White House opposes 9/11 panel extension

Speaking of the independent government commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, it seems the White House and the Republican leaders of Congress are extremely worried that the commission’s findings will be politically damaging to the Bush administration. Which is why they want those findings published sooner rather than later.

The commission [five Republicans and five Democrats], which has been hampered by obstacles since its creation in late 2002, announced yesterday that it will publicly press for a two-month extension of its statutory deadline, May 27. Any extension, which must be approved by Congress and the White House, would push the commission’s work further into the presidential campaign.

The White House and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) have said they would oppose any extension. But Kristen Breitweiser, widow of World Trade Center victim Ronald Breitweiser, said she hopes the appeal from the commission will change their minds.

So it appears the Republicans figure that the fallout from a politically harmful report released in May will dissipate in time to avoid hurting President Bush at the polls in November. A report issued in July could be more damaging to Bush’s prospects.

However with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on the commission, and a Republican chairman (former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean) appointed by the President, it’s hard for the GOP to accuse the commissioners of playing politics.