday whether any of the four would agree to show.

He also said that because of alleged stonewalling by the Bush administration and by Mayor Bloomberg’s office, some commissioners want to extend their probe past the May deadline for the final report, while others are against any extension, Felzenberg said.

The White House and several agencies have been threatened with or issued subpoenas in recent months, making it hard to finish by spring, some 9/11 commission members argue.

Kristen Breitweiser of Monmouth County, N.J., whose husband, Ronald, died in the World Trade Center attack, said there should be an interim report if the probe is prolonged.

Getting an extension could be a political headache for Bush if the final 9/11 report is issued in the summer. Kean, a Republican, has said the report will name names and point to failures in the Bush administration.

The White House proposed greenlighting the extension if the commission would agree to release the report after the November election, but then officials pulled back the offer, Newsweek reported yesterday.