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The AP reports this morning that while the 9/11 commission wants to avoid pinning blame on individuals in either the Bush or Clinton administrations, some commission members still hold out hope of inserting finger-pointing language in editorial notes:
Hoping to avoid partisan attacks, the Sept. 11 commission has drafted a final report that avoids placing blame on individuals in the Bush or Clinton administrations but sharply criticizes the FBI and intelligence agencies for missteps prior to the catastrophe. ...
Democratic commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste said members remain hopeful they can produce a unanimous report, although some are holding out the option of inserting editorial notes if commissioners disagree on certain points or want to flag a particular individual as blameworthy.
"The failure to thwart the 9/11 catastrophe was in part the result of the failure to communicate both internally and externally about information collected by our intelligence agencies," he said. "Had there been effective use of the information, the possibility exists the 9/11 plot could have been disrupted."
Of course Ben-Veniste wants to blame people. He's been one of the worst of the partisan attack dogs on the committe, which became apparent when public testimony began. I doubt that he's looking at fellow commissioner Jamie Gorelick, even though she wrote the legal interpretations that kept law-enforcement and intelligence-gathering agents from collaborating on national security. Nor, I doubt, will Ben-Veniste use the occasion to celebrate the Patriot Act, which eliminated the artificial barriers that Gorelick helped to strengthen in the mid-90s.
Does anyone remember what the original mission of the 9/11 Commission was? They were to investigate why we failed to stop the attacks and make recommendations to improve our ability to recognize these threats in the future in order to keep us safe. They weren't convened to publicly attack individuals or to assign blame. However, after some mutual manipulation between the Ben-Veniste partisans and the small leftist contingent of the 9/11 families, they turned the entire exercise into a rehash of the Spanish Inquisition and turned themselves into media celebrities, putting national security at a tertiary concern, at best.
Quite frankly, while the committee's specific recommendations for improvements might be very useful, the causes for our failure to recognize and stop the 9/11 attacks are already well known. First, we put artificial barriers in place to keep the FBI and CIA from working across intelligence and criminal efforts. That's been addressed through the Patriot Act. Second, we decimated the CIA's humint operations, starting in the late 70s at almost the same time Islamofascism first reared its head. Congress has started to address this, but it will take years to rebuild the humint operations, especially in the Middle East where we have serious deficiencies in interpreters and boots on the ground. Third, until 9/11, America refused to acknowledge that war had been declared against us by the Islamofascists and therefore kept using a law-enforcement approach -- for instance, debating the legality of capturing Osama bin Laden instead of killing him when we had the opportunity, and letting him slip away.
Those problems were the direct cause of our 9/11 losses, and they are not partisan issues. Playing the blame game only demonstrates the empty partisan nature of the 9/11 Commission.Sphere It View blog reactions
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