Looking for accountability from 9/11 Commission
Regarding your April 7 editorial "Condi and the 9/11 Blame Game": In trying to avoid any whiff of partisanship, your editorial skirts over some important distinctions.
While attacking Al Qaeda operations abroad in the months prior to 9/11 may not have prevented the attack, you neglect to note that vigorous action in the fall of 1999 on the part of Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser, did result in preventing several of their planned attacks around December 1999.
Another reason for the escalated and prolonged blame game in Washington is that President Bush has repeatedly stalled the work of the 9/11 Commission. He has also avoided the decisive action required of a world leader whose top officials have been responsible for negligence on this scale - insisting on their resignation or termination. This administration stubbornly refuses to be held accountable.
Your editorial referring to Richard Clarke's "bad start" seemed inconsistent. You want to "draw lessons from the past" vis-à-vis 9/11 but accuse the former terrorism adviser of playing the "blame game." Since the lessons surely must involve past human actions or inactions, how can one honestly draw them without naming names?
The word missing from your editorial is "accountability." Let's give Mr. Clarke credit for believing in that principle. You end by saying, "Al Qaeda is to blame." That sounded vaguely familiar, and then I remembered I had just heard the line from Condoleezza Rice.
Regarding your April 8 article "Congress, too, missed 9/11 threat": Prior to 9/11, the six US House and six Senate committees with oversight responsibilities for the intelligence community failed to do the substantive remedial work required to correct the dysfunctional intelligence network that Americans depended on for their national security. There were hearings and reports by blue ribbon commissions that identified the nature and scope of the terrorist threat both here and abroad. According to the current leadership on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, they are still too busy to do the required work (other than appropriate money) to fix their processes.
After the 9/11 Commission hears from Condoleezza Rice, we deserve to hear from those in Congress, under oath, who failed to do their constitutional duty. Among other things, we should know why "politics" rather than "national security" dictates the action of those responsible for oversight of the intelligence community.
Referring to John Hughes' April 7 column "For model Muslim state, cultivate Pakistan": Mr. Hughes's "public endorsement" with "private criticism" idea has historically never worked. America has been privately urging reform in nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Indonesia for decades without any results. Too often, dictators like Gen. Pervez Musharraf understand the bottom line - in this case it is terrorism.
General Musharraf knows that as long as he hands over Al Qaeda "leaders" with some regularity, he is insulated for criticism of his antidemocratic actions.
If the US wants a model Muslim state, it must stop blindly supporting Pakistan's Islamist-friendly Army and tell General Musharraf publicly to reduce the military's hold on power. Private urgings have zero chance of succeeding.
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