As Pandemic Recedes in U.S., Calls Are Growing for an Investigative Commission


It produced an extensive report — each an in depth evaluation and a gripping narrative that modified Americans’ understanding of the assaults, which killed practically 3,000, and the terrorist risk. Its 41 separate suggestions led to particular modifications to the construction of presidency, the creation of a director of nationwide intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center.

But the pandemic is a really completely different circumstance — not a discrete one-day occasion however a disaster that unfolded over months, affecting your complete world and never simply the United States. The American response was overwhelmingly led by state and native governments; Sept. 11 produced a largely federal response. Despite the publication of 1000’s of stories articles and even books analyzing what went fallacious, large unanswered questions stay.

Could intelligence officers have labored extra carefully with epidemiologists to trace the virus because it took maintain, and do the identical with future rising infections? Could the mass lockdowns final spring have been averted, or no less than restricted to inflict much less injury on the financial system? How do state and native governments coordinate with Washington in a disaster that impacts the entire nation?

“This is very important,” mentioned J. Stephen Morrison, an professional in world public well being on the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, who additionally serves as an adviser to the planning group. “It’s the biggest national trauma we’ve experienced since World War II. Six hundred thousand people have died. Our institutions failed in a staggering way and our politics failed and our public health system was shambolic. We have to come to terms with all of that.”

Backers of the fee thought sense that they now have a important window. The Trump presidency is in the previous, and the 2024 elections are far sufficient away to maintain the trouble from getting caught up in presidential politics. A fee established this yr may ship a report in 2023, after the midterm elections.

Views differ about how such a panel could be structured. Mr. Menendez says it wants the imprimatur of Congress, with leaders of each events and the president appointing members, as was the case with the Sept. 11 panel, which was led by Thomas H. Kean, a Republican former governor of New Jersey, and Lee H. Hamilton, a Democrat and former congressman from Indiana. Mr. Menendez’s invoice calls for a 10-member fee that would come with no less than one financial coverage professional, one public well being professional and one former governor appointed by every social gathering.

Mr. Zelikow mentioned he believed the panel needs to be nonpartisan — versus bipartisan — and argued that the Sept. 11 mannequin wouldn’t work in such a extremely polarized local weather. He fears congressional leaders will identify people who find themselves extra invested in defending their very own events than in the reality, which might “not help America heal” and solely “further damage faith and trust in American governance.” But, he mentioned, the trouble wants “congressional buy-in.”



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