Rice was finally allowed to testify, but only after the Commissioners agreed to terms from the following letter from White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez. (You'd think that an investigation into the greatest tragedy in recent American history would warrant a full and honest testimony from all parties involved in the security of Americans. You'd be wrong.)
Gonzalez Letter to 9/11 Commission; the fine print:
"The necessary conditions are as follows: First, the Commission must agree in writing that Dr. Rice's testimony before the Commission does not set any precedent for future Commission requests in any other context, for testimony by a National Security Advisor or any other White House official.
Second, the Commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice."
[As Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in the New Yorker Magazine on 4/12/04, "We'll give you Rice for a couple of hours, but that's it! No more questions in public for anybody in the White House, for any reason, any context, no matter how many contradictions and unanswered questions are left. The End. Now go away".]
More fine print from the "Gonzalez Letter":
"I would also like to take this occasion to offer an accomodation on another issue on which we have not yet reached an agreement — Commission access to the President and Vice President. I am authorized to advise you that the President and Vice President have agreed to ONE JOINT PRIVATE SESSION with all 10 Commissioners, with one Commissioner staff member present to take notes of the session."
==== end of fine print ===
In other words, Bush and Cheney appear together so they don't contradict each other, and so Cheney can answer when Bush's tiny little pea brain migrates to a baseball score from yesterday's game or 'clearing brush' on the 'ranch'.
As Hertzberg points out, one "note-taker" trying to keep track of some of the most historic testimony in American history will insure that "the record of what the President and Vice President have to say will necessarily be incomplete."
It will be as ethereal as the memories of those present. It won't be, to coin a phrase currently favored by Administration liars, "Historical."