Friday, July 23, 2004

Commission Report Roundup

I have not read and will not read the 9-11 Commission report -- I simply do not have the time.

The press reports have noted that the Commission neither blames Clinton nor blames Bush, but does put a lot of blame on Congress for failure of oversight and on the CIA/FBI for failure of imagination. This is a political result -- don't blame the President who knew of the terrorist threat for 7.5 years and who did nothing to stop it after the first World Trade Center attack, whose Justice Department fortified and extended the "wall" separating FBI criminal and counterterrorism investigations (and CIA information sharing) and whose Justice Department did not even brief the new Attorney General about the Millenium Bomb Plot After Action Review memo. (See here for a discussion).

Furthermore, there is no reason that the Congress should shoulder the bulk of the blame for 9-11 itself. Keeping the country safe, handling international relations and gathering intelligence are all executive branch functions. Of course the Church Committee, the defenestration of the intelligence services and the general hamstringing of the CIA are all attributable to Congressional meddling. But the creeping bureaucratism, risk-aversion and lack of imagination in the FBI, CIA and NSC are all changeable by the head of those organizations (Bill Casey did this to some degree in the face of Congressional opposition in the Reagan years).

Here is a round-up of some analysis by those who know more about the 9-11 Commission report than The Monk:

In the Wall Street Journal, Louis Freeh says we should have gone after Al-Qaeda six years ago.

Also in the Journal, Charles Hill derides the US reliance on commissions to provide the impossible -- near certainty. If the WSJ links don't work, don't blame me -- subscription only.

For free info, check out National Review Online:

Michael Ledeen says the report is incomplete.

Byron York challenges the Bush haters to correct their claims that Iraq and al-Qaeda had no connections.

Rich Lowry looks at how the Bush-haters fare in light of the report.

In the Daily Standard, Daniel McKivergan details how the Commission confirmed the Iraq ties to al-Qaeda.

On Slate, Joshua Foer gives a rundown of how the major newspapers are dealing with the Commission report and Fred Kaplan praises the report.

See also: James Joyner's articles on Tech Central Station and Strategic Insights on the Iraq link to al-Qaeda.

[sent to Outside the Beltway]

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