Saturday, July 24, 2004

What Really Might Have Prevented 9/11

From the New York Sun:

“In his meeting with Tenet, Berger focused most, however, on the question of what was to be done with Bin Ladin if he were actually captured. He worried that the hard evidence against Bin Ladin was still skimpy and that there was a danger of snatching him and bringing him to the United States only to see him acquitted,” the report says, citing a May 1, 1998, Central Intelligence Agency memo summarizing the weekly meeting between Messrs. Berger and Tenet.
In June of 1999, another plan for action against Mr. bin Laden was on the table. The potential target was a Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan known as Tarnak Farms. The commission report released yesterday cites Mr. Berger’s “handwritten notes on the meeting paper” referring to “the presence of 7 to 11 families in the Tarnak Farms facility, which could mean 60-65 casualties.”According to the Berger notes, “if he responds, we’re blamed.”
On December 4, 1999, the National Security Council’s counterterrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, sent Mr. Berger a memo suggesting a strike in the last week of 1999 against Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Reports the commission: “In the margin next to Clarke’s suggestion to attack Al Qaeda facilities in the week before January 1, 2000, Berger wrote, ‘no.’ ”
In August of 2000, Mr. Berger was presented with another possible plan for attacking Mr. bin Laden.This time, the plan would be based on aerial surveillance from a “Predator” drone. Reports the commission: “In the memo’s margin,Berger wrote that before considering action, ‘I will want more than verified location: we will need, at least, data on pattern of movements to provide some assurance he will remain in place.’ ”
In other words, according to the commission report, Mr. Berger was presented with plans to take action against the threat of Al Qaeda four separate times — Spring 1998, June 1999, December 1999, and August 2000. Each time, Mr. Berger was an obstacle to action. Had he been a little less reluctant to act, a little more open to taking pre-emptive action, maybe the 2,973 killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks would be alive today.
It really doesn’t matter now what was in the documents from the National Archives that Mr. Berger says he inadvertently misplaced. The evidence in the commission’s report yesterday is more than enough to embarrass him thoroughly."

Now, noone is going to say it, but I will.  If anything could have been done to prevent 9/11 and the deaths of 3000 Americans, then it would have been acting on one of those instances when we had bin Laden in our military sights.   President Clinton's National Security Advisor, Mr. Berger,  has a lot to answer for because of his poor judgement over the years of his tenure.  Removing classified documents (possibly those that detail his repeated refusal to get bin Laden when we had an opportunity) is just one more example of his poor judgement in an administration that had other priorities.  Of all the 20/20 hindsight in the 9/11  Commission Report, nothing can get around the simple fact that if we had killed bin Laden--who had declared war on us in 1998--it is likely that his plotting would have come to naught.  One of the major reasons 9/11 ocurred was the indecisive, politically correct,  pussy-footing around of a bunch of "girlie-men" who were supposed to be acting to protect the American people.  They had numerous chances to act and just couldn't bring themselves to do it.  Do you think John Kerry will be able to, if he becomes President?  After all, Sandy Berger was his national security advisor until this latest embarassment. 

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