Amid all the fury and hoo-row over the ABC miniseries "Road to 9/11"... which apparently concocts entirely fictitious actions by officials of the Clinton Administration, blaming them directly for negligence in preventing the attack... I just have to ask. Is anybody really all that surprised to see this sort of thing come out just before critical mid-term elections?
Can you say “October Surprise?” Of course, this pop culture grenade is the 2006 equivalent of "Swift Boat Veteran's For Truth." And if it works, we’ll deserve what we get.
I won't go into a detailed rebuttal. Let other bloggers do that (far better than the hapless democrats will). Still, I do have one tidbit-insight to offer into the blogosphere.
Only first, a little context.
The Embarrassment of The Century (so far...)
Do you recall the approximately one BILLION dollars that was spent, throughout the nineties, and after, on desperate efforts to prove that the Clinton Administration was the "most corrupt in US history"?
Remember the solemn vow, propounded by everyone from Limbaugh to Rove, from Cheney to (ironically) Delay? "As soon as honest Republicans win control of the Executive Branch and open all the file cabinets to light, the scandalous truth will emerge and heads will roll!"
Lest we forget, we were promised - absolutely guaranteed - indictments by the hundreds, scores of convictions, millennia of total prison time. Perhaps even enough to justify all the yelling and posturing. A cumulative torrent of time, energy, expense and fury sufficient to propel an entire Manhattan Project.
Only there was a rub. After all that sturm und drang, all they ever managed to get on Clinton was a fib-under-oath about marital infidelity, answering a question that was later ruled illegal and inadmissible. Embarrassing, to say the least! No, not the fib. Rather, vastly more embarrassing was the fact that a fib was all they ever came up. Period.
In fact, to this day, the total number of Clinton Administration officials who have been convicted... or even indicted... for actual malfeasance in the performance of their official duties, amounts to a big fat zero.
Let me give you that figure again. Nil, nada, zip, null, none.
In fact, I do believe this is the very first time in all of American history that it has happened. I can’t think of any other in which nobody was found to have broken any law concerning official duties. At all. Can the "most corrupt" administration have actually have been the least? The facts say so, unequivocally.
In science, the mark of a mature adult is to be able to say “I guess I was wrong.” But you’ll not find dogmatists willing to act that way -- not on the right ...or the left.
Getting to the point.
All right, the stage is set. It is early 2001. The Clintons are finally gone and DC is under new management. Onward into the brave new Century Twenty-One.
So. What is the absolute top priority of the Bush Administration, upon entering office?
Well, almost their first official action was to cripple the Border Patrol, reducing manpower, cutting equipment budgets, opening whole swathes of countryside to floods of undocumented (and therefore cheap) workers. Look it up! In contrast, one of Bill Clinton's very first acts, in 1993, was to DOUBLE the Border Patrol. These clear facts do not fit our political prejudices and stereotypes. But they are facts. Diametric opposites. Live with them. Better yet, understand them.
Alas, there was yet another betrayal of our national security in store, one that may have had far more dire consequences. For, just as soon as they entered office, the Bush group began devoting top priority to finding that Clintonian smoking gun.
They unleashed scads of GOP lawyers - many of them at taxpayer expense - to sift through filing cabinets in every executive department, trawling for something, anything, that might let them indict at least one Clintonite. To help justify what they had put the country through for a decade.
As I’ve said, this hunt proved unavailing. And that pathetic failure would be amusing... an expensive but hilarious joke... but for one additional fact.
Not only GOP political operatives were engaged in this witch hunt.
Agents of the FBI, along with skilled operatives at other intelligence and law enforcement agencies, were diverted from normal duties, in order to join in this frivolous activity, during the months leading up to September 11.
While this administration filled the topmost ranks at Defense and other agencies with political cadres (many - perhaps most - of them former consultants or employees of Saudi Arabia), they meanwhile redirected the efforts of skilled officers and civil servants away from activities that involve public safety. Instead transferring those trained investigators over to a futile and petty search for nonexistent Clintonian improprieties.
An unproductive program, fixated solely on political and ideological revenge.
Can I prove any of this?
Do I even have to? At one level, it’s an obvious, a no-brainer. That is, to anyone who remembers the summer of 2001, as the nation waited breathlessly for the promised tsunami of indictments to begin... then people started wondering “well?” As the administration’s excuses started getting shrill. Then desperate. And they began trawling for a distraction.
At another level, no. I cannot back it up with statistical proof -- numbers of agents reassigned and/or demonstrable effects upon counter-terror investigations. I do not have the resources of a major news agency... and those bureaus that do have the resources are now mostly suborned. Hence, it seems unlikely that any of this will ever rise above the futility of speculation, unsupported assertion and outright blogitude. (At least I openly admit it.)
All I can tell you -- (and you have no reason to take my word) -- is that two private sources have told me morose tales of how they wish they had been “on mission” during the summer of 2001, instead of chasing ignoble and trivial innuendos about a far classier set of public servants.
Of course, my allegation looks positively scientific compared to the outright fabrications and deliberate lies spread in polemical hit pieces like “The Road to 9/11.” Above all, I don’t pretend that what I’m doing is journalism.
In fact, how could anyone assign exact cause-and-effect, correlating and attributing the monumental intelligence errors of that year to an insanely compulsive political witch hunt? That would be as stupid as, say, conflating the purported Whitewater graft (in five figures) to the billions received by Halliburton in no-bid, crony deals. Sometimes the human power of comparison is simply beggared.
An invitation to real journalists, with real resources.
Ah, but hope springs, eternal. There’s always a chance that courage and professionalism and skill and hard work haven’t died off yet. Not completely. This could be a major scandal - a juicy one - waiting for some reporter with skill and ambition and guts. A little leg work. Some number crunching. It’s what the Fourth Estate’s supposed to do well.
That is, if they did their jobs.** Ah, but there’s an even deeper rub.
In this benighted 21st Century... is ANYBODY doing their jobs, anymore?
-------- Notes -----------
*1. Expect more such stunts, as November approaches. There will be many. They will come from dozens of directions, VERY well-financed, unprincipled and utterly ruthless. For they cannot afford to have either branch of Congress resume business. Issuing subpoenas, holding hearings... because this time heads would roll. Hence, expect frenetic tricks during a mid-term election.
Nevertheless, the whole effort may backfire this time, when some trusted inner henchman in the cabal finally gets fed up and says “I’ve had enough...”
...and decides to be a patriot, instead.
Think about how nervous this must make them, knowing that just one principled “mole” in their midst might decide to value citizenship over partisanship and cash. Even now, he or she may be squirreling away evidence, recording conversations, getting ready. Al it might take is just one!
When that happens -- if it happens in time -- watch out! There won’t be a bigger hero in America. His or her face will adorn a hundred magazines. There will be streets and high schools renamed.
**2. There is more than enough blame to pass around. The left deserves plenty. But more on that, anon.