You'd have to be a fool, blindly partisan or inattentive not to think several Democratic members of the 9/11 commission see it as their mission to blacken the Bush administration.
They are out to blame the president and his team for failing to prevent the terrorist attacks of two and a half years ago, and the president was well-advised to take various precautions in his testimony before the commission.
A case could be made that President Bush went further than necessary in agreeing to appear at all. Can anyone imagine FDR testifying before the Pearl Harbor commission during the early days of World War II? But since Bush did agree, he was wise to make sure the testimony is not recorded or transcribed, to keep a lawyer handy and to have Vice President Cheney give his testimony simultaneously.
Those who find those steps an outrage are those who want to play “gotcha” with Bush, not those in search of anti-terrorist measures that work. Yes, if Cheney and Bush were testifying separately, you might find some discrepancy, for memories aren't perfect, after all. A commissioner intent on torpedoing the administration could point to a transcription — if that had been allowed — and bark loudly about "lies."
Most members of the commission do appear sincere in trying to come up with worthy recommendations to strengthen federal safeguards against terrorist attacks in the future — the panel's avowed purpose. The commission has a good staff to rely on and has received background material in quantities that seem to have been just as unprecedented as the administration has claimed. It has received testimony from a wide range of top officials past and present, and should have sufficient information on which to base an intelligent analysis of what still needs to be done.
Getting Bush to let down his guard would not improve such an analysis. It would just give some Democrat commissioners a better chance to land political punches.