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Wish in one hand, read the 9/11 report in the other...
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I've long defended Clinton against the charges that he failed to extradite Bin Laden from Sudan, attack Al Qaeda when he could, and other somewhat unrealistic charges. His actions at the time were reasonable, given the political climate, what we knew of OBL and what we expected of Al Qaeda. We were wrong, but hindsight is a bitch.

But when Clinton says this...
"I desperately wish, that I had been president when the FBI and CIA finally confirmed, officially, that bin Laden was responsible for the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. Then we could have launched an attack on Afghanistan early."
....I have to ask some questions.

In 1998, we learned that Osama bin Laden's organization Al Qaeda was responsible for acts of terrorism against the United States, eventually including "the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1996 killing of 19 US soldiers in Saudi Arabia, and the 1998 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania". In 1999, he was added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.

In 1998, Osama Bin Laden released a fatwa directing Muslims to "kill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military".

As a result of all that, Bill Clinton ordered the assets of Osama Bin Laden frozen in August of 1998. That same month, he also attempted to kill bin Laden via cruise missile attack on an Afghan camp.

Clearly, by 98-99, Clinton had quite a good idea that Osama bin Laden was both responsible for terrorist attacks against the United States and a continuing danger to the United States.

What's more, by late 2000, we did know that Al Qaeda was behind the USS Cole attack. In fact, on page 193 of the 9/11 Commission Report, we find the following:
...the Yemenis provided strong evidence connecting the Cole attack to al Qaeda during the second half of November, identifying individual operatives whom the United States knew were part of al Qaeda. During December, the United States was able to corroborate this evidence. But the United States didn't have evidence of bin Laden's personal involvement in the attacks until Nashiri and Khallad were captured in 2002 and 2003.
So, by November we had strong evidence that it was an al Qaeda operation. By December, we had proof. The only thing we lacked was evidence that Osama bin Laden had personally authorized the attack, and we didn't get that until long after 9/11 had happened.

Of course, Osama bin Laden was the head of al Qaeda whom we'd been trying to kill off and on for a couple years, so it doesn't seem like a difficult deductive leap.

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So, I'm left with these questions:

if all the pre-USS Cole attacks that were directly tied to al Qaeda were not enough to get Clinton to sign off on launching an "early" attack on Afghanistan, and even the USS Cole attack was insufficient casus belli to launch an "early" attack on Afghanistan....what, exactly, would have prompted him to finally move prior to 9/11?

Bill Clinton claims he was willing to wait until the "FBI and CIA finally confirmed, officially, that bin Laden was responsible for the attack on the U.S.S. Cole", but the 9/11 Report claims we "didn't have evidence of bin Laden's personal involvement in the attacks until...2002".

Clinton says of his promised strike "I don’t know if it would have prevented 9/11"...but I think we can be pretty certain that an attack circa 2002 would not have prevented the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Bill Clinton (and President Bush) made what appeared to be reasonable decisions—they turned out to be very unfortunate, but at the time we had every reason to believe they were the best path forward. Bill Clinton should acknowledge those decisions and defend them. He should not, however, pretend that he would have been a regular President John Wayne had he only known who was behind the attack. He did know—as did George W. Bush—and he didn't go get them.

Hindsight is a bitch, but she's an accurate bitch.


ELSEWHERE, debunking this from various angles:

Ace of Spades:

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Betsy Newmark:

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Joe Gandelman:

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Captain's Quarters:

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Ranting Prof:

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John Podheretz:

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WizbangBlog:

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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
exactly, what do you think the size of the shitstorm would have been had we entered an "unecessary" war in Afghanistan prior to 9/11.

There was no way that the american people would have accepted any such action without such a thing as 9/11.

sad but true.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
That’s precisely why I think Clinton was not unreasonable in not going after OBL when he could. He had options on the table involving sending in teams of spec-ops to kill OBL, but he dismissed them as having a "high probability of failure". And the attendent political risks of actually invading another country—even with small spec-op teams—would have been enormous.

I think Clinton made the only decision he reasonably could have made. We simply did not know then what we know now.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
complete agreement, waging conventional war was never on the table prior to the 2 towers falling. We had just passed the decade of peace and plenty. No one but a ruthless, lying war monger would have suggested it. ;)
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
There was no way that the american people would have accepted any such action without such a thing as 9/11

We’ll never know I guess. I think that the 1st WTC attack and the Cole attack could’ve started a support for action, if Clinton had wanted to make the case.

Just speculation on my part of course. But nobody was better at playing the spin game than Clinton, it’s an art W could use at times. At the end of the day, while the ones responsible for 9/11 are the barbarians who attacked us, there’s lots of blame for allowing it to happen to spread around in varying degrees going way back to the Jimmah Carter days.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
You know what’s funny?

Reading some of the contemporary coverage of the incident involving the USS Cole, there are widespread comments, such as from Vincent Cannistraro, that there was a good bit of evidence that Saddam Hussein (yes, that one) was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

Various reports are mentioned of Saddam meeting with al-Qaeda types, possibly even providing the wherewithal for chemical weapons, via Sudan (remember the cruise missile attacks on the pharmaceutical plant there?).

All this in 2000, long before Dubya appeared on the scene.

Funny, innit?
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
You know what’s funny?

Reading some of the contemporary coverage of the incident involving the USS Cole, there are widespread comments, such as from Vincent Cannistraro, that there was a good bit of evidence that Saddam Hussein (yes, that one) was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

Various reports are mentioned of Saddam meeting with al-Qaeda types, possibly even providing the wherewithal for chemical weapons, via Sudan (remember the cruise missile attacks on the pharmaceutical plant there?).

All this in 2000, long before Dubya appeared on the scene.

Funny, innit?
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
I am a bit confused here. I dont think he is saying that he wishes he were President in 2002, when confirimation finally came, to launch his attack which would have already been too late to prevent 9/11. I think he is saying that he wishes that the official confirmation had come sooner, when he was in office, so he could have launched an attack before 9/11.

 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Rosensteel:

As Richard Clarke noted in his book (and as contemporary press reports indicated at the time), we knew while Clinton was in office that the USS Cole had been attacked by al-Qaeda.

This was noted by the Center for American Progress (not exactly a right-wing site), when they were reviewing the 9-11 Commission report. Evidently, the Clinton folks knew enough, according to CAP, that "Upon entering office, the Bush administration was specifically told that al Qaeda was responsible for the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen."

This is further confirmed by Clarke’s testimony before the Commission, where he states that, by the close of the Clinton Administration, they definitively knew that al-Qida had undertaken attacks not only on the Cole, but masterminded WTC-93 and the embassy bombings.

I’m not sure what you’re confused about, unless it’s why the USS Cole is a casus belli, but attempting to knock over the World Trade Center or blowing up US embassies isn’t. If that’s the case, I must admit, I, too, am confused.
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
I am a bit confused here. I dont think he is saying that he wishes he were President in 2002, when confirimation finally came, to launch his attack which would have already been too late to prevent 9/11. I think he is saying that he wishes that the official confirmation had come sooner, when he was in office, so he could have launched an attack before 9/11.
No, he’s indicating that he wishes he’d been President when confirmation came so that he could have launched an attack prior to 9/11. He’s saying that we found out about their involvement after his term, but before 9/11. He specifically said that he didn’t know if it would have stopped 9/11, but he neglects to mention that—using his criteria—it couldn’t have been in time to stop.

He’s simply making up a motivating discovery that didn’t actually occur.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I seem to recall reading that Clinton made some remark about envying FDR because FDR had WWII as an opportunity to show his greatness, whereas he had no such opportunity to "show his stuff". Obviously God loves the US.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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