07/22/2004: Juan Cole spells out...
better than anyone in the whole SCLM will, why Dubya bears the lion's share of responsibility for the 9/11 debacle:
The September 11 Panel will issue its findings on Thursday. It notes 10 points at which the US made key mistakes that might have stopped Bin Laden's plot. Four of these were under Clinton and 6 under Bush.Once more I'm reminded of Santayana:
Bush came out today and said that if he had known what was coming, he would have expended every effort to stop it, and that so would have Clinton. This statement is, despite its facade of fair-mindedness, so many weasel words. Of course Bush would have tried to stop 9/11 if he had known it was coming.
The question is, "Should he have known it was coming?"
The answer is, "Yes!"
We now know that Bush and his administration came into office obsessed with Iraq. Cheney was looking at maps of Iraq oil fields and muttering about opportunities for US companies there, already in January or February of 2001. Wolfowitz contradicted counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke when the latter spoke of the al-Qaeda threat, insisting that the preeminent threat of terrorism against the US came from Iraq, and indicating he accepted Laurie Mylroie's crackpot conspiracy theory that Saddam was behind the 1993 World Trade Towers bombing. If you believe crackpot theories instead of focusing on the reality--that was an al-Qaeda operation mainly carried out by al-Gamaa al-Islamiyyah, an Egyptian terrorist component allied with Bin Laden-- then you will concentrate on the wrong threat.
Even after the attacks on September 11, Bush was obsessing about Iraq. Wolfowitz lied to him and said that there was a 10 to 50% chance that Iraq was behind them. (On what evidence? The hijackers were obviously al-Qaeda, and no operational links between al-Qaeda and Iraq had ever been found). Rumsfeld initially rejected an attack on al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, saying there were "no good targets" in Afghanistan. (What about 40 al-Qaeda bases that had trained the 9/11 hijackers and other terrorists gunning for the United States??) The Pentagon did not even have a plan for dealing with Afghanistan or al-Qaeda that it could pull off the shelf, according to Bob Woodward.
Bush did not have his eye on the ball. Neither did Cheney, Rumsfeld, or Wolfowitz. They were playing Captain Ahab to Saddam's great white whale.
A fanatic is one who, upon losing sight of his goals, redoubles his efforts.
Len on 07.22.04 @ 12:15 PM CST