- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Lawmakers have begun suggesting names of respected national security figures for a new presidential commission to investigate the intelligence community and mistakes that occurred in the run-up to war with Iraq.

Among the top tier of candidates for the presidentially appointed commission, the creation of which President Bush may announce as early as today, are:

• Former Sen. Warren Rudman, New Hampshire Republican, an elder statesman who co-chaired the bipartisan U.S. Commission on National Security, which predicted a direct attack against American citizens on U.S. soil prior to September 11, 2001.

• Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to President Ford and the first President Bush, who served as a member of the President’s Special Review Board on Iran-Contra (also known as the Tower Commission) in 1986-87.

• Tom Foley, a former Washington Democratic congressman who held the House speakership from 1989 to 1995 and is highly respected by many members of both parties.

• Lawrence Eagleburger, who served as secretary of state under the first President Bush after a 27-year State Department career.

• Bob Kerrey, a former two-term Democratic senator from Nebraska and a military veteran who has a reputation as a nonpartisan statesman, but also was involved in CIA covert operations in Vietnam.

• Richard J. Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence who has been leading the CIA’s internal review of Iraq intelligence.

Other names suggested for the commission include former CIA directors William H. Webster, James Woolsey and Robert M. Gates; former Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary George Shultz; William Perry, Defense secretary under President Clinton; and Gary Hart, a former Democratic senator from Colorado who served as co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, a bipartisan commission chartered by the Department of Defense in 1998.

David A. Kay, until recently the chief American weapons inspector in Iraq working for the Central Intelligence Agency, has also been mentioned for the panel, as has Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic House member from Ohio who served as vice chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

A senior administration official on Sunday said the panel may also include some current members of Congress.

“The people that the president will appoint to this commission will be people of experience in the public sector. They will be people with expertise in intelligence. They will be people of integrity, people who are committed to doing a thorough job to take a broad assessment of our intelligence capabilities,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said yesterday. “Their independence will be spelled out in the executive order that the president signs.”

Mr. Bush will handpick the panel’s appointees after input from top security officials in the administration, White House sources said. He will attempt to empanel a commission above political reproach, but even before the panel has been announced, Democrats contended that the president will be moved solely by political considerations.

“Although one of the major questions that needs to be addressed is whether senior administration officials exaggerated the nature of the threat from Iraq, the president is attempting to make the case that actions by these officials are best investigated by a commission whose members are appointed by and report to the White House,” said a letter signed by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Senate intelligence committee Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

But White House lawyers have chosen a format for the new commission similar to that of the Warren Commission, which led a 10-month investigation that concluded in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President Kennedy.

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