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Editor’s note: This commentary is written by Larry Klayman in his personal capacity, not as a representative of Judicial Watch.
Anyone who reads, watches television or listens to talk radio knew it would happen. It was only a matter of time. The experts and non-experts have all said – starting with a report in the Economist in the annual 1990 edition – that a major terrorist attack, probably even nuclear or biochemical, would occur in the near future. Indeed, to deflect attention away from his own problems at the height of the Clinton scandals, the former criminal-in-chief even predicted it, laying out a scenario not far afield from what occurred on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, a day that will more than live in infamy.
We must mourn the dead and wounded. The time is one of national reconciliation and pride. (One of my friends, Barbara Olson, was killed in the terrorist attacks.) America must remain united, perhaps now more so than ever. And we must support our president, George W. Bush, his cabinet and advisers. We will learn in the days, months and years ahead what we are made of: Are we the “Monica Lewinsky” generation – or more akin to our forefathers, who overcame great hardship to fight for, form and mold a great nation?
Our country is at war. Our adversaries, both foreign and domestic, have infiltrated where we live, where we work and where we play. The enemy is among us. At current estimate, thousands of Islamic radical terrorists have been allowed entry into the United States! We cannot forget that our leaders must be held accountable for failing the American people. However, we are also to blame for not demanding more from them. It took time for Osama bin Laden and his terrorist comrades to become infested in major cities and towns here and around the globe. This did not occur overnight. The American government and its European and other “allies” allowed this to happen, with little to no clarion call to those unsuspecting citizens, who neither keep informed nor have any interest whatsoever in matters reaching beyond sports, pop culture and personal gratification – the “me” generation.
Government corruption does not extend simply to bribery of politicians and judges. It concerns much more. It stems from a basic dishonesty of the ruling elite to not tell the truth, the full truth, to the people. Of course, telling the full truth requires that public officials accept the consequences of their truth telling. If the people are fully informed, of course, their votes may not be cast in a way that would result in their election and re-election. Thus the phenomenon of politicians painting a rosy picture.
Eight years of Clinton scandal, and consequent deceit and criminality, worked a cancer on the body politic of the United States. Because of the weakness of his government – indeed one impeachment was not enough – the former president could neither tell the truth, nor take or marshal any concerted action to begin preparations and planning for days like Sept. 11. To the contrary, to boost his own popularity and deliver the “goods” to the American people for votes, he and his wife (ironically now New York’s senator) usually pretended that all was well, all the time using our money for social welfare programs that would help ensure their administration’s longevity. They even released Puerto Rican terrorists from prison when Mrs. Clinton needed votes for her New York Senate campaign. And, of course, she also took large campaign contributions from Muslim groups, some of which have terrorist connections.
The nation’s armed forces were decimated and its Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency allowed to either decay, or become the “yes” men of a dishonest chief executive and first lady. As a result, no real planning was made to prepare for, much less fight, what any informed individual knew was the real challenge of the 21st century: global terrorism. Indeed, the Clinton administration, by accepting political bribes in the form of campaign contributions from rogue terrorist states like China and collaborating with the master terrorist, Fidel Castro, over Elian and other issues, furthered the likelihood of massive terrorist activity by turning a blind eye to its benefactors – communist and other regimes with whom it, as the beacon of the American left, felt a romantic kinship. And, the Republicans did not have the guts to do what they needed to do: drive the criminals from office and into prison cells – where they belonged!
“Clinton corruption” left us unprepared to prevent the bloodshed of Black Tuesday. Bribed by the forces of evil, it is no wonder the Clinton administration looked the other way rather than prepare the nation for this horrific future. If the former president, as he liked to crow, would build the bridge to the 21st century, it was the “Bridge Over the River Kwai.”
Many of those who understood the situation voted for George W. Bush – not because they revered his intellect, background or professed conservative credentials (indeed, at the time, he was no Ronald Reagan) – but because the alternative of four (and perhaps eight) more years of national security neglect held grave ramifications. At least Bush, many reasoned, would surround himself with top-notch advisers, like Vice President Cheney, who had helped orchestrate and win the Persian Gulf War. I was one of those many who voted for Bush for this very reason, even though I was disillusioned about his lack of commitment to bring the Clintons and other dishonest politicians to justice.
But no sooner than having been sworn-in, the new president not only reaffirmed his lack of interest in taking concrete steps to clean up government corruption, but he also set out – in his “compassionate conservative way” – to prove that he, like Clinton, was interested only in “social issues.” Cosmetic education and Social Security reform, and tax rebates, dominated public discourse as the nation’s defenses and security apparatus were allowed to continue to atrophy. Indeed, to pay for the new compassionate conservative social welfare and tax rebates, the defense budget was even to be trimmed. Sure, there was talk of missile defense, but this was years away. The terrorist threat, with which Vice President Cheney was assigned, was put on the back burner, as the Bush administration and its cheerleaders would boast about how the new commander in chief was performing “above expectations.” It was only a matter of time before the cancer which grew during the Clinton administration metastasized, and turned deadly malignant.
On Sept. 11, 2001, we all witnessed the terrifying events of planes crashing into the World Trade Center and Pentagon and I, myself, experienced the panic and pandemonium on District of Columbia streets as I rushed home. As government and private sector workers fled for their lives, I could not help but think, where was our president throughout this trying time? Where were his experts whom I had voted for as a cure to eight years of Clinton neglect of our national security? Why were we so totally unprepared? (See Gilbert Gail, “At the Airports: Risks & Security Detected, Debated For Many Years”; Bradley Graham, “Pentagon Unprepared for Something We Have Never Thought Of,” Washington Post, A-1, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2001; Steve Twomey, “District Unprepared To Cope With Attack,” Washington Post, A-1, Monday, Sept. 17, 2001.)
How could 18 individuals, many of whom were already on FBI and CIA watch lists, be allowed to board airplanes at Dulles and Logan Airports? Why were Washingtonians not formally advised through our national emergency broadcast system that a plane was headed in their direction, as Vice President Cheney was safely in tow deep below the White House? Why were D.C. police uninformed that there even was a crisis, other than what they could glean from watching television? Why were there no emergency evacuation plans? (Even members of Congress and White House staff were left to fend for themselves, as they fled buildings in near total hysteria.) Why did we have to lose over 6,000 lives?
On the national television talk shows and other media, our leaders have claimed ignorance of the likelihood that domestic aircraft could have been used as bombs. Have they not read Tom Clancy’s books? Were they not aware of other terrorists who, while in custody, provided intelligence about this during the first World Trade Center bombing trial? Do they live in this world, or another?
Yes, it is time to mourn and to pull the country together. We must unite, and our people have no choice but to follow the newly born, noble crusade of the president of the United States. But, much like the Holocaust, we must never forget that our politicians and government officials have not only withheld the full truth from the populace, but have been grossly negligent. For Clinton and company, his criminality and corruption was largely responsible. For Bush and his new administration – albeit for a short eight months – it was a desire to focus almost exclusively on social giveaways, to boost popularity ratings given a weak presidency following the contested Florida election. In any event, our leaders let us down.
To not tell the full truth, to delay implementation of necessary measures to protect our country and to paint a rosy picture for political purposes are the worst forms of government abuse. Indeed, the primary function of the government, as mandated by the Constitution, is to protect the people from foreign and domestic tyranny. But because of years of government neglect, we must live with the consequences of likely even more severe – and perhaps fatally catastrophic – terrorist acts on American soil, where millions could be killed and maimed. Even worse, the confidence with which we have to fight this new war – the confidence that our leaders are giving us the facts, all the facts – is sorely shaken. How can the people follow them into battle – no questions asked – when they cannot be trusted unconditionally? (Roosevelt and Churchill were able to command this necessary loyalty.) Perhaps this is the biggest casualty of Black Tuesday.
Yes, I am a patriot and I love my country, but no matter how deep my loyalty to the president of the United States and the nation, I will not put my head in the sand and stop demanding answers for what happened and, above all, also demanding government honesty and accountability. Only in this way can we quickly correct what went wrong and then successfully fight and win the war against terrorism – before it is too late!