Thursday, December 12, 2002

George Mitchell has stepped down as vice chairman of the independent commission investigating the September 11 terrorists attacks. His ostensible reasons are that:

  • he does not want to sever ties with his law firm, which he said he had been urged to do to avoid a potential conflict of interest (but the conflict of interest angle is also expressly denied); and

  • the commission's work will take too much time (although he apparently has lots of time for high-profile peace missions).

At the time he accepted the appointment he would have known about conflict of interest problems and the fact that such a position is essentially a full-time job. He must have honestly felt that there was some chance that the commission was intended to find the truth, and has been convinced by events subsequent to his appointment that the commission is going to be a whitewash. It will be highly embarrassing for the vice chairman of the committee to have to sign its report with its fulsome praises of the perfection of the Bush junta's handling of all the warnings it ignored of the impending disaster.