Debra J. Saunders

Staffers and supporters of then-President Bill Clinton used to enjoy repeating the old adage, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Now, they're proving the old adage true, as Clinton administration biggies are signifying their intent to finger the Bush administration for not heeding their warnings on al Qaeda.

The worst of it is, President Bush could have passed on to President Clinton some of the blame for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that shocked America some 230 days into his administration. After all, Clintonia was warned about al Qaeda -- by al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was linked with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six and wounded 1,000. Clinton was president when al Qaeda bombs killed 231 people at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Seven years after terrorists tried to destroy the World Trade Center, the Clinton administration failed to prevent Osama bin Laden's operation from attacking the destroyer Cole in 2000, an attack that left 17 dead.

Bush didn't point the finger at Clinton. As former Gov. Pete Wilson, who is on the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, noted, "Bush was willing to give them a pass on this because he thought this was a time for unity, not partisan sniping."

Dubya's reward for not faulting Clinton? The Clinton machine is blaming Bush. On Saturday, The New York Times reported that big fish in the Clinton pond were planning on telling the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks that they had warned the Bushies about al Qaeda but that the Bush White House was slow to react.

Then, on "60 Minutes," Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism official under both Bush and Clinton, essentially blamed Bush for letting Sept. 11 happen. Said Clarke, "Frankly, I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop Sept. 11. Maybe. We'll never know."

It should tell you something that Clarke doesn't blame the Clinton administration, even though Clinton failed to curb al Qaeda over eight event-rich years. As former Gov. Wilson noted, Clintonia is wandering into dangerous territory if it tries to paint Bush as somehow culpable for the Sept. 11 deaths.

Debra J. Saunders

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