The current debate over whether the findings of a Pentagon anti-terrorism task force had been given to the 9-11 commission has resulted in renewed attacks on Bill Clinton by Republican journalists and radio shock jocks. The new information does demonstrate that the Pentagon knew Mohammed Atta was a potential threat. Rush Limbauigh has jumped from this to claiming Clinton must also have known about Atta.
The Clinton Justice Department is being blamed for erecting a wall prevented intelligence agencies from sharing information with thge FBI. In fact, the Justice Department was enforcing legislation passed before Clinton entered the White House.
The second charge, made by a retired Pentagon anti-terrorism expert, was that Clinton only considered Al Qaeda as a criminal justice problem. In fact, Clinton sent teams to assassinate bin Laden, sought unsuccessfully on two occasions to get the Joint Chiefs to approve military action against Al Qaeda, and unsuccessfully attacked an Al Qaeda base with missiles. There were other military actions taken, including keeping missile subs in position to launch more attacks.
The third claim is that Sudan offered to turn ocver Bin Laden but that the Clinton administration was not interested. The only attack on the former president worth consideration appeared in Vanity Fair, where it was alleged that the Clinton administration refused to even consider a Sudanese offer to turn over Osama bin Laden and vital information. When the Sudanese government offered to turn over Bin Laden in 1996 , the FBI told the administration that it lacked evidence to indict him and the matter was dropped. At that time, Bin Laden was not seen as a major problem. Indeed, the American intelligence community only began to take him seriously in 1995. The magazine’s claim was vigorously denied by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other Clinton officials. They detailed repeated efforts to discuss Bin Laden with Sudan and obtain information. They denied blocking FBI efforts to deal separately with the Sudan. The Sudanese were anxious to improve their image if they could besmirch that of their American detractors in the process.
It is likely that the FBI was willing to assist in this process and that the State Department had been unwilling to let the bureau deal separately with the Sudanese. The original article left the impression that the administration had little interest in enlisting Sudanese cooperation, a claim that appears clearly false. The sources for the article were the Sudanese government and the first Bush administration’s ambassador to the Sudan. If the offers existed, they were made to the security apparatus and not to the State Department. It is clear that the Sudanese government has a long history of supporting terrorism and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Christians.
Lacking a full investigation, it comes down to who is most believable. The Clinton administration had no reason to trust the Sudanese because the CIA believed it had evidence that, with the help of Osama bin Laden, it was attempting to manufacture biochemical weapons.
The Clinton administration in 1998 had sent cruise missiles to destroy a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant were materials for chemical weapons were being manufactured. The television networks showed film clips of the movie "Wag the Dog" and conveyed the impression that the action was intended to divert attention from Clinton’s scandals. It was widely reported that the plant only made medicines and the belief was that the strike Clinton had carried out the attacks to distract people from his impeachment problems. However, most intelligence professionals did not criticize Clinton’s decision. In 2002, evidence was made public that the administration was correct in its initial assessment. The CIA later found the precursor of VX nerve gas outside the plant. The plant was owned by Mohammed Hussein al Amoudi and Khalid Bin Mahfouz. Al Amoudi was later accused of financing Al Qaeda, and bin Mahfouz is Osama bin Laden’s brother in law and had a number of business ties to the Bushes.
After the Khartoum bombing, the Clinton administration "actually waged a vigorous campaign against bin Laden…." and doubled the counterterrorism budget. It eventually kept two Los Angeles class submarines in the Persian Gulf for the purpose of launcing missiles against terrorists.
Marc Rich, whose treatment of Clinton has generally been balanced, has suggested that Clinton’s main failure in battling terrorism was for not firing Louis Freeh, whose bureaucratic and traditional style as director of the FBI was considered by Clinton advisors to be a major impediment to dealing with terrorists. Two National Security Council staffers who worked on counter-terrorism have noted that Freeh’s FBI refused to cooperate with the NSC in anti-terrorism efforts and would not pass on information it had. Freeh detested Clinton, was busy investigating him, and even refused to obey the directives of Attorney General Janet Reno. Yet the firing of Freeh would have been the occasion for an enormous political firestorm as the Right venerated him for his relentless and highly partisan pursuit of Clinton and his actions, which undercut Attorney General Janet Reno, whom the Right also detested.
Despite these problems, the Clinton administration prevented the millennium bombing of the Los Angeles airport and several related bomb plots. The administration actively sought ways to thwart Bin Laden, and Janet Reno attempted to assist John O’Neill, the most effective FBI counter-terrorist operative. However, he faced determined opposition at the highest levels of the FBI and was eventually forced to resign. William Danvers, a former special national security advisor to Clinton, answered the criticisms of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, an aid to Vice President Richard Cheney, who disparaged the Clinton administration’s accomplishments in combating terror. He noted that Clinton doubled the anti-terrorism budget and succeeded in thwarting expected millennium attacks. Those who first bombed the World Trade Center were also caught on Clinton’s watch. He seemed to confirm reports that the second Bush administration had reduced the anti-terrorism efforts they found in place.
"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
- Sherman De Brosse
- Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!