Last week, 9-11 commissioner John Lehman revealed that "it was the policy (before 9-11) and I believe remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that's discriminatory." Hmmm ... Is 19 more than two? Why, yes, I believe it is. So if two Jordanian cab drivers are searched before boarding a flight out of Newark, Osama bin Laden could then board that plane without being questioned. I'm no security expert, but I'm pretty sure this gives terrorists an opening for an attack.
In a sane world, Lehman's statement would have made headlines across the country the next day. But not one newspaper, magazine or TV show has mentioned that it is official government policy to prohibit searching more than two Arabs per flight.
Meanwhile, another 9-11 commissioner, the greasy Richard Ben-Veniste, claimed to be outraged that the CIA did not immediately give intelligence on 9-11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar to the FBI. As we now know ? or rather, I alone know because I'm the only person in America watching the 9-11 hearings ? Ben-Veniste should have asked his fellow commissioner Jamie Gorelick about that.
In his testimony this week, John Ashcroft explained that the FBI wasn't even told Almihdhar and Alhazmi were in the country until weeks before the 9-11 attack ? because of Justice Department guidelines put into place in 1995. The FBI wasn't allowed to put al-Qaida specialists on the hunt for Almihdhar and Alhazmi ? because of Justice Department guidelines put into place in 1995. Indeed, the FBI couldn't get a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui's computer ? because of Justice Department guidelines put into place in 1995.
The famed 1995 guidelines were set forth in a classified memorandum written by the then-deputy attorney general titled "Instructions for Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations," which imposed a "draconian" wall between counterintelligence and criminal investigations.
What Ashcroft said next was breathtaking. Prohibited from mounting a serious search for Almihdhar and Alhazmi, an irritated FBI investigator wrote to FBI headquarters, warning that someone would die because of these policies ? "since the biggest threat to us, OBL (Osama bin Laden), is getting the most protection."
FBI headquarters responded: "We're all frustrated with this issue. These are the rules. NSLU (National Security Law Unit) does not make them up. But somebody did make these rules. Somebody built this wall."
The person who built that wall described in the infamous 1995 memo, Ashcroft said, "is a member of the commission." If this were an episode of "Matlock," the camera would slowly pan away from Ashcroft's face at this point and then quickly jump to an extreme close-up of Jamie Gorelick's horrified expression. Armed marshals would then escort the kicking, screaming Gorelick away in leg irons as the closing credits rolled. Gorelick was the deputy attorney general in 1995.
The 9-11 commission has finally uncovered the proverbial "smoking gun"! But it was fired by one of the 9-11 commissioners. Maybe between happy reminiscences about the good old days of Ruby Ridge, Waco and the Elian Gonzales raid, Ben-Veniste could ask Gorelick about those guidelines. Democrats think it's a conflict of interest for Justice Scalia to have his name in the same phonebook as Dick Cheney. But there is no conflict of interest having Gorelick sit on a commission that should be investigating her.
Bill O'Reilly's entire summary of Ashcroft's testimony was to accuse Ashcroft of throwing sheets over naked statues rather than fighting terrorism. No mention of the damning Gorelick memo. No one knows about the FAA's No-Searching-Arabs counterterrorism policy. Predictions that conservatives have finally broken through the wall of sound coming from the mainstream media may have been premature.
When Democrats make an accusation against Republicans, newspaper headlines repeat the accusation as a fact: "U.S. Law Chief 'Failed to Heed Terror Warnings,'" "Bush Was Told of Qaida Steps Pre-9-11; Secret Memo Released," "Bush White House Said to Have Failed to Make al-Qaida an Early Priority."
But when Republicans make accusations against Democrats ? even accusations backed up by the hard fact of a declassified Jamie Gorelick memo ? the headlines note only that Republicans are making accusations: "Ashcroft Lays Blame at Clinton's Feet," "Ashcroft: Blame Bubba for 9-11," "Ashcroft Faults Clinton in 9-11 Failures."
It's amazing how consistent it is. A classic of the genre was the Chicago Tribune headline, which managed to use both constructs in a single headline: "Ashcroft Ignored Terrorism, Panel Told; Attorney General Denies Charges, Blames Clinton." Why not: "Reno Ignored Terrorism, Panel Told; Former Deputy Attorney General Denies Charges, Blames Bush"?
Democrats actively created policies that were designed to hamstring terrorism investigations. The only rap against the Bush administration is that it failed to unravel the entire 9-11 terrorism plot based on a memo titled: "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."
I have news for liberals: Bin Laden is still determined to attack inside the United States! Could they please tell us when and where the next attack will be? Because unless we know that, it's going to be difficult to stop it if we can't search Arabs.