Clinton: Repressing the lessons of non-history
By Murray Soupcoff
posted June 17, 2002
The current joint Senate-House committee hearings on the intelligence
failings leading up to the tragic events of 9/11 appear to be continuing
a typical political tradition on Capital Hill -- spinning political wheels
in the service of appearing to do something, while accomplishing absolutely
nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.
To this observer anyway, that's seems to be the best description of all
the manufactured sound and fury emanating from these current joint congressional
hearings into pre-9/11 intelligence failures.
The biggest problem is that the hearings aren't "hearing" from the appropriate
sources. Everyone from the current lame-duck FBI director to the current
know-nothing Bush favorite who shepherds the CIA will be questioned. But
for this joint congressional committee, history oddly starts at the beginning
of the Bush administration (commencing on January 20, 2001). The history
of miscues, failings and overall ineptitude that characterized the intelligence
community before that date -- under the neglectful watch of none of other
than Bill "Bubba" Clinton -- seems to be of no interest to the committee,
even though the roots of the colossal 9/11 intelligence lapse obviously
lie within that checkered historical period.
FBI whistle-blower Coleen Rowley testifies during
a Senate Judiciary Committee's Department of Justice oversight hearing
on counter-terrorism on Capitol Hill on June 6. In her first public
appearance since sending a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller last
month, agent Rowley told the Committee that layers of bureaucracy
and an attitude of careerism were hurting the agency
As a result, Washington's political pros will undoubtedly leave no stone
unturned in discovering what the current FBI director knew or didn't know
before Sept 11th, even though he was on he job for one week before the
cataclysmic events of 9/11 occurred. But the man who presided over the
FBI information drought through the key years during which the hijackers
were meticulously planning their misdeeds -- Louis Freeh -- won't be in
evidence. As far as the joint Senate-House committee is concerned, Mr.
Freeh never existed.
Nor did the 1993 FBI electronic eavesdropping which produced the first
firm evidence that officials of Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation (an
Islamo-fascist charity quickly shut down by the Bush administration after
9/11) had met to discuss raising funds for Hamas training schools and
building up pensions for the families of suicide bombers.
As a result, not a question will be posed as to why Mr. Freeh, or his
superiors in the Clinton White House, failed to shut down this growing
American-based infrastructure for would-be terrorists.
And of course, nary a word will be spoken about Bill Clinton's refusal
to heed advice from the FBI in 1996 to "prohibit fund-raising by Islamic
terrorists and identify terrorist organizations", as described by Dick
Morris in his New York Post column of January 2, 2002. According
to Morris, who was there as a close adviser to Bill Clinton, Clinton ignored
those recommendations for fear that such actions would be viewed as politically
incorrect -- racial profiling of Islamic charities.
But as far as the joint House-Senate committee is concerned, that all
occurred in some twilight zone of non-history, populated by non-persons
who don't exist anymore.
Speaking of non-persons (as defined by the joint Senate-House intelligence
hearing), there will naturally be no appearances on the hill by that devious
little squirt George Stephanopoulos (a close Clinton adviser at the time),
or by bungling former Attorney-General Janet Reno -- two of the Clinton
administrations' strongest opponents of going after Hamas supporters on
American soil because of the possible infringement of their "civil liberties"
(please, no raucous laughter -- current non-persons, Stephanopoulos and
Reno, were entirely serious about this issue, to the future detriment
of a lot of innocent New Yorkers who were permanently deprived of their
civil liberties by the destruction of the World Trade Center).
According to Morris, similar 'civil liberty' and 'profiling' arguments
were made against a separate recommendation to require that drivers' licenses
and visas for non-citizens expire simultaneously, so that illegal aliens
pulled over in traffic stops could be identified and (if appropriate)
deported. In particular, little Georgie Stephanopoulos stressed the "potential
abuse" of such profiling and the political harm to the president's Hispanic
base if such measures were implemented.
Of course, as noted by Morris in his Post column, had the FBI recommendation
being adopted by Bill Clinton, Mohammed Atta might have been deported
after he was stopped for driving without a license three months before
be piloted an American Airlines jet into the World Trade Center .
And so it goes throughout this long, troubled era of Clinton-administration
non-history, as defined by the joint Senate-House committee. However,
since were dealing with non-history, there will be no questions asked
about any of these troubling episodes. Nor will any questions be posed
regarding why after being constantly warned that the Taliban regime was
inextricably linked to Osama bin Laden's al-qaeda network, William Jefferson
Clinton still refused to consider military action of any kind against
According to the joint committee, I suppose, none of that really happened
(nudge, nudge, wink, wink -- say no more). It's all just a bunch of non-history
The problem is that no joint congressional hearing is going to get to
the bottom of the giant intelligence breakdown that "enabled" the 9/11
attacks if it's going to politicize the whole process with a giant memory
breakdown of its own. Pretending that official history only began the
day George Bush stepped into office is akin to trying to confine an analysis
of the causes of the Second World War to the events of 1939, proceeding
as if the Treaty of Versaille, the Weimar Republic and the Great Depression
had never occurred.
This joint hearing makes for good political theatre. And it will keep
the mainstream press happy with a stream of revelations about the keystone-cops
antics of that inept bunch of bungling Bush-appointed bureaucratic retreads
who currently helm America's key security agencies. But as far as getting
to the heart of the problem is concerned, this is obviously a very narrow
and shortsighted inquiry.
According to an oft-quoted maxim, those who cannot learn from the mistakes
of history are compelled to repeat them. Sadly, that maxim no doubt also
applies to non-history too.
Murray Soupcoff is the author of 'Canada 1984' and a former radio and
television producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He also
was Executive Editor of We Compute Magazine for several years, and is
now the Managing Editor of the popular Canadian conservative Web site,
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