It was painful earlier this week watching a Pentagon official lamely telling the Senate Judiciary Committee the Defense Department now isn't sure if its Able Danger program really identified Mohamed Atta more than a year before 9/11.
Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago when the Pentagon confirmed that five of its top intelligence operatives did indeed recall seeing Atta's name and those of several other 9/11 terrorists on a chart produced by Able Danger?
That's why troubling questions keep coming to mind: How stupid do they think we are? Don't they realize they are creating more suspicion, not less? Why do Bush people keep protecting Clinton people from public scrutiny?
For a life-long conservative Republican and Bush voter in 2000 and 2004 like yours truly, that last question is especially galling. It was bad enough early in Bush's first term when he signed an executive order keeping the truth about Bill Clinton's midnight pardon spree behind closed doors. I swallowed hard and accepted the White House's executive privilege claim on that one.
But the Able Danger hearing capped a long series of troubling decisions that tortured credulity such as Bush increasing federal spending twice as fast as Clinton, expanding entitlements at a pace only Lyndon Johnson could match, signing a campaign finance law that limits political speech and refusing to veto even the most outrageous examples of congressional pork barreling.
The last straw came the day before William Dugan, an assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said to the Senate panel "I don't know" when asked if Able Danger had identified Atta. That's when the Pentagon barred testimony by the five officials who have said they worked on the program and recall seeing the terrorist's name on a chart during the Clinton administration.
Either the powers-that-be think most people are too stupid to figure out that a whitewash is in process or they assume most people aren't paying attention and there is little to fear from the Senate. They will be proven right if Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate panel, doesn't quickly start issuing subpoenas to get to the bottom of this scandal.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-IA, attributed the Pentagon's actions to fear "they'll just have egg on their face," but Captain's Quarters
' Ed Morrissey puts it more succinctly: "The American people suffered the worst attack on our soil four years ago. We deserve answers about how that attack could have been prevented. The Pentagon has five witnesses that speak directly to that issue who have been prevented from speaking to the representatives of the people.
"Arlen Specter needs to subpoena those five witnesses, all of the senior officers in the chain of command for Able Danger, and Donald Rumsfeld himself to answer for why the Pentagon will not cooperate. Four years of hiding Able Danger is long enough."
What is especially troubling about the Able Danger cover-up is that we've seen this before regarding terrorist attacks on American soil. During the first shocking hours after the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing, the FBI was feverishly looking for "John Doe 2." Then the FBI suddenly decided far right nuts Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were the lone bombers.
For months thereafter, Oklahoma City investigative reporter Jayna Davis
followed lead after lead and found a mountain of concrete evidence and witnesses who put an Iraqi - Hussain Al-Hussaini - at the bombing scene seconds before and after the explosion.
They also saw the Iraqi with McVeigh numerous times in the days leading up to the tragedy at a nearby hotel with a rental truck like the one used in the bombing that smelled of diesel fuel. They even saw McVeigh and Al-Hussaini at an Oklahoma City nightclub months before the bombing.
But the FBI refused to pursue the evidence and to this day will not say whether it ever ruled Al-Hussaini in or out as a suspect. Critical evidence tying the Iraqi to the bombing has since been destroyed by the government.
Guess where Al-Hussaini ended up after Oklahoma City? Living in Boston near Logan Airport with two other Iraqis who provided food catering services to airlines there. Experts have said the 9/11 hijackers probably used weapons previously smuggled aboard by ... food services employees.
Now watching the Pentagon under Bush refusing to let witnesses testify about Able Danger, it is clear the Washington Establishment takes care of its own no matter which party happens to be in power. Call them Republicrats.Note: This column originally appeared yesterday on Townhall.com.UPDATE:Chicago Sun-Times
columnist Mark Steyn offers this observation:"Ambitious presidents seize on extreme events to change the culture, as FDR did, using the Depression to transform the nature of the federal government. In allowing the eco-crazies to get away with prioritizing the world's biggest mosquito herd over Alaskan oil, and the teaching establishment with insisting that there's nothing wrong with the most overfunded public education system in the world that can't be fixed with even more wasted dollars, and the bureaucracy with creating an instantly sclerotic jobs-for-life federalized airport security (that just walked off the job in Houston), the Republicans missed their post-9/11 opportunity. "Instead of changing the nature of the federal government, the Republican majority in Washington seems to be changing the nature of the Republican Party. The Democrats' approach to government has been Sorosized, the GOP's has been supersized. Some choice."
to read the rest of this latest illustration of why Steyn quite likely is the best political columnist in America today.UPDATE II:
NRO's Michael Ledeen explains why Able Danger/Oklahoma City are not the only chapters of the Global War on Terror about which the Republicrats aren't speaking the whole truth:"This is not a war on terror, it is paralysis at best, and appeasement at worst. The hell of it is that it is costing thousands of lives, and will cost many more until the terror masters are destroyed, or we surrender."Those words were inconceivable for many years, but it is a sign of our present fecklessness that they are now entirely appropriate. We can still lose this war. And we cannot win it so long as we are blinded by our potentially fatal failure of strategic vision: we are in a regional war, but we have limited our actions to a single theater. Our most potent weapons are political and ideological, but our actions have been almost exclusively military.
"Our main enemy, the single greatest engine in support of the terror war against us, whether Sunni or Shiite, jihadi, or secular, Arab or British or Italian or Spaniard, is Iran. There is no escape from this fact. The only questions are how long it will take us to face it, how effective we will be when we finally decide to act, and how terrible the price will be for our long delay."
for the rest of Ledeen's analysis, which is a definite must-read.Able DangerPoliticsBushNational SecurityWar on TerrorIslamofascistsOklahoma City bombingIran