I used to think a CI, or any government commission, was a wonderful vehicle for taking the politics and most of the emotion out of an issue. I believed, like most, that finally, the public will get an independent examination and complete exposure of all the issues and facts necessary for a reasoned decision. That was the illusion behind the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This was a UN Commission of Inquiry set up supposedly to study climate change and examine all sides of the claim that humans were causing global warming.
I say I used to think CIs were good things until I was appointed to one. It involved disputes over a large lake and like all water issues was very contentious. The politician wanted a certain outcome but did not want public disclosure. By appointing the CI, he took himself out of it because he deferred any questions from anyone, including the media. He also gave himself complete control of the outcome without most of the public being aware. He went back to his bureaucrats, and between them, they wrote definitions and terms of reference that limited the Commission's inquiry, so it pre-determined the outcome. What I learned was that they are perfect vehicles of Inquiry for the politician because they provide almost total control. For a start they can reject all media inquiries until the Commission reports.