Jewish World Review April 20, 2004 / 30 Nissan, 5764

Martha Zoller

Martha Zoller
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Lights, Camera, Action!! The 9/11 Commission | Maybe President Bush was right to resist the 9/11 Commission? It has turned into a partisan show where the members are more interested in being on TV than finding the truth. It is appalling that the members are showing up all over TV and radio.

It will be difficult if not impossible to come up with an accurate report with so many "on the record" interviews given by so many members. It seems that the Commission members have contracted the "Judge Ito" syndrome. Some of the members have commented that the members are less partisan when they are behind closed doors than they are when they are in front of the cameras.

Initially, it appeared that the members were being balanced in their questioning. Then came Richard Clarke, with his fictional accounting of what happened leading up to the 9/11 Attack on America. This changed everything. The Commission became and circus.

With the "hit it out of the park" presentation of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, the knives came out. Janet Reno followed with discounting the one counterterrorism victory Richard Clarke had claimed, thwarting the Millennium Attacks. It was good police work, the kind we expect every day.

Finally, Attorney General John Ashcroft "connected the dots" on the role of Jamie Gorelick, number two person in the Reno Justice Department. He revealed that Gorelick was not only involved in developing the counterterrorism policy of the Clinton Administration, but also contributed directly to the decisions on how to pursue Osama Bin Laden.

Looking back on 9/11 is important, but this commission is teetering on losing its credibility. The report has to be believable, because deep in the American psyche, we know what happened.

Look at the other side, if Americans believe the worst about President Bush, then you would have to believe in less than 8 months, he undid all the "good work" on terrorism that the Clinton Administration did. That is not believable.

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Even if analysis is done on terrorism beginning with the hostages in Iran, the murder of the Marines in Beirut, and the 5 major attacks under the Clinton Administration prior to 9/11, it is still not believable that a president, any president, in place for less than 8 months has the same level of responsibility as presidents that served 4-8 years.

The Clinton Administration addressed terrorism as a law enforcement issue. If that was right, then it would follow that counterterrorism in The Justice Department would work WITH the criminal investigations under their responsibility. Just the opposite took place. Jamie Gorelick strengthened the separation between counterterrorism and criminal investigations. Further, it appears that Gorelick was involved in advising former President Clinton on the legal aspects of dealing with Osama Bin Laden. Gorelick should resign from the commission and testify to her involvement.

The facts indicate that 9/11 was being planned for up to two years before that date. There were more attacks planned but according to a high level Al Qaeda operative interrogated in Australia, they could not complete them because of the fast action of the Bush Administration in Afghanistan to retaliate against the 9/11 Attacks on America.

Based on what we have learned about Bin Laden, it is likely that the "green light" on the 9/11 attacks came when the Clinton Administration was impotent in its response the attack on the USS Cole. Bill Clinton allowed an American ship to be attacked and then did nothing about it. This clarified two things, the former President had no respect for the loss of American life. After all, he gave the order to run from Somalia, never visited the World Trade Towers after the first attack in 1993 and then ignored the 17 dead sailors of the USS Cole.

The bombing of the USS Cole was in fact a direct attack on America and its interests and the Clinton Administration. In addition, he then expected President Bush after a protracted election resolution to do something about it. While the blame is fully on Bin Laden this is unacceptable and was tantamount to the Clinton Administration causing 9/11.

The essential issue is blame. There may be many things that we could have done better, but no one is to blame in this government for 9/11. Osama Bin Laden and global terrorism is the enemy, but lately it seems that some members of the 9/11 Commission are the problem.

Finally, the 9/11 Commission has had an off week. Gorelick is in trouble and then Thomas Kean and Slade Gordon when asked about the Gorelick controversy, they said to questioners to stay "out of our business." That is the turning point of credibility for the commission. The commissioners forgot they were fact finders, not TV personalities.

As was stated this week in The American Spectator, "in a matter of two days they have managed to undo six months of good work that was done under the radar screen. A few more days of this and the commission's work will be tainted."

We need to know what happened and we need to fix it. The only thing that is important is to improve our intelligence gathering and cooperation. We need to fight the War on Terror; we don't need to fight a war at home.

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JWR contributor Martha Zoller is a radio talk show host in Georgia. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2004, Martha Zoller