The Bush-bashers who have relentlessly accused the president and his War on Terror team of acting like jack-booted bigots are now imperiously attacking them for acting like light-footed fumblers. This self-serving display of liberal hypocrisy has provided more idiotic entertainment than "The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour."
In an editorial this week that embodies the Left's unmitigated gall, the New York Times castigated President Bush for not doing enough after receiving an Aug. 6, 2001, briefing memo warning vaguely of bin Laden-planned domestic terrorism. According to the Times, Bush should have "rushed back to the White House, assembled all his top advisers and demanded to know what, in particular, was being done to screen airline passengers to make sure people who fit the airlines' threat profiles were being prevented from boarding American planes."
That's right. The same editorial board that has barbecued the Bush Justice Department after the Sept. 11 attacks for fingerprinting young male temporary visa holders traveling from terror-sponsoring and terror-friendly nations (editorial, June 6, 2002); temporarily detaining asylum seekers from high-risk countries for background screening (editorial, Dec. 28, 2002); and sending undercover agents to investigate mosques suspected of supporting terrorism (editorial, May 31, 2002) now expects us to believe it would have applauded Bush for his vigilance if he had swiftly ordered airport security officials to stop thousands of young Middle Eastern men at airports during the summer of 2001 on the basis of an ill-defined threat.
Rear-view mirror know-it-alls from Bob Kerrey to Maureen Dowd berate the Bush Justice Department for ignoring the "Phoenix memo" -- a prescient July 2001 warning about Arab flight students from Arizona-based FBI agent Kenneth Williams. The memo revealed that Arab terrorists had infiltrated Arizona civil aviation schools and urged the FBI to check on the backgrounds of flight students nationwide.
When the Phoenix memo surfaced two years ago, the Times characterized the FBI's failure to heed Williams' recommendation as "one indicator of the paralytic fear of risk-taking" at the bureau. But the Times smugly ignored the real problem that the racial grievance-mongering newspaper itself has contributed to: the fear of a politically correct backlash from civil liberties absolutists, ethnic lobbyists and open-borders activists. As one law enforcement official close to the Williams investigation told the Los Angeles Times, "If we went out and started canvassing, we'd get in trouble for targeting Arab Americans."
In addition to the Phoenix memo, Bush critics have resurrected Minnesota-based FBI agent Coleen Rowley's May 2002 memo complaining about legal barriers to searching terrorist suspect Zacarias Moussaoui's laptop and residence. The duplicity of civil rights absolutists attacking the FBI for upholding the probable cause standard in this case is simply stunning.
While they heap praise on Rowley for her post-Sept. 11 analysis, Richard Ben-Veniste, Jamie Gorelick, and the other finger-pointing blabbermouths on the 9-11 Commission refuse to credit the Bush administration for its use of immigration law to detain Moussaoui in mid-August 2001 (he had violated the terms of the Visa Waiver program). This unheralded enforcement decision before the terrorist attacks quite possibly saved thousands of lives. Transcripts of interrogations with al Qaeda's purported operations chief, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, released three weeks ago reveal that Moussaoui was training for a post-Sept. 11 suicide mission on the West Coast.
At the time Moussaoui was detained, the Justice Department had no evidence he had done anything illegal other than overstay his visit to the U.S., a transgression that is routinely pooh-poohed by liberals and other open-borders advocates as a "minor" or "technical" immigration violation that shouldn't be punished.
Unsurprisingly, when Attorney General John Ashcroft acted decisively to detain more than 1,200 potential Zacarias Moussaouis after Sept. 11 he was lambasted by Democrats, the ACLU, minority groups, and, yes, the New York Times editorial board, which attacked Ashcroft's "extreme measures" (Nov. 10, 2001) against illegal alien detainees who were merely "Muslim men with immigration problems" (Sept. 10, 2002).
Like the boy who cried "wolf," the liberals who cry that the Bush administration "didn't do enough" to fight terrorism should be dismissed as sniveling children stuck in an indulgent world of make-believe.