Stiglitz, Galbraith, Reich To Financial Crisis Panel: Get To The Truth!

Looks like were not the only ones who are concerned that the Congressional commission to look into the causes of the financial crisis may struggle to get to the truth.

A group of distinguished economists, academics, and thinkers — including Joseph Stiglitz, Jamie Galbraith, and Robert Reich — has written an open letter to the newly-named commissioners, urging them to come together “in non-partisan cooperation to investigate the origins of the financial crisis in ways that lead to a full understanding of the institutions, people and practices that are responsible for our economic collapse.”The letter-writers urge the commissioners to adhere to three specific guidelines:

• Appoint a single investigator. This individual must have a proven record of exposing fraudulent elites and institutions, and must provide a professional, non-political spirit to the investigation.

• Afford no special treatment. No one is off-limits or gets special protection in the investigation.

• Provide the tools to do the job. The investigator must be given ample budget and time, full subpoena authority, and the ability to hire and fire staff.

It looks like the writers may be disappointed on some of these recommendations. So far the indications are that, rather than appointing a single investigator, the commissioners will hire a staff, led by a director, who may well have an investigative background. Commission chair Phil Angelides told TPMmuckraker yesterday that that process is already underway.

And by statute, the staff director won’t be able to issue subpoenas without the commisisoners’ sign-off — including the agreement of at least one GOP member.

It’s also worth noting that some of the signers, though eminent, don’t seem to be at their most influential in Washington right now. So it’s unclear what effect the letter will have. But if nothing else, it suggests how widespread is the concern about the commission’s chances of truly getting to the bottom of the crisis.