If it were preventable, Wilson asked, "Well, then, why didn't Clinton prevent it?" Clinton, after all, had eight years to fight Osama bin Laden and avenge the deaths of Americans killed in service to their country. Added Wilson, "There's a long record of the (Clinton administration) having ignored escalating acts of terrorism and making an inadequate response."
Consider the words of former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., who told The New York Times, "There was no contemplation of any military action after (the feds discovered how close al Qaeda terrorists had been to coordinated attacks in America during millennium festivities), and there should have been."
Kerrey added that the attack on the Cole was "even worse," because, "it was an Islamic army against our Navy. Just because you don't have a nation-state as your adversary doesn't mean you should not consider a declaration of war."
Last week, NBC's Lisa Myers reported that a CIA plane produced a satellite video of a man believed to be Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan a year before the Sept. 11 attacks. The tape, Myers reported, "illustrates an enormous opportunity the Clinton administration had to kill or capture bin Laden. Critics call it a missed opportunity."
It was an opportunity the Clinton government didn't grab.
Do I blame Clinton for the Sept. 11 attacks? No, absolutely not.
I blame al Qaeda.
I think Clinton could have done things differently. He was too quick to bomb terrorist targets but lax when it came to doing all that needed to be done to fight Osama bin Laden. It would have been nice if Bush were Osama savvy sooner, if he were strong where Clinton was not, but I'm not sure what Bush could have done differently that would have prevented some 3,000 deaths.
I know that America -- Clinton, Bush, Democrat and Republican -- had a wholly different attitude before Sept. 11. Osama bin Laden had declared holy war on America. And America barely noticed.
Not even Clarke seems to have foreseen the carnage to come. And before he started writing his book, that was his job.