Thanks, 9/11 Commission

Just a few months ago, when the 9/11 commission held some of its politically testier hearings, people wondered whether all 10 panel members would be able to endorse the final report.

They have, and the very fact that these strong-minded Republicans and Democrats could agree on a set of meaningful recommendations should signal the rest of Washington that this report is too serious to politicize.

Not that the temptation isn't strong, especially just before an election. The commission did not focus blame on either President Bush or former President Clinton, but panel chairman Tom Kean did say Thursday that any person in a senior position in government "bears some element of responsibility for our government's actions."

Without question, the panel is pointing down a road toward serious reform and bureaucratic upheaval - with likely resistance to change. Many of the recommendations, such as more streamlined congressional oversight, a national intelligence director, and reorganization within the FBI, deserve genuine consideration - though it would be best to tackle these hot-button issues when a new Congress, and perhaps a new administration, get to work next year.

The report found the "most important failure" leading to the Sept. 11 attacks "was one of imagination. We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat."

This panel deserves praise for its professional and dogged investigation. It debunked some theories (such as deliberate Saudi government help for the terrorists), while uncovering new areas to explore (the Iran connection to the 9/11 hijackers).

By remaining nonpartisan, and offering "solid, sound" recommendations (words from President Bush), the commission has done a great service.

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