The media blames Bush for the attacks on 9/11/01

Every American should get a little hostile when factions in the media reserve 100% of the blame for the attacks that occurred on 9/11/01 for George W. Bush’s administration.  Did the event occur on Bush’s watch, yes it did, but to read the 9/10/12 NY Times article by Kurt Eichenwald, one would have to believe that the threat of the attacks were first made apparent in a Presidential Briefing that occurred on 8/6/01.{1}

To believe the import of this NY Times article, one would have to believe that the initial bombing of the World Trade Center, on 2/26/93, did not mean anything, and that that was a simple, criminal act, perpetuated by simple criminals.  It was a one-time event, in other words, that had no link to the events that occurred on 9/11/01.  One would also have to believe that the subsequent, foiled millennium bombing plots—that included a lucky bust by a customs official on 12/14/99—never occurred.  Or, if they did occur, the Millennium Alert After Action Report (or MAAAR) notes that Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor Sandy Berger stole and destroyed from the National Archives had no notes implicating the Clinton Administration’s negligence in them.  One would have to believe that no Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs) prior to that 8/6/01 contained threats of violence, bombings, and other terrorist attacks during the Clinton Administration.  One would have to believe that the CIA, and Richard Clarke, never warned anyone in the Clinton Administration that all the smaller attacks and bombings occurring all over the world weren’t leading to a larger attack.  One would also have to believe that if Gore won the presidential election in 2000, the 9/11/01 attacks wouldn’t have happened.  One would have to believe all of the implied and inferred information in Eichenwald’s article to believe that it was solely the Bush administration’s incompetence, negligence, or even malfeasance that led to the attacks on 9/11/01.

This article details for us a timeline—a timeline that is exclusive to the Bush Administration—that suggests that if the Bush Administration had acted on repeated warnings, 9/11 would never have happened, or as the 9/10/12 article says:

“Could the 9/11 attack have been stopped, had the Bush team reacted with urgency to the warnings contained in all of those daily briefs?  We can’t ever know.  And that may be the most agonizing reality of all.”

What the article does not ask is was the Bush Administration properly prepared for the possibility of such an attack by the Clinton Administration? To listen to Richard Clarke, he did try to warn Condoleezza Rice, and her deputy Stephen Hadley,{3} and that’s on Rice, Hadley, and the rest of the administration for not taking him seriously enough.  I’m sure that all of those involved in Bush Administration who failed to heed Clarke’s warnings have their own demons to deal with on this issue, but the fact that Clarke had such urgency suggests—to any objective reader—that it was a dire threat well before Bush took office. The question to ask then, with hindsight being 20/20, is did the Clinton Administration also fail to take Clarke’s warnings seriously enough, and if they did take them seriously why didn’t others cooberate the severity of these warnings to the Bush Administration?

If Gore won the 2000 election, would his cabinet members have taken Clarke’s warnings more seriously than the Bush Administration had?  Or, would Gore have made the same mistake as Bush with the belief that he would be a domestic president focused on cashing in on the glory of the end of the Cold War dividends?  As Bush said, he and Gore had three debates, and “Not once did the words Afghanistan, bin Laden, or al Qaeda come up.”{4} Whether or not, Al Gore was privy to some of the information given by the CIA, Richard Clarke, or in the PDBs, his campaign rhetoric suggests that his administration would’ve been no more prepared for the attacks on 9/11/01 than President Bush’s was. If one of these sources revealed the urgency of the matter would Gore have changed the course on how America deals with terrorist threats, or would he have maintained the position of the Clinton Administration when they said they had no legal basis for arresting bin Laden?

Politicians by and large, Republican and Democrat, are by their nature reactive.  Proactive politicians that react to threats usually find no dividends in the course of their actions.  Gore would have been as proactive as Clinton, which by most assessments didn’t involve much if any measures.  Whether or not Gore would’ve been a better reactive president, post-9/11, is a theoretical question partisans can fight over, but it doesn’t answer the questions that most in the media are asking about how much blame George W. Bush’s proactive measures deserve for the attacks that occurred on 9/11.






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