Dubya deserves a break

I don’t think the news that Dubya was warned before Sept. 11 about Al Qaeda plans to hijack planes is very earth shattering. As National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice pointed out yesterday, Dubya had no specifics to work with. He was not told when the hijacking were supposed to happen, how they would be done, or that they planned to use the planes as missiles.

Honestly, if Dubya had shut down the aviation system based on these reports, I and many others probably would have had a fit. Sept. 11 was completely unprecedented and unpredictable, and this new information doesn’t change that. Dubya was not given any really useful information, and while we can blame the CIA and FBI for their missteps
(and we should), the truth is that telling the future is not an easy business.

That’s why showing strength is important. By responding to Sept. 11 the way he did, Dubya made it clear that terrorist attacks on the United States would not be tolerated. Before he got sidetracked by the axis of evil business, Dubya was doing the best thing that could be done to prevent future terrorist attacks — wipe out the terrorist groups themselves.

Government officials face a tough challenge when it comes to these vague threats they are made aware of. They cannot shut down their town, locality, state or country completely on the off chance an attack may happen at some point in the future. Even by letting people know, they just cause panic. Vague threats elicit vague responses. But Sept. 11 was a real tragedy, and deserves a real and effective response to make sure it never happens again.

Further, raising a ruckus about this will probably have a perverse effect. Instead of cracking down on intelligence agencies to make sure they do a better job, they will get more funding — much of it completely unrelated to Sept. 11. And Dubya will redouble his efforts to weaken our civil liberties while pouring more money into defense, war efforts irrelevant to Sept. 11 and boondoggles like federalized airport security.