Moyers connects the dots
Last night Mike and I watched Bill Moyers's "Now" on PBS -- an in-depth examination of the 9/11 Commission Report. From the Now Web site:
The Commissioners avoided blaming any government officials, past or present, for the failure to prevent the attacks. They maintain that their job was not to assign individual blame, but provide the most complete and frank account of the decisive events surrounding the attack. To that end, they succeeded. But to stop there is to stop short. Read the final report of the Commission carefully — connect the dots — and a fuller pattern emerges: Key government officials failed the system, and they failed the American people.
Last night Moyers connected the dots:
* On the morning of 9/11 -- while air traffic controllers and pilots of scrambled F-16s desperately tried to figure out what was going on and what to do about it -- Donald Rumsfeld stayed out of the loop until the afternoon. He didn't even go to the Situation Room in the Pentagon. This is the Secretary of Defense we're talking about, people.
* Attorney General John Ashcroft told Acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard that he "didn't want to hear about terrorism" and denied funding for expanded counterterrorism activities.
* With the intelligence system "blinking red" in the summer of 2001, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice ignored the situation. She didn't call a meeting of the principals until Sept. 4 -- one week before the attacks. And even when she finally got around to scheduling that meeting, she didn't invite Richard Clarke -- the administration's point man on counterterrorism.
* During that same time frame, the FBI and the CIA were in possession of information about some of the hijackers that if shared, might have led to the unraveling of the al Qaeda plot. Neither agency knew what the other had. As for counterterrorism official Steve Simon pointed out, when faced with a similar threat, the Clinton administration -- under the leadership of the president -- got the principals together and forced the "squeezing" of sources and the sharing of information. As a result, al Qaeda's Millennium plot was foiled.
* Contrast Clinton's behavior with that of Bush -- who received a CIA briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S." and saw no reason to interrupt his month-long vacation in Texas. (Last night's video of an oblivious Bush cutting brush on his estate in August 2001 was just devastating. Not only did the man not understand what was going on, he didn't give a rat's ascot.)
* Last night's documentary also included video of a 9/11 Commission hearing that made it abundantly clear the information in the August PDB was current -- not "historical," as Rice has always claimed.
This is what happens when the presidency of the United States is entrusted to a spoiled frat boy who is completely unqualified to hold the office. Bush's entire life has been a saga of pulled strings and soft landings engineered by his family's wealthy and influential friends. He has never done any real work; he has never accomplished anything on his own. He's made one mess after another, and blithely walked away from all of them -- in many cases, leaving shareholders holding the bag while his family's influential friends bailed him out. It's no wonder he assumes no responsibility for anything that has happened on his watch -- he's never been held responsible for anything in his life. (So much for "The Buck Stops Here" -- Harry Truman must be spinning in his grave.)
And thanks to his father's friends on the Supreme Court, Bush now wreaks havoc as president of the United States. I'm sure Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are just fine with this state of affairs -- but I don't know how Sandra Day O'Connor sleeps at night.