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Why keep Americans guessing about 9/11?

by sacbee Friday, May. 16, 2003 at 11:41 AM

Even the arbiter of the "Mainstream" Presstitutes are beginning to have to old their nose and ask: What's that smell?

This story is taken from opinion at sacbee.com.

Editorial: Crypto-government

Why keep Americans guessing about 9/11?

Bee Editorial Staff - (Published May 15, 2003)

Sen. Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is running for president, has accused the Bush administration of covering up its intelligence failures connected to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Electoral politics? In part, perhaps, but Graham is well-positioned to make such a complaint and to demand that the administration tell Americans what they're entitled to know.

Graham is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and played a leading role in a congressional inquiry that looked into what went wrong, whether the attacks might have been prevented and what has to be done to prevent a repetition.

What emerged from that inquiry, five months ago, was a summary of the committee's findings. But the full 900-page report has yet to be published.

Intelligence agency officials attribute the delay to the large amount of sensitive information in the report and the need to take care in deciding what can be declassified. But Graham calls that explanation a cover for withholding not only truly sensitive information but also other things whose release would simply be embarrassing to the administration.

Who's right? The public has no way of knowing for sure, which is precisely the point.

Since 9/11 the administration has been very secretive about virtually everything involving terrorism. Americans can hardly help being suspicious of an administration that expects them to take everything on faith. That's not the way a free and democratic society is supposed to work.

Graham's criticism is not unique. An increasing number of voices are calling for a prompt release of the report. The administration should pay attention to that chorus.

But the Bush administration has a deeply ingrained reluctance to share information, a reluctance that extends even to other governments and law enforcement agencies. Recent reports by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, and by the Police Executive Research Forum have pointed to glaring weaknesses in the government's efforts to integrate the sharing of information among federal, state and local agencies that have a need to know.

GAO, for example, found that agencies either have yet to develop suspect "watch lists" or have failed to disseminate them to other agencies. And the police group complained that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had failed to give local law enforcement timely information and had made it difficult for local officers to obtain security clearances.

Some of these failings can probably be explained by such typical problems as bureaucratic rigidity, institutional turf wars, inadequate integration of databases and simple incompetence. But given the stakes, typical problems do not constitute acceptable excuses.

Equally troubling is a request to Congress -- a request whose authorship no one in the administration seems willing to claim -- to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon to force American institutions and individuals to supply information about bank accounts, credit card records and the like while bypassing the FBI and the judicial oversight process. The proposal was deleted from pending legislation after complaints from Senate Democrats, but that is no assurance it won't be revived.

In defending secrecy and end runs around existing procedures, the administration cites the need to preserve intelligence sources and methods and the need to expedite investigative procedures.

Defensible as this may be in some cases, the tendency of the Bush national security team to cast a "national security" blanket over all aspects of its struggle against terrorism -- including its suspension of constitutional rights for whole classes of people -- does not inspire confidence. Nor does President Bush's statement the other day -- a few days before terrorist bombs killed eight Americans and many others in Saudi Arabia -- that the al-Qaida terrorists "are not a problem anymore." They are. So is the administration's unwillingness to tell Americans all they need to know about what their government has done, or not done, to protect them -- and why.

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add your comments

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 11 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Whassamatta'... Diogenes Friday, May. 16, 2003 at 11:42 AM
If you want to know... daveman Friday, May. 16, 2003 at 11:43 AM
litter Ziegler Friday, May. 16, 2003 at 8:55 PM
OneEyedMan KPC Friday, May. 16, 2003 at 9:01 PM
Dang, Ziegler Friday, May. 16, 2003 at 9:19 PM
Zeigler and KFC daveman Saturday, May. 17, 2003 at 1:19 AM
Why keep Americans guessing about 9/11? bee Saturday, May. 17, 2003 at 2:58 AM
Hey "bee" wanna... Diogenes Saturday, May. 17, 2003 at 7:15 AM
Diogenes bee Saturday, May. 17, 2003 at 8:42 AM
it all smells to me Jeff D. Saturday, May. 17, 2003 at 8:50 AM
az per cuzin its not so Saturday, May. 17, 2003 at 2:36 PM

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