Good afternoon, and thank you for this opportunity to recount my perspective on the events of September 11 and the work I did at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in the weeks that followed. This hearing is an important opportunity to correct some widespread popular misconceptions about these events, and I hope the committee will do so.
I was the associate director for communications at CEQ from August 2001 until March 2003. As you know, a report issued by the EPA Inspector General (IG) in 2003 made a number of widely reported and inflammatory claims regarding CEQ's interactions with EPA immediately after September 11. As a White House employee at the time the report was prepared, I was not at liberty to respond to the IG's questions, although I would have liked to have been able to do so. As far as I know, the IG's report was also prepared without the input of Administrator Whitman.
As a result, the Inspector General's report was based on an incomplete and faulty assessment of the facts. Even given those limitations, however, it is still surprising that the IG managed to conclude that the EPA's press releases were improperly influenced by the White House when there was ample evidence to contradict that claim, and no evidence beyond the vague, uncorroborated, and self-interested statements of a single person to support it. . . .
Samuel Thernstrom is director of the AEI Press and the W. H. Brady Program on Culture and Freedom.