A Jan 6 Congressional Commission Would Have Been Bogus

With an eye on the 9/11 Commission, James Bovard says a facade of truth can be more dangerous than no disclosure at all. 

Pro-Trump protesters around the Capitol on the evening of Jan. 6. (Tyler Merbler, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By James Bovard
Mises Institute 

[On Friday Republicans blocked a bill that would have set up a commission to study the Jan. 6 attack.] 

“Truth will out” is the most popular fairy tale in Washington. Members of Congress are clashing over whether politicians will appoint an “independent” commission to reveal the facts behind the Jan. Capitol ruckus. Proponents are portraying the issue as a simple choice between “truth or Trump.”

Recent history provides no reason to expect a politically controlled process to expose facts that undermine powerful politicians. Congress has long been worse than useless as a fact-finding agency. “Oversight” is a euphemism for stupefying congressional procedures designed to avoid discovering information that might embarrass their allies.

A senior House Republican admitted in 2004: “Our party controls the levers of government. We’re not about to go out and look beneath a bunch of rocks to cause heartburn.” Most members of Congress are more likely to grovel before federal agencies than to challenge their power. “How are you so great and how can we help you?” is the usual response when the FBI director testifies, as Guardian columnist Trevor Timm noted in 2016.

There is no reason to presume that a commission investigating Jan. 6 would not have been hogtied official stonewalling. Former Senate Intelligence Committee staff director Andy Johnson observed in 2014: “The fog of secrecy made a mockery of oversight” of the CIA torture scandal. The Obama administration did not object even when the CIA illegally spied on a congressional committee to thwart the torture investigation. Both Bush and Obama administration officials repeatedly lied during congressional testimony on war on terror policies but faced no consequences. But everything would be different in this investigation, right?

Hours of Video

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team want a congressionally appointed commission in lieu of disclosing what actually happened on Jan. 6. Cameras posted in and around the Capitol recorded 1,400 hours of film on Jan. 6, but very little of the evidence has been publicly disclosed. Fourteen news organizations have requested that the Justice Department publicly release key videos on the federal court’s electronic dockets but no such luck.

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Capitol Police chief lawyer Thomas DiBiase warned that “providing unfettered access to hours of extremely sensitive information to defendants who already have shown a desire to interfere with the democratic process will … [cause that information to be] passed on to those who might wish to attack the Capitol again.”

But it is also “interfering with the democratic process” to withhold evidence of actions which have been endlessly demonized by the president, top congressional leaders, and their media allies.

Disclosing the video could settle the question of whether most protesters behaved like violent attackers or gaping tourists. Julie Kelly, writing for American Greatness, recently posted a 45 -second video clip of protesters after they entered the Capitol that day. Capitol Police officer Keith Robishaw tells a group of protestors: “We’re not against … you need to show us … no attacking, no assault, remain calm.” The citizens shown in that clip don’t appear to have been hell-bent on overthrowing the government that day.

9/11 Commission 

The media is touting the fact that Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, the cochairs of the 9/11 Commission, have endorsed a commission to investigate Jan. 6. But invoking Kean and Hamilton is like relying on the Three Stooges as references for a job application at a pie factory.

Kean and Hamilton issued a joint statement boasting about the 9/11 Commission: 

We put country above party to examine, without bias, the events before, during, and after the attacks…. The January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol was one of the darkest days in our history. Americans deserve an objective and accurate account of what happened. As we did in the wake of September 11, it is time to set aside partisan politics and come together as Americans in common pursuit of truth and justice.”

The 9/11 Commission “pursued truth and justice” by permitting the White House to edit the final version of their report before it was publicly released. Despite its canonization inside the Beltway, that report would not be admissible in a court of law, because it relied on torture for many of its key assertions.

The New York Times’s Philip Shenon, the author of The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigationnoted that “more than a quarter of the report’s footnotes — 441 of some 1,700 — referred to detainees who were subjected to the CIA’s ‘enhanced’ interrogation program.”

Shenon reported that commission members “forwarded questions to the CIA, whose interrogators posed them on the panel’s behalf. The commission’s report gave no hint that harsh interrogation methods [including waterboarding] were used in gathering information.”

The commission’s report was released months after shocking photos from Abu Ghraib and key Justice Department and Pentagon memos leaked out, exposing the Bush administration’s torture regime.

Yet, as Shenon noted, “The commission demanded that the CIA carry out new rounds of interrogations in 2004 to get answers to its questions.” The 9/11 Commission became profoundly complicit in the torture at the same time it pretended to objectively judge the Bush record.

The commission report was released in July 2004 at the same time that Bush was exploiting the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War for his reelection campaign. The commission ignored evidence compiled by a joint House-Senate investigation revealing that Saudi government agents bankrolled multiple Saudi hijackers in the U.S. prior to the attacks (15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis). But the Bush administration suppressed those 28 pages of that congressional report and they were not released until 2016.

Bush embraced Saudi leaders while insisting that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was somehow to blame for 9/11.

If the 9/11 Commission had quoted the 2002 FBI memo stating that there was “incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these [9/11 hijacker] terrorists within the Saudi Government,” Bush might have been seriously damaged, but 9/11 commissioners chose to serve the White House rather than truth. Kean and Hamilton remain venerated by the media, because their kowtowing buttressed public trust in the political system.

Would an investigation of Jan. 6 be more honest than the investigation of Sept. 11?

Lower Manhattan skyline after a Boeing 767 hit the World Trade Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. (Michael Foran, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

President Joe Biden and Democratic congressional leaders are vested in the “terrorist attack/Pearl Harbor” narrative that they established within hours of the fracas.

Democrats still refer to the protesters murdering a Capitol Police officer long after the belated revelation that he died of natural causes. The New York Times noted that that advocates of a Jan. 6 commission insist it is “an ethical and practical necessity to fully understand the most violent attack on Congress in two centuries.”

Tell that to the Puerto Rican nationalists who shot up Congress in 1954 or to Congressman Steve Scalise and two other Capitol employees who were shot by a Democratic Party zealot in 2017.

If such “facts” are the baseline for accuracy, then citizens can start scoffing long before a commission issues a final report.

The biggest illusion behind the push for a Jan. 6 commission is that there is a political constituency in Washington for truth. But that hasn’t been the case for decades. As French essayist Paul Valery warned long ago, “At every step, politics and freedom of mind exclude each other.”

In the same way that it took almost 15 years for some key facts about the 9/11 attacks to be revealed, it may be months or years until key damning revelations about the Capitol clash are extracted from federal agencies or private individuals and groups. Creating a pseudo-independent commission is more likely to codify a deceptive but politically profitable storyline than to expose facts that undercut powerful Washingtonians or government agencies.

A façade of political “truth” can be more dangerous than no disclosure at all. Biden and congressional Democrats are seeking to turbocharge their push for a new domestic terrorism law to permit widespread federal crackdowns on their opponents. Any rigged commission would likely pour gasoline on a fire that could singe far more American rights and liberties.

James Bovard is the author of Lost RightsAttention Deficit Democracy, and Public Policy Hooligan. He is also a USA Today columnist. Follow him on Twitter @JimBovard.

This article is from Mises Institute and reprinted with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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7 comments for “A Jan 6 Congressional Commission Would Have Been Bogus

  1. Zhu
    May 31, 2021 at 04:44

    While partisan types fuss that this or that pol is another Hitler, the US slowly turns into “dirty war” Argentina, with secret prisons, kill lists, etc.

  2. robert e williamson jr
    May 30, 2021 at 21:38

    The Warren Commission, Allen Dulles and Richard Helm’s assured the out come of the WC buy their deft leadership. Read some books not the wiki which currently has numerous date errors..

    Read the Chasing Shadows, The Devil’s Chessboard , Ghost and Last Second In Dallas. All include new formation resulting from the release of various declassified files from different directions, sources and proof of out right lies by far too many individuals to be ignored.

    Dulles and Helms brought George Joannides out of retirement to guide or more correctly lead those tasked to retrieve documents for investigators astray or forbid the release of certain documents entirely..

    It was an inside job and JJ Angleton was shielded just as many others were. He lied when he stated he didn’t have a clue who Oswald was. Proof exists that he knew LHO from 1959 on.

    CIA corruption / illegal actions in concert with DOJ officials played a pivotal role in the coverup. Don’t believe me read up on it.

    911 was a little different I’d say.

    This is a story that to this day doesn’t make sense to me and I’m not buying the official story. My problem starts with the resignation of the Saudi President of General Intelligence who served at his post from 1979 until ten days before the 911 attacks and the FBI’s repeated ignorant bungling of top rate intelligence from citizens, but I’m too far into the weeds on this, other than to say, Anyone here ever hear of the Safari Club??

    As for the made for TV Jan 6, 2021 right wing party at the Congress where some had a riot, . . . What bullshit!

    Why all the constant distractions from what we really need to focus on? Because that is what this is about.
    Get ready for a diet of mushroom food and dark rooms, while congress blows millions and media does nothing but suck up the crumbs while the lawyers make millions and millions.

    It’s spring and all the windows need to be opened up to let in fresh air and sunlight, but don’t be looking to a Joe Biden who seemingly has no sense of how much trouble his presidency seems to be in. You cannot make this stuff up.

    Mr. James Bovard you make me a little nervous with “pouring gas” analogy in your last line. While I agree 100% with you here any more federal government pressure on millions of psychotic right wing gun owners could easily be tantamount to fighting fire with gasoline.

    We are about to be had again and this time the clamp down will be just as uncalled for las that of the 911 Commission Federal Government power grab. The real reason for 911. SEE the Unpatriotic Patriot Act.

    The two previous special study concoctions mentioned above were necessitated by incidents orders of magnitude more traumatic to the average citizen than seeing congress with it’s behind hanging out to be kicked. One does need to ask themself what can this worthless grid-locked congress to this time to top the Patriot Act ?

    As for a thorough ass kicking, something many, if not most in congress need., it was the notorious “wake up call”! And they all missed it.

    If any true justice exists both parties may end up setting themselves on fire!

    Thanks CN

  3. James Simpson
    May 30, 2021 at 02:56

    This is a fine piece countering the many on the Left who keep asserting that Jan 6 was an organised fascist coup attempt, despite an almost complete lack of evidence to support this. At the same time, such people are dismayed when the US government plans greater surveillance and security measures as a consequence of what appears, on what we know so far, was a disorganised riotous semi-protest. I’m happy to have my mind changed but what I’ve seen for example on the World Socialist Website about this is utterly unconvincing.

    • Piotr Berman
      May 30, 2021 at 15:54

      I would quibble a bit. Rather than a “disorganized riotous semi-protest”, what I could see was a decently organized protest, if misguided. But misguided or not (who is the judge? a serious question), protests are an integral part of the right to assembly. Overthrowing a constitutional order with the help of riots happened many times, and the protest was not organized to do that, if you care to compared with events of that nature across the globe.

      In practice if not in theory, it is left to the authorities to prevent the protest to get out of hand. When the protest happens suddenly, the forces of order may be caught by surprise. But this is not what happened on January 11. Protesters assembled from many parts of the country, with copious exchange of messages that should be monitored, and probably, they were monitored. The scale and the level of combativeness was predictable, as well as the probability that they will march to the building of Congress. Through the Mall, to the front door. Where they faced a VERY SKIMPY police line.

      Stupidity/incompetence? Ill wishes to the president elect and the congress? Or opposite, a trap, to be politically exploited? That is worth investigating, but I do not expect it to happen.

    • Dfnslblty
      May 30, 2021 at 17:43

      Piece does not counter Left’s assertions – piece shows plutocracy’s contempt for clarity.
      06Jan was not a tourists’ visit, and thanks to republicans, there’ll be no investigation.
      There’s already enough DoJ evidence to prosecute, and I imagine the republicans are hampering that too.
      2x-indicted expotus has stacked the scotus and exec. decks.
      And Dems are too plutocratic to oppose their “friends”.

      • James Simpson
        May 31, 2021 at 02:16

        Much of the plutocracy, the USA’s ruling class, would be very happy to see the events of Jan 6 officially classified as an attempted fascist coup. That would give them an excuse to increase the security state even further, as seems to be happening. Fascism is an expensive and difficult political state to achieve and capitalism usually doesn’t need it to fulfil its aims. The word is greatly overused.

  4. Rob
    May 29, 2021 at 16:27

    When you want to prevent anything useful from getting done, form a committee. This is doubly true when the committee members have political agendas.

Comments are closed.