9/11 commissions and books and politicking

9/11 commissions and books and politicking
: I haven’t said much about the current blame game going on over September 11th in books, hearings, and political speeches.

The terrorists came within a matter of yards of killing me.

But I don’t blame the Bush or Clinton administrations for that. I blame the terrorists.

Could we have stopped them? Only with some damned lucky breaks. We can’t make believe that any system would have guaranteed catching them before the act.

For we have to remember that these are pathologically insane and evil beasts and it’s impossible to guess how low they will stoop.

If we were lucky enough to have intelligence inside their devil’s cult, then, yes, we might have foiled their plot. But that’s obviously hard to do.

If we were lucky enough to have stopped one of them for speeding and locked them up, then we might have foiled their plot. But that’s like counting on a lottery ticket.

What matters now is learning the lessons we can learn — and to that extent, the hearings are valuable — to protect us as best we can.

But I find the blame game going on now unseemly and divisive and unproductive and distracting and just a little bit tasteless.

I saw people die that day not because of anything we didn’t do but because of what a bunch of soulless murderers did do. Let’s never forget that.

It’s us against them, not us against us.

  • http://www.photodude.com/ Reid

    But I find the blame game going on now unseemly and divisive and unproductive and districting and just a little bit tasteless.
    I agree, the dance of Proving We Were Less Wrong is pretty sad and ugly (from both sides), and I’m sorry that’s what the 9/11 investigation has become. It ignores the biggest thing we should see with 20/20 hindsight. We, the People, would have had a freakin’ cow if Clinton/Bush had invaded Afghanistan without the catalyst of 9/11. Talk about charges of unilateral action.
    Most of all, I’m thororoughly disgusted with everyone who puts what’s best for their party in this election year ahead of what’s best for this country.
    And that’s everyone running for office.

  • Monkey Boy

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
    On the way in this morning on the radio, and tv all I heard was “WHO IS TO BLAME?” Im sitting there shaking my head, because we already know who is to blame. THE TERRORISTS! DUH!
    I am so tired of the media right now, I could go postal at any moment. And by that I mean, start posting all over the blogspere.

  • anne.elk

    Jeff, uh, for years now, we’ve been told we did arrest one, before 9/11, and that was Zacarias Moussaoi. And we’ve learned that other FBI agents warned the agency repeatedly about this, including the Phoenix agent that specifically warned about Al Qaeda members taking flight lessons. And yet no one at the FBI or higher was able to put two and two together, perhaps because Dick Clarke’s leadership against terrorism wasn’t taken seriously by the Bush Administration.
    For two years now, you’ve been telling us that we’re at war and excoriating us dummies for not getting it. You’ve told us that Dean didn’t get it, and that Clark didn’t get it, and that the Dems didn’t get it, and that Kerry didn’t get it.
    I have kids, you have kids, and we both want to keep our kids safe. After Pearl Harbor, there was an investigation to discover what had happened and to keep it from occurring again. But now you tell us this investigation, stone walled by the Chimp is unseemly.
    Dude, you suffer from a large amount of cognitive dissonance.

  • anne.elk

    The WTC ’93, the Cole, the Embassies, the heroin, the statues at Bamiyan. All of these acts received world and UN condemnation, the Cole was an act of War, the drugs were why we removed Noriega. The Cole occurred a few months prior to Bush taking office.
    It is exceedingly unclear that our removal of the Taliban, or our targeting of Bin Laden would have raised charges of unilateral action, and so what? I though Bush was a visionary man of great leadership?

  • Other Reid

    The important thing to remember in all of this is that, if the terrorists keep on coming, sooner or later they will get in. There is no defense that will ever be 100% effective against endlessly repeated assaults.
    That is why we had to go into Iraq. The fundamental dynamic of the Middle East has to change or there will be other 9-11′s to come again, and again, and again. A weed has to be pulled up by the roots.

  • anne.elk

    Jeff,
    Thank god and our troops that the Iraqi people have been liberated. But what if liberating Iraq diverted us from the real threat, the threat of terrorism? What if diverting troops and resources from Afghanistan allowed Al Qaeda to recruit further? Bin Laden it is suggested is a figurehead. What if not getting to Bin Laden and the leadership has allowed more cells to develop, and developed more future leaders?
    Sarin in the subways, anthrax, ricin, dirty bombs, suitcase bombs from the old soviet union, bombings of trains and night clubs, more cells buried in the US, more disgruntled uneducated young men with even more reasons given by their leaders to kill you, me, and our kids.
    What if that is the true cost of Iraq? Is it unseemly to discuss this?
    I apologize for the three posts right in a row. I am done for now.

  • LT

    Anne, do you even remember what it was like before 9/11? Our priorities, and our leader’s priorities are reflective of those, were in a completely different place. To claim that it could have been prevented by radical action is to ignore the political climate of the ten years preceding 9/11. Claiming now that the Clintons or the Bushes should have taken action then is fairly ludicrous.

  • KMK

    So true Jeff. Divisive, unproductive and tasteless.

  • Jeff B.

    Anne.elk, what of Clinton’s responsibilities for all you just mentioned? I don’t want to restart the blaming, but it seems you’re intent on doing just that: foisting all of the failure to engage on the terrorist issue onto one (conveniently current and Republican) administration and exempting the other, on whose watch all of your cited events took place.
    The point is that both administrations bear some degree of responsibility for not taking action prior to 9/11. But attempts by the Democrats to say “IT’S ALL BSUH’S FAULT! EVIL!” while frantically erecting a mental wall around an ENTIRE DECADE where a Democrat was commander-in-chief while terrorists repeatedly struck while remaining basically unmolested…well Anne, I wish you would display some intellectual integrity and acknowledge that a large portion of the “blame” (if we’re going to play this game, which we shouldn’t – but you insist) falls upon an administration with a (D) in its column?

  • Mike

    Anne, its people like you who would be shouting from the top of their lungs against Bush if he had invaded Afghanistan prior to 9/11. There is nothing Bush could have done that wouldn’t have resulted in your condemnation. So stop trying to sound all high and mighty now.
    Jeff mentions that these hearings are valuable when they are intended to improve the country’s defense by learning from our mistakes. And his point couldn’t be more clearer and I wish more people in the country would understand it. The terrorists did this to us and it was because they hate us and will do anything to destroy our country. Having these hearings on TV has just created a public forum for political hacks (from both parties) to grandstand for the public.

  • Other Reid

    Anne,
    I keep seeing this error repeated over and over. We did nothing to aid Al Qaeda recruitment by going into Iraq. Al Qaeda recruitment was already being stoked by the sanctions, which had been denounced as genocidal across the entire Arab / Muslim world and which bin Laden himself specifically cited as a justification for 9-11.
    By going into Iraq, we lanced the boil that was infecting so much of the region with radical hatred. They were far more concerned in that area with the purported 500,000 deaths of innocent Iraqis due to sanctions than they are about the loss of a despot whom nobody much cared for.

  • Yogi Berra

    What a hypocrite! You don’t like the investigation when it is embarrassing your side, Jeff. Seems to me you’re among the first to call for investigation when the other side may be embarrassed.
    You say:
    “I saw people die that day not because of anything we didn’t do.”
    Well, I saw people die that day because of what the Bush administration did not do, and there needs to be some accountability. (Remember that phrase? You even argued that the Bush Administration needed to be more accountable for 9/11: http://www.buzzmachine.com/archives/2002_05_20.html before you realized how badly your favorite president bungled things up.) To now say the investigations must end after calling for more accoutability is an amazing flip-flop that reeks of rank partisanship.

  • http://amomentwith.typepad.com/ Easycure

    Hey Yogi,
    What was “not done” was not done way before Bush even got into office. Yes, the attacks happened on September 11th, but they had been preceded by other ominous signs that everyone missed, most importantly, Clarke and the Clinton Administration. Let’s see, they blew up a bomb in the WTC, they blew up an embassy in Africa and almost sunk the USS Cole; all under Clinton’s watch.
    To sit there and blame Bush for September 11th is nuts. Yes, we all wish it had never have happened. Could Clinton or Bush have stopped it from happening? It’s highly doubtful. There is a Commission checking it out, but it’s not going to find much. We didn’t know it was going to happen, period.
    Put the blame where it belongs: on terrorists and their hatred.
    Enough of the name calling and pointing fingers. That’s just election year politcal crap.

  • anne.elk

    I apologize for this other post, and it’s lengthy comment taken from coldfury. But Gail Sheehy writes extensively about this today.

    Four 9/11 Moms Watch Rumsfeld And Grumble
    Secretary of State Colin Powell complained that the Bush administration was given no military plan by the Clinton administration for routing Al Qaeda. He then described how Condoleezza Rice undertook a complete reorganization of the failed responses of the Clinton years

  • Yogi Berra

    “Could Clinton or Bush have stopped it from happening? It’s highly doubtful.”
    The Clinton administration stopped the LAX bombing. He and Clarke’s record on this is more impressive than Bush’s.
    For the current right to argue that the name-calling and finger-pointing must end — a movement that burst onto the public scene by endlessly harrassing the Clinton administration with name-calling and finger-pointing — is richly hypocritical. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
    “There is a Commission checking it out, but it’s not going to find much.”
    We already found out that Donald Rumsfeld didn’t bother interrupting his breakfast meeting with Republican lawmakers to deal with the bombings. (Check out Gail Sheehy’s devastating article today in the New York Observer — a publication that leans solidly to the right.) She tells of the four women seeking the truth about what happened on 9/11 — and three of the four women are Republican or independent. You cannot explain this away as politics when members of Bush’s own party are calling for more open investigations.

  • http://www.photodude.com/ Reid

    Yogi: “Well, I saw people die that day because of what the Bush administration did not do, and there needs to be some accountability.
    People died that day, in part, because of things the Bush II administration didn’t do, things the Clinton administration didn’t do, things the Bush I administration didn’t do, and things the Reagan administration didn’t do. Twenty years of not doing the right thing (or anything) when we were attacked.
    People died that day, in part, because Americans would never have supported unilateral action against Afghanistan prior to 9/11. Yes, you, Yogi. If Bush had said one month into his term, Al Qaeda is the prime threat against this country, and invaded Afghnistan, you would have been screaming bloody murder. In turn, the partisan atmosphere prior to Bush taking office means that people would have also screamed bloody murder if Clinton did the same thing.
    We, The People, would never have supported it (or 48% of us, anyway). And We, The People, would have been wrong. Everyone was wrong.
    Poeple died that day, primarily, because Islamic Jihadists expended their efforts, their money, and their lives to kill random innocents.
    But they won’t be testifying before the 9/11 Commission. Those who do are Candidates For Blame.

  • http://www.bopnews.com MattS

    It might be easier to take your side on this if the current executive didn’t base his whole political platform on 9/11.

  • midwich

    Well said Jeff – I agree completely.

  • Other Reid

    “And after the Clinton administration foiled the Millennium plot to blow up LAX”
    What a load of BS. The millennium plot was foiled by an alert customs agent through sheer luck and had nothing to do with anything the Clinton administration did that was out of the ordinary.
    Again, this is all beside the point. No matter haw hard they try, there is no way the US can stop 100% of repeated terror attempts. Sooner or later, the terrorists will get lucky.
    That is why it was necessary to drain the swamp, starting in Iraq. The thing that should be obvious to anyone is that the Democrats do not have the stones to do that.

  • Doctor Slack

    It’s curious.
    1) Jeff is supposedly so concerned about the terrorist threat that it’s changed his whole worldview. But,
    2) he thinks any attempt to hold a government accountable for its actions — or lack thereof — on that threat is “tasteless” and “divisive.” He thinks people should not be held to account for aggressively ignoring the al Qaeda question despite numerous warnings about it from the day they got into office.
    I’m finding it hard to reconcile 1) with 2). Something has to give here.

  • Chris Josephson

    I can’t stand listening to, or reading about, the 9/11 hearings. We should stop this blame game and all the politicking. As others have said.. it was the TERRORISTS who are at fault. Eliminating their threat to us is what we should be doing.
    There was not the political will to do anything about Osama, etc. before 9/11. Most of us were ‘asleep’. It wasn’t until after 9/11 that many of us woke up.

  • http://www.whataretheysaying.org/blog/index.html mary

    Doctor Slack – so, while Jeff says that our fight against terror should be “It’s us against them, not us against us” you don’t agree.
    Do you believe that divisiveness and assigning blame to our leaders (not the terrorists) will help us fight terrorism? How?

  • Mike

    Slack,
    These hearings have been divisive! They’ve so far been about showboating and putting blame elsewhere based on partisan politics. He includes in his post that the terrorists are accountable for this atrocity and that blaming the Bush or Clinton government helps no one. If we can learn what we can to better protect us from future attacks then these hearings are worth it, so far that has not been the case.
    Your inability to reconcile point 1 with point 2 seems to stem from anti-Bush idealogy. If 9/11 hadn’t happened and Bush attacked Al Queda in Afghanistan you would be stating that you can’t reconcile why were attacking a country country with a supposed terrorist regime when they have done nothing against us.

  • anne.elk

    Is it possible mary, that by asking questions and then making conclusions and assigning blame to the responsible individuals and agencies, and then by cashiering those individuals and reforming those agencies, it would be possible to improve our outcome in the future?
    But what do I know?

  • Doctor Slack

    so, while Jeff says that our fight against terror should be “It’s us against them, not us against us” you don’t agree.
    I don’t think it’s an honest framing of the problem. If someone is tasked to protect a country and doesn’t take even rudimentary steps to do so, yes, they should bloody well be held to account. Which is what we both know you’d be saying if there was a Democrat in the White House. The bob-and-weave act is going, I think, to be very revealing indeed.

  • Other Reid

    to clarify…
    No matter how hard they try, there is no way the US can stop 100% of repeated terror attempts, like in the WTC I, Dharan, OK City, the CIA sniper, the embassies in Africa and the USS Cole which, if the people trying to pin WTC II on Bush want to be consistent, must all be laid at the feet of the feckless and incompetent Clinton administration.

  • Doctor Slack

    Thing is, the “feckless and incompetent Clinton administration” actually responded to the terror attacks that happened on its watch by focussing on the problem. Supporters of the feckless and incompetent Bush administration had better have something better to offer the debate than trying to divert attention yet again to Clinton. It’s time for Junior to start accepting some responsibility.

  • Other Reid

    Thing is, the “feckless and incompetent Clinton administration” actually responded to the terror attacks that happened on its watch by focussing [sic] on the problem”… by doing nothing except confirm American impotence by bombing an aspirin factory and lobbing a few cruise missiles from a safe distance.
    Nice to see you try to bob and weave on that one, Slacker. To bad you got bloodied anyway.

  • Doctor Slack

    by doing nothing except [snip]
    Snopes has already disposed of that line of bullsh*t. Try again.

  • http://blog.zunta.org catherine

    yeah, but if clinton had done more militarily than bombing the factory, etc, he would have been slammed as overreacting. and if bush had invaded afghanistan prior to 9/11, the nation would have thought he was crazy. there was just no funding, no support, no nothing for severe military action against any of the terrorists, because it wasn’t perceived as a huge threat.

  • http://tnor.org/blog/ DSmith

    How interesting that the comments on this post immediately became exactly the thing Jeff was decrying.
    When we play political blame games, terrorists win.
    It’s us against them, not us against us.

  • Other Reid

    Slacker, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Even your reference admits that most terror suspects remain at large and / or the US never got anywhere near them. So, even if you believe that a post-facto law enforcement approach to dealing with terrorism will keep the nation safe (ha!), you still have very little to offer.
    Anyway, you are missing the point again. The question before us is, who is better able to lead us in the war on terror and prevent another 9-11 from occurring? You can whine and complain that past performance is no indication of future results but, the fact remains that the Clinton administration was singularly inept at preventing or deterring terror attacks. So, even were your claims against the Bush administration justified (which they are not), you are offering no viable alternative.

  • http://debragalant.typepad.com Debra Galant

    It is mercenary to use 9-11 hearings as political fodder, but it’s sure a lot more valuable than the Congress’s whole Monica Lewinsky show, which is what our country was doing when the terrorists were planning.

  • Doctor Slack

    Even your reference admits that most terror suspects remain at large and / or the US never got anywhere near them.
    So, why not give Bush a pass on not even making an attempt to go anywhere near them? Bob, weave, bob, weave, ClintonClintonClinton. You’re already sounding like a broken record.

  • Doctor Slack

    Oh, here’s a litte recap of yesterday’s “divisive” hearings. Rumsfeld’s testimony is particularly interesting. I’m sure somehow it’s all Clinton’s fault.

  • GOlden Boy

    “Is it possible mary, that by asking questions and then making conclusions and assigning blame to the responsible individuals and agencies, and then by cashiering those individuals and reforming those agencies, it would be possible to improve our outcome in the future?”
    Anne, you’ve already shown where you think the blame should fall with your reference to the “chimp.” Don’t try to act like the voice of reason now.
    Its perfectly reasonable to suggest that the Bush Admin, still putting its team together & reorganizing the terrorism strategy, wasn’t aggressive enough.
    Its also 100% certain that the Sudan offered up bin Laden to Clinton twice in the mid 90′s and the Predator spotted bin Laden in Afghanistan in the fall of 2000. Where was the plan Clinton claims he handed to Bush? If it existed, why didnt he pull the trigger?
    Clinton left the kitchen while the pot was boiling. Bush’s slow start at the gate doesnt change this.

  • http://blogofthevortex.blogspot.com Buck Turgidson

    Jeff, I share your frustrations that the 9/11 investigation is now just a he said/she said affair. Also I agree that noone can say for certainty that the attacks were preventable. But I do think you can fault the Bush administration for the big mistake they admit to making although they refuse to admit it was a mistake: they stopped having regular results-oriented meetings with ALL the relevant counter-terrorism parties (FBI, Justice AND CIA) even though warnings of an impending attack increased. If they did would that have prevented the attacks? I don’t know. But admit that was something short of ‘doing everything we could’ and let’s move on.

  • Other Reid

    Slacker – 2/3 of Al Qaeda leadership are captured or killed (OBL likely among them), Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven, there are hundreds of the worst terrorists imprisoned in Cuba, terror networks have been rolled up all over the world, they have been denied new bases in Africa. On top of that, Saddam Hussein is gone and the terrorists can no longer claim the sanctions genocide as a justification for murder, Libya has given up its WMDs and thereby exposed a global nuclear weapons proliferation network, Pakistan is leading the charge against Al Qaeda remnants, Saudi Arabia is liberalizing, people have taken heart in Syria and Iran and are bold enough to protest their governments whose days are clearly numbered.
    That’s quite a list of accomplishments to stack up against your side’s do-nothing, circle the wagons, defensive posture that would pretty well guarantee another mega-terror hit in the years ahead.

  • Other Reid

    On top of which, we are no longer appeasing North Korea by bribing them to be good with unverifiable agreements and, instead, have created a multi-lateral group of nations, including their leash-holders in China, to keep them in line.

  • cbell

    Interesting transcript from Richard Clarke’s interview from Aug 2002.
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,115085,00.html
    It sounds like the Bush admin was still following through the Clinton policies, and that they hadn’t shut down the existing system. I think we need the 9/11 commission to deconstruct where things fell apart, distasteful as it is. At some point (Next year? 4 years after that?) there will be another change of administration. If that was truly the cause of the security breakdown, what can we do to not have a 9/11 in 2005/2009? It’s not like the VP is going through the FBI reports from all of the field operatives, that stuff should have been business as usual even with the administration change. And obviously, it wasn’t (or worse yet…it was).

  • Other Reid

    This link to Insty is a must read:
    Clarke in 2002:
    ‘So, point five, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, uh, decided in principle, uh in the spring to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after Al Qaeda. . .’

  • http://www.whataretheysaying.org/blog/index.html mary

    I agree with cbell, that the hearings are necessary to deconstruct what happened to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. I

  • Other Reid

    Here is a pretty devastating critique of the Clinton approach to fighting terror. Excerpts:
    ‘So Albright is correct that Operation Enduring Freedom, the campaign to topple the Taliban, was not possible with a commander in chief who was afraid to lead the public to accept the human costs of war…
    Before Sept. 11, Clinton defenders say, we did not have irrefutable proof of the casus belli of al Qaeda-Taliban complicity, there was no international consensus on the need to invade Afghanistan, and it would have been politically risky for the United States to act in the face of military objections. The same could be said about the invasion of Iraq after Sept. 11. In other words, determined commanders in chief have the mind-set and the resolve to act in spite of the political climate and military resistance. ‘

  • Doctor Slack

    “Other Reid”: so, you’ve now shifted your claim that “Clinton did nothing” to “Clinton didn’t do enough,” evidently imagining that I’m wedded to defending Clinton’s record. Your problem is, nobody advocates a simple return to Clinton-era policies, and all your attempts to put words in the mouths of others can’t change that. So, really, what’s the point of your obsession with deflecting the discussion to Clinton?
    You also seem to think it’s clever to pretend that a recitation of Bush’s record post-911 answers questions about what he failed to do pre-911. And that recitation is very telling: you still imagine Afghanistan isn’t a terrorist bolt-hole, despite the fact that it obviously remains just that for al Qaedists in conflict with Pakistan. You still imagine that “the world’s worst terrorists” are holed up at G’tmo, despite the steady unravelling of that rationale. You still imagine Iraq is relevant to the anti-terrorism debate, something that’s been conclusively demonstrated to be untrue. You’re gullible enough to see a few staged actions as Pakistan “leading the charge” against al-Qaeda, and haven’t bothered to ask yourself why even this didn’t happen until a year after Iraq. You insultingly imagine that Iranian protests dates only back to the Iraq invasion, and you openly fantasize that Saudi Arabia is “liberalizing.” And you set this tissue of self-deception against a “circle the wagons” strawman you’ve invented for your opponents and claim it’s proof of Bush’s “accomplishments.”
    I’m not impressed. You want to defend Bush, show some sign of living in the real world first.

  • Franky

    I don’t think either dems or reps can be blamed for the events of 9/11. Sure there were warnings of possible hijackings of airplanes, but we have to remember that in the course of a year a government will hear tens of thousands of similar threats and it must judge what is credible and what is not. 9/11 was such a different attack from any previously experienced by America that I don’t think we can blame either Clinton or Bush for not forseeing it. However, what does interest me are the actions of the government from the time of the first attack. The lies that are being uncovered about what senior members of the government said they did and what really happened are alarming. Then from 9/11 on, the immeidate focus on Iraq I also find worrying. I think all of these should be investigated, and anyone who stonewalls should be censured by congress (not likely scenario, but a desirable one).
    How could Bush have seriously said that he’ll spend one hour with the commission when he’ll spend four hours or so at a Nascar rally or a couple of hours at a fund-raiser?

  • Doctor Slack

    Re: the Campaign to Discredit Clarke, see Josh Marshall today.
    Franky, you may want to take a look at the recap of the hearings I linked earlier. The difference between now and pre-911 was that unorthodox terrorist plots and methods weren’t public knowledge then. Intel briefings were still full of them, and while we can’t know for sure if more action on those would have foiled 911 per se, we can know for sure that similar plots had been foiled before. So I don’t think that earns Bush and Co a pass on aggressively ignoring warnings and de-prioritizing the whole issue in favour of ballistic missile defense.
    However, what does interest me are the actions of the government from the time of the first attack. The lies that are being uncovered about what senior members of the government said they did and what really happened are alarming. Then from 9/11 on, the immeidate focus on Iraq I also find worrying. I think all of these should be investigated, and anyone who stonewalls should be censured by congress
    I agree.

  • http://www.thewaterglass.net Dave D

    “How could Bush have seriously said that he’ll spend one hour with the commission when he’ll spend four hours or so at a Nascar rally or a couple of hours at a fund-raiser?”
    Indeed, how could he spend five or six or even SEVEN hours sleeping a night, when he only spends an hour being Monday-morning quarterbacked by everyone wearing Magical Goggles of Hindsight +5? Or even take a minute to use the lavvy? I mean, IMPORTANT THINGS are going on here!

  • Franky

    Dr. Slack,
    I understand that plots were uncovered in the past, but a sad fact of terrorism in the 21st century is that it will be impossible to stop all actions. Sure we can get to some, but because we’ve got to some, we should be grateful, rather than assume we can prevent all such attacks.
    Again, we’ve locked on to the info they had about hijackings of planes, but how many other threats arrived the same day that turned out to be false?
    I think heads should have rolled in the intelligence service, if only for the government to show that “simply doing your best” is not good enough when the stakes are so high. But I’m reluctant to blame Bush for the failings prior to 9/11 (however, I also won’t tolerate Bush et al saying it was all Clinton’s fault).
    Dave, I can’t believe anyone would take such a flippant attitude to something so grave. Bush is a public servant. We pay his wages, and he is answerable to us because we as a people put him in power (regardless of whether you voted for him or not, he’s as answerable to you and I as he is to a lifelong Republican voter). By not giving more time to the commission, he’s denying all of us information on one of the most crucial events in recent decades. I suspect your flippancy wouldn’t be so pronounced if Bubba Clinton (believe me I’m no fan of that weasel) had made the same time conditions about his testimony regarding his liason with Lewinsky.

  • Doctor Slack

    I understand that plots were uncovered in the past, but a sad fact of terrorism in the 21st century is that it will be impossible to stop all actions.
    Of course it isn’t. I just take a dim view of not even attempting to do so. 9-11 was the fault of the terrorists, but that doesn’t absolve Bush of the responsibilities of his office.

  • Franky

    Of course, and if it proves that there were ample warnings that something was coming down the tube and Bush did nothing, I personally would count that as a resigning offence (remember when politicians had dignity and they resigned instead of just hanging in there? Now it seems you’ve got to get caught en flagrante with a barnyard animal to even countenance resigning).

  • http://tvh.rjwest.com HH

    “Jeff, uh, for years now, we’ve been told we did arrest one, before 9/11, and that was Zacarias Moussaoi. And we’ve learned that other FBI agents warned the agency repeatedly about this, including the Phoenix agent that specifically warned about Al Qaeda members taking flight lessons. And yet no one at the FBI or higher was able to put two and two together, perhaps because Dick Clarke’s leadership against terrorism wasn’t taken seriously by the Bush Administration.”
    Nonsense. “Civil liberties” laws during the Clinton administration didn’t allow them to look into Moussaoui’s computer. Of course this probably won’t get much play, if at all, this week.

  • Mike

    Slack,
    As it pertains to the original reason for this blog entry, are you also willing to say that this happened as a result of the inactions of Clinton during his years of responsibility?

  • http://tvh.rjwest.com HH

    “The Clinton administration stopped the LAX bombing. He and Clarke’s record on this is more impressive than Bush’s.”
    And they say this with a straight face. How many countless terror attacks have been stopped the past few years? Undoubtedly more than one.

  • Mike

    This was a failure of both administrations, its not just Bushes fault because it happened on his watch. It’s not like this thing was planned in the 8 months that he was in office.

  • Doctor Slack

    are you also willing to say that this happened as a result of the inactions of Clinton during his years of responsibility
    Am I willing to blame something that happened on Bush’s watch on Clinton’s “inactions”? No. And the question is unserious.

  • ed

    Just close your eyes until the commission finishes up. If it does find serious fault with the Bush administration for things it had done and things it had not done are you willing to hold Bush accountable?
    I am. He’s in office. If a bipartisan commission can fault him, I’m willing to vote against him. It’s not like he’s any good when it comes to domestic issues.

  • mike

    The question is unserious.
    Then why are they having members of the Clinton administration questioned during the 9/11 inquiry? Give me a break and get off your soapbox. You’re to blinded with anti-Bush rage to even have an intelligent discussion on this matter.

  • Just Passing Through

    anne.elk,
    It is very difficult to take anyone’s observations seriously when they feel that adding a reference to ‘chimp’ emphasizes their point. I see someone add that or any variation (BushCo, BFEE etc) even once to a comment and I don’t even scan their comments afterwards. I invariably find that when I don’t, I am wasting time on ill or non informed talking points rather than anything of substance.

  • Doctor Slack

    Then why are they having members of the Clinton administration questioned during the 9/11 inquiry?
    To establish some context, ya think? That’s not the same thing as absolving Bush of responsibility after he took office. If you don’t understand the difference, don’t try to lecture me about “intelligent discussion.”

  • Mike

    slack,
    what I don’t understand is how someone can look at Clinton’s record on terrorism and say that 9/11 is all Bush’s fault.
    And I’m not absolving Bush of responsibility, I agree with Jeff on this matter. The terrorists are responsible, whether or not we could have stopped them isn’t as simple as saying it was all Bush’s fault because it happened on his watch.

  • Doctor Slack

    what I don’t understand is how someone can look at Clinton’s record on terrorism and say that 9/11 is all Bush’s fault.
    The man was in office for 230 days prior to 9-11. He had plenty of time to get his act together. Whether or not he could have stopped the attacks, he had plenty of time to organize a credible attempt to do so. He can and should be held accountable if he failed to do so.
    The “blame Clinton” tactic is dead. Just don’t embarrass yourself with it and don’t embarrass Bush with it. People are sick of this “the buck stops with everyone else” act.

  • Yogi Berra

    “It is mercenary to use 9-11 hearings as political fodder,”
    It is beyond mercenary — and reprehensible — to use 9/11 in a campaign commercial. Bush can’t have it both ways: he can’t reference 9/11 in an ad and then say it cannot be discussed in a way that’s not 100 percent supportive. The same goes for his supporters. Jeff did not speak out against the use of 9/11 images in the Bush campaign ads (unless Google is missing something, which I am willing to say can happen), so it must have been ok with him.
    Bush put the topic into play. He can’t put the genie back in the bottle, and neither can his supporters.

  • Franky

    Yeah I’m with Yogi Berra on this one. If you reference 9/11 as a reason to get re-elected, then you’ve got to expect serious questions about what you did that day (I don’t mind his reference to 9/11 and think it’s perfectly valid, what I don’t think is fine is his use of the imagery of the firefighters as if Bush acted in a similar manner, bravery by association, if you will).
    I learnt for the first time the other day that Bush’s description of his actions on 9/11 was a total lie. He said he went in to a room and watched the plane hit the tower – lie, because no channel had footage at that time. And more worrying, Bush was told by his staffer “America is under attack”. He spent seven more minutes in the classroom reading to the children. That’s leadership?http://online.wsj.com/article_email/0,,SB107991342102561383-IJjgoNjlaF3oJ2rZnuIaKeBm4,00.html
    this article, by the Wall ST. Journal no less, ensured that the unlikely event of me voting Bush became an impossibility.
    In fact, those who do intend on voting for Bush, please tell me how you can after reading such a piece on his absolute mendacity.

  • susan

    “It is us against them, not us against us”
    Neither Bush nor Clinton attacked us, radical islamic fascist attacked us.
    NEVER FORGET!
    Has anyone ever thought that ‘we the people’, out of our apathy and distaste for war, allowed for the rising tide of islamic fascist terrorism to attack our people so effectively.
    No person today can honestly say that before 9/11 they believed it possible for terrorists to fly two fuel-laden jets into two civilian buildings without provocation.
    With or without 9/11, any president would have had enormous difficulties in getting the people in America to agree that a threat existed and that war was necessary. The debate continue to this day, even after 9/11.
    We the people tied our government’s hands from protecting us, and now we blame them for not having protected us. We were only interested in peace.
    Why did Clinton treat Terrorism as a law enforcment policy and not a war policy, because he knew the American people did not recognize the rising tide of radical islamic terrorism as a true threat to our society.

  • Ebb Tide

    I think it is great that this country can put on display all of our faults and wrong-doings, ARE THEY DOING THIS IN SPAIN ON TV?… our country is great, I’ve been watching it and listening to it on NPR when I had to come to work…. I think everyone is very smart, sincere and sorry they didn’t off bin laden when they had a chance… and I think it is ABOUT TIME to MOVE ON NOW, decide what we can fix about all this bureaucracy to wage a war on terrorism in a civilized way and we can TAKE THE HAIR SHIRT OFF NOW.
    In other words, I don’t want any more people coming out with any more books saying how great they were if only someone had read their 90 page memo on why al qaeda needed a boot up their a** in 1984 or something…. LET’S FIX IT, MOVE ON. We have really great people in government, let’s make their jobs EASIER not harder. Let’s all forget the petty political squabbaling and work TOGETHER.

  • Other Reid

    Slacker -
    Iraq is relevant to the war on terror debate, no matter how much you want to stick your head in the sand (or wherever) to deny it. The sanctions were responsible for the deaths of 100′s of thousands of innocent Iraqis and one of OBL’s prime justifications for Al Qaeda’s actions. That is a matter of public record which you cannot deny.
    Sorry, the abysmal record of the previous Democratic administration is very germane to the discussion of which party is better able to lead us in the WOT. I don’t blame you for trying to shut down that debate, though.

  • http://www.thewaterglass.net Dave D

    “He spent seven more minutes in the classroom reading to the children. That’s leadership?”
    Wow; the total time Bush wasted is now up to four hours and seven minutes. That’s 14,820 seconds he could’ve used to stop al Qaeda! Clearly, he never took terrorism seriously and just wanted to invade Iraq for the oooooooooil. Or something.

  • http://twistedspinster.com/ Andrea Harris

    Oh please. Shut up all of you with your “Bubba!” “Chimp!” “Bubba!” “Chimp!” crap. The big elephant in the room that only Reid had the nerve to introduce is the fact that we the American people were, pre-9/11, feckless and totally irresponsible in what we demanded of our country’s leadership — and as far as I am concerned, we still are in many ways. Then we were quite content to squabble like pigs over a scrap of offal about Clinton’s wee-wee and The! Stolen! Election!; now all we want is the war to be fought without all that messy, you know, war stuff, and we want it not to make too much noise so we can’t hear our Tivo’d episodes of Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, and we want to be totally secure from terrorist attacks without any sacrifice whatsoever of our precious time, money, and free speech. Also, we don’t want the government to single out anyone who fits the profile of our enemies, because that would cause some French person somewhere to call Americans racist, and that makes us uncomfortable. We’d be more vigilant about terrorism ourselves if we could find some way of doing it without getting up off the couch or giving the rightwingnut leftiemoonbat the idea that he/she/it/they have won the Important Political Argument we were having with them in the blog comments.

  • Franky

    “America is under attack”. That was the phrase. Seven more minutes listening to a story being told.
    From the WSJ, that pinko rag: “Both Republican and Democratic commissioners have said they are focusing closely on what happened next — and whether mere minutes could have affected the outcome on Sept. 11. The panel’s investigators are looking at questions such as the timeliness of presidential orders about intercepting the jet that at 9:37 a.m. plowed into the Pentagon.”
    Your flippancy just feels deeply inappropriate in this context.
    Andrea, with your call for taking this threat as seriously as it deserves, I presume you agree with this commission and that any member of either Clinton’s or Bush’s admin that stonewalls should be censured.

  • Doctor Slack

    The sanctions were responsible for the deaths of 100′s of thousands of innocent Iraqis and one of OBL’s prime justifications for Al Qaeda’s actions.
    Okay, fair enough. It’s obvious that Middle East policy affects the political strength of al Qaedist organizations.
    So… attacking Iraq was appeasement. Riiight. Unfortunately, aside from that little rhetorical irony, this is absurd on a pretty key level: the existing containment of Saddam was nothing in terms of recruitment fodder for OBL compared to the invasion and conquest of Iraq. If trading one running foreign policy sore for another is your idea of brilliant strategy, you’re setting the bar pretty low. (Giving Sharon free reign has done nothing to help Americans either, as Juan Cole rightly notes.)
    (Cue the switch to another item from the grab-bag of pro-war excuses… Oh, and do you know what the difference is between economic and military sanctions yet?)
    Sorry, the abysmal record of the previous Democratic administration is very germane to the discussion of which party is better able to lead us in the WOT.
    The abysmal record of Bush’s administration even moreso. Good luck trying to fool anyone by projecting Clinton onto Kerry in the meantime.

  • onecent

    Bravo, Andrea, well written with the spirit and moral clarity of Orianna Fallaci.
    You go girl.

  • http://twistedspinster.com/ Andrea Harris

    Franky, I have nothing against stone walls. I do, however, agree that the pushing of stone walls onto gay people should be censured.

  • Other Reid

    “Saddam was nothing in terms of recruitment fodder for OBL compared to the invasion and conquest of Iraq”
    You have gotta’ be kidding, Slackmo. You obviously do not interact often with people of Arabic persuasion. Five hundered thousand deaths means less to them than the removal of Saddam, whom most of them loathed?
    Slackmo, are you even aware that you have a tendency to imagine yourself the center of the world with the ability to project your point of view onto everyone whom you do not know? You really do need to stop spending your time 24/7 typing into a computer and reading your own cherry picked sources. Go outside. Get some sun. Say “hi” to a few folks. Gradually, you may get the hang of it.

  • Doctor Slack

    Ah, it’s always entertaining to watch freepers invent spurious authority for themselves and fantasize about other’s lifestyles in the place of actually backing up their arguments. Fingers in ears, S-factor. The fact can’t be the facts if they’re not convenient for you. I’ll leave you to it.

  • http://twistedspinster.com/ Andrea Harris

    I do believe that the use of “freepers” as a designation of one’s opponent in an argument spells instant insignificance for the one who uses it. Go on, Slack, type “Bush=Hitler!” You know you want to.

  • Other Reid

    LOL, Andrea, there oughta’ be a corollary to Godwin’s law on that.
    Slackmo, you are so clueless. You have nothing to say. Your arguments are mere contradiction.
    Let me help you a little, Sparky. Here’s a partial list of resources for you to peruse.
    First, keep in mind what bin Laden himself said after 9-11:
    http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/central/10/07/ret.binladen.transcript/
    ‘And there are civilians, innocent children being killed every day in Iraq without any guilt, and we never hear anybody. We never hear any fatwah from the clergymen of the government.’
    Then, of course, there was his 1998 “Fatwah Urging Jihad Against Americans”, in which he cites the over “1 million” killed in Iraq, second in his list of grievances only to the stationing of US soldiers in the “holiest of places”, meaning, of course, Saudi Arabia:
    http://www.ict.org.il/articles/fatwah.htm
    ‘The best proof of this is the Americans’ continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, still they are helpless. Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, in excess of 1 million… despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.’
    Let me give you an idea of what the Arabs were saying about the sanctions. Check just a few of these out (warning: graphic images may be found in some of these):
    http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/1999/420/op2.htm
    http://www.alkhilafah.info/massacres/iraq/genocide.htm
    http://www.as-sahwah.com/viewarticle.php?articleID=453
    http://www.freearabvoice.org/special_Iraq.htm
    http://www.mideastfacts.com/index_iraq.html
    http://www.islamonline.net/english/Views/2003/07/article04.shtml
    http://www.arabworldbooks.com/iraqichildren.htm
    http://www.khanreport.com/content/062403.html
    http://www.muslimedia.com/archives/oaw98/sanction.htm
    http://www.muslimedia.com/archives/oaw98/iraqdie.htm
    http://maic.iraqimusic.com/
    http://www.arab-american-affairs.net/UNICEF.htm
    http://www.jamaat-e-islami.org/rr/sanctions_ramseyclark.html
    http://www.cafearabica.com/updates/phyllis2_00.html
    http://www.khilafah.com/iraq_special_2003/category.php?DocumentID=3402&TagID=32
    http://www.shianews.com/hi/articles/politics/0000031.php
    http://www.ummah.com/waragainstislam/western.htm
    http://www.metimes.com/2K2/issue2002-40/opin/spinning_media_gears.htm
    http://www.jamaat.org/digest/iraq.html
    http://www.alkhilafah.info/massacres/iraq/targetingcivilians.htm
    http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/1998/404/cu1.htm
    Well, you get the idea. If you google in “albright, sanctions, iraq, worth it” you will get 16,100 hits. Some of the hard core Islamist stuff that I have read is a lot more vituperative than these.
    Slackmo, you are an idiot and, I do not know why I bother with you. Sometimes it is just irresistable to see you make such an ass of yourself.

  • Other Reid

    Slackmo -
    Please note this one in particular:
    http://www.khanreport.com/content/062403.html
    ‘The Clinton gang’s little genocide in Iraq–nearly a million put to death in order to “contain” a tin-pot dictator–was a recruitment bonanza for terrorists like Al-Qaeda.
    Muslim men were angrily pouring into Al-Qaeda’s training resorts from all over the globe to partake in a jihad against the Americans for what we were doing to the Iraqis.
    Even before 9/11, Bin Laden routinely invoked the suffering of the Iraqis (more so than he did the Palestinian cause) to justify his attacks against the United States. ‘

  • Other Reid

    That’s all quote, none of my own (preview is our friend):
    ‘The Clinton gang’s little genocide in Iraq–nearly a million put to death in order to “contain” a tin-pot dictator–was a recruitment bonanza for terrorists like Al-Qaeda.
    Muslim men were angrily pouring into Al-Qaeda’s training resorts from all over the globe to partake in a jihad against the Americans for what we were doing to the Iraqis.
    Even before 9/11, Bin Laden routinely invoked the suffering of the Iraqis (more so than he did the Palestinian cause) to justify his attacks against the United States. ‘

  • Homer Robinson

    “Slack, Franky, Yogi”. It’s all the same to me.

  • http://www.thewaterglass.net Dave D

    “Your flippancy just feels deeply inappropriate in this context.”
    I’m sure it does, because if I “cared” as much as you about all that wasted time, I’d be wringing my hands so hard I couldn’t type for a month. And if I were as smart as you, I’d see all the proof of Bush’s mendacity that just STARES ME RIGHT IN THE FACE EVERY DAY LIKE A GREAT BIG STARING THING.
    So far, I haven’t seen or heard anything on this site or any other that’s convinced me that this whole issue isn’t a bullshit finger-pointing exercise. Nobody wins, everyone talks over each other, and between book deals and political points, the most important issue gets obscured to the point of irrelevancy: just what do we do NOW.
    Okay, Franky, we get it: Bush lied, people died. He’s mendacious, he’s malicious, he’s stupid, and you’re not voting for him. Nobody else should, either. Thanks for the info!

  • Franky

    What is so difficult to understand Dave. I thought I would present you with the facts and then you would see. Obviously I was mistaken.
    They are invesitgating whether if Bush had not spent the additional seven minutes, confused, dazed, unsure what to do (and I can only weep that your expectations and life experiences have been so devoid of effective people that this to you is leadership), there’s a chance the lives of the employees of the Pentagon might have been saved. Now, if it’s not clear, I’ll repeat again. Or are you soooo partisan you won’t even allow something so grave as the deaths of your compatriots to stand in your way of re-electing Bush.
    I can’t even imagine having such a warped view that being a republican/democrat trumps your obligations to investigate thoroughly the reasons people died on 9/11.
    Andrea, ok glad to know (not really sure of it’s relevance here), but I’m glad you shared it with the group.

  • Doctor Slack

    Beautiful.even louder about the Iraq sanctions will cover the fact that he has no response to this.
    S-factor indeed. I love it. Reid, if you didn’t exist, I’d almost have to invent you.
    (BTW, know what the difference was between economic and military sanctions yet?)

  • Doctor Slack

    Beautiful.even louder about the Iraq sanctions will cover the fact that he has no response to this.
    Formatting problem: the above should read:
    “Beautiful. When confronted with an argument that invading Iraq was an even bigger boon for al Qaeda than the sanctions regime, Reid thinks blustering, name-calling and repeating himself even louder about the Iraq sanctions will cover the fact that he has no response to this.”

  • Other Reid

    Slackmo, you are clearly not a serious person. You’ve pretty well been demolished here and, every rational person who reads this exchange knows it. I leave it to you to dig your hole deeper as you please.

  • Doctor Slack

    You’ve pretty well been demolished here . . .
    I particularly enjoy it when you (inevitably) start up with the adolescent “ha, I kicked your *ss” blustering. You should do more of this. It makes you look very adult and serious and shores up your credibility wonderfully.

  • right here

    Screw the words, in the real world its still us against us. We are the most culturally divisive (not diverse) nation in the world and can’t for the life(!) of us understand why we are still out of step in this area after all this time. Technologically advanced, yet cultural stone heads. The question for the next 20 years will be: Do we continue to alienate blacks from the American Dream, refusing to settle overdue accounts, or do we alienate the already well assimilated Indians who are recieving all of the high tech training overseas that “real” americans should be recieving here. Probably A because India has the BoMB so we can’t bully them…
    The entire world can socially and economically undermine the continent of Africa and its descendants, but so and so over here is “evil”. Amazing.