Senators Kerry & Edwards:
9-11, when the President discovered the U.S. was
under terrorist attack, what was going through
his mind during those infamous 7 minutes? Some
distinct possibilities are:
didn't I listen to my predecessor when he told
me that al-Qaeda would be my number one problem?
didn't we listen when his aides briefed the
Vice-President and my National Security Advisor
on the threat and a plan to eliminate the network
did I downgrade the White House terror unit?
didn't I listen to the Counterterrorism Commission
when they warned me of a catastrophic attack
on the United States and urged that homeland
security protection be established?
didn't I respond to the USS Cole attack when
the CIA confirmed al-Qaeda's responsibility?
did I threaten Congress with a veto when they
wanted to shift $600 million in missile shield
money to counter-terrorism?
did we reject the $50 million request from the
FBI to fund its counter-terror program?
didn't I take seriously the series of grave
warnings received from other countries during
the summer -- "most of al-Qaeda is anticipating
an attack", "something very, very, very big",
"something spectacular is going to happen",
didn't I listen to the CIA Director when he
told me there would be a "significant attack
in the near future" and that "the system was
didn't I call a cabinet meeting when I received
the CIA's Aug. 6th briefing about bin Laden's
intentions to strike the United States?
didn't I hold national security meetings on
the al-Qaeda terror threat before September?
didn't I share some of this threat information
with the American people?
of these facts were known before the 9-11 Commission
began its investigation. The Commission's report
does contain many excellent findings re: problems
with intelligence community, FBI, immigration,
etc. -- but, no findings re: problems within the
White House, or with its priorities, or with presidential
leadership. Why did't the Commission connect the
one thing, the politically-divided Commission
was faced with an impossible situation during
an election year -- either (1) play down the President's
responsibility and have a unified, bipartisan
report that would be acted upon or (2) assign
at least some responsibility to the President
and have a divided report that would gather dust.
importantly, however, the Commission focused on
the wrong question: Could 9-11 have been prevented?
To answer that nearly impossible question either
way could be construed as self-serving and encourage
the use of 20/20 retrospective -- something the
President did not have at the time.
right question: Put yourself in the shoes of the
President at the time and ask what would a reasonable
and prudent person do in the same situation, irrespective
of the result? In other words: What would any
president do when confronted with an al-Qaeda
declaration of war, a history of earlier attacks,
exceptional advice on how serious the threat was
and troublesome warnings of new attacks?
would be nice to know exactly where the new attacks
might take place and their timing. However, the
only reasonable alternative for any president
would be to put the country in a crisis mode and
take immediate action to defend the nation. With
presidential leadership and a sharing of information
with the public, bureaucratic barriers within
the operating agencies would have broken down
and these agencies (along with flying schools
and airlines) would have become much more responsive
to the threat.
the end, the measures taken should have shown
a government in action, anxious to protect its
people and determined to make it difficult for
terrorist attacks to succeed. That's all we can
expect -- but no less.
are beginning to connect the dots. David Ignatius
concluded is his Washington Post review of the
Bush team ... didn't get serious about bin Laden
... In truth, nothing would have prevented the
National Security Advisor (to the President)
from mobilizing anti-terrorism policy against
al-Qaeda in the months before 9-11. That's what
makes this story a tragedy -- that existing
institutions of government might have averted
the disaster, if they had taken action."
does not require much "imagination" or common
sense to figure out that the President could and
should have taken major steps to protect the nation
-- whether successful or not. Inaction, faced
with overpowering information, was inexcusable.
To then resist creation of an investigative commission
and subsequently stonewall it is unacceptable.
President has done his best to evade and cover-up
any responsibility for 9-11. Yet, he is riding
that tragedy, as well as the war on terror, back
to the White House for another four years -- just
as he misused these same two things to go to war
Kerry and Edwards; are you going to let him get
away with it?
the President ultimately does not accept some
responsibility, what will stop the worst disaster
in our history from happening again?
Posted: August 17, 2004