The Note

Asked by Don Imus this morning if he "chuckled" when the White House announced that Bush and Cheney would appear together before the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean, the commission's chair, quipped: "I don't know if I chuckled . . . I recognized that maybe the President has to coach Cheney a bit every now and then." (Laughter).

The panel investigating Sept. 11 is "conducting a detailed review of all discrepancies found in public and private statements by Condoleezza Rice and Richard A. Clarke in drawing up questions for Ms. Rice when she testifies before the panel," reports the New York Times' Shenon and Jehl. LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank and Dan Eggen write that President Bush's top lawyer called at least one of the Republican members of the 9/11 commission to hear Richard Clark's testimony. "White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales called commissioner Fred F. Fielding, one of five GOP members of the body, and, according to one observer, also called Republican commission member James R. Thompson. Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, wrote to Gonzales yesterday asking him to confirm and describe the conversations." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Scott Paltrow reports there is "new evidence" that the federal government had on several occasions before 9/11, "taken elaborate, secret measures" to protect special events from similar attacks. Writes Paltrow, "New questions have emerged, in part from the just-published book by former senior National Security Council aide Richard Clarke, as to why the Clinton administration in the late 1990s failed to push through a proposal to extend the measures beyond special events to permanent protection of the skies over Washington." Paltrow Notes that in the mid-1990's U.S. intelligence agencies had passed on information concerning "plans by al Qaeda officials to use passenger jets as kamikaze weapons."

Summoning his best Josh Marshall, the Washington Post's David Broder writes "at a time when the American people -- and the world -- desperately need reassurance that the government was not asleep at the switch, Bush has clenched his jaw and said nothing that would ease those concerns. Instead, he has arranged that when he answers the commission's questions in a yet-to-be-scheduled private session, he will not face it alone. He and Vice President Cheney will appear together. It will be interesting to learn who furnishes most of the answers." LINK

The Washington Post's Richard Cohen writes on Sen. Frist's attacks on Clarke's book and sarcastically suggests "Clarke ought to consider one about a once well-regarded senator who became a White House attack dog and in the process made himself look both unprincipled and foolish. He could call it 'Frist.'" LINK

Maureen Dowd sends up the Alberto R. Gonzales letter to the 9/11 commission regarding Condoleezza Rice's testimony. LINK

Just perhaps the White House helped propel sales of the Clarke tome, the Los Angeles Times ponders. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe Notes the super early beginning to this presidential race, "[w]ith an intensity usually reserved for a campaign's closing days, President Bush, Democrat John F. Kerry, and their respective campaign organizations and supporters have been waging virtually a minute-by-minute battle for control of the White House." LINK

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