Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years Hence

With some understandable difficulty, I went to work today and followed my other routines when the workday was over. The terrorists did not win, not on my watch. Thankfully, the sky was clear and the weather was pleasant... all as it was on that other Tuesday.

We are six years hence from that other Tuesday, and being Americans, we have accrued to ourselves several luxuries in the interim. Senators and Congressmen can now indulge themselves in debating whether fighting terrorists in Iraq is contributing to winning the War on Terror. We hardly allowed for such opulent sophisms in years past; our enemies were our enemies back then, and we did not attempt to compartmentalize them into those that we should fight to the death versus those that we should negotiate with as "regional partners." Organized cadres of cry-babies and bed-wetters can besmirch and smear our truest heroes, and do so under the auspices of patriotic "dissent." This is yet another extravagance denied to our forebears.

But if there is one lavishness yet denied us, it is that of blissful ignorance. Dates on calendars notwithstanding, there will never, ever be a September 10th again. 9/11 split the history of our present age as was time by the birth of Christ. We will always look over our shoulders and watch the skies. Everything now gets at least a second look.

Would that such were the case in Septembers past. The sordid record of the failures and missteps of our pre-9/11 C.I.A. were recently summarized for all to review.

The [Joint Inquiry] concluded that, before 9/11, neither the US Government nor the [intelligence community] had a comprehensive strategy for combating al-Qa'ida. It charged that the Director of Central Intellignce (DCI) was either unwilling or unable to marshall the full range of IC resources necessary to combat the growing threat to the United States. The [C.I.A. Office of Inspector General] Team also found that the IC did not have a documented, comprehensive approach to al-Qa'ida and that the DCI did not use all of his authorities in leading the IC's strategic effort against [Osama bin Laden].
And while the report notes that George Tenet signed a December 1998 memorandum declaring "We are at war" against al-Qaeda, it goes on to condemn him and the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) for not "creating a documented, comprehensive plan to guide the counterterrorism effort at the Intelligence Community level." As the report clearly indicates, the comedy(?) of errors that led up to 9/11 can be laid at Tenet's feet; this was his C.I.A.

Of course if there is such a thing as historical precision, it would demand that we not be neglectful of the fact that this was also Bill Clinton's C.I.A. The man who professed to being "obsessed" with bin Laden seemed willing to do little to organize Central Intelligence such that OBL could be captured or killed. If anything, Clinton can be faulted for failing to do enough to bring bin Laden to justice; he surely remained obtuse to the warnings issued about bin Laden by the U.S. State Department. Indeed, his own words from a February 2002 speech are the strongest rebuttal to the idea that Clinton was concerned - let alone obsessed - with anything other than Monica Lewinsky's thong. (Audio from an interview with Bill on the matter, along with Hillary Clinton's more recent attempts at obfuscation, can be heard here. H/T: NewsMax.com)

Mr. bin Laden used to live in Sudan. He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in '91 and he went to the Sudan. We'd been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start dealing with them again. They released him. At the time, '96, he had committed no crime against America, so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America. So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, 'cause they could have, but they thought it was a hot potato. They didn't and that's how he wound up in Afghanistan.

To be sure, Bill Clinton has repeatedly expressed "regret" for his failure to kill or capture bin Laden.

But even beyond Clinton's foibles vis-a-vis the nascent threat of Islamic terrorism, it should be noted that this was Michael Scheuer's C.I.A., as it was Paul Pillar's and Valarie Plame's. None of these now-vocal critics of the current administration could - by themselves or in collaboration with their peers - prevent or disrupt any of what occurred on September 11, 2001. Nor
(as discussed elsewhere) could they...
...preempt the April 1983 Embassy bombing in Beirut, the October 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, the attack on the World Trade Center in February of 1993, the suicide attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in June of 1996, the bombings of American Embassies in the East African cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya in 1998, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 or the deadly attacks of September 11, 2001, all of which would seem to fall under [their] agency's purview.
Scheuer, Pillar and Plame - among many other standard-bearers of Bush hatred - would have us all believe that we were one Presidential Daily Briefing away from stopping the 9/11 attacks before they started. As the aforementioned C.I.A. mea culpa indicates, the truth is far more damning than any of them would let on. Pillar's concern over politicization of intelligence gathering should be the least of our concerns.

Most important of all, this was the C.I.A. that the Left built. Some of the same braying asses in the Senate - who on this very day dared to launch verbal assaults against David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker - were the very persons who emasculated the intelligence services (and never sought to remove a single brick from the much-discussed Janet Reno-Jamie Gorelick "wall" between law enforcement and intelligence.) And while they strutted and fretted before the cameras about "politicized intelligence" in the run-up to the Iraq War, they have become the politicizers, blithely attempting to de-link the Iraq War from the war on Terror.

And so in spite of ourselves, the terrorists did not win today. We are still Americans, and we still crave our indulgences. And American politicians being who they are still yield to their indulgence of choice. We would do well to remember that those with whom we struggle do not crave luxury for themselves. They seek only our deaths, as they made evident six years ago. Ignorance of the threat did not set us in good stead then, and arrogance or wishful thinking will bring us no closer to victory in the long war.

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