: This is the view from my office in Jersey City (classy, eh?), a block away from the Al Salaam mosque, where the blind Egyptian cleric and his cronies plotted the first attack on the World Trade Center.
This week, Dish, the satellite TV service, put up a new billboard (which you can’t see well enough to read but you couldn’t read most of it anyway: it’s in Farsi).
It’s advertising all its Arab channels — Al Jazeera, I assume: “From the Middle East to your living room in America.”
Oh, good, just in case you’re missing all those incendiary reports and secret messages from bin Laden.
What could have been done
: They used to call it “spin” in Washington. It’s really just a meme. And the meme of the day — heard from Air Fleisher (that’s actually a typo but then I enjoyed it), Conde Rice, and most anybody on FoxNews — is that nobody could have known that Arab hijackers would have “turned planes into missiles.”
That may be true but it’s also a bogus argument: What, if you knew that they were going to hijack but weren’t going to try the suicide bomb thing you would not have tried to stop them? Of course, you would have. But you couldn’t because you didn’t — to use the Democrat’s meme — “connect the dots.”
What could have been done if the dots had been connected?
Well, if the FBI had listened to its own and if FBI and CIA intelligence had talked to each other — try email, guys — then they could have looked at the enrollment in flight schools throughout the country. They would have seen a pattern, a pattern that would have told them that these people were planning to turn jets into missiles. They didn’t want to learn how to land, ferchrissake. They could have learned that by watching Zacarias Moussaoui. They also would have seen the names of people connected with bin Laden.
Could they have foiled the plot? Maybe.
But I do not blame the White House for not acting (see Andrew Sullivan’s predicatable Bush defense du jour); they get warnings of all sorts all the time.
But I do blame the White House for not revealing the facts long ago (see Nick Denton’s advice: “Hasn’t Bush learned anything from Clinton: it’s always the cover-up that gets you.”).
But blame is beside the point now. What happened happened. What matters is that we cannot let it happen again. We cannot repeat these fatal errors. And the only way to prevent them is to thoroughly investigate who knew what when and what dots were not connected so the next time, we can connect them.