Ellen Ratner is the White House correspondent and bureau chief for the Talk Radio News service. She is also Washington bureau chief and political editor for Talkers Magazine. In addition, Ratner is a news analyst at the Fox News Channel.More ↓Less ↑
There is an elephant in the parlor so big and fat that everybody – politicians, journalists, cops, soldiers and citizens – has to squeeze real tight just to get by. Yet nobody says a word and nobody complains. You can’t miss an elephant, so there must be another reason why everybody is so strangely quiet.
In case you don’t know, that elephant is the question of who in the government was responsible for allowing four hijacked airplanes to be crashed into three buildings and one empty field in Pennsylvania. Someone at the federal level screwed up and, once again, Joe and Josephine Sixpack get to pick up the check – in this case, at the cost of their lives.
Yet nary a word is heard. It’s unpatriotic to even ask the question, we’re told. It might distract from the important business of winning the war, others say. Nobody wants to appear “un-American” say some others. Well I say, “Bull-Diddle!”
First, how about a little American history. Eleven days after Pearl Harbor – you heard that right – on Dec. 18, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a five-member commission led by Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts to investigate whether the officers in charge of Hawaii – Admiral Kimmel and General Short – had been guilty of any “derelictions or errors of judgment” in how they prepared for a possible attack. By early March 1942, after the Roberts Commission found that there were problems, Kimmel and Short were history, voluntarily retired. And this at a time when World War II couldn’t have been going any worse – losses at Bataan, isolation and surrender at Corregidor, loss of the Philippines, etc., etc, etc. Would you believe that between 1941 and 1946 there were nine separate investigations focused on Pearl? As well there should have been. Because in those days, government’s bottom line wasn’t CYA. Unfortunately, it’s our “A” that exposed now.
Think about it. The CIA, FBI, NSA – all of them clamoring for huge sums of dough for defense and also for vast expansions of authority, and not one of them has come clean with an answer to a simple question: What the hell happened? Isn’t it troubling? In spite of the fact that the Clintonistas bear some blame, the Republicans say nothing. In spite of the fact that the Bushies had 10 months to at least recognize there was a problem, the Democrats say nothing. It’s weird. No one’s been canned, caned, cancelled or cut-out. And I think I know why.
Politicians from both political parties are dirty with this. Republican and Democratic senators alike, when they were running the House or the Senate never held the right hearings. They were too busy bloviating about Bill Clinton’s sex life. And Clinton was too busy lying about it to remember that little string they tie around your finger just before you make your big inauguration address – I think it’s called the Oath of Office, and I think it has the words, “to protect and defend” somewhere in it.
Here’s another question, which is actually connected to the above: Why secret trials? Oh, the Bushies give all sorts of justifications for these military tribunals and Democrats score polling points with their phony complaints, knowing damn well that the trials will move forward. They better hope they do and here’s why: Maybe the purpose of all the secrecy isn’t to keep secrets from al-Qaida – maybe it’s to keep stuff secret from you!
Here’s an example: Accused terrorist shows up for trial and brags (accurately) that he slipped in and out of the U.S. 15 times, legally, not legally, whatever. That he laundered millions through U.S. banks, got hold of FAA documents about airport security, maybe even had some help from like-minded folks in the U.S. military (not funny – one was already convicted in the first WTC bombing). Maybe he boasts that Saddam was behind it all – who knows? And guess what? If the public ever found out how badly their own government failed them – because the politicians were in bed with airport security corporations, Arab oil barons, terrorists masquerading as legitimate charities (don’t laugh – Hillary had to return money that one of them tried to give her), and who knows what else – there might be a few changes in Washington – in both parties.
You know, President Roosevelt led this country through Depression and World War II, and his patriotism is good enough for me. And if investigations of Pearl Harbor were good enough for him, then I think all of us, as citizens ought to demand to know how Sept. 11 happened. Like the philosopher once said, those uninterested in their past will have to repeat it.