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Sanitizing Clinton: Repressing the lessons of non-history

By Murray Soupcoff
web posted June 17, 2002

The current joint Senate-House committee hearings on the intelligence failings leading up to the tragic events of 9/11 appear to be continuing a typical political tradition on Capital Hill -- spinning political wheels in the service of appearing to do something, while accomplishing absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

To this observer anyway, that's seems to be the best description of all the manufactured sound and fury emanating from these current joint congressional hearings into pre-9/11 intelligence failures.

The biggest problem is that the hearings aren't "hearing" from the appropriate sources. Everyone from the current lame-duck FBI director to the current know-nothing Bush favorite who shepherds the CIA will be questioned. But for this joint congressional committee, history oddly starts at the beginning of the Bush administration (commencing on January 20, 2001). The history of miscues, failings and overall ineptitude that characterized the intelligence community before that date -- under the neglectful watch of none of other than Bill "Bubba" Clinton -- seems to be of no interest to the committee, even though the roots of the colossal 9/11 intelligence lapse obviously lie within that checkered historical period.

FBI whistle-blower Coleen Rowley testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee's Department of Justice oversight hearing on counter-terrorism on Capitol Hill on June 6. In her first public appearance since sending a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller last month, agent Rowley told the Committee that layers of bureaucracy and an attitude of careerism were hurting the agency
FBI whistle-blower Coleen Rowley testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee's Department of Justice oversight hearing on counter-terrorism on Capitol Hill on June 6. In her first public appearance since sending a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller last month, agent Rowley told the Committee that layers of bureaucracy and an attitude of careerism were hurting the agency

As a result, Washington's political pros will undoubtedly leave no stone unturned in discovering what the current FBI director knew or didn't know before Sept 11th, even though he was on he job for one week before the cataclysmic events of 9/11 occurred. But the man who presided over the FBI information drought through the key years during which the hijackers were meticulously planning their misdeeds -- Louis Freeh -- won't be in evidence. As far as the joint Senate-House committee is concerned, Mr. Freeh never existed.

Nor did the 1993 FBI electronic eavesdropping which produced the first firm evidence that officials of Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation (an Islamo-fascist charity quickly shut down by the Bush administration after 9/11) had met to discuss raising funds for Hamas training schools and building up pensions for the families of suicide bombers.

As a result, not a question will be posed as to why Mr. Freeh, or his superiors in the Clinton White House, failed to shut down this growing American-based infrastructure for would-be terrorists.

And of course, nary a word will be spoken about Bill Clinton's refusal to heed advice from the FBI in 1996 to "prohibit fund-raising by Islamic terrorists and identify terrorist organizations", as described by Dick Morris in his New York Post column of January 2, 2002. According to Morris, who was there as a close adviser to Bill Clinton, Clinton ignored those recommendations for fear that such actions would be viewed as politically incorrect -- racial profiling of Islamic charities.

But as far as the joint House-Senate committee is concerned, that all occurred in some twilight zone of non-history, populated by non-persons who don't exist anymore.

Speaking of non-persons (as defined by the joint Senate-House intelligence hearing), there will naturally be no appearances on the hill by that devious little squirt George Stephanopoulos (a close Clinton adviser at the time), or by bungling former Attorney-General Janet Reno -- two of the Clinton administrations' strongest opponents of going after Hamas supporters on American soil because of the possible infringement of their "civil liberties" (please, no raucous laughter -- current non-persons, Stephanopoulos and Reno, were entirely serious about this issue, to the future detriment of a lot of innocent New Yorkers who were permanently deprived of their civil liberties by the destruction of the World Trade Center).

According to Morris, similar 'civil liberty' and 'profiling' arguments were made against a separate recommendation to require that drivers' licenses and visas for non-citizens expire simultaneously, so that illegal aliens pulled over in traffic stops could be identified and (if appropriate) deported. In particular, little Georgie Stephanopoulos stressed the "potential abuse" of such profiling and the political harm to the president's Hispanic base if such measures were implemented.

Of course, as noted by Morris in his Post column, had the FBI recommendation being adopted by Bill Clinton, Mohammed Atta might have been deported after he was stopped for driving without a license three months before be piloted an American Airlines jet into the World Trade Center .

And so it goes throughout this long, troubled era of Clinton-administration non-history, as defined by the joint Senate-House committee. However, since were dealing with non-history, there will be no questions asked about any of these troubling episodes. Nor will any questions be posed regarding why after being constantly warned that the Taliban regime was inextricably linked to Osama bin Laden's al-qaeda network, William Jefferson Clinton still refused to consider military action of any kind against the Taliban.

According to the joint committee, I suppose, none of that really happened (nudge, nudge, wink, wink -- say no more). It's all just a bunch of non-history .

The problem is that no joint congressional hearing is going to get to the bottom of the giant intelligence breakdown that "enabled" the 9/11 attacks if it's going to politicize the whole process with a giant memory breakdown of its own. Pretending that official history only began the day George Bush stepped into office is akin to trying to confine an analysis of the causes of the Second World War to the events of 1939, proceeding as if the Treaty of Versaille, the Weimar Republic and the Great Depression had never occurred.

This joint hearing makes for good political theatre. And it will keep the mainstream press happy with a stream of revelations about the keystone-cops antics of that inept bunch of bungling Bush-appointed bureaucratic retreads who currently helm America's key security agencies. But as far as getting to the heart of the problem is concerned, this is obviously a very narrow and shortsighted inquiry.

According to an oft-quoted maxim, those who cannot learn from the mistakes of history are compelled to repeat them. Sadly, that maxim no doubt also applies to non-history too.

Murray Soupcoff is the author of 'Canada 1984' and a former radio and television producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He also was Executive Editor of We Compute Magazine for several years, and is now the Managing Editor of the popular Canadian conservative Web site, Iconoclast.ca.


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