American Proscenium

Instinct for the Capillaries: The 9-11 Commission Report

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9-11 Commission) released its report to much media fanfare in late July.  Although the commissioners labored mightily, they have given birth to a mouse.  The report is safe, cautious, and eminently bipartisan.  In other words, it largely avoids discussing the most serious issues surrounding the threat that radical Islamic terrorism poses to America.

Much of the document deals with the failures of the FBI, the CIA, and other agencies to anticipate and thwart the devastating attacks launched on September 11, 2001.  Some of the criticisms (the lack of communication between key agencies, the absence of effective screening mechanisms at the borders, and the missing of key clues) are warranted.  Others are classic exercises in 20-20 hindsight.

The commission also addresses a few larger issues, and most of its judgments are balanced rather than inflammatory.  For example, the report examines a series of contacts between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda operatives.  In marked contrast to the hysterical exaggerations of neoconservative war hawks, however, the commissioners note that those contacts were sporadic and that Saddam Hussein’s regime rebuffed Osama bin Laden’s request for space to establish training camps as well as assistance in acquiring weapons.  The members of the commission conclude that...

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