Thursday, April 15, 2004

Lagniappe: Responsibility for 9/11 - After sifting through and thinking about all the information that is out there concerning the Bush Administration's response (or lack of one) to the perceived al-Qaeda threats emanating up through the intelliegence bureaucracy, I have come to the conclusion that, when you sort through the piles and piles of rhetoric, there is really nothing there to pin on GW. Listen, I'm a die-hard, pacifist, unapologetic left-leaning liberal. I'm voting for Kerry in November. And I don't have any fondness for Bush at all. None. I will be elated when he joins his daddy as a one-termer. But I like to think that I'm fair. And when it comes to responsibility for 9/11, there's enough blame to go around for everyone. It is unfair to single out the Bush Administration. Sure, I believe, given the benefit of hindsight, that the Bush Administration could and should have done things differently. But, I can't really find fault with the Bush Administration's handling of the intelligence it had. I'm sure that intelligence briefings on terrorism always portend ominous things and that the information Bush had was, in many respects, very much consistent with the tone of other types of similar briefings and reports. Who would ever have suspected such an attack on the U.S. of the magnitude of 9/11? For the life of me, I can't see how the Bush Administration could have known this. Bush should be blamed for 9/11 about as much as Clinton should, which is really not much at all. It is just one of those tragic, unfortunate, wake-up calls from the way we conducted anti-terrorist intelligence gathering business. I don't think the same mistakes will ever be made again, or at least I think any President worth his salt will do his best to see that it doesn't happen again. What is important, I think, is to stop looking for blame and to start working on fixing the holes in our system that made it possible. It is as unfair to blame Bush, or Ashcroft, as it is to blame Clinton, or Gorelick. Liberals can and should oppose Bush on his ill-advised policies of the past that led us to war with Iraq and that threaten civil liberties. Liberals can and should criticize Bush for his penchant for secrecy and vendetta-like character assassinations of his critics, even his Republican critics. Liberals can and should question the wisdom of Bush's tax cuts and his unwillingness to curb spending. Liberals can and should question Bush's Iraq strategy and its utter failure. But Liberals, true American Liberals, should not blame Bush and his administration for 9/11. There's just nothing at all in the evidence to indicate any single person, administration, or bureaucratic entity is to blame. 9/11 just happened. It's tragic. Maybe things could have been done to prevent it from happening, maybe not. We've all got to get beyond seeking blame where there is none, or recognizing that we all share in the blame if blame has to be assigned. Liberals, in spite of the temptation to want to lay on Bush's shoulders the crushing weight of responsibility for 9/11, should, in this one matter, just lay off.

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