?But it is now, and we?re doing everything we can to prevent future attacks. That?s going to mean doing things that are unpopular. It?s going to mean invading Iraq. It?s going to mean having folks take their shoes off at the airport. It?s going to mean reinforcing cockpit doors and arming pilots. It?s going to mean having the Patriot Act to make it easier for the FBI and the CIA to share information.?
None of these things were happening before Sept. 11. In fact, many of these things would have been politically impossible. Remember what life was like in the summer of 2001:
· Democrats complained the president was taking too lengthy a vacation. The longest break since the Nixon administration, it was said. As a New York Times editorial put it on Aug. 7, 2001, ?Now that George W. Bush has settled in for the month at his Texas ranch, Americans can look forward to the resumption of that vacation tradition in which the president disappears from public view while aides hold briefings on how hard he is working behind the scenes.? Almost snarky enough for a Maureen Dowd column.
· Meanwhile, the Senate basically took a month off to ?reorganize? after Jim Jeffords switched parties and left the Democrats in control. During this time, very little business was conducted in the world?s most important deliberative body.
· We were discussing funding for embryonic stem-cell research. In fact, President Bush?s first nationally televised prime time address dealt with stem cells.
· A handful of shark attacks dominated the news, even earning a Time magazine cover story.
Important issues, all. But, sadly, none had anything to do with terrorist threats.
The clich?s ?everything changed? on Sept. 11. Well, not everything. But some things. And one of them should be that we don?t spend our time playing politics. This means that, rather than looking back, piecing together individual sentences from hundreds of memos and pointlessly finding fault, we ought to be using the past to help predict the future.
We need more intelligence. We need better intelligence. We need to hire some people who can think like terrorists. We don?t know where the next attack will be, or how it?ll be carried out. But we must find out. This commission doesn?t seem to be attempting to do that, but somebody needs to.