Friday, July 23, 2004

Bush 1, Bush Haters 0

During his televised testimony before the 9/11 Commission, and in his subsequent book, Richard Clarke asserted that when he briefed the incoming Bush administration in 2001, National Security adviser Condoleezza Rice had never heard of Al-Queda. The Democrats used his testimony to launch an assault on the Bush Administration’s efforts before the attacks of September 11th, suggesting that the Bush Administration had no plan against terror until after we had been attacked. Of course this was not true, but that minor detail did not stop the press and the Democrats from running with the story for weeks in an attempt to undermine the administrations credibility and place most of the blame for the attacks at the feet of the President.

More recently Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 played to this assertion in a famous scene of the President at a golf course telling reporters that he planned to unit the world to fight terror just before he asked them to watch his drive. This was used in the movie to “prove” that the Bush administration wasn’t serious about terror before the attacks.

The administration responded to the attacks in the media and the press by laying out the proposals and decisions it had made in the first month regarding fighting Al-Queda. This included scrapping the Clinton era plan of pin prick responses to attacks in exchange for an overall strategy to eliminate Al-Queda in three to five years. The press was not as anxious to cover the administrations response, which was laid out by Condoleezza Rice in her televised testimony. The 9/11 Commission reports addressed the transition period and reports that the Bush administration had indeed had planned to take out Al-Queda from the opening days of their term:

After the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, evidence accumulated that it had been launched by al Qaeda operatives, but without confirmation that Bin Ladin had given the order. The Taliban had earlier been warned that it would be held responsible for another Bin Ladin attack on the United States. The CIA described its findings as a “preliminary judgment”; President Clinton and his chief advisers told us they were waiting for a conclusion before deciding whether to take military action. The military alternatives remained unappealing to them.
The transition to the new Bush administration in late 2000 and early 2001 took place with the Cole issue still pending. President George W. Bush and his chief advisers accepted that al Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the Cole, but did not like the options available for a response.
The Bush administration began developing a new strategy with the stated goal of eliminating the al Qaeda threat within three to five years.
While the United States continued disruption efforts around the world, its emerging strategy to eliminate the al Qaeda threat was to include an enlarged covert action program in Afghanistan, as well as diplomatic strategies for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The process culminated during the summer of 2001 in a draft presidential directive and arguments about the Predator aircraft, which was soon to be deployed with a missile of its own, so that it might be used to attempt to kill Bin Ladin or his chief lieutenants. At a September 4 meeting, President Bush’s chief advisers approved the draft directive of the strategy and endorsed the concept of arming the Predator. This directive on the al Qaeda strategy was awaiting President Bush’s signature on September 11, 2001.

For more analysis refer to Powerline.