After Sept. 11, 2001, an extensive accounting of what went wrong was obviously needed. This was important not just for the historical record, but to ensure the missteps which lead to the deadliest terrorist attack in history weren’t repeated.
There was a problem, of course: partisanship. Republicans controlled the presidency in George W. Bush and had a majority in the House of Representatives. If they were allowed to control the investigation, Democrats could have argued the results were nothing more than a whitewash, with conclusions drawn through suspect motivations. If Democrats, who controlled the Senate, were instead allowed to take over the proceedings, Republicans would have the opportunity to cry foul and declare the whole operation a witch hunt out to discredit the administration.
There was only one answer, and it was established just over a year after the attacks. The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, was set up with five Democrats and five Republicans. (Including former Democratic Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton.) By the time the body had concluded its work in 2004, the subsequent “9/11 Commission Report” was an exhaustive document culled from over a thousand interviews. There were plenty of flaws in the commission and the document it produced, but their work was far more credible than any such panel staffed only by one party or the other would ever be.
It should be obvious to any thinking American such an independent body is needed in connection with Russia’s meddling in our most recent presidential election. There are three investigations right now, and all of them are fundamentally flawed. Republicans control Congress and The White House, so the Senate and House investigations don’t have the bipartisan credibility needed. That leaves the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The integrity of their inquiry was torpedoed Tuesday by President Donald Trump’s unceremonious sacking of FBI head James Comey. Any results from the investigation will now be viewed with an eye of skepticism. How can we believe they will be independent if Trump is picking who leads the organization investigating Russia's influence on the campaign?
What we need is an independent investigation to figure out exactly what happened. Anything less is a threat to the future of our country.