The Associated Press is reporting that former 9/11 Commission Co-Chairman Lee Hamilton is ready to endorse Barack Obama for President over Hillary Clinton. Hamilton, who served as a U.S. Representative from the Ninth District in Indiana from January of 1965 to January of 1999, also served as chairman of both the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees.
After retirement, Hamilton was appointed co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, which many believe unfairly focused more attention on the nine months of the newly elected Bush Administration prior to the attacks rather than the previous eight years of the Clinton Administration. During Bill Clinton's time in office, we were attacked repeatedly by Al Qaeda and Islamic Fundamentalists - in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.
Hamilton then co-chaired with James Baker the Iraq Study Group, whose final report was released on December 6th, 2006. While that report had some value, even liberal groups such as the Center for American Progress deemed major portions of it outdated and irrelevant soon after its release due to changing conditions in Iraq. In a bid to stay relevant, Hamilton urged that the Iraq Study Group be reconvened to update its report. By that time, however, the surge was finally in place and beginning to show signs of progress, and the update was deemed to be unnecessary. More importantly, the major ISG recommendations that were being pushed during the summer of 2006 were diplomatic negotiations with Syria and Iraq. Syria, however, was busy assassinating Rafik Hariri and assisting Hezbollah during its Summer 2006 war against Israel in Lebanon. At the same time, Iran was busy using its Quds force to train Shia and Sunni terrorists for operations in Iraq. So much for Hamilton's theory that a stable Iraq was in Iran's best interest, unless he meant a stable Iraq under the control of Iran.
Lee Hamilton obviously has superior foreign policy and national security knowledge and experience, even though he sometimes errs in seeing the world through the State Departments' eyes. Barack Obama has been criticized for having virtually no such experience.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has major parts of her husband Bill Clinton's foreign policy and national security establishment behind her, and certainly many of those figures would be prominent again as officials in her Administration. The contradiction with the experience of Obama's contacts and advisers is stark.
So why does the prospect of having the Clinton's people back in charge spook Lee Hamilton enough to back the relatively new-to-the-world-stage Barack Obama during a time of war? More importantly, what did Hamilton learn during his tenure as co-chair of the 9/11 Commission about the Clintons and their people that would scare him into choosing the relatively inexperienced Obama team over the experienced team of Hillary's? Hopefully, he will address this issue shortly.