I have to admit that when I heard on the news just before leaving to visit my parents over Thanksgiving weekend that George Bush had nominated Henry Kissinger to head up an “independent commission” to investigate why and how the 9-11-01 attacks had happened, I had to smile. In part I was smiling to avoid tearing my hair out at the thought of this war criminal in charge of investigating the Bush gang and their actions and inaction prior to 9-11. But I was also smiling because if there was ever a case of the enemies of truth, in their arrogance of power, exposing themselves for the deceivers and obstructionists that they are, this appointment was surely it.

I have a personal relationship of sorts with Henry Kissinger. I have the honor of having been indicted in the spring of 1971 as part of a J. Edgar Hoover-concocted “conspiracy” to allegedly kidnap the man. At the time I and most of the rest of the world knew little about him; he was primarily a behind-the-scenes National Security Advisor to Richard Nixon and a major architect of the war on Vietnam, Laos and then-Cambodia.

Because there was no truth to Hoover’s conspiracy charges, my fellow Harrisburg 8 defendants and I were never convicted of them. I went on to a life of activism and organizing for positive social change; Kissinger went on to continue his life of crime-in-the-suites. And now he’s to oversee this commission.

Perhaps those progressive writers who took to their keyboards earlier this year warning the peace movement not to get involved with the “conspiracy” types, those who were calling for the full truth to be investigated of how 9-11-01 happened, were on to something. Didn’t those writers’ arguments, in essence, boil down to “how can you trust the rulers to investigate themselves, so why should we waste our time?” The Kissinger appointment certainly seems to strengthen that argument.

But, as a number of the rest of us have been saying, this issue of what-did-they-know-and-what-did-they-do-about-it clearly has legs, as we can see by the fact that Congress established this commission and the Bush administration had to agree to it. The fact that the Bushites have been doing everything they can to gut and defang it only underscores the potential it has to expose information, to get at the truth, and in so doing seriously undercut their plans for endless war and 21st century fascism.

What information, what truth? Well, here’s what Richard Butler, former chief U.N. weapons inspector, had to say on CNN’s “American Morning with Paula Zahn” on January 8th of this year:

BUTLER: The most explosive charge, Paula, is that the Bush administration—the present one, just shortly after assuming office—slowed down FBI investigations of al Qaeda and terrorism in Afghanistan in order to do a deal with the Taliban on oil—an oil pipeline across Afghanistan.

ZAHN: And this book [Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth] points out that the FBI’s deputy director, John O’Neill, actually resigned because he felt the U.S. administration was obstructing…

BUTLER: A proper…

ZAHN: …the prosecution of terrorism.

BUTLER: Yes, yes, a proper intelligence investigation of terrorism… That’s the allegation, that instead of prosecuting properly an investigation of terrorism, which has its home in Afghanistan as we now know, or one of its main homes, that was shut down or slowed down in order to pursue oil interests with the Taliban…The book says that the negotiators said to the Taliban, you have a choice. You have a carpet of gold, meaning an oil deal, or a carpet of bombs. That’s what the book alleges.

Richard Butler is no conspiracy theorist. He’s a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, in fact, a very establishment body. More than likely he’s been at meetings with Kissinger, so he’s not exactly someone we can count on to come forward once the commission begins to operate, volunteering to testify about what he knows.

But we, the progressive movement, can call for him to do so. We can call for a full-scale investigation into what John O’Neill knew and why he resigned. We can call for investigators to spend time in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for Pakistan’s President Musharraf to compel cooperation by the ISI, their intelligence agency that worked closely with the Taliban and is certainly well aware of the negotiations referred to in the Zahn interview.

As we do so we can call upon the vice-chair of the commission, Democrat George Mitchell, to stand up to Kissinger’s certain efforts to turn this investigation into a cover-up. We can call upon Democrats running for President and other Democrats to address this issue. We can use Kissinger’s notoriety in a positive way to draw attention to the absurdity of his being appointed by Bush to this position. And we can support the development of a genuinely independent, “shadow” commission to go after the truth, follow all the leads wherever they may go.

Will all of this turn up the smoking gun, the hard evidence, that undercuts the Bush Administration’s claims of innocent ignorance, their efforts to pin the blame for the U.S. being vulnerable to Al Qaeda on 9-11 to FBI and CIA bureaucracy and incompetence? No one knows. But what we should know, what we should all be clear on, is that there are solid reasons to believe that, if enough political pressure is brought to bear, information could come out, one way or the other, that, more than anything else we do, can seriously hurt the chances of Bush/Cheney being re-elected in 2004. Let’s think and act accordingly.