Friday, March 26, 2004

So, we already know from Richard Clarke's testimony, and the White House responses to it, that Dubya's crew were, to say the least, slow off the mark combatting terrorism. (The response from their side is kind of a mess; it may be worth looking into once they get their story straight). And we've long since heard that this bunch made a point of deemphasizing ongoing investigations in al-Qaeda, as soon as they came into office.

Now, that all clearly contrasts with the policy in the Clinton White House, where dealing with the terrorist threat from al-Qaeda specifically was front and center -- with regular meetings chaired by Clarke, reviewing evidence as it became available and willing to take strong action. Had such a policy been in place in Dubya's White House, what did it have to review?

Well, there's the case of Zac Moussaoui, who was actually arrested by an FBI field office who suspected him of wanting mount an attack involving airplanes. And now there's this, from a former FBI translator:

Edmonds testified before 9/11 commission staffers in February for more than three hours, providing detailed information about FBI investigations, documents and dates. This week Edmonds attended the commission hearings and plans to return in April when FBI Director Robert Mueller is scheduled to testify. "I'm hoping the commission asks him real questions -- like, in April 2001, did an FBI field office receive legitimate information indicating the use of airplanes for an attack on major cities? And is it true that through an FBI informant, who'd been used [by the Bureau] for 10 years, did you get information about specific terrorist plans and specific cells in this country? He couldn't say no," she insists.

It is, at this point, well within the realm of possibility that had Al Gore been elected, and retained Clinton's national security priorities, strategy, and tactics, we might have gotten a few headlines about oddball arrests in late August, 2001, and September 11th would have been just a glorious sunny day in New York. And Republicans like John Ashcroft, if not Ashcroft himself (who, remember, lost his Senate seat to the dead guy), would even now be painting Gore administration anti-terrorist plans and priorities as a sinister plot to undermine the rights of citizens -- just like Ashcroft himself did incessantly while Democrats were nominally in charge of federal law enforcement.


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