White House facing subpoenas

The Bush White House may find itself in the midst of court action over 9-11, according to a report by Agence France Presse, a foreign news service.

Thomas Kean, former governor of New Jersey and now head of a commission probing the events of that terrible day, indicated he is losing patience with the administration over its reluctance to hand over some vital documents relating to the attacks.

The New York Times said Kean stated he is ready to resort to subpoenas if the White House fails to turn over the documents within weeks.

In an interview late last week, Kean said he believes the 10-member commission soon would be forced to use subpoenas against other executive branch agencies because of continued stonewalling by the Bush administration.

“Any document that has to do with this investigation cannot be beyond our reach,” Kean said. “I will not stand for it. That means that we will use every tool at our command to get hold of every document.”

It was the first public warning to the White House that it could face a politically damaging courtroom showdown over access to the documents, including intelligence reports that reached the president’s desk in the weeks before the 9-11 attacks.

Kean said he hasn’t directly threatened a subpoena in discussions with the White House legal counsel, Alberto Gonzales, but “it’s always on the table, because they know that Congress in their wisdom gave us the power to subpoena, to use it if necessary,” he said.

According to the Times’ report, Ashley Snee, spokeswoman for the president, said the White House believes it is being fully cooperative with the commission. The paper quoted Snee as saying the White House hopes to meet all of the investigators’ demands for documents.

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