Here's confirmation by the State Department, no less, that what many conservatives have been saying is true: the Clinton Administration let Osama bin Laden slip through its proverbial fingers; not once, but many times.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 - State Department analysts warned the Clinton administration in July 1996 that Osama bin Laden's move to Afghanistan would give him an even more dangerous haven as he sought to expand radical Islam "well beyond the Middle East," but the government chose not to deter the move, newly declassified documents show.(All emphasis mine.)
In what would prove a prescient warning, the State Department intelligence analysts said in a top-secret assessment on Mr. bin Laden that summer that "his prolonged stay in Afghanistan - where hundreds of 'Arab mujahedeen' receive terrorist training and key extremist leaders often congregate - could prove more dangerous to U.S. interests in the long run than his three-year liaison with Khartoum," in Sudan.
The declassified documents, obtained by the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act request and provided to The New York Times, shed light on a murky and controversial chapter in Mr. bin Laden's history: his relocation from Sudan to Afghanistan as the Clinton administration was striving to understand the threat he posed and explore ways of confronting him. [SNIP]
The State Department assessment, which came a year before he publicly urged Muslims to attack the United States, indicated that officials suspected he was taking a more active role, including in the bombings in June 1996 that killed 19 members American soldiers at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Two years after the State Department's warning, with Mr. bin Laden firmly entrenched in Afghanistan and overseeing terrorist training and financing operations, Al Qaeda struck two American embassies in East Africa, leading to failed military attempts by the Clinton administration to capture or kill him in Afghanistan. Three years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in an operation overseen from the base in Afghanistan. [SNIP]
The State Department assessment, written July 18, 1996, after Mr. bin Laden had been expelled from Sudan and was thought to be relocating to Afghanistan, said Afghanistan would make an "ideal haven" for Mr. bin Laden to run his financial networks and attract support from radicalized Muslims. Moreover, his wealth, his personal plane and many passports "allow him considerable freedom to travel with little fear of being intercepted or tracked," and his public statements suggested an "emboldened" man capable of "increased terrorism," the assessment said.
This isn’t rocket science. Bin Laden’s pattern was to warn, to strike, and in subsequent strikes, to up the ante both in body count and audacity (the USS Cole breaks the body count pattern), topping things off with 9/11 eight months after President Bush first took office. And the State Department predicted it after bin Laden moved to his comfy new digs in Afghanistan. And next to nothing was done about it on the highest levels of leadership.
From the first strike occurring one month after his first inauguration, President Clinton did nothing, acted ineptly or quit after failure in the face of Islamist terrorism, after repeated warnings and repeated strikes. And this now is confirmed by that bastion of conservatism, the State Department. What else is there to analyze?
There’s something, however, about the reaction to nineties terrorism that I don’t get it. Soldiers, Airman, Sailors and Marines died all through that decade via terror attacks without being enabled by the Commander-in-Chief to strike back and no one blockaded President Clinton's private home--wherever that was--asking why those men and women had to die. Hundreds of civilians—American and others—got blown to bits during the nineties, some for being American, others for simply being near Americans and no organizations or commissions were formed to investigate the failure to prevent those occurrences.
But let 911 occur, let thousands of civilians and GIs die and let the subsequent president have an (R) behind his name and let him act decisively to make terrorists think twice about attacking Americans and everyone with an activist gene in their DNA comes out of the wood work to scream in protest. Let a Soldier or a Marine die while shooting back or let his/her brothers-in-arms avenge his/her death, then all of a sudden these activists care about those "poor, stupid/deluded, misused military personnel."
Let any Republican president Do Something besides sit on his hands and worry about the opinion polls and all of a sudden it’s time to march, to label, to disrupt, to obstruct, to concoct and to investigate.
I don’t want President Clinton to give some national-televised mea culpa to the country. What he did (or rather, didn’t do) cannot be undone and at least he has had the integrity (or good sense) to acknowledge how, in 1998, he was talking the same talk as GWB. (The walk, obviously, is another story). I don’t even want the activist contingent to acknowledge that they really couldn’t give a rat’s backside about the heroic death of Casey Sheehan or the deaths—heroic or not—of any
I just want them to get out of the way while men and women of action Do Something to protect this country and this way of life.
Is it too much to ask?
UPDATE: I've changed my mind about President Clinton:
Only at one point in our discussion does [President Clinton] allow something harsh about his successor. "I always thought," he says, "that bin Laden was a bigger threat than the Bush administration did."As usual, all talk and no walk. He and the NYT big boys must have forgotten to compare notes.
I also wish,” he continues, “I desperately wish, that I had been president when the FBI and CIA finally confirmed, officially, that bin Laden was responsible for the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. Then we could have launched an attack on Afghanistan early. I don’t know if it would have prevented 9/11, but it certainly would have complicated it.”Now I know they forgot to compare notes.
Let's watch and wait for the reaction from the activist contingent to this blatant mendacity regarding national security on the part of yet another Democratic former president. It sure to follow directly.
(Thanks to Ken Wheaton, who is blog-sitting for the Commissar)
UPDATE: This soldier and I are on the same wavelength. Additionally, he gives some perspective on Iraq.