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Monday, April 12, 2004

Boker Tov Monday


Marilyn Jensen uses a broom to knock snow off the branches of a tree
in a yard in Denver Saturday, April 10, 2004, after a spring storm moved
through the area. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


JEFF JACOBY: EVERYONE GOT IT WRONG BEFORE 9/11

We'll get to last week's big Washington story -- Condoleezza's Rice's testimony before the Sept. 11 Commission -- in a moment. But first, a short quiz:
1. Identify the following list of topics:

"The World Bank's mission creep"
"Getting debt relief right"
"Russia's unformed foreign policy"
"Japan, the reluctant reformer"
"With a friend like Fox"
"Caspian energy at the crossroads."

No clue? Don't feel bad. You would have to be suffering from acute foreign-policy wonkishness to recognize the table of contents from the September/ October 2001 issue of Foreign Affairs, the flagship publication of the Council on Foreign Relations. Like the curious incident of the dog in the night-time -- in the famous Sherlock Holmes tale, the "curious incident" was that the dog didn't bark -- the significance of these headlines is not in what they say but in what they don't say: The nation's leading journal of international relations was paying no attention to the threat from Islamist terror even as Islamist terrorists were planning the deadliest attack ever committed by foreign enemies on US soil.


2. Which US senator admitted on Sept. 11, 2001, "We have always known this could happen. . . . I regret to say -- I served on the Intelligence Committee up until last year. I can remember after the bombings of the embassies, after TWA 800, we went through this flurry of activity, talking about it -- but not really doing the hard work of responding.''

That was John Kerry on "Larry King Live," ruing his and his colleagues' pre-9/11 failure to give the threat from international terrorism the urgent attention and "hard work of responding" it should have had.


3. President Clinton's final national security policy paper, submitted to Congress in December 2000, was 45,000 words long. Yet it never once mentioned which international menace?

Al Qaeda. The document referred to Osama bin Laden just four times, and its discussion of terrorism spoke not of wiping out the killers in their nests but of extraditing "fugitives" to make them "answer for their crimes."
Which brings us back to Rice's appearance last week.

If anything has been obvious since 9/11, it is that the government of the United States, like the foreign-policy establishment generally, was grossly derelict in its understanding and handling of Islamist terrorism. That was true during the first eight months of the Bush presidency and it was true during the preceding 8 years of the Clinton presidency. For all the atmospherics of the Sept. 11 Commission, for all the partisan skirmishing of its Democrats and Republicans, there was no important difference between the two administrations prior to that terrible day. Rice's efforts to prove otherwise were largely unconvincing. So, a week earlier, were Richard Clarke's.

The simple truth was put bluntly by Rice in her opening statement: "The terrorists were at war with us, but we were not yet at war with them. . ."
Continue reading at Townhall.com.