Show investigations are turning out to be a potential plus for the Bush campaign. It’s important that the president appear at all times to be fair and honorable and open to findings of fact in his never ending quest for truth. That can’t happen if things get out of hand. To that end, Bush places key lieutenants to run these show investigations.
Among them is Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9-11 Commission. He worked for the elder Bush’s National Security Council and was manager of that NSC’s Gulf War coalition. Later, he joined then colleague Condi Rice, the current national security adviser, to co-author a book. In October 2001, the younger Bush appointed Zelikow to his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. On the 9-11 panel, Zelikow has been criticized in the press for cutting pro-administration deals that appear to make public key documents, but which in fact cover up the most tendentious pieces of evidence. He was credited with allowing the public airing of parts of a flight attendant’s taped call from a 9-11 plane, but at the same time he was thought to have deep-sixed the startling revelations in a tape of another flight attendant who had coolly fingered and reported the terrorists within minutes of takeoff—raising once again the unanswered question of where were the jet fighters that could have intercepted that plane? Recently Zelikow supervised a commission interview of his old co-author Condi Rice—the national security adviser who gives at least the appearance of ignoring clear warnings of an impending attack.
Then there is Laurence Silberman, a retired federal appellate judge whom Bush put in charge of investigating the lousy intelligence leading up to the Iraq war. American Dynasty author Kevin Phillips (also an ex-Nixon aide) said on NPR, “Silberman has been more involved with cover-ups in the Middle East than with any attempts to unravel them, [including] the October Surprise episode in 1980, in which the Republicans were later accused of colluding with the revolutionary government of Iran to keep 52 American hostages confined in Iran so that they could not be freed by the Jimmy Carter administration in time to influence the 1980 presidential elections. In 1980, as part of that year’s Republican campaign, he attended at least one of the October Surprise meetings where an Iranian representative discussed what Iran would want in exchange for keeping the hostages.” Irangate special counsel Lawrence Walsh’s Firewall: The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up provides a similar account, and he writes of Silberman, “Among some career officers in the State Department, he was jokingly referred to as ‘our ambassador to Khomeini.’ ”
Finally, there is Bush family confidant James Doty, who Corporate Crime Reporter says has been hired by Halliburton to investigate supposedly corrupt payments in Nigeria when Dick Cheney was Halliburton CEO. (Halliburton won’t say who’s investigating.) Doty is lead partner of the D.C. office of Baker Botts, the Houston law firm run by Jim Baker. The Nigerian payments are being investigated by the SEC, Justice, French prosecutors, and Nigerian authorities.
Additional reporting: Ashley Glacel and Alicia Ng