Every time I’ve posted on 9/11 and Bush and anything complaining about the executive branch, Mike leaves me a comment alleging that Clinton did squat to protect against Al Qaeda or that we couldn’t have guarded against what happened on 9/11. Well Mike… I guess you weren’t in a position to be reading a lot on all this stuff for the last 5 years because you’ve missed the boat on this. Here are the answers to the many comments you’ve left me. Oh yes, if you want sources, do a search at your local library on Muslim terrorists, Al Qaeda, bin Laden, and anti-U.S. propaganda. Much of this prior to December 2000 was in my Sociology 188 reader which I shredded when I graduated. (My professor was a jerk and I didn’t want anything having to do with him. They were all TIME, Newsweek, and U.S. News articles.) The rest were on CNN.Com and various other news sources that I kept tabs on for my Modern Middle East class.
What Clinton Did
-Bomb Afghanistan and Sudan after the attacks on the embassies in Tanzania and Kenya to try and root out bin Laden and destroy his weapons-making capabilities. (Republicans criticized him saying that he went too far. Now who’s laughing?)
-Developed ties with countries where a lot of chatter related to Al Qaeda had been picked up. (Example: Jordan, the Phillipines, Indonesia)
-Attempted to expand authority of the intelligence agencies’ wiretap authority. (Republicans shot him down on that.)
-Created a national stockpile of drugs and vaccines in case of a biological attack.
-Fought to get more counterterrorism funding. (Again, Republicans shot him down.)
-Issued a directive to have Osama bin Laden assassinated. (Unfortunately, it was limited by Reagan’s Executive Order 12333.)
-Developed strategic plan and position paper on how to destroy Al Qaeda. (Too bad he was a lame duck president at the time.)
What We Knew That Could Have Been Useful in Preventing 9/11
-Al Qaeda had plans to blow up planes over the Pacific as early as 1995. (In other words, airplanes were a viable weapon.)
-Security at airports was more lax than it was in Europe. (Gore tried upping it but got shot down.)
-There was an elevated level of chatter that nobody bothered decoding.
-The FBI in Minneapolis knew of some suspicious circumstances at flight schools. (That agent was punished for whistleblowing. Ironic, no?)
-Bush and Co. dragged their heels on meeting to discuss all of Clinton’s plans to destroy Al Qaeda until September 4th. (He had ranch duties to attend to.)
-There were people on a watch list in the country and the proper agency did not bother notifying anyone about it.
-There was a report on August 6th that bin Laden was planning a strike on the U.S.
In other words, this could have been prevented if the various agencies had actually been talking and if Bush and Co. had actually met to discuss the Clinton plans in February as had first been planned. You’d think that our government could have seen this coming if a 21 year old Religious Studies student could figure out that something was going down in August from the news stories she was reading. I even remarked to my parents while walking through San Jose International in June 2001 that it was ironic that they let me take my pocket knife on the plane with me — I cut part of my knuckle off with that sucker and it could be used as a weapon.
It’s also been pointed out by many people that Bush had been focused on Iraq since the campaign trail and that was what he focused on instead of Al Qaeda. Guess what? Saddam wasn’t the one sending those planes and none of the hijackers were Iraqi. In other words, Bush screwed up.
We can’t take back everything that happened on 9/11 — it’s in the past and all we can do is learn from the mistakes that were made. The reason I want Condi (and would prefer that Dubya and Cheney went in front of the panel as none of what they would say would impair any current stings or hunts for terrorists) in front of the panel is that someone needs to admit to dropping the ball and I know that it wasn’t Clarke. This guy was with Clinton when all this was drafted — he KNEW there was a problem and tried to do something about it.
And for the record Mike, I wouldn’t have been opposed to the U.S. going in and removing Saddam if we had been able to prove the WMD existence post-1998. We could have easily gone in for human rights reasons (and I would have backed that 100%) but I guess that wasn’t important enough to justify going in for. And for the record, the Iraqi response was basically “you got rid of our leader — booyah! Now go away!”