Louis Freeh writes in today's Wall Street Journal, Before 9/11--and After, that the US wasn't ready to fight before 9/11, but once the attacks happened, we were. Here's part of it:
Al Qaeda was at war with the U.S. even before Sept. 11, 2001. In August 1998, it attacked our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In December 1999, one of al Qaeda's soldiers, Ahmed Ressam, entered the U.S. to bomb Los Angeles airport. In October 2000, al Qaeda attacked the USS Cole in the port of Aden.
The question before the 9/11 Commission is why our political leadership declared war back on al Qaeda only after Sept. 11, 2001. Osama bin Laden had been indicted years before for blowing up American soldiers and embassies and was known as a clear and present danger to the U.S. So what would have happened had the U.S. declared war on al Qaeda before Sept. 11? Endless and ultimately useless speculation about "various threads and pieces of information," which are certainly "relevant and significant," at least in retrospect, will not take us very far in answering this central question.
On Jan. 26, 2001, at 8:45 a.m., I had my first meeting with President Bush and Vice President Cheney. They had been in office four days. We discussed terrorism, and in particular al Qaeda, the African embassy bombings, the Cole attack and the June 1996 Khobar bombing in Saudi Arabia. When I advised the president that Hezbollah and Iran were responsible for Khobar, he directed me to follow-up with Condoleezza Rice. I did so at 2:30 p.m. that day and she told me to pursue our investigation with the attorney general and to bring whatever charges possible. Within weeks, a new prosecutor was put in charge of the case and on June 21 an indictment was returned against 13 Hezbollah men who had been directed to bomb Khobar by senior officials of the Iranian government. I know that the families of the 19 murdered airmen were deeply grateful to President Bush and Ms. Rice for their prompt response and focus on terrorism.
It's clear to me that the 9/11 Commission has devolved into partisanship. Unfortunately, the partisanship is limited to the democrats, while the Republicans sit back like a bunch of doofuses and act non-partisan. Could we have picked more limp-dicked losers for the Republican side? Geez, when are these idiots going to wake up and see what's going on? Do they expect to "get them" on the final report? By that time, no one will care, and the damage will have been done to Bush. These idiots need to realize that the dems on that commission have one purpose and one purpose only -- beat George Bush. They don't care about figuring out what happened on 9/11. If last week's performance by the dems' (ben Veniste and Kerrey) questioning Condi Rice wasn't enough to convince people that they're not interested in facts, then what is it going to take -- a bat in the face?