May 21, 2002
By Jeremiah Bourque
O people of this land, ye are ruled by morons.
It has been quite a long time since I have seen such a spectacular
display of political incompetence on the part of both parties,
simultaneously. The White House's handling of the "They Knew"
allegation rivals only the Democratic attack in infantility.
As such, the credibility of the entire political landscape
- something that Bush could have avoided, by keeping his nose
held high, like Clinton would have attempted to do - is being
Let's take the basic allegation. There were supposedly warnings
about Al Qaeda airline hijackings well before 9/11. Nothing
was done. The warnings were never told to the public, because
as the Secretary of Transport, a certain Mr. Mineta, has explained,
the administration, in such a situation, has an obligation
to the airlines, not to the public. This rather spectacular
arrangement of vowels and consonants has fueled a firestorm,
set off by a rather small match touching the dried straw left
by the emotional state of the entire nation, and in particular,
Democratic activists. (You know who you are.)
The counter-argument began as simply saying, there was no
specificity. More importantly, no one could have imagined
that airliners would be used as missiles. This story implies
that no one has read Tom Clancy's "Debt of Honor"; that the
threat to a Genoan summit of an Al Qaeda-hijacked airliner
smashing into it, well before 9/11, was dismissed out of hand
and not deemed credible, and hence one could have imagined
it might one day happen; and that no one who devises NORAD
air defense plans has the slightest knowledge of the effects
of exploding jet fuel, which implies that no one at NORAD
ever fought against the Japanese "divine wind" (kamikaze)
suicide bombers. This is does not imply malice, but rather
a systemic negligence.
This in no way would imply that Bush himself - though he
apparently has daily intelligence briefs reduced to one or
two pages, which is substantially less, based on reports,
than his own father reads - actually knew of any specific
threat, or that the mere politicians put in charge of public
safety actually understood the danger.
It went downhill from there.
We are now at a point where Diane Feinstein says that she
was pleading for security to be tightened. (This is where
my long memory starts grasping for bits and pieces. I actually
remember that she was doing this sort of thing, demanding
action against terrorism because she believed that an attack
on US soil would happen.) Ari Fleischer did a Lexis-Nexis
search showing Feinstein starting such talk at least two months
before 9/11, therefore, they (the Democrats) knew.
Forget that they were not occupying the White House. (I'm
picking my words very carefully here.) The Democrats obviously
were responsible, from the Clinton administation to the Senator
The "heavy hitters" of the White House were thrust before
cameras to say how they could not have done anything more.
Laura Bush speaks of how the emotions of Americans are being
preyed upon by those who would question the President, demonstrating
disloyalty in wartime like bad, bad children. (Side note.
The President is never included when the "heavy hitters" are
referred to.) Even Laura, however, did not say, there was
no information that could be acted on. She said that she was
"very, very certain" that if there was such information,
that anyone - Republican or Democrat - would
have acted on the information.
So, by the nature of its own reaction, the administration
has debased itself.
This is remarkable only because of the over-eager mass uprising
by the long-suffering Democratic opposition to what appears
to be an opening, but in reality, is not. After all, all that
we know is that there was a warning; the White House said
it was passed to the airlines, and the airlines say that is
not so. Someone is lying; however, this is long after the
tragedy, and is basically both sides trying to shield themselves.
The emotional hot button of there having been warnings is
not logically of any consequence. Folks, the US gets a lot
of terrorist threats, as amazing as this may seem to the people
who think everyone loves Americans - Americans love Americans,
and generally don't ask what everyone else thinks, after all.
This is how one may come to the conclusion that everyone loves
Americans. When you don't ask, you can't find out.
So basically, despite the "evidence" pinning Bush to 9/11
being essentially proof of the failure of the same bureaucracies
he routinely praises and defends from scrutiny at all costs,
those organizations being the FBI and CIA, it's fair to say
that no-one has come up with any proof that Bush, or his top
They ought to have known.
They ought to have at least suspected.
But as far as can be proven, they did not know.
Therefore, this whole fuss is essentially much-suffering
Democrats seeing an opening and rushing into it. Sorry, but
it's not going to work, not without much worse evidence than
The only thing giving this story wings is the absolute incompetence
in media management by this administration. Did Karen Hughes
pack her bags yet? Sure seems like it.
I'll conclude with an easy example. There's word going around
that the Clinton administration was given warning that Al
Qaeda might use planes as missiles. Obviously, NORAD plans
were not changed, or a bunch of other things that might have
helped. However, no administration makes these sorts of analyses
by themselves. The suggestion - and remember, that's all it
was, a suggestion, speculation, guesswork - came through the
same bureaucracies that did not tell the Bush administration
that this was possible.
So, therefore, if this was true, and the Clinton administration
did get a warning, these warnings were not shredded like Enron
files. They could have been heeded later. If anyone ought
to have suspected, then it ought to have been the intelligence
services of the United States of America, the same ones that
Cheney just the other day was defending, saying that any
investigation into their failures would distract them from
their duties, and quite possibly (even probably) lead directly
to another successful attack on American soil.
We have a pinhead running the Justice Department, after all,
whose changing of post-1939 Justice Department policy on the
Second Amendment is to be used by John Walker Lindh in order
to fight a gun charge, one of the few things that might have
stuck to him once his confession is thrown out. (If it isn't
it won't be because of the spirit of the law, in my humble
opinion.) We have Mineta saying that the government has a
greater responsibility to the airlines than to the public
when it comes to terrorism, a charge that vile critics have
levied against the FAA for years. We have the CIA in the middle
of a love-fest by the son of a former director, and the former
aides of that former director, Bush Sr.
To top it all off, the overseer of the FBI at Waco has again
been promoted, this time to lead the FBI's core counterterror
unit, which he commands, supersized, yanking as much power
and responsibility as possible from the New York region. (What
did the New York area people do, anyway?)
This is why the patriotic crap from the Bush administration
hurts. It's preventing close analysis of failure, including
failures that the current head of the FBI is quietly speaking
about at public engagements. It's fair to say that we still
don't know how Al Qaeda nailed America between the eyes, and
we still don't know how we're going to stop them from doing
it again. Most people ought to have a problem with that.
Unfortunately, Democratic politicians aren't helping. Unable
to stomach demanding better management and more results, they're
reduced to shouting into a teapot tempest, arguing that revelations
that in no way prove the Bush administration's assertion of
"no specific information" ought to lead to greater disclosure
about warnings. Thus, by attempting to dodge failure and evade
condemnation, the Democratic leadership is guaranteeing both.
Perhaps Democrats, as well, should be demanding more, but
of their own leaders.
That the administration is engaging in spectacular mishandling
of the media ought not be any consolation. The enemy has the
high ground. These so-called shocking revelations will not
reclaim that ground, while they serve to obscure more salient
failures, ones that, given the government's complete rejection
of turning a critical eye to itself for 9/11, are of far greater
Before we go jump all around hoping to hear the right answer,
let's get the question right.
Small note: check out this
Slate article. Remember what I asked? Is the man who will
not bend a traitor to democracy? Well, I think in this case,
Jimmy Carter's being accused of sedition and aid and comfort
to enemies of the United States. So is he a vile traitor who
we should arrest and get one of Derschowitz's torture permits
for, or should he be allowed to continue his treasonous activities
and undermine the elected government of the United States
of America? Given that George Bush, his wife, his vice president,
and probably his dog, refer to this sort of thing constantly,
perhaps some attention should be made to the issue, before
someone really does go on trial.