Emergency status extended
By Joe Baker, Senior Editor
Reuters News Service reports President Bush has extended a national state of emergency for another year. The move authorizes the Defense Department and the Coast Guard to call reservists to active duty.
Bush first invoked a national emergency three days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In a prepared statement, Bush said a continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States justified him in extending the decree for another year.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer commented: How could you not extend it, given where we are in the ongoing war against terrorism? Its not over.
On the anniversary of the attacks, the administration issued another of its warnings that the country is in imminent danger of attack and again took Vice-President Cheney to an undisclosed location.
At the same time this is playing out, the administration is balking at a request from Congress that Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld give public testimony before a congressional committee investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.
Stonewalling by the administration has frustrated lawmakers by making it difficult for the joint Senate and House committee to schedule public hearings as it hurries to meet a deadline to finish its work by the end of the current session of Congress. Bush wants no public hearings but prefers testimony be limited to closed-door hearings dealing with intelligence matters.
The Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI and the National Security Agency have each been sharply rapped by public disclosures of ineptitude.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., in an interview with The New York Times, said: failures in the intelligence (community) are so widespread, so deep, that we owe the American people a searching job.
Sen. Shelby indicated he believes Bush administration officials have deliberately delayed full cooperation, knowing the committee must meet a deadline. We were told that there would be cooperation in this investigation, and I question that, he told the Times. Shelby said an independent panel may be needed to fill in the gaps in the investigation.
The committee has been flooded with thousands of pages of documents from the CIA, the FBI and other agencies, making it difficult for the staff to sort through the mountain of material.
So far the committee has conducted 10 closed-door hearings, but not a single public hearing.