Conservatives Blame Clinton Administration for Bush’s Failure to Respond to Pre-9/11 Warnings

With Harry Truman, the buck stopped with him. For Republicans, the buck stopped with Bill Clinton. Here’s a fascinating look into the right wing blogosphere’s ability to spin anything to both exonerating Bush for his incompetence in handling al Qaeda as well to blame Clinton for everything. It starts with this AP report:

Nine months before al-Qaida slammed airliners into the World Trade Center, French intelligence suspected the terror network was plotting a hijacking — possibly involving a U.S. airline — and warned the CIA, former French intelligence officials said Monday.

But the French warning hinted at a plot in Europe, not the United States, and there was no suggestion of suicide attacks or multiple planes. One former official said al-Qaida may have leaked misinformation to divert intelligence agencies from the bigger, deadlier plot to come on Sept. 11, 2001.

The warning was another example of how intelligence agents sensed al-Qaida was hard at work in the months leading up to Sept. 11 but were unable to piece together fragmented warnings into a coherent plot…

CIA spokesman George Little said Le Monde’s article “merely repeats what the U.S. government knew and reported before Sept. 11 — that al-Qaida was interested in airliner plots, especially hijackings.”

“The article does not suggest that U.S. or foreign officials had advance knowledge of the details surrounding the Sept. 11 plot,” he said. “Had the details been known, the U.S. government would have acted on them.”

The Sept. 11 Commission and a joint congressional inquiry into the attacks have described vague warnings of potential threats in the months before Sept. 11, 2001.

The 9/11 commission said that, as the year began, the CIA started receiving “frequent but fragmentary” threat reports. Among other warnings, the intelligence community sent out a March 2001 terror threat advisory about a heightened threat of Sunni extremist attacks against U.S. facilities, personnel and other interests.

During that investigation George Tenet, CIA director at the time, told the commission that “the system was blinking red.”

In response to this, Memeorandum shows that several conservative blogs are developing conspiracy theories such as that Sandy Berger destroyed evidence of such warnings to avoid charges that the Clinton administration failed to act on these warnings.

There are just so many holes in this. Conservatives regularly ignore Clinton’s actions against terrrorism, even though it was the Republican Congress which acted to block Clinton’s efforts against al Qaeda. The Clinton administration passed on the warnings about al Qaeda, with recommendations for fighting them, but the Bush administration ignored them, and Rice was even was caught lying about receiving them. It makes little sense for Sandy Berger to destroy evidence of such a threat from al Qaeda when he had also warned of the threat on several occasions. Bush not only ignored these warnings, but also ignored the August 4, 2001 daily intelligence brief which warned of “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.”

George Bush was President at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and it was George Bush who ignored multiple warnings, including warnings from Sandy Berger and others in the Clinton administration. Trying to blame the Clinton administration doesn’t change this fact.

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3 Comments

  1. 1
    vwcat says:

    The old conservative blame; it’s Clinton’s fault.
    i’ve seen on other blogs a picture of Bill with fingers pointing at him and the tag line of it’s all Clinton’s fault.
    however, back in the 30s and 40s it was FDR’s.

  2. 2
    citizen says:

    I give bush 9 months of blame i give clinton 8 years of blame.Muslim extreamists were killing americans and people on our soil all through the clinton addminastration.with very little recponce.Our enemy was on offence 4 a decade and killed thousands uf us. Now were on offence and they havent hit us at home since9/11. bush will go down as a great leader and u will look like fools just like u did with reagan

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    During his years in office, Clinton was trying to take action against al Qaeda–often over the objections of Republicans. It was Bush’s failure to carry through with the actions against al Qaeda, and ignoring the many warnings, which made the attack more likely.

    Bush’s policies have also greatly strengthened al Qaeda, placing us at greater risk long term. Bush will go down in history as the worst President ever for committing some of the greatest blunders in military history.

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