In the law – and I am a lawyer – there is a concept which all first-year law students are taught in torts class: res ipsa loquitor – the fact speaks for itself. When an airplane crashes, for instance, either negligence or an intentional act are responsible. Airplanes do not crash without cause, and someone is to blame.
Nothing is more germane to the current debate raging in the press and what has come to be referred to as the “9-11 Commission,” as to who bears responsibility in our government for the breakdown in intelligence and interdiction of the Sept. 11 terrorists. That Sept. 11 occurred “speaks for itself” – our government failed us!
In late September 2001, shortly after 9-11, while I was still chairman of Judicial Watch, a public-interest watchdog which I conceived and founded in 1994, I instructed the investigative staff to research and write a book, which later was published around the time of the first anniversary of Sept. 11. It was titled: “Fatal Neglect: The U.S. Government’s Continuing Failure to Protect American Citizens from Terrorists.” While it was not “politically correct” to cast blame for the tragedy shortly after it occurred, it was nevertheless painfully obvious that our “elite” leaders in Washington had let us down.
Nearly 3,000 dead Americans sadly were the “living proof.” And, since potentially even more heinous 9-11s were predicted – either dirty nuclear bombs or biological and chemical attacks – I felt social and political nicety should be cast to the wind, since time was short in exposing what went wrong, lest another tragedy occur.
The book which I co-authored at Judicial Watch reached the same conclusions that are now likely to be made by the 9-11 Commission, and we did so nearly one-and-one-half years ago! It was painfully obvious then, as it is clear now, that both the Clinton and Bush administrations, and Congress, did not take adequate measures to prevent a disaster like 9-11.
For all of them to claim repeatedly in the years that followed that the attack was “unavoidable” – which has been their CYA (as opposed to CIA) mantra – is to in effect say that the government is impotent to stop future terrorist attacks, unless U.S. intelligence agencies are able to uncover the exact date, time and target of each attack – a rare “bull’s-eye” prediction. Obviously, this is not the way intelligence and interdiction work.
It is clear now – particularly after the release of the Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S.” – that the government had more than the usual amount of information to at least substantially ramp up security measures, in a meaningful way, to make a major effort to avoid 9-11. Coupled with FBI reports of Arabs taking flying lessons at American flight schools (including those in my home state of Florida), and prior intelligence about the plans of al-Qaida crashing planes into CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. – just a stone’s throw from our nation’s capital – and intelligence information about al-Qaida cells casing federal buildings and monuments in New York City and Washington, D.C., you did not need to be a rocket scientist to put two and two together.
If, under these circumstances, the government claims that nothing could have been done to prevent 9-11, then what do we need a government for? The Keystone Kops would be adequate – and at much lower cost to the taxpayer.
Thanks to the leftist, pro-John Kerry attack dogs on the 9-11 Commission – former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, Janet Reno’s right-hand girl, and Richard Ben-Veniste, perhaps the most partisan lawyer in Washington, to name just a few – National Security Adviser Condolezza Rice and President George W. Bush are being held solely culpable for the security failures. The pro-John Kerry mainstream media – which just a few months ago politically assassinated Howard Dean in desperation to try to head off another four years of Republican executive rule – is happy to play ball, and has been roasting the White House on a minute-by-minute basis.
The current polls may suggest the Bush administration is, for now, weathering the pounding, probably as well as Muhammad Ali did for some time prior to the onset of Parkinson’s Disease following his classic slug fests with Joe Frazier in the 1970s. But, without an adequate response and rationale explanation for what went wrong, the president may, like Ali, suffer the onset of political paralysis and trauma come Election Day.
The president and his advisers must now admit that they, while not nearly as egregious as the Clinton administration’s failures, messed up. To say otherwise is not believable and, frankly, not very comforting for the future. And, in doing so, the administration should point out, much like the post Holocaust pledge of the Jewish people, that “Never Again!” will it let its guard down to tyranny.
Certainly, the president’s strong actions and leadership since 9-11 prove he has learned the lessons of al-Qaida and terrorism. It is likely that a President Gore, with his band of pacifist, “Chinagate compromised” Democrat appeasers at his side, would not have done half as well. And, ironically, compared with perhaps an ultra-leftist President John Kerry on the horizon, Gore may have looked like Gen. George C. Patton.
But the administration must also correctly implicate U.S. Senate and House leaders in its mea culpa. In this regard, there was a telling bit of testimony by Condoleezza Rice last Thursday. One of the 9-11 Commission members – former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman – asked Rice if she knew of a litany of inadequate and blown security measures leading up to the tragedy at the Federal Aviation Administration, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and a host of other government agencies. She conveniently answered no, in an obvious attempt to suggest it was not her fault that the agencies had not done their jobs.
But Rice, like the entire administration, should take another tack. It is Congress, and in particular the most powerful chamber of our legislature, the United States Senate, which should have been exercising its oversight authority over these agencies to make sure they were doing their jobs! And, clearly, the Senate Intelligence Committee had access to generally the same national security information as President Bush did!
Why did our Senate leaders, both Republican and Democrat, also fail to act? Because they were, as usual, asleep at the switch – concerned more with politics than results. But, of course the 9-11 Commission, comprised of some former senators like Bob Kerry, will not blame themselves.
At the cost of nearly 3,000 lives, with hundreds of thousands of others on the line in Iraq and at home thanks to years of “Fatal Neglect” by our government, the blame-game among our nation’s so-called leaders continues, with all of them telling us – incredibly – that 9-11 was not their fault. If no one takes responsibility – and indeed even the incompetent, Clinton appointed CIA Director George Tenet has kept his job (probably because he possesses so much dirt on the political elite that they are afraid to dismiss him) – then where are we in the war against terrorism?
And, here in Florida, where I am now running for the U.S. Senate to try to restore strong and responsible leadership to our “House of Lords,” some of my opponents, and current Democrat Senator and Vice-Presidential wannabe Bob Graham – who were either part of the failed Congressional leadership or executive branch leading up to 9-11 – are touting their national security “expertise” and boasting of the great job they did!
Tell this to the family members of the 9-11 victims, some of whom I represented in court against the terrorists when I was at Judicial Watch.
The time has come to cut through the political games. The entire Washington elite must, with great humility and genuine personal remorse, admit that they recklessly and negligently “blew it,” and that another 9-11 is not inevitable if they do their jobs this time. To say otherwise mocks the “intelligence” – no pun intended – of the American people, and desecrates the memory of those who, in all candor, may have needlessly died on that fateful day.