The horrible acts of September 11th, 2001, separated Americans into three groups. One group lives in a Sept. 10th world that has yet to see the horror. Based on their world view, they object to the fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world wherever terrorists lurk because they believe terrorists should be prosecuted as criminals by the justice department and police. During the Clinton administration, the terrorists responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 were tried in our courts, and the sad truth is that this response only emboldened other terrorists, leading them to further bombings in Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and Tanzania, and the ramming of the USS Cole. People living in a Sept. 10th world believe that talking to people who hate us will solve all of our problems, as if there were some magical phrase that, once uttered, would stop terrorists from wanting to cut off our heads.

Another group continues to live in a Sept. 11th world, with all the fear and mind-numbing shock of that terrible day. They are reduced to crying and hand-wringing over the acts of the terrorists–and worse, they see our military response to terrorists in the same way. They appear to be unable to differentiate between the deranged and indiscriminate violence of al Qaeda and the controlled and directed violence of our military. My wife thinks that many of the 9/11 “Truthers” are stuck on this day, which explains why they want to blame President Bush and the government for the attacks. Rather than focusing on fighting the terrorists who actually hijacked the planes, they direct their fear and hatred towards President Bush because deep down they know that their hatred of the President is safe from dangerous retaliation. To them, President Bush is the safer target.

Then there is a group of Americans who live in a Sept. 12th world. This group recognizes that there are terrorists who hate us, our freedoms, and our industry and prosperity. Yes, the terrorists who hate us and the countries that sponsor them could have their own freedoms, industry, and prosperity, but that would require work on their part. It’s far easier for them to hate us and try to destroy us. People living in a Sept. 12th world realize that terrorists won’t go away even if we wish for it extra, extra hard, nor will they go away if we try to buy them off. So as long as they want to kill us, we will have to keep them from their goal. And for seven years now, that has meant sending our military into harm’s way to do the job it does best: killing people and breaking things. It’s not popular with the terrorists, nor is it popular with people living in a Sept. 10th or 11th world. But it is necessary.

Regardless of which mental category we fall into, the sad truth remains that that we physically live in a Sept. 12th world. And we will remain in a Sept. 12th world until radical terrorists have given up trying to destroy us. That will in all probability take a while, but like most long-term endeavors, it’s a goal worth pursuing.

Terrorists struck the U.S. on this day in 2001, but since then, we have been blessed with six years of peace here in our country. Three years ago I wrote that it’s a question of when, not if, we will be struck again. I was sure that we would have been attacked again in 2004, but I am happy that it didn’t happen. Yet I remain certain that we will be struck again, so what will be our response when they strike? I’ll say it again:

What will be our response to the next big strike? Will we bury our dead, roll up our sleeves, and proceed to clean out the human cesspool that is terrorism? Or will we follow Spain’s lead? After the March 11th bombings, Spaniards marched in the streets shouting their anger and will to fight. But mere days later, they crawled to the voting booth and voted for a Socialist leader who pulled them out of Iraq and cried, “Don’t hurt us!” First they stood tall, then they rolled over on their backs and pissed themselves in fear. If this wasn’t a victory for the terrorists, what would be?

We have a choice: we can spread the freedom that we are blessed with across the nations, as we have done with 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq, or we can crawl before our attackers as the Spaniards did. President Bush wants us and the world to be free. But looking at the Democrats’ words and actions, I am left to believe that they are willing to quit and run.

Me? I prefer to stand up to evil. How about you?

On Sunday and Monday of this weekend, ABC will broadcast “The Path to 9/11,” or as ABC puts it:

ABC will present “The Path to 9/11,” a dramatization of the events detailed in The 9/11 Commission Report and other sources, in an epic miniseries event that will air with limited commercial interruption.

The Left in this country are already getting riled up over this miniseries, but I’m not sure whether they are more concerned about the dramatization of events they say didn’t happen, or that so much blame is laid at the feet of their beloved President Clinton.

A common complaint voiced about the miniseries is that it shows events that didn’t happen. Here’s how this was written up at ThinkProgress.org:

The first night of Path to 9/11 has a dramatic scene where former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger refuses to give the order to the CIA to take out bin Laden — even though CIA agents, along with the Northern Alliance, have his house surrounded. Rush Limbaugh, who refers to Nowrasteh as “a friend of mine,” reviews the action:

So the CIA, the Northern Alliance, surrounding a house where bin Laden is in Afghanistan, they’re on the verge of capturing, but they need final approval from the Clinton administration in order to proceed.

So they phoned Washington. They phoned the White House. Clinton and his senior staff refused to give authorization for the capture of bin Laden because they’re afraid of political fallout if the mission should go wrong, and if civilians were harmed… Now, the CIA agent in this is portrayed as being astonished. “Are you kidding?” He asked Berger over and over, “Is this really what you guys want?”

Berger then doesn’t answer after giving his first admonition, “You guys go in on your own. If you go in we’re not sanctioning this, we’re not approving this,” and Berger just hangs up on the agent after not answering any of his questions.

ThinkProgress has obtained a response to this scene from Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar for Bush I, Clinton and Bush II, and now counterterrorism adviser to ABC:

1. Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden.

2. Contrary to the movie, the head of the Northern Alliance, Masood, was no where near the alleged bin Laden camp and did not see UBL.

3. Contrary to the movie, the CIA Director actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced and we would have no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it.

In short, this scene — which makes the incendiary claim that the Clinton administration passed on a surefire chance to kill or catch bin Laden — never happened. It was completely made up by Nowrasteh.

The actual history is quite different. According to the 9/11 Commission Report (pg. 199), then-CIA Director George Tenet had the authority from President Clinton to kill Bin Laden. Roger Cressy, former NSC director for counterterrorism, has written, “Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda.”

That charge is pretty damning. I listened to the local Air America Radio show as I drove into work this morning, and the host had someone on who was identified as an editor for ThinkProgressive.com. He stated in solemn tones that the above Sandy Berger scene didn’t happen, and “nothing like it happened.” Really? Proving a negative is tough, but there may be something to the scene. Here is something the New York Sun printed in the summer of 2004 about Sandy Berger, based on the 9/11 Commission’s report.

Well, look now to what the 9/11 report has to say about the man to whom President Clinton, under attack by an independent counsel, delegated so much in respect of national security, Samuel “Sandy” Berger. The report cites a 1998 meeting between Mr. Berger and the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, at which Mr. Tenet presented a plan to capture Osama bin Laden.

“In his meeting with Tenet, Berger focused most, however, on the question of what was to be done with Bin Ladin if he were actually captured. He worried that the hard evidence against Bin Ladin was still skimpy and that there was a danger of snatching him and bringing him to the United States only to see him acquitted,” the report says, citing a May 1, 1998, Central Intelligence Agency memo summarizing the weekly meeting between Messrs. Berger and Tenet.

In June of 1999, another plan for action against Mr. bin Laden was on the table. The potential target was a Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan known as Tarnak Farms. The commission report released yesterday cites Mr. Berger’s “handwritten notes on the meeting paper” referring to “the presence of 7 to 11 families in the Tarnak Farms facility, which could mean 60-65 casualties.” According to the Berger notes, “if he responds, we’re blamed.”

On December 4, 1999, the National Security Council’s counterterrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, sent Mr. Berger a memo suggesting a strike in the last week of 1999 against Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Reports the commission: “In the margin next to Clarke’s suggestion to attack Al Qaeda facilities in the week before January 1, 2000, Berger wrote, ‘no.’ “

In August of 2000, Mr. Berger was presented with another possible plan for attacking Mr. bin Laden. This time, the plan would be based on aerial surveillance from a “Predator” drone. Reports the commission: “In the memo’s margin, Berger wrote that before considering action, ‘I will want more than verified location: we will need, at least, data on pattern of movements to provide some assurance he will remain in place.’ “

In other words, according to the commission report, Mr. Berger was presented with plans to take action against the threat of Al Qaeda four separate times — Spring 1998, June 1999, December 1999, and August 2000. Each time, Mr. Berger was an obstacle to action. Had he been a little less reluctant to act, a little more open to taking pre-emptive action, maybe the 2,973 killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks would be alive today.

So here are four known examples of Berger blocking action against al-Qaeda. We cannot say for sure that these were the only times Berger blocked action against al-Qaeda, because the documentary evidence is now tainted by *drum roll* Sandy Berger himself. Berger confessed to removing top secret documents from the National Archive, and destroying some of them. Because he was unsupervised during these visits, it is very possible that he substituted uncommented copies of these documents. For this, he got a slap on the wrist. This is why Rush Limbaugh refers to him as “Sandy Burglar.”

This whole brouhaha about the miniseries leads me to wonder whether writer Cyrus Nowrasteh created this scene based on some specific information he has, or whether the scene represents an amalgam of the four times Berger blocked action against bin Laden, or whether it is just a bit of creative writing for dramatic effect.

I understand that ABC says this miniseries is “a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources, including the 9/11 Commission report, other published materials and from personal interviews.” But does that grant them license to fiddle with the facts for dramatic effect?

And if this miniseries has unsubstantiated scenes added for dramatic effect, doesn’t it fall into the “fake, but accurate” camp? I’m not sure I like the sound of that.

This day brings me bittersweet feelings. I am heartbroken over the death of thousands on that day four years ago, but I can be content in the knowledge that in our response to these thugs, 50 million people are now freed from oppressive dictatorships that supported terrorists acts like the ones we saw that September morning. Sitting on my shelf is a documentary about New York firefighters, filmed by two French brothers named Jules and Gedeon Naudet. I have held off watching it these four years, but I will watch it today. I missed the documentary put together by National Geographic, but I plan on buying that soon as well. I don’t want to forget why America is at war with terrorists.

Below are eleven images from the slideshow available at Little Green Footballs. If anyone asks me why we are doing what we are doing, I point them to Charles’ slideshow.

Incoming Plane

Second Plane Hits

Pentagon Burns

The Towers Burn

Three Falling

Trapped

The First Tower Falls

The Second Tower Falls

Died in the Service of Others

Empty Streets

Never Again

There are moments in your life that stick in your memory forever. My grandfather remembered Pearl Harbor and the twin joys of VE Day and VJ Day. My father remembers the day that Grandpa came back from fighting in the Pacific. He also told me about anxiously listening to the radio during the tense days of the Cuban missile crisis, and learning of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and later his brother, Robert F. Kennedy.

I don’t know if things really are happening faster in my life, or merely that I have lived through these experiences rather than learning about them secondhand. In my lifetime, I remember where I was the moment I heard President Reagan was shot. I watched live footage of the Challenger exploding on CNN, and wept as the Columbia disintegrated on re-entry. I remember the burning at Waco, Texas and the bombing two years later in Oklahoma City. The Berlin Wall coming down was a joy to see, since I had traveled through Checkpoint Charlie only a few years before. The explosion of Mount St. Helens, and the explosive LA riots showed me the level of destruction nature and man can produce. And I remember where I was as I learned about the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001. It has been three years since this tragic day.

Images from that day evoke many emotions for me: anger at those who did this, sadness for those who died, and compassion for those who watched their loved ones die. I originally picked the picture of the second plane flying into the World Trade Center for this post, but I changed my mind. The firemen who raised the flag at Ground Zero are an example of Americans working to make the United States better. To make this happen, those who support, plan, and execute acts of terror need to be hunted down and stopped. President Bush has served notice to the terrorists that their days are numbered, and warned the nations of the world that harboring terrorists will bring down American retribution. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has fallen, Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq is no more, and the U.S. remains free of any major terrorist attack to this day.

Will the U.S. be attacked again? Most certainly. But for three years the terrorists have been kept on the run, hiding in caves to avoid American military might. Three-fourths of al Qaeda’s leadership and structure is gone, either dead or captured. But al Qaeda is not the only terrorist group out there, and the battle to keep America safe and free from those who want us dead will continue for years, if not decades.

It will take determination, and that is the strongest feeling that the images of the September 11th attack evoke in me.

 

Some other good places to go today:
* Captain Ed writes about his view of today. He sees many of the same life-changing history events.
* Charles of Little Green Footballs writes about September 11th.

In a previous article, I wrote how the 9/11 Commission is following the political road map laid out in a leaked Democrat memo plotting to use “non-partisan” investigations to attack President Bush. While the Commission is being blatantly partisan, it is also illustrating how not to investigate an issue. Jonathan Rauch wrote up “The 9/11 Commission could learn more if it talked less” for the National Journal. He sums up how the commission has gone wrong and what it should do to make things right. His tagline for the article is “The most important job of the 9/11 commission is not to fix blame for past wrongdoing but to identify and correct continuing problems.” Needless to say, this is not happening.

So before this partisan commission steps up Dick Clark, a counter-terrorism chief in both the Clinton and Bush administrations. His book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, and his appearance before the 9/11 Commission catapulted him into his 15 minutes of fame. But what exactly is he saying in his book? In a glowing article of praise, Slate author Fred Kaplan sums up Clark’s claims this way:

In the summer of 2001, Bush did almost nothing to deal with mounting evidence of an impending al-Qaida attack. Then, after 9/11, his main response was to attack Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. This move not only distracted us from the real war on terrorism, it fed into Osama Bin Laden’s propaganda—that the United States would invade and occupy an oil-rich Arab country—and thus served as the rallying cry for new terrorist recruits.

But does this claim stand up to the facts? Supposedly President Bush’s main response to 9/11 was attacking Iraq. Really? Let’s see, from September 2001 to March 2003 seems to be a long time to start a “main response,” don’t you think? And we know the U.S. was completely focused on attacking Iraq during these eighteen months. After all, nothing else made the major news other than gearing up for the war in Iraq. Oh, wait. I guess something else happened first. Seems Dick Clark completely forgot the removal of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan. I guess the main response wasn’t going after Iraq, but going after al-Qaeda.

So what about his other claim that the Bush administration did almost nothing about an impending al-Qaeda attack? According to Clark’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission, he mentioned al-Qaeda to Dr. Condoleezza Rice and her expression said she didn’t even recognize the name. But Dr. Rice had made public statements over a year before September 11th about the threat from bin Laden. So did the Bush administration really drop the ball with al-Qaeda, as Clark states in his book? Not at all, if we are to believe his own words in a 2002 briefing to reporters. In this briefing, Clark stated that the Bush administration in early 2001 had “changed the strategy from one of rollback with al-Qaeda over the course [of] five years, which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of al-Qaeda.” Clark’s book says that the Clinton administration was clearly focused on terrorism and had extensive plans to combat it. All of these he says the Bush administration failed to carry out. But again, in his own words before reporters in 2002, Clark said, “I think the overall point is, there was no plan on al-Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.”

So Clark basically said one thing in his book and something completely different in 2002. As 9/11 Commission member Jim Thompson asked of Clark, “We have your book and we have your press briefing of August 2002. Which is true?” Clark responded that both are true, but this is impossible since the two statements are completely contradictory. Vice President Dick Cheney sums it up when he said of Dick Clark:

“So I guess, the other thing I would say about Dick Clark is that he was here throughout those eight years, going back to 1993, and the first attack on the World Trade Center; and ’98, when the embassies were hit in East Africa; in 2000, when the USS Cole was hit. And the question that ought to be asked is, what were they doing in those days when he was in charge of counterterrorism efforts?”

Since Dick Clark’s book has now been exposed as a load of tripe, it’s time to move onto the other bit of pig offal sitting on the 9/11 Commission. I am speaking of Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton. Since she was directly responsible for the “wall of separation” between the Justice Department and the CIA that prevented the two agencies from communicating with each other, she ought to be a witness called before the Commission, not sitting on it. Scott Jordan wrote “The Gorelick Rosetta Stone”, linking the Chinagate scandal of the Clinton administration with the tragedy that is the September 11th attacks:

To set the stage, recall that Bill Clinton ensured his loyal minions populated the US Attorneys’ offices nationwide when he fired every last US Attorney at the dawn of his Administration, then appointed his own. Next, as we have seen through Jamie Gorelick’s startling memo, he saw to it that domestic law enforcement was blinded to foreign intelligence information. He then methodically offered up White House access and key strategic technologies to the highest bidder: China, and Indonesian/Chinese billionaire donors with close ties to China’s dictatorial regime.

Thanks to Ms. Gorelick’s actions, the FBI and CIA were unable to share information with each other. Many people wonder why these agencies were able to gather information about the September 11th murderers so quickly but were unable to stop the attacks. The answer is that the dots were all there, but thanks to “Gorelick’s Wall” no one was in a position to connect them.

So who is ultimately to blame for the September 11th attacks? It was al-Qaeda specifically, and radical Islam generally. Don’t believe that radical Islam was behind this? Let me share with you this little quote offered up by Omar Bakri Muhammad on April 18th: “We don’t make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity.”

“Religion of Peace,” my eye.

In early November of 2003, a memo from Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller’s office was read on the air by Sean Hannity, a syndicated radio talk-show host and half of the “Hannity and Colmes” FOX TV show. This memo showed that the Democrats planned to use the pre-war intelligence investigations as a way of attacking President Bush. Democrat Senator Zell Miller released the following statement concerning this memo:

“I have often said that the process in Washington is so politicized and polarized that it can’t even be put aside when we’re at war. Never has that been proved more true than the highly partisan and perhaps treasonous memo prepared for the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee.

“Of all the committees, this is the one single committee that should unquestionably be above partisan politics. The information it deals with should never, never be distorted, compromised or politicized in any shape, form or fashion. For it involves the lives of our soldiers and our citizens. Its actions should always be above reproach; its words never politicized.

“If what has happened here is not treason, it is its first cousin. The ones responsible – be they staff or elected or both – should be dealt with quickly and severely sending a lesson to all that this kind of action will not be tolerated, ignored or excused.

“Heads should roll!”

Now fast-forward from the November memo to today. An investigation is making headlines, but this investigation isn’t looking into the intelligence leading up to the war to liberate Iraq. It is becoming increasingly clear that the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the official title of what is commonly called the 9/11 Commission) investigation into the September 11th, 2001 attacks is following the outline set up in last November’s Democrat memo.

This commission has become a vehicle for the Democrats on it to attack all things Bush.

If you haven’t figured this out from the beginning, you should have realized it with the circus act surrounding Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor to President Bush. She had already testified behind closed doors before the commission, but the Democrats demanded that she testify publicly. Why? I’ll give you a two-word answer: TV grandstanding. With the hoopla surrounding this commission, what political hack could resist getting face-time on national TV grilling the National Security Advisor? This is even better publicity than defacing your own billboard.

At one point, former Senator and, you guessed it, Democrat Bob Kerrey sniped at Dr. Rice for President Bush’s comment that he was tired of “swatting flies” when it came to fighting terrorism. “Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to al-Qaeda prior to 9/11?” Bob Kerrey demanded. “How the hell could he be tired?” While Dr. Rice tried to pass that off as a figure of speech, I don’t think she wanted to give him the unvarnished truth. If I were testifying in Dr. Rice’s place, I’d have responded this way: “Commissioner, President Bush saw that the response to terrorist attacks from 1993 to 2000 was to prosecute the people involved one by one, as common criminals. In effect, the Clinton administration, when it could be bothered, swatted at these people one by one as you would an annoying fly. President Bush knew that a massive response was necessary to oust al-Qaeda and other terrorists and terrorist nation-states. The Clinton years saw nothing but a limp-wristed bit of fly-swatting, and President Bush was tired of it.” Maybe there’s a reason why I wouldn’t last long in the national political scene.

If the commission truly wanted to have Dr. Rice testify before them, why did they speak about half as many words as Dr. Rice? That’s right, based on my quick rough count, the commission members spoke one word for every two that Dr. Rice got out. They weren’t there to get information from her; they were there to get face-time on TV and be seen pontificating and bloviating at her before the cameras.

The Democrats on this commission are not looking to see how we can improve our defense so we do not suffer another 9/11 attack. Rather, they are trying their best to point the finger of blame at President Bush. After all, didn’t President Bush have over 200 days in the White House to prevent the September 11th attacks? The dirty truth is that President Bush couldn’t start his term off running because of the vandalism caused by the departing administration. Damaged computers, phones ripped from the walls, vulgar graffiti and general vandalism prevented the smooth transition of power, thanks to members of the sulking Clinton-Gore administration. So here we have the previous administration who spent eight years doing practically nothing about terrorism, from the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center to their closing days in office. But it’s not their fault, claim the Democrats on the commission, it’s President Bush’s fault since he was the one in office when 9/11 happened.

But here’s the question: even if the Bush administration had received specific intelligence outlining the 9/11 attacks, what could it have done to stop them? If Bush knew that almost two dozen Arabic Muslim males between the ages of 18 and 40 were planning on hijacking airplanes on September 11th, he would have two options: ground all planes, or detain and question all male Arabs trying to get on flights that day. Can you imagine the liberal howling and ACLU lawsuits that would have come from either action? The hummus would have really hit the fan. If you want an example of what public reaction would have been if the Bush administration had acted on al-Qaeda threats before 9/11, you can read this article about the impeachment of President Bush on The New Republic’s website.

In the next article, I will write more about Dick Clark’s testimony before the commission, the botched nature of this commission, and the questionable placement of Jamie Gorelick on this commission. But I will leave you with this parting thought for now: the liberals are attacking President Bush for not taking preemptive action against the 9/11 attacks, and at the same time they are attacking President Bush for preemptively stepping into Iraq and removing the viper’s nest of corruption and terrorism sponsorship there. In this case, President Bush is truly damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.