Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Blame Game - Part Deux

The issue of "Able Danger" identifying an al Qaida cell before 9/11 resurfaced again today. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer came forward, claiming he alerted the FBI in September 2000. (CNN: Able Danger man identifies himself).

The Able Danger situation is a classic case of 20:20 hindsight in action. The 9/11 Commission summed it up rather nicely: "Weighing this with the information about Atta's actual activities, the negligible information available about Atta to other U.S. government agencies and the German government before 9/11, and the interviewer's assessment of the interviewee's knowledge and credibility, the Commission staff concluded that the officer's account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation."

There have been other recent attempts to link information about bin Laden's whereabouts in 1996 to lapses in the Clinton Administration. Now, I'm certainly no Clinton apologist - far from it, in fact - but attempting to place the blame for 9/11 on any administration is ludicrous. There simply was no way to predict that event, regardless of how much information we attempt to piece together in hindsight.

The blame for the growth of Islamic extremism and our inability to counter that growth can be shared by every administration for the last 35 years. Overt US action in response to terror related events from the taking of US hostages in Iran all the way through the days immediately preceding 9/11 was virtually non-existent. What covert activity may have been taking place, of course, is unknown.

Continuing to play the blame game serves no useful purpose other than to further divide us as a nation. Let's stop looking to the past to assign blame and start looking to the future to assign responsibility. Anything else is counterproductive.


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