At the very least, the National Security Advisor could have reminded Mr. Brokaw that President Clinton was so anti-anti-terrorism that he let members of the Puerto Rican terror group FALN out of prison in 1999. (This group was best known for their bombing of New York's historic Fraunces Tavern in 1975, killing four and wounding 60.) The move was so politically tin-eared that the Senate voted 95-2 to call Clinton's clemency "deplorable." Interestingly enough, Tom Brokaw didn't cover that vote.
In November of 1999, a White House memo surfaced showing Clinton counsel Charles Ruff was urged to add his support for FALN clemency to help Al Gore's political aspirations: "The VP's Puerto Rican position would be helped" by the clemency. Brokaw didn't cover that story, either.
The utterly partisan and selective scrutiny of Brokaw and others on the supposed inattention and failures of Bush's anti-terror policy in comparison to Clinton's is thoroughly unfair and logically contradictory. How do you hold Team Bush more accountable for eight months in 2001 (a large chunk of which unfolded without top officials in place during the confirmation process) than the Clinton gang was for eight years of pussyfooting?
How, after punishing the Bush White House for years for supposedly squashing civil liberties and generally acting too aggressively in the War on Terror, can you turn around and completely bash their failure to pass the Patriot Act or attack Afghanistan sooner?
This increasingly partisan 9-11 Commission issue is being played up by the TV news elite as a way to make the American people forget the Bush Administration's record in dismantling al Qaeda. They can bash Bush for what he did before 9-11, and then bash what he did after 9-11, and then bash how he portrays 9-11 in his campaign ads. But they cannot simply suggest to the American people in this very political season that the war on terror hasn't resulted in any victories worth noting.
But worse than this shooting bullets at Bushies from every direction is the annual compounding of historical ignorance on the real Clinton record. Not only did the networks avoid the dithering failures and craven political calculations as they unfolded, but now they're repainting the Clintonistas as vigilant comic-book heroes who make Bush look weak and apathetic by comparison. That's not just prevarication. That's hallucination.
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