“I don’t think the 9/11 Commission should be making deals with our own government.” Cleland was originally appointed to serve on the 9/11 Commission but resigned shortly after, having been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Before his resignation, he said that the Bush administration was “stonewalling” and blocking the committee’s access to key documents and witnesses.
A key figure in the widespread criticism of governmental opacity regarding 9/11, he was quoted as saying in November 2003: “I… cannot look any American in the eye, especially family members of victims, and say the commission had full access. This investigation is now compromised.” He called the 9/11 Commission a “national scandal.” Just before resigning, Cleland called the Bush administration’s attempts to stonewall and “slow walk” the Commission a “national scandal.”
He criticized the Commission for cutting a deal with the White House that compromised its access to information, and said: “I’m not going to be part of looking at information only partially. I’m not going to be part of just coming to quick conclusions. I’m not going to be part of political pressure to do this or not do that. I’m not going to be part of that. This is serious.” [SALON, 11/21/2003] Cleland will later add, “There was a desire not to uncover bad news, a desire to leave rocks unturned—both in the White House and, to a certain extent, on the leadership of the Commission.” [SHENON, 2008, PP. 161]