9/11 Probe: Aiming High

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After a bumpy start that included the resignation of Henry Kissinger as its first chairman, the commission investigating pre-Sept. 11 government lapses may remain just as controversial. Two commissioners of the bipartisan panel, which holds its first meeting this week, told TIME they will push for a wide-ranging, aggressive probe that will include testimony from top Bush Administration officials who didn't testify last year in a joint inquiry by the House and Senate intelligence committees.

One panelist, Tim Roemer, a Democrat who just retired from Congress, complained in a statement he issued last month as a member of the House-Senate panel that the congressional probe suffered because such officials as Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, John Ashcroft and Condoleezza Rice "were not questioned directly about issues related to the Sept. 11 attacks." A Rumsfeld spokesman refused to "speculate on what participation will be extended" to the commission.

But Roemer told TIME that all relevant Bush officials must be interviewed this time around, along with officials from prior Administrations.

His view is echoed by another commissioner, who says, "I can't imagine that we wouldn't be talking to them." Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, a key architect of the legislation forming the commission, said the Bush Administration "slow-walked and stonewalled" the House-Senate inquiry. "I don't see how you can have a thorough investigation without talking to the people who were in charge throughout the time period prior to 9/11," he told TIME. McCain said the new investigation should go at least as far back as 1989, when U.S.-backed mujahedin drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan—and the U.S. pulled back from involvement in the war—scarred region