In his column today John Podhoretz discloses an Aug. 14, 2001, document that nailed the looming threat posed to the United States by terrorists: “Our military superiority will avail us little if a future rival decides it wants to test this nation’s soul by using suicide bombers to stage random and large-scale assaults on American civilians on American soil.” Podhoretz comments:
Imagine this – only 28 days before 9/11, someone clearly saw the looming threat. And yet our government failed to act. Quick, contact Al Franken, James Carville and Paul Krugman. In their estimation, this would surely be yet another example of a sort-of smoking gun, a kind-of silver bullet.
Podhoretz then reveals:
Guess who wrote that sentence? I did. In these very pages. They came at the end of a column about Israel’s horrendous problems dealing with suicide bombers. The fact that I wrote these words indicates both that suicide terrorism was on the minds of people in and out of government in the summer of 2001 because Israel was suffering from it daily.
What about the August 6 PDB?
[N]ever in the now-declassified Aug. 6 Presidential Daily Brief – which the president’s opponents are using to make the outrageous case that he was warned in advance and failed to act – does the word “suicide” appear. How on earth can anybody say that the Aug. 6 PDF is a warning of 9/11 when it never mentions suicide bombing?
It’s vital to remember that what happened on 9/11 wasn’t just the same old thing al Qaeda had done in the past. Nobody – no terrorist organization, no government, nobody – had ever done any of these things:
* Used 19 people at the same time as a suicide-attack squad.
* Hijacked four planes within an hour of each other.
* Slammed passenger jet planes into skyscrapers.
* Flew a jet plane into a government building in Washington, D.C.
On 9/11, al Qaeda did all these things – and did them simultaneously. When government officials from President Bush to Condi Rice to Donald Rumsfeld say nobody could have imagined the attacks of 9/11, they’re right – and everybody who says otherwise is delusional, stupid or dishonest.
It was easy to imagine one aspect of them. I imagined the suicide-bombing part. Richard Clarke, according to his own self-aggrandizing account, thought maybe a plane might be crashed into the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. An HBO TV movie about the 1993 WTC bombing attacks ended with somebody saying, “Maybe we should just crash planes into them.”
And we knew that al Qaeda was enthralled with simultaneous attacks, since two car bombs had gone off in succession at the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania hundreds of miles apart. But attacks using aircraft on the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and wherever Flight 93 was heading – all in the same morning?
Nobody could have imagined that. And nobody did. And nobody is at fault for not being able to penetrate the depths of the fiendish evil that chose to kill thousands of us on 9/11.
Just keep reminding yourself, when the liberals keep lying about how the Aug. 6 PDF a clear warning of the attack to come: There’s no mention of suicide bombing in it. My Aug. 14 newspaper column was closer to the mark.
Don’t miss this one.
HINDROCKET adds: Stop the presses! Al Qaeda wants to attack the U.S.! Good grief. It’s remarkable that the PDB is the best the Dems can do. When I graduated from law school, one of the chief reasons why I decided to go to work for a law firm in Minneapolis rather than in New York was because I thought it was inevitable that New York would be subjected to devastating terrorist attacks. And this was in 1974. Hey, we could even go farther than that. As of 2001, it was foreseeable that al Qaeda might attack the World Trade Center, since Islamofascists had already tried to blow it up in 1993. And anyone who had been asleep since 1993 (Bill Clinton, say) would have been reminded of al Qaeda’s desire to strike inside America by the capture of the millenium bomber, who was caught while on his way to blow up Los Angeles International Airport at the end of 1999.
Could more have been done to fight terrorism before 9/11? Of course. For example, we could have killed bin Laden when we had the chance. But for some reason, the terrorism commission isn’t interested in that. Many other things could have been done. Immigration rules could have been tightened. Young Arab males inside the country illegally could have been aggressively rounded up and deported. The CIA and FBI could have been legally empowered to share information. Pilots could have been armed with weapons more powerful than box-cutters; that alone would have stopped the 9/11 attacks.
Well, guess what. It’s now 2004, and the Democrats still oppose all of the above measures. Little has been done about illegal immigration, and little will be done if the Democrats have anything to say about it. Any attempt to investigate the activities of illegal Arab immigrants brings howls about “John Ashcroft’s America.” The Patriot Act allowed the CIA and FBI to share information for the first time since such cooperation was banned by Congress; now many Democrats are pledging to repeal it. And pilots still aren’t armed, as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, John Kerry says the threat of terrorism is “exaggerated,” and the key issue in the Democratic primaries was who could abandon the anti-terrorist effort most rapidly and completely.
But, hey, why should that stop the Democrats on the Commision from criticizing President Bush for not taking measures in August 2001 that the Democrats still don’t want to take now?