This is the first of a three part series on how likely presidential aspirant Al Gore subverted the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security that he himself chaired and, by so doing, threw the doors open to the terrorists of 9/11.
Al Gore fans will not be disappointed.
His new book, “Assault on Reason,” exceeds his own impressive past standards for dishonesty and hypocrisy.
Most illuminating is his discussion of the security lapses that led to Sept. 11. This, he reassures his eager readers, was almost entirely the fault of President Bush.
Gore, in fact, has the mind-boggling moxie to charge the pre-9/11 Bush with “a reckless disregard for the American people,” as though his own hands were clean.
They are definitely not.
I refer here specifically to Gore’s well-documented role in undermining a blue ribbon commission formed in 1996 to assure aviation safety, a commission that he himself chaired.
Gore has likely convinced himself that should he enter the presidential race, the media will keep the story of the commission buried.
He is confident too that Hillary, unlike John Kerry in 2004, will not try to exhume it, her hands being no cleaner than his.
And should an eventual Republican opponent try to surface the story, Gore can accuse the Republican of “swiftboating” in full confidence that the media will echo his accusation.
Indeed, the media have already turned “swiftboating” into a verb meaning “to libel,” even though the swiftboaters succeeded in sinking John Kerry in 2004 only because they were telling the truth.
Regardless, the story of the Gore aviation commission is real, raw and sufficiently damning that it could dissuade even the global warming crowd from voting for the man.
The story dates back to July 17, 1996 – Liberation Day in Saddam’s Iraq and two days before the start of the Atlanta Olympics.
On that soft summer evening, at least 270 people on the south coast of Long Island saw streaking objects zigzagging off the horizon and culminating in the destruction of TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747.
If you are thinking, “Oh no, a conspiracy theory,” check that thought. To appreciate Gore’s perfidy, you need not subscribe to any particular explanation for the crash. You need only accept the oft-repeated claims of Gore and Clinton that they did not know the cause.
Most of the 270 eyewitnesses on July 17 had already talked to the FBI by July 25 when President Bill Clinton announced the formation of a commission to deal with the perceived attack.
It would be called the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. Chairing it was to be then-Vice President Al Gore.
Over the next several weeks, before the commission was formally authorized, the pressure built on the White House to take action.
The New York Times did most of the pressuring. It would run one front-page story after another on the still-unresolved crash. On Aug. 14, Times reporter Don Van Natta ratcheted up the pressure.
“Now that investigators say they think the center fuel tank did not explode,” wrote Van Natta, “they say the only good explanations remaining are that a bomb or a missile brought down the plane.”
On that same day, likely to show resolution in the face of crisis during this campaign season, President Clinton called Victoria Cummock and asked her to join the safety and security commission.
He, and his vice president even more so, would come to regret this call.
Cummock was the widow of a Pan Am Flight 103 victim and an airline safety advocate. In inviting her, the president assured Cummock that he wanted to develop tough new counterterrorism measures.
On Aug. 22, Clinton issued Executive Order 13015 to officially establish the commission. On that same day, however, his Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick set in motion a series of events that would subvert the commission’s work.
Gorelick, apparently, has a talent for subverting commissions. She would do the same to the 9/11 Commission and was likely appointed for that very talent.
On Aug. 22, Gorelick had a come-to-Jesus meeting in Washington with the tenacious head of the FBI investigation, James Kallstrom. Whatever was said in the meeting, it turned Kallstrom from bulldog to poodle.
Immediately afterward, behaviors begin to change, especially after the New York Times broke a pre-leaked headline story the next day, top right: “Prime Evidence Found That Device Exploded in Cabin of Flight 800.”
This article stole the thunder from Clinton’s election-driven approval of welfare reform in that same day’s paper and threatened to undermine the peace and prosperity message of the next week’s Democratic National Convention.
In the weeks ahead, the president and vice president would see that nothing stood in the way of their re-election, certainly not something as intangible as the safety and security of the United States.
Next week: “How Al Gore subverted his own Aviation Safety Commission”