At last, the time has come and history textbooks wait to be written. Will they be read or allowed to be read – or even be allowed to be written about what really happened?
“We have to get it right,” Thompson said. If the committee can find ways to prevent anything like it from happening again, “then I would have made what I think is the most valuable contribution to this great democracy.”
Thompson, 73, is a liberal fixture in Congress and longtime champion of civil rights, the only Democrat in the Mississippi delegation, hailing from a majority-black district in the state’s western half. He has avoided the limelight during his more than 15 years on the Homeland Security Committee, notching achievements with careful bipartisan outreach.
Several Democrats and Republicans said Thompson was the right choice to lead an investigation that is certain to be partisan and fraught.
“I’ve dealt with Bennie for 15 years, and we disagreed on a lot, but I don’t think there was ever a harsh word between us,” says former Republican Rep. Pete King of New York, who was the chairman and top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee for years opposite Thompson. “Bennie is low key, he manages his side well. He was a good guy to work with. He was strong and knew what he wanted, but there was very little drama.”
New York Rep. John Katko, who is now the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, gave a similar assessment. Thompson is “a good man, a patriotic American” and a “productive partner,” Katko said in statement.