article is a follow-up to the families of 9/11
by Burt Hall. The main/primary article called:
9-11 and a Lack of
is also posted on our website.]
a particular response would have actually prevented
9-11 is the wrong question to ask. People can
have opinions on this, but no one can be sure
what eventually would have happened. To answer
that question either way could be self-serving
and misleading. Also, it encourages the use of
20/20 retrospective, something the decision maker
did not have at the time.
correct question is: Put yourself in the shoes
of the decision maker at the time. What would
a reasonable and prudent person have done in the
same situation -- irrespective of whether that
action would or would not have prevented 9-11?
1) What should either or both administrations
have done when confronted with a declaration of
war, a series of very damaging attacks on the
United States -- and the certainty that such attacks
2) What action should have been taken once responsibility
for the USS Cole was confirmed?
3) What should have been done when a bipartisan
anti-terrorism commission advised the White House
of an impending catastrophe and urged that the
government be reorganized to cope with it?
4) What preventive measures should have been taken,
both inside and outside government, when warnings
from around the world intensified (e.g. Israel
intelligence, "Large-scale terrorist attacks imminent
on highly visible targets on U.S. soil")? And,
should this kind of information have been shared
with the American people?
initial steps in responding to the above situations
would have been just the first shot. They could
have escalated and led to measures that would
have reduced the nation's vulnerability. That
is the basis on which our leaders should be judged
not necessarily whether the actions they took
would have prevented 9-11. The latter is more
the subject of your recommendations.
kinds of questions could be posed to National
Security Advisor Rice, as well. Her speech on
national security, that was to be delivered on
the same day as 9-11, confirms much of Clarke's
testimony and would be a fruitful basis for questions.
the end, the measures taken should have shown
a government in action anxious to protect its
people. That's all we can expect -- but no less.
Posted: April 12, 2004