Friday, September 17, 2004

THE MARCH 11 parliamentary commission on the verge of collapse:
The inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Madrid terrorist attacks appeared to be on the verge of collapse Thursday after the opposition Popular Party threatened to withdraw.

Eduardo Zaplana, Popular Party spokesman, said his party might withdraw after a row over the appearance of prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Zaplana said his party had not made a final decision.

But at the same time, his party colleague on the inquiry appeared to throw the matter into confusion.

PP spokesman Vicente Martínez Pujalte said his party would not abandon the inquiry.

Earlier, Zaplana said the PP had lost out because its plea for Zapatero to appear had been rejected by the chairman Paulino Rivero, who said the request had not been formally made.

Zaplana denounced the refusal of their request as "a scandal without precedent for a democratic country" and "a pantomime" and threatening "consequences".

"We have not been able to call anyone to the inquiry. In what democratic country does this happen?" Zaplana said in an interview with the Antena 3 television station.

Zaplana said Zapatero should before the inquiry so he could be questioned about the actions of the then opposition Socialist party between 11 and 14 March.

The PP have accused the Socialists of being behind an illegal demonstration outside their offices in Madrid on the day before the election, 14 March. In Spain the day before an election, the Day of Reflection, political demonstrations are banned.
Frankly, as I wrote in previous posts (here, here and here) this is more a comedy than a serious panel. It should be dissolved and started again from the beginning, but with under a similar model to the September 11 panel: a certain number of commissioners chosen because of their expertise and knowledge on intelligence and security.

What we have now is a panel formed by members of parliament according to the number of seats they have in the chamber, at least one per party. So they are chosen for their party affiliation and not for their knowledge of such an intrincate subject, and it shows. It's pathetic, even painful, to watch hem interrogate the people appearing before the panel (sometimes real experts and police with long service in anti-terrorism and intel), it's obvious that they just learnt the little they know about the issue by reading some reports and a couple of books in a hurry just to get ready for the commission.

You can tell perfectly that they're punching above their weight, and worst of all is not what they do know they know, but what they don't know they don't know (hi, Rummy!). So, very often they fail to ask the right questions, or asking for things that would prompt an interesting answer, and therefore they are missing chances to get relevant information from the people testifying.