Did President George W. Bush drop the ball on National Security? What would a President Gore have done differently?
My song, “Gone Now Forever” ( XB Cold Fingers / You Tube ) tells the story of a man who was lost on September 11, and his family. My friend Maria loves it, but it brings a tear to her eye. It also brings anger, and resolve.
I also wrote “City of Heroes” ( XB Cold Fingers ) to attempt come to grips with the attack of September 11. This began as an eyewittness account – I saw the flames from 34th Street and 7th and walked down as far as 18th St. It developed into a tribute to the men, women and children killed or whos lives were disrupted by the terrorist hijackers, including the cops and firefighters, who rushed into the Trade Center and the passengers and crew of Flight 93.
As I learned more about “Al Queda,” which means “The Base,” I re-wrote the song to challenge the notion of “Holy War.” No religious leaders, I think, are worth following if the teach that “We are Saved and They are to be killed.”
Then, as I began to understand the official American response to the terrorist act, to the “Unholy War” that “brought the twin towers down,” I added an additional focus: our official response, the war in Iraq, our use of torture.
But … President Clinton and Vice President Gore knew that bin Laden was a threat. They knew he financed and or masterminded the simultaneous attacks on U. S. embassies in Dar Es Salam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya on August 7, 1998, and the October, 2000 attack on the U. S. S. Cole.
Should the President, then George W. Bush, have had a better understanding of the threat posed by bin Laden and his people? Tony Karon, in “Time” magazine on May 30, 2001, 3 months before the September 11 attack on the Pentagon and the attack on The World Trade Center, wrote,
“the conviction in New York of four footsoldiers of Osama bin Laden’s jihad to drive the United States out of the Middle East…. the man named in the indictment as the architect of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania wasn’t even in court … Bin Laden remains holed up in Afghanistan under the protection of its ruling Taliban militia, [which] reiterated that it has no intention of handing him over for trial….“
“The war on terrorism is primarily about intelligence — being able to monitor your enemy’s communications and anticipate his actions in order to confound his plans and keep him on the defensive.”
As we know from the mission that brought bin Laden to justice, in Pakistan, far from Kabul and even farther from Baghdad, the ‘war on terrorism’ is a war than can be effectively waged with small teams of commandos using “actionable intelligence.”
Should the President have been able to foil the attacks of September 11? This is an unknowable question. However, We sustained:
1990 assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York City,
1993 bombing of the World Trade Center,
1998 bombings of the Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania,
2000 bombing of the U. S. S. Cole.
And we foiled Al Queda’s Millennium plot.
Should the President have been able to foil the attacks of September 11? Here‘s the timeline of events. Here‘s the unclassified version of the August 6, 2001 intelligence memo to President Bush. What do you think?
And what would a President Gore have done?
It’s pretty clear that he would not have let bin Laden go and gone into Iraq. But what else? Gore knew that bin Laden was a threat.Clinton, as Commander-In-Chief, set up the CIA unit tasked to investigate bin Laden in 1996. After the Embassies were bombed he ordered an attack on bin Laden’s compound in Sudan.