Never mind that the 9/11 commission is made up of nine rich white men and one rich white woman. Six of the ten are lawyers; another is a lobbyist. There is no police officer, no firefighter. There is no relative of anyone killed in the attacks.
Five of the ten members are key players at large corporate law firms, virtually all with clients who stand to win or lose depending on the commission’s findings. The airline industry, which could lose or gain billions, has its key corporate lawyers on the commission, whose members were appointed by the President and House and Senate leaders, equally from each party.
What makes this situation so quintessentially Washington is that the tougher the commission tries to make life for affected companies, the more money the law firms representing those companies will make lobbying Congress to fight the proposals.
Here’s a look at the commission members, their affiliations, and the interests their firms and organizations represent or are beholden to.
RICHARD BEN-VENISTE. Former Watergate prosecutor, now partner in Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, an international law firm with headquarters in Chicago and London. The firm’s clients include ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Alliance Pipeline, Union Carbide, Kuwait Refinery, and Indonesia IPP.
FRED FIELDING. Former deputy White House counsel under Richard Nixon; name partner at Wiley Rein & Fielding. As special counsel to the Bush-Cheney transition team, he helped prepare Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld for confirmation hearings. Fielding’s partner Bert Rein was in charge of international aviation policy at the State Department. Besides Time Warner, Gannett, and United Parcel Service, Wiley Rein clients include Spirit Airlines, Philips Electronics, UNOCAL, the Kansas City Southern Railroad, Intelsat, and Motorola.
JAMIE GORELICK. Former deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton, former Fannie Mae executive, now partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr. In addition to the Washington Post, the National Association of Broadcasters, Time Warner, Bayer AG, Yahoo, and Fannie Mae, the firm’s clients include Boeing and Deutsche Bank. Gorelick also sits on the boards of United Technologies and Schlumberger, both with big stakes in Iraqi reconstruction.
SLADE GORTON. Former US senator, now partner in Seattle-based Preston Gates & Ellis, which has one of the most prominent lobbying operations in DC. (The Gates in Preston Gates is the father of Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.) Besides Microsoft, Amway, Starbucks, and Verizon, the firm’s clients include the Air Transport Association, Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, the Port of Seattle, Burlington Northern Railroad, and Wells Fargo Bank.
LEE HAMILTON. A nonpracticing lawyer, this former member of Congress and chair of the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees is president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a member of President Bush’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. Companies that fund the Woodrow Wilson Center include Aramco Services, Archer Daniels Midland, AT&T, BP North America, Boeing, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, Fannie Mae, Lockheed Martin, News Corporation, and Occidental Petroleum.
JAMES THOMPSON. Former Illinois governor, now chair of Chicago-based corporate law behemoth Winston & Strawn. The firm’s clients include American Airlines, General Electric, Caterpillar, and the New York City Industrial Development Authority. Thompson is a director of Hollinger International, the Canadian-based company that owns the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post.
THOMAS KEAN. Former governor of New Jersey, now president of Drew University. An educator by profession, Kean is a descendant of one of America’s oldest families, the Stuyvesants, and a distant cousin of Theodore Roosevelt. Kean serves on the boards of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund.
BOB KERREY. Former US senator from Nebraska, where he earlier served as governor, now president of New School University in New York. Trained as a pharmacist, the Vietnam veteran made his fortune with chains of restaurants and health clubs.
JOHN LEHMAN. Former Navy secretary under President Reagan, now chair of J.F. Lehman & Company, an investment-banking firm. Lehman served on the National Security Council under Henry Kissinger. Lehman’s firm has purchased 11 companies in recent years that specialize in naval or aerospace defense. One, Racal Industries, sells military equipment to 80 nations around the world and specializes in field-communications equipment for use in desert environments. Lehman owns interests in and serves on the board of Ball Corporation, whose aerospace division builds cooling systems for NASA. He is “senior adviser” to BNP Paribas, one of the world’s biggest international conglomerates.
TIMOTHY ROEMER. President of the Center for National Policy, a liberal think tank; former Indiana congressman and son-in-law of former Louisiana senator Bennett Johnston. Roemer once worked for Johnston’s lobby shop, whose clients include General Motors, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. Among CNP board members: former Agriculture secretary Dan Glickman, now with the DC law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, and Benjamin W. Heineman Jr., general counsel of General Electric.