9/11 report cannot be a political rush job

We never imagined anyone would ever have to say this: A report explaining if there were any security lapses that allowed the deadliest attack on civilians in America to occur, and outlining any preventive measures that can be taken in the future, is too important to be rushed or delayed for partisan reasons.

Thomas Kean, a Republican who used to be governor of New Jersey, has so far done a good job of handling the responsibility of leading the bipartisan commission examining the 9/11 attacks since President George W. Bush appointed him at the end of 2002.

After first resisting the commission’s creation and then making a disastrous choice to lead it, Henry Kissenger, Bush settled on Kean, a man of obvious integrity. Kean negotiated quietly for months as the Bush administration repeatedly blocked access to vital information. This week Kean said the commission needs an extension of the May 27 deadline for the final report.

Bush and Republican Congressional leaders oppose any extension — likely to be about two months — because it would put the report’s release closer to Bush’s bid for reelection in November. Reportedly, Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice have still not agreed to testify. The White House and Pentagon continue to throw up roadblocks to classified information.

The need for an extension is due to White House action, and if administration officials have reason to fear the report, it would be an outrage if they benefited from their own intransigence.

The commission is made up of five Democrats and five Republicans and includes well-respected public figures, many of whom are former members of Congress. They are fair-minded people who can be trusted with highly classified information.

A thorough report should be released when it is ready. If the only way the Republican-led Congress would agree to a delay is if the commission agreed to wait until after the election, that would be less than ideal but certainly preferable to a rushed report.

If such a compromise were reached, Americans, before they voted in November, would have every right to assume that Bush did not do enough to prevent 9/11. We can’t know if there is any truth to that assumption now, but if the White House insists on an incomplete report or if it eventually maneuvers for a post-election document, the only reasonable conclusion to make is that George Bush is afraid of facing voters who know the truth about the Sept. 11 attack.

It is a simple choice, Mr. President.

Hudson Sq. BID

Tensions boiled over at last Thursday’s Community Board 2 meeting on the issue of whether to create a Hudson Sq. Business Improvement District. Two board members with interests in the proposed district, David Reck, a resident, and Lisa LaFrieda, a meat business owner, are on opposing sides of the issue, with Reck a leading advocate for the BID and LaFrieda against it. LaFrieda says she’s received up to 50 letters from local property owners claiming they were not notified of the plan.

BIDs can be a valuable asset to a neighborhood. In return for a special tax assessment overseen by the city, they offer services to supplement those provided by city agencies, such as sanitation and security. BIDs promote the neighborhood and its businesses, and often get involved in trying to attract businesses.

At least 51 percent of property owners and owners of at least 51 percent of the district’s assessed property value must be in favor for the city to approve the district’s formation. Property owners in Hudson Sq. have told us that they have not been notified about the idea. Before an adequate assessment of the plan can happen, all of the people with the right to decide the BID question need to be contacted.

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