Joe Conason's Journal

The White House continues to suppress the Sept. 11 investigation. Plus: Conservatives welcome Al Sharpton's presidential bid.

Published May 1, 2003 4:27PM (EDT)

Reclassify this
Do not neglect to read Newsweek's scoop on the latest episode in the White House effort to suppress investigation of the events leading to Sept. 11. Apparently Karl Rove doesn't want voters to be permitted to read the findings of last year's joint congressional investigation. According to the story by Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff:

"A 'working group' of Bush administration intelligence officials assigned to review the [congressional report] document has taken a hard line against further public disclosure. By refusing to declassify many of its most significant conclusions, the administration has essentially thwarted congressional plans to release the report by the end of this month, congressional and administration sources tell Newsweek. In some cases, these sources say, the administration has even sought to 'reclassify' some material that was already discussed in public testimony ... The administration's stand has infuriated the two members of Congress who oversaw the report -- Democratic Sen. Bob Graham and Republican Rep. Porter Goss. The two are now preparing a letter of complaint to Vice President Dick Cheney."

No doubt the vice president will file that letter in a nearby circular receptacle.

Moondance with Sharpton
In the current New York Observer, I examine the warm reception Al Sharpton's presidential candidacy has received on the Republican right. While many readers wrote in to express their own dismay about Sharpton's divisive intentions, the response from conservatives was swift and understandably gleeful. Exclaimed a reader from North Carolina: "It is true -- we love Rev. Al ... 'Our weapon of choice' -- you bet, just as Trent [Lott] was to the libs. Only we were smart enough to cut TL loose -- much to the dismay of our opponents ... Go Al, Go Al!!!" A few scolded me for criticizing a black leader of Sharpton's presumed stature, noting his campaigns against police misconduct and his undoubted oratorical talents. "Everyone makes mistakes at some point in their life," retorted one supporter, writing from the headquarters of a national union. "I don't think he has anything to be ashamed of concerning Tawana Brawley. His life did not start or end with that episode."

An astute reader reminded me that Sharpton has cultivated connections on the right that range well beyond the mundane precincts of the Republican Party. In 1997, when he was a candidate for mayor of New York, the Harlem activist renewed his marriage vows under the welcoming aegis of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. The archives of the church's online newsletter offers this delightful account of a meeting that summer where Sharpton apparently offered enthusiastic support for the Korean evangelist's "blessing" crusade. The newsletter quotes Sharpton to the effect that "the signs of the times show clearly that Rev. Moon was right all along. He offered his thanks to True Parents [meaning Moon and his wife] for sticking to the task God asked them to do ..." Lately, Moon's Washington Times has been giving Sharpton occasional puffs like this one in its political gossip column.
[9:33 a.m. PDT, May 1, 2003]

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