International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 26, 2004

July 26, 2004





**  Global media praise the "self-cleansing" report on pre-9/11 intelligence, bureaucratic lapses.

**  Critics bemoan the report's failure to "point the finger of blame" at specific individuals.

**  The 9/11 panel's findings show force must "go hand-in-hand" with winning hearts and minds.

**  Iranian papers label allegations of Tehran-bin Laden cooperation al-Qaida "disinformation."




'A remarkable document'--  Global dailies hailed the report of the "unanimous and persistent" 9/11 Commission as a "triumph of participation and transparency" that produced "an authoritative account of national failure."  They extolled the "balanced confession" of political and bureaucratic missteps as an "honest example of the self-healing forces of an open society."  Germany's conservative Die Welt expressed the common sentiment that "it is difficult to imagine another democracy that reveals its weaknesses so unsparingly."  Outlets applauded the report's "ambitious blueprint for change," terming better coordination of intelligence, along with a "change in attitude" by the agencies involved, "imperative."


The report 'blames no one'--  Critics of the report cited a "lack of determination" by the commission to fix responsibility for the 9/11 tragedy, noting that both presidents Clinton and Bush had been absolved of "willful neglect."  A Russian business daily said "the much-publicized inquiry has proved to be a soap bubble" which had determined that "the fault is everybody's and nobody's all at the same time."  Some outlets, like Japan's liberal Asahi, ascribed the report's even-handedness to the presidential election campaign, claiming the bipartisan panel "apparently wanted to prevent the report from being used as a political weapon."  A liberal Canadian paper agreed, calling the report "flawed" and "disappointing."


West's 'armory' needs diplomacy too--  Some writers held the report showed that "the war against terror can't be won by playing defense alone."  But others portrayed the panel's conclusions as demonstrating that the U.S. can't defeat terrorism "with guns alone" but must also attack its roots by "giving the dispossessed everywhere a greater stake in their own future."  Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post found it "refreshing to see the commission recommending what amounts to a much more ethical foreign policy."  An Austrian tabloid meanwhile asserted terrorism "can only be counteracted by a global act of strength," which it contrasted unfavorably to Washington's "missionary-style, go-it-alone actions."


Is Iran 'the next target?'--  Iranian papers called suggestions in the report of Iran-al Qaida cooperation part of a U.S. "psychological warfare campaign" that aims to paint Iran as an "urgent" threat.  They suggested that al-Qaida disinformation was behind the allegations, "taking into account the long-standing hostility of al-Qaida towards the Shia."  Saudi papers such as conservative Al-Riyadh claimed the report "recognized the real role" of Saudi Arabia in fighting terrorism and proved "the Kingdom is innocent" of involvement in 9/11, despite a "Zionist"-directed campaign to the contrary in the U.S. media.


EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 67 reports from 27 countries, July 19-26, 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Judgment Day In America"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (7/23):  "The September 11 commission has done a great service.  It has delivered an authoritative account of a national failure.  The panel's report does not spare those charged with protecting America's security, but members have wisely refrained from suggesting that the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington were preventable....  The heart of the matter is the failure of law enforcement agencies, principally the FBI, to share information and analysis with the CIA....  In practice, the...[proposed] new intelligence supremo could soon find himself in a turf war with the Pentagon rather than fighting the real enemy....  September 11 was a failure of policy and a failure of government, but also a failure of imagination.  Successive administrations failed to deal decisively with an underappreciated threat.  Entrenched interests will resist but change is inevitable."


"Horror In Hindsight"


The conservative Times observed (7/23):  "There were so many things that might have been done, so many clues missed or misread, that it is impossible to say these attacks could not have been prevented....  The report speaks of a 'failure of imagination', but 'unimaginable' was the word that summed up the reaction as the twin towers crumbled....  The report absolves both leaders of willful neglect of the threat.  That assessment is wise.  Errors of commission there were.  But only the most gullible conspiracy theorist would dismiss Mr. Bush's statement:  'Had we had any inkling, we would have moved heaven and earth.'  That is why, as too few Europeans yet understand, Americans will continue to move heaven and earth against the assailants who, they firmly believe, declared war on them nearly three years ago."


"Stopping The Next Attack"


The left-of-center Guardian commented (7/23):  "The key question to emerge from all this is not whether September 11 could have been prevented, or whether George Bush made more mistakes than Bill Clinton, although if the principal failing identified by the commission was a collective failure of the imagination, then undoubtedly the incoming administration's obsession with its own agenda--missile defense, China, ripping up Kyoto, and Iraq--did not help....  The commission avoids handing John Kerry a propaganda victory by declaring that the September 11 attacks could have been prevented.  But it also avoids the question that Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism tsar, wanted it to ask, which was what effect the continuing war in Iraq is having on its pursuit of al-Qaida?  More pertinently, what effect are U.S. Middle East policies having on its ability to combat terrorism?"


"Inquiries, Intelligence And Secrecy"


The center-left Independent remarked (7/23):  "The reports of both Butler and the 9/11 commission make some strong points....  No one can say that the performance of the intelligence services was anything other than unsatisfactory.  There were problems in the way that information was gathered and, more importantly, collated and presented to politicians.  Changed procedures, greater investment and better coordination are obvious but necessary conclusions.  There is also the more delicate question of public overview and control....  Tony Blair has said that he accepts Butler's recommendations.  The fear is that in Britain, unlike America, the lesson learned will not be greater openness and accountability, but, instead, a retreat behind walls of official secrecy."


"Why There's No Escaping Blame For George Bush"


The left-of-center tabloid Daily Express had this to say (7/23):  "Intelligence and national security consultant, Richard M. Bennett, claims that the main purpose of the many reports being issued on both sides of the Atlantic seem to be to provide a veritable snowstorm of paperwork behind which the politicians can hide their failures....  The many reports being issued on both sides of the Atlantic have hardly been noted for clearing the air.  Their main purpose appears (as with last week's Butler report) to be to provide a veritable snowstorm of paperwork behind which the politicians can hide their failures....  If the Bush administration was concentrating on Iraq, it would hardly have encouraged the distraction provided by seemingly nebulous and uncorroborated intelligence on al-Qaida's intentions.  Was this truly a lack of 'imagination' or a tragic failure of political judgment?  You choose."


"What Have We Learned From 9/11?"


The center-left tabloid Daily Mirror observed (7/23):  "The commission into 9/11 revealed not just how many chances there were of preventing the atrocities of that day but how hopelessly inadequate the security services were.  Of course the commission was working with hindsight.  But we are entitled to expect something better from the billions poured into intelligence operations on both sides of the Atlantic....  The same cannot be said of Britain.  And even in the U.S. there is much to do to improve the flow and processing of information.  It is impossible to bring back the dead of 9/11. But as the commission shows, it should be possible to prevent another atrocity."


"Even-Handed Report Criticizes Everyone Except Mullah Omar"


Foreign editor, Bronwen Maddox commented in the conservative Times (7/23):  "The most damaging point for Bush may not be the commission's judgment but the videotapes of hijackers moving effortlessly through airport security zones on September 11....  It was only when bin Laden called for attacks on the U.S. in February 1998 in a self-styled fatwa that al-Qaida became a clear threat.  Any judgment about whether the U.S. could have done more to protect itself has most pertinence from then....  But one of the commission's most important findings is that the transition between the two administrations was itself to blame.  Many leads were not followed up, and a sense of urgency was lost....  The report's final judgment helps Bush.  It asks 'Are we safer?' than on September 11, and answers 'Yes'."


FRANCE:  "An American Investigation"


Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (7/24):  “It is to their credit that Americans can own up to their mistakes and exemplified by the report published by the 9/11 Commission....  We can only dream that some day in France a commission such as this, truly independent and endowed with the authority to gather all information and documents necessary, could investigate certain serious and tragic events in our own history....  The five Republicans and five Democrats who made up the commission used past events in order to draw lessons, not to lay blame, so that the fight against terrorism can move forward....  The question now is when and how will the commission’s recommendations be implemented....  In any event American leaders are confronted with their responsibilities.  They can no longer feign ignorance nor hide behind ready-made ideological explanations.”


"One More Setback For A President On The Defensive"


Fabrice Rousselot wrote in left-of-center Liberation (7/23):  “For George W. Bush the timing could not be worse.  With its release four days before the Democratic Convention, the 9/11 report points the finger at the failures of his administration and intelligence services....  Republican strategists fear that this will be a blow for the president on the campaign topic that they thought was the soundest: security.”




In his editorial in left-of-center Liberation, Gerard Dupuy observed (7/23):  “The 9/11 Commission was able to piece together the various pieces of the puzzle in order to understand the circumstances behind the attacks, but it was not in the Commission's capacity to analyze the ideological reasons for the intelligence services’ short-sightedness with regard to al-Qaida...or the political reasons for that matter....  The principal failing of American intelligence was its overestimation of its technical capabilities at the expense of its capacity to understand and analyze the situation in practical terms.  The 9/11 Commission was itself inevitably limited in its technical capabilities, explaining the lack of analysis in the report....  We can only hope that U.S. voters will make their own analysis come next November.”


GERMANY:  "Will To Find Agreement"


Washington correspondent Matthias Rueb penned this in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/26):  "The final report of the 9/11 Commission is a remarkable document.  It has brought back the dismay and the mourning in view of the losses and the destruction....  The report again put the question in the center of the discussion why this disaster could happen....  The appointment of the commission, which had an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, was a triumph of participation and transparency....  The unpleasant revelations in the report do not hit the politically responsible people but they hit the political system of the United States with the intelligence services, police but also the departments that are responsible for national security at the forefront, but also Congress which did not fully do its job of controlling and advising the executive.  And the revelations show that security measures for air traffic did not suffice.  The attacks did not come out of the blue, but they were signs on the wall that existed for many years....  The report of the commission...must be recommended to all those who deal with the fight against international terrorism....  The alarming message of the report is that we are safer today but we are not safe....  Are we in Germany, in Europe safer than in America?  Do we have more time?  Is the U.S. government exaggerating with its assessment that the West is faced with a new enormous challenge, which involves the lives of millions of people.  Will the global fight against terrorism, which will not go by simply by ignoring it, change America and the West?  The chairpersons of the commission write in their foreword that 'our report encourages all Americans to explore, think and to take action.'  These words are not only directed to the Americans.  We citizens of the free world should also hear them."


"What Was To Be Investigated"


Washington correspondent Wolfgang Koydl filed the following editorial for center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (7/23):  "This 9/11 Commission did not want to blame anyone.  Even Democratic commission member Richard Ben-Veniste was dismayed to see how both Republicans and Democrats used the report as an arsenal where they could find weapons for their election campaign.  But the real goal of the investigation is going down in the general roar:  it wanted to show the mistakes and shortcomings to avoid them in the future and to prevent new attacks.  But it is uncertain whether this will be possible."


"Afterwards We Know Better"


Washington correspondent Malte Lehming judged in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (7/23):  "The Commission...offered a bit of catharsis for many Americans.  And it was admirable how unanimous, persistent and to the point the members of the Commissions were.  They did not succumb to the temptation of wheeling and dealing.  Could the attacks have been prevented?  Those who claim this are wily customers.  The most important legacy of the 9/11 Commission is to have documented the history of this crime step by step.  This will make it difficult to construe legends.  It has offered a honest example of the self-healing forces of an open society."


"It Did Not Learn Too Much"


Washington correspondent Dietmar Ostermann noted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (7/23):  "The report of the 9/11 Commission is an extensive reconstruction and rigorous analysis [of the 9/11 attack]....  But in the end, there is the insight that absolute security cannot exist in an open society.  And it is wise of the Commission not to give an answer to the question whether 9/11 could have been prevented.  But the political camps in Washington will fill this gap.  Shortly before the presidential elections, we cannot expect a sober debate, which would be necessary.  More important than the blunders before 9/11 are the shortcomings following 9/11.  A serious reform of the intelligence services has still not been implemented.  If al-Qaida had state helpers outside Afghanistan, [they were] in Iran, not Iraq.  The real message of the Commission is how alarmingly little the United States has learned from 9/11/"


"Intelligence Services"


Uwe Schmitt noted in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (7/23):  "The greatest achievement of the 9/11 Commission is not controversial:  its report does not deliver any ammunition for those who like to play with rolling heads of the opponents....  It is a document of human failure, and the emphasis is put on the term 'human.'  It is difficult to imagine another democracy that reveals its weaknesses so unsparingly.  Ideologues will feel disappointed, while all those politicians must feel alarmed who will lose power once the 15 disparate intelligence services will be streamlined....  Some of the arguments against this move are understandable, but in a country that considers its freedoms worthy a price, there can be no absolute protection.  But it is an irrefutable and shocking conclusion of the report how jealousy, arrogance, and sloppiness paralyzed the U.S. intelligence services."




Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/23):  "The terror threat...built up for more than ten years, and the White House is right with its statement on the Commission's report...but with this statement it is also admitting the unprecedented failure of the Clinton and the Bush administrations.  But the responsible agencies...should have recognized what developed...over such a long period of time....  The report of the 9/11 Commission does not claim that the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented; it does not raise the question of who is to blame.  But even without these accusations, a heavy burden lies on the shoulders of those people who were responsible for the various [security] agencies at that time."


ITALY:  "Al-Qaida Bush And Clinton’s Faults"


Leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore noted (7/23):  “The Bush administration managed to emerge from this congressional investigation without suffering much political damage.  The report points its finger against the failings on the part of government agencies in preventing and responding to such attacks, but it also indicates that both the Bush and Clinton presidencies are at fault for not having recognized in time the extent of the threats posed by al-Qaida.”


"September 11, The Secret Services Didn’t Understand"


Vittorio Zucconi opined in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (7/23):  “The report is an admirable, serene and balanced confession of political 'failures' and bureaucratic ineptitudes....  The terrorists were well aware of this laxity....  But neither Clinton in the 90s nor Bush wanted to disturb our travels....  Every day we get new and more sophisticated equipment to scan baggage to give us the impression of greater protection.  But this is not the way things stand.  The last chilling truth we saw in the video...was that the five terrorists in Dulles were stopped and screened.  They were not in possession of weapons or explosives.  They were allowed through.  No airport has equipment capable of reading someone’s intentions.”


RUSSIA:  "A Soap Bubble"


Mikhail Zygar commented in business-oriented Kommersant (7/23):  "While looking antipodal as persons, John Kerry and George Bush are almost identical as politicians.  Both promise to combat terror, if elected, and neither is going to withdraw the troops from Iraq.  By being bipartisan, the 9/11 Commission seals that parity between the Republicans and Democrats.  In one of its sections, the report blames the terrorist attacks on the Clinton administration and, in another, it faults George Bush and Co., which is only natural, with the elections only 100 days away.  The much-publicized inquiry has proved to be a soap bubble, as there is nothing in it you might call specific.  Based on it, you can say that the fault is everybody's and nobody's all at the same time, meaning that both candidates can go on lampooning one another....  The Democrats will prevail if they prove that George Bush confused Iraq with Iran."


"Congress To Blame"


Artur Blinov said in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (7/23):  "By saving its main criticism for Congress, the Commission has actually neutralized the only body that might have named culprits and called them to task."


"A Major Shake-Up Needed"


Vitaliy Gan surmised in neo-communist weekly Slovo (7/23):  "[The] conclusions...made by the Senate are enough for a coup d'etat in the U.S. intelligence community."


"Nobody's Fault"


Boris Volkhonskiy and Dmitriy Sidorov wrote from Washington in business-oriented Kommersant (7/23):  "The report was expected to contain startling exposes that might have influenced the pre-election situation in the United States in a major way.  But as follows from its conclusions, it is not concrete people, not even the George Bush or Bill Clinton administrations, but deep structural defects in government that are to blame for the terrorist attacks....  Criticism in the report refers equally to both the current administration and the Democratic one that preceded it....  The report virtually absolves Saddam Hussein, pointing out that the contacts his regime may have had with al-Qaida do not mean that he cooperated with that organization.  It is less critical of Iran than expected...and refutes whatever has been said about Saudi Arabia's involvement.  The Commission urges intelligence reform with a view to focusing more on fighting terrorism....  But as noted by most observers, its proposals are not imperative by nature and are unlikely to prod resolute action by the Administration before November."


AUSTRIA:  "Conceivable"


Senior columnist Ernst Trost wrote in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (7/26):  "Now the American nation has been given a lot of food for thought, about its security and on the intelligence services that are responsible for it.  The sad conclusion:  they knew much but could do little with this knowledge.  Jealousy, traditional rivalries, and an obsessive concern with guarding their territory has prevented an exchange of information.  And then there is a key word:  'inconceivable.'  The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were simply inconceivable....  For decades, the fantasy scenarios of the Cassandras were directed at depicting the consequences of a nuclear war between the U.S. and the USSR.  Such a catastrophe was conceivable--that’s how it was prevented.  Now, trying to imagine the inconceivable is the order of the day."


"Self-Cleansing As A Sign Of Strength"


Foreign affairs writer Stefan Galoppi commented in mass-circulation Kurier (7/23):  “The final report...makes U.S. politicians and institutions look bad.  That it will nevertheless be published is part of the self-cleansing process that can only serve to make democracy stronger.  With all due respect for the achievement of the 9/11 Commission, it remains doubtful whether its recommendations will suffice when it comes to preventing future terrorist attacks.  For this form of unpredictable violence--like the distribution of weapons of mass destruction or the environmental destruction--can only be counteracted by a global act of strength.  The Bush administration, however, has proved that it tends towards missionary-style, go-it-alone actions.  For them, having a person in charge of listening to international partners and their arguments would be equally important as installing a super intelligence services boss.”


BELGIUM:  "9/11 And U.S. Foreign Policy"


Foreign editor Jean Vanempten opined in financial daily De Tijd (7/24):  "On September11, 2001, the United States changed thoroughly.  As of that moment an aggressive foreign policy--with wars if need be--was going to prevail.  After Afghanistan came Iraq, but the terrorist threat did not disappear.  Thus far, terrorist groups that have links with al-Qaida have carried out attacks.  The war on terror did not decrease the threat, but intensified it.  That threat pushes the American government profoundly into the defensive.  There have been frequent alarms.  At this moment, attacks are not taking place in the United States, but the threat makes everyone quite nervous....  While the recommendations (of the Commission's report) have not caused direct political damage, they put the finger on a sensitive spot.  The dramatic turnabout that is needed in the U.S. intelligence services will have far-reaching consequences....  It is difficult for President Bush to ignore the conclusions of the report.  He must implement new structures.  The 9/11 attacks are such a sensitive issue that doing nothing is unthinkable....  Democratic candidate John Kerry also remains vague about his intentions regarding the war on terror.  Just like Bush, he does not go farther than the promise to implement the recommendations of the report.  Kerry also avoids all controversies over the issue--especially for reasons of electoral opportunism.  Anyway, the United States is looking for a 'Czar' with imagination to track potential terrorists and to eliminate them.  The man will have a lot of work."


FINLAND:  "9/11 Report"


Left-of-center, Swedish-language Hufvudstadsbladet editorialized (7/23):  "The report shows that al-Qaida’s contacts with Hizbollah, Iran and Pakistan before 9/11 were stronger than its contacts with Iraq.  Do such contacts still exist?  We knew that anti-Americanism is strong in many countries.  Whether this means that more terrorist attacks are being planned is harder to know. There are still many countries that do not realize what risks they are taking by ignoring the fanatics who hide themselves in certain organizations.  If the U.S. today is exaggerating its great war on terrorism, it is because there are countries who refuse to see the threat from al-Qaida.”


HUNGARY:  "New Target?"


Foreign affairs writer Tamas Ronay argued in pro-government, center-left Nepszava (7/20):  “If the alleged findings of the 9/11 committee prove to be correct that Tehran cooperated with the terrorist organizations, it will cast a very dark shadow over President Bush’s Middle East policy.  It would be an indication that the Iranian government had a much closer cooperation with al-Qaida than Saddam Hussein, the ex-dictator of Iraq.  And it is an especially awkward claim from the perspective of President Bush because it would mean that all the serious causes for the war against Iraq prove false.  So, what is the solution?  Will President Bush, if reelected, include Iran in the ‘axis of evil’ group and attack it?  But toppling the Iranian regime by using military force would be identical with a political suicide for President Bush.  Bush should instead be racking his brain to come up with an alternative plan of how to create the much-described peaceful and democratic Middle East.”


IRELAND:  "Tragic Lessons"


The center-right, populist Irish Independent editorialized (7/23):  "Things always seem clear in hindsight.  It is to be expected, therefore, that the warning signs leading up to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States are much clearer to the 9/11 Commission after that event than they were to U.S. intelligence and security services leading up to it.  However, even allowing for that, the failures on the part of those services, and indeed of successive U.S. administrations, are damning....  The report of the commission lists numerous missed opportunities dating back to 1998, and falling under both former President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush, when the terrorist attacks could possibly have been foiled....  No country can completely protect itself against terrorist attacks as Ireland above all should know.  Nonetheless, every country should do what it can to minimize the chances of such attack.  The U.S. certainly did not do that before September 11.  This report, despite some reservations about individual recommendations, will hopefully enable it to better protect itself in the future."


"Minimal Fallout For Teflon Bush"


Rupert Cornwell opined in the center-right, populist Irish Independent (7/23):  "It is...a scathing indictment of America's intelligence agencies, its homeland defenses and the very organization of its government....  The most pressing question however is simple--whether...the 9/11 Commission...will make any difference....  A host of problems, some practical, some ideological--stand in the way....  Mr. Bush himself long resisted the establishment of the commission....  Yesterday, he did not sound like a man galvanized into action by the report....  The political calendar too makes swift action unlikely....  The report strikes a deliberately neutral balance....  Congress too is chastised for its sloppy oversight of the intelligence community....  Nonetheless the report is bound to have an impact on the unfolding election campaign.  Obviously, President Bush, as the man in charge when the attacks happened, has more to lose in political terms, even if the document's broad conclusion is that the attacks almost certainly could not have been prevented, barring an extraordinary piece of luck....  The sharper the partisan rhetoric however, the less likely anything will be done....  But the 9/11 report may be the exception....  This time the public cares, deeply and intensely....  Nowhere will the resonance be greater than among those who lost relatives and friends in the attacks.  As a lobby they have already proved their power.  If nothing is done, they will not allow the issue to go away.  And neither John Kerry nor George W. Bush wants to be the president on whose watch the terrorists strike again."


NORWAY:  "Dark Clouds"


The independent VG noted (7/24):  "Although everyone could see the dark clouds gathering, nobody expected the lightning to strike....  The report makes it very clear that the U.S. is unable to win the fight against international terrorism with guns alone....  For Muslim parents and their children, terrorists like bin Laden have nothing to offer but visions of violence and death....  But in this situation the self-critical commission report might prove a constructive effort.  There are still dark clouds on the horizon, and we need strong international cooperation to prevent new acts of terrorism."


"The Hunt For A Scapegoat"


The social democratic Dagsavisen remarked (7/24):  "In the hunt for scapegoats, one should not forget that those chiefly responsible were and are members of the terrorist network al-Qaida....  Maybe we have just entered the age of global terror....  The fight against terror can only be won by also attacking the roots of terrorism--by improving the condition for the many angry young people who today carry out acts of terrorism."


"Terror Report And The Campaign"


The newspaper of record Aftenposten editorialized (7/23):  "The most important recommendation in the report is to improve coordination of intelligence material...with the help of a directorate just below cabinet secretary level...and that Congress should have an increased responsibility to supervise the intelligence sector....  Even though the Congressional commission has worked at an impressive speed with this complicated report, efficiency is not what the U.S. Congress is well known for."


"Nobody Responsible?"


The independent Dagbladet observed (7/23):  "The Commission clears both President Clinton and President Bush for the mistakes that were committed....  Instead, the faceless intelligence organizations get the blame....  In light of all the warnings, the clear acquittal of presidents Clinton and Bush stands out as a lack of determination to put the responsibility where it belongs."


"9/11 again"


The Christian Democratic Vårt Land commented (7/23):  "The number of dead since 9/11 is far, far higher than the number of those who died in Manhattan and in Washington, and besides, we still can't discern the final consequences of the war against Iraq....  The developments have worsened the situation between Israel and Palestine....  And let us not forget that Osama bin Laden has not been caught, dead or alive."


POLAND:  "9/11 Report"


Liberal Gazeta Wyborcza noted (7/23):  "The report which took 20 months to prepare has only aggravated a heated dispute on whether America could have prevented its greatest failure since Pearl Harbor."


SLOVENIA:  "Enough Ammunition For Both Parties"


U.S. correspondent Robi Poredos opined in left-of-center Delo (7/23):  "President Bush commended the leading members of the Commission...for good work.  He could do this with a smile; all responsibility for the attacks...has namely been taken off him...[and] Bill Clinton....  The American president, who is known for his statement that he does not read newspapers, announced that he was looking forward to reading the 575-page report....  In the name of consensus, the members of the Commission yielded to political pressure of the Republicans who--in the pre-election period--very angrily react to criticism of the president.  This is why the opinion that attacks could have been prevented, which had been announced earlier, has not been included in the report....  But the Commission dared express doubt that all provisions of the Patriot Act...were really urgent.  It also stirred up the Republican hornets' nest by recommending that terrorist detainees be treated according to Article 3 of the Geneva Convention....  Despite the report's neutrality, members of the Democratic and Republican parties are fighting....  However--regardless of the pre-election raging of both sides--the fact is that George Bush was in power on September 11, 2001 and he was the one who decided how to respond to the attacks."


SPAIN:  "Failures Everywhere"


Left-of-center daily El País remarked (7/23):  "The Sept. 11 commission...leaves the Bush administration and the Clinton administration both looking bad....  Not surprisingly, Bush yesterday called the conclusions 'constructive,' trying to avoid their tainting his electoral campaign....  Is it lack of imagination, negligence or clumsiness that the intelligence services of the most powerful country on this planet suffer from?"


"Reproach Without Condemnation In The 9/11 Report"


Conservative ABC editorialized (7/23):  "In addition to this critical, but unexaggerated, retrospection, the report points out two issues important in the future.  First, the terrorist threat remains....  Second, it is Iran, and not Iraq, which worryingly seems to have been an efficient collaborator with the 9/11 terrorists, having facilitated their movement and documentation.  The 'evil axis' proclaimed by Bush...seems to be partially supported by the report....  The U.S. has made its own catharsis about the greatest terrorist attack in history.  No one and nothing has been omitted from this unconditional investigation and no one has blamed others for the deaths.  Even with their disagreements, Democrats and Republicans have been able to remain united against terrorism."


"Conclusions About Sept. 11 In The U.S."


Conservative La Razon opined (7/23):  "The most important feature of the document is not that it saves Bush's face or that of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, but rather that it suggests solutions and recommendations for better national security and for avoiding a repeat of the situation that lead to Sept. 11.  In contrast to what seems to be happening with the [Spanish parliamentary] investigation of the March 11 [Madrid train] bombings, the U.S. commission has made a detailed analysis of all the possible failures and the measures adopted by the different agencies charged with security."




ISRAEL:  "Why The Relief In Washington?"


"Popular, pluralist Ma'ariv commented (7/23):  "When almost 3,000 people were killed in the Yom Kippur war, a huge wave of popular protest broke out, the political stage shook and heads rolled....  Yesterday...the report stated:  the response to the events was improvised.  So if the leadership failed to foil the plot and the emergency services improvised, how come a hurricane-force sigh of relief swept through Washington?"


EGYPT:  "Will Iran Be The Next Victim?"


Aggressive, pro-government Al-Akhbar editorialized (7/21):  "The U.S. president announced...that Iran was implicated in the events of 11 September 2001.  The truth is still absent in this respect....  The event occurred during the tenure of the current U.S. president, and the truth might be terrifying and shocking because the incident was terrifying and shocking for the American administration and people.  Perhaps this poses a danger to the reputation of the current president, Bush, and his political career.  He is now waging the presidential election campaign for a second term amid expectations he would lose....  Observers are prompted to say that the U.S. administration is lost because of this recent statement by President Bush accusing Iran, especially since the U.S. administration has a record as the party that claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  This was the justification for invading Iraq, but the information turned out to be inaccurate....  The files of 11 September have still not been opened in an objective manner, so that the world would know the truth of what happened....  The question is:  was Osama bin Ladin living in Iran or in the United States during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?  Who treated bin Ladin to such a nice stay in the United States?  He had a palace in every state, and he used to inspect weapons and aircraft factories.  The aircraft used in the September operation were American, and the airports were American, as were the places frequented by the hijackers.  Where were the administration and the intelligence?  Where?  All this was absent.  What was present and is still present are lies.  The truth is still absent!"


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Truth And Accusations"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (7/25):  "The 9/11 Commission report recognized the real role of the Kingdom in fighting terrorism....  It is true that a large number of those who hijacked the planes and attacked civilian and military targets in the U.S. were Saudi nationals.  No in the Kingdom, official or private, expected such a thing....  Moreover, the 9/11 terrorist attack was a lesson in public relations for both countries.  Another fact is that Saudi Arabia fights terrorism more than any other country....  The moral and financial losses of Saudi Arabia resulting from its confrontations with terrorists confirmed to Americans, even to its enemies, that the Kingdom is an ideal target for terrorists, and that we are combating terrorism directly."


The Kingdom And 9/11 Report Commission"


Mecca’s conservative Al-Nadwah commented (7/25):  "The main aim of the campaign against the Kingdom by the American media after 9/11...was to destroy the Saudi-American friendship....  It was Zionist groups that initiated this campaign....  Eventually, the 9/11 report proved that the Kingdom is innocent and had no links with the attacks....  The Kingdom will always maintain its friendship with its friends and it will remain solid."


"Shortcomings And Self-Scrutiny"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh observed (7/24):  "The findings of the 9/11 report provide a recent example of grave shortcomings....  Perhaps this self-initiated approach to accountability in a democratic nation was a substantive process because any mistake in the review would be considered as moral and political defeat....  Nevertheless, America still faces big shortcomings in handling several sensitive issues:  the Arab-Israeli conflict, its own growing animosity toward the Islamic world, and use of the principle of combating terrorism to justify its wars and aggression.  These have redoubled hatred toward the U.S. among more than a billion Muslims around the world.  The U.S. has even lost its friends and allies."


"Accusations And A Confession Of Wrongdoing"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (7/19):  "There is not a day that passes without us hearing about pressures being put on an Islamic country by the superpower.  Al-Qaida has given the superpower the justification for these policies.  It has become easy for the U.S. to direct its accusations at any country.  Israel, too, has indirectly benefited from al-Qaida.  Thanks to the U.S. classification, the Palestinian resistance movement is now a terrorist organization.  Today the superpower turns its attention to Iran and puts pressure on the Iranian government.  The independent committee in charge of investigating the September 11 attacks will issue its report of 500-plus pages by the end of this week.  In this report, Iran has been accused of allowing the terrorists of September 11 to pass through its territories on their way to the U.S.  Sources in the U.S. Congress even went as far as saying that Iran collaborated with the terrorists and decreased the level of inspection at border check points so that terrorists could pass unnoticed....  We do not know whose turn is next.  Meanwhile, al-Qaida remains silent and insists on not confessing its wrongdoing."




CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "9/11 Report Shows U.S. The Way Forward"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (7/24):  "The official report on the September 11 attacks has gone further than had been expected....  The inquiry commission recommended a shake-up of America's intelligence agencies....  But it also proposed a fresh approach to U.S. foreign policy.  It provides an ambitious blueprint for change.  And that is welcome....  George W. Bush has championed the policy of the pre-emptive strike.  He has adopted a with us or against us approach to the war on terror.  But this can no longer be justified.  The costly mistakes made in Iraq have surely sounded the death knell for this reckless and dangerous strategy.  It is therefore refreshing to see the commission recommending what amounts to a much more ethical foreign policy.  It places emphasis on the need for diplomacy--the winning of hearts and minds.  This is most needed in America's relations with the Muslim world.  Force will sometimes be needed when tackling the terrorist threat.  But it must go hand in hand with a more sophisticated and inclusive approach.  The report rightly suggests that the policies of Mr. Bush have served to isolate the U.S.  And that will not help win the war on terror.  The report brings to a climax three years of grieving and soul-searching over September 11.  Hopefully, it will provide some comfort for relatives of the victims--and lay the foundations for a safer future, for America and the rest of the world."


JAPAN:  "Could Warning Bells Be Heard?"


The liberal Asahi commented (7/24):  "Due to the lack of monitoring of Islamic extremists, the U.S. government was unable to prevent 9/11.  The CIA, FBI, and other U.S. organizations failed ten times to sense terrorist plans, and thereby gave al-Qaida the chance to attack....  At a time when the nation and democracy is at a critical moment, it is good that the U.S. has organized for an independent organization to carry out investigations and publicly disclose their outcome in an attempt to see if the government or Congress responded appropriately....  The world will be put in chaos should the U.S., which has enormous military might, use its military power without accurate information and decisions."


"Report Omits Administration Responsibility"


The Washington correspondent for liberal Asahi reported (7/23):  "What is unique in the 9/11 Commission's final report is that not only the intelligence community, but also Congress which supervises intelligence agencies, was held accountable for failing to preempt the terrorist attack.  However, the report did not make direct comments on the responsibilities of the Clinton and Bush administrations, which had been a focal point of the investigation.  Because the Commission was bipartisan, and the presidential campaign is in progress, the panel apparently wanted to prevent the report from being used as a political weapon.  Because of this, the report leaves something to be desired, and the issue of responsibility apparently remains unresolved."   


INDONESIA:  "Sensation Of Iran’s Involvement In September 11"


Leading independent daily Kompas commented (7/22):  “U.S. suspicion that Iran might be involved in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 has prompted major tension and sensation.  Moreover, Iran has immediately responded by calling such suspicion 'trick and fantasy'...[although] it does not dismiss speculations that some of the hijackers might have passed its territory before they joined the action on September 11….  It is predictable that the U.S. and UK will not repeat their foolishness in Iraq by attacking Iran....  Apparently, Bush’s target is not to attack Iran, but merely to maintain and revive the issue of the danger of terrorism.  Bush wants to identify himself as the champion of the movement against the danger of terrorism.  In anticipation of the November election, Bush is again exploiting the danger of terrorism as his campaign theme.  He has intentionally raised the trauma of the September 11 tragedy.  That is also the political context as to why Bush launched suspicion of Iran’s involvement in the September 11 case.”


NEW ZEALAND:  "Give Diplomacy A Chance"


The left-of-center Dominion Post had this to say (Internet version, 7/26):  "The main conclusions of a report by the bipartisan September 11 commission...were all too self-evident....  That is not to say the findings of the commission are not valuable, just that they are not surprising.  The wording of one of the panel's main findings, that the biggest failure was one of imagination, is likely to find its way quickly into the American lexicon.  That failure of imagination was the main reason U.S. authorities were not prepared for what happened, but is also their main defense....  American authorities failed not only to thwart the terrorists on the ground and in the air, but they failed to get inside their heads.  They did not think like terrorists who were trying to inflict the maximum amount of casualties and carnage on an unsuspecting population, and were prepared to die to do it....  For countries such as New Zealand, the commission's conclusions about what has happened since September 11, 2001, are at least as important as what did or did not happen before and on that fateful day....  It is not only Americans who will hope their administration heeds the commission's findings.  Intelligence-gathering and military strikes are important tools in fighting terrorism but are not the only ones.  Easing tensions in the world's hot spots, giving the dispossessed everywhere a greater stake in their own future and making meaningful moves to close the wide gulfs in economic clout, material wealth, human rights and political participation should also be in the West's armory as it fights the scourge of terrorism."


PHILIPPINES:  "Focus On The 'Whys'"


Columnist Federico Pascual wrote in the moderate Philippine Star (7/25):  "America should pay more attention to the 'Why?' of the attacks to gain a more rounded and deeper view of the problem.  When men in their prime choose to deliver a message by crashing a captured aircraft on high-profile targets--and die in the process--there must be a seething grievance against America that motivates them.  The 9/11 Commission should not be afraid to confront these grievances.  Until these are recognized and addressed, America will not be at peace with its neighbors."




INDIA:  "Will Missing"


The pro-BJP-right of center Pioneer took this view (7/26):  "It is not surprising that the National Commission has criticized both the Clinton and Bush administrations for failing to recognize the enormity of the threat the U.S. faced from terrorist outfits like al-Qaida....  Both the Clinton and the Bush administration's underestimation of the threat al-Qaida posed is further reflected in their kid-glove treatment of Pakistan until 9/11 happened, and this despite repeated demands by U.S. counter-terrorism officials for tough action against it....  That firm action against Pakistan might have spared the U.S. the trauma of 9/11 is clear not only from Islamabad's general role in promoting the Taliban and al-Qaida, but indications of the ISI's involvement in the actual staging of 9/11....  Unfortunately, the U.S. remains vacillating and confused and fails to put on Pakistan the kind of pressure that would compel it to take effective action to crush the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida elements functioning from its areas bordering Afghanistan or capture Osama bin Laden who is reportedly hiding in the area.  Without greater resolution at the top, implementation of the Commission's suggestions for a thorough revamp of the intelligence agencies, the creation of the office of a Director of National Intelligence and a national counter-terrorism center, would serve little purpose."


"9/11 And All That"


The nationalist Hindustan Times editorialized (7/24):  "Given its nature, the 9/11 attack was a traumatic event for a country that prides itself in maintaining the security of its homeland.  It united not just the U.S., but the world, in combating terrorism.  But in a few short years, the Bush administration seems to have wasted that mandate in pursuing a highly controversial war against Iraq.  The result is that the world is not a safer place than it was at the start of the anti-terrorist campaign.  The U.S. distraction in Iraq has prevented it from pursuing the war against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan more vigorously.  Pakistan remains a problem and a potential pool for a new generation of terrorists.  Of the greatest concern for everyone is the possibility of terrorists accessing nuclear or bio-war materials.  The sheer audacity of the A.Q. Khan smuggling ring shows how the unthinkable can happen.  Perhaps the biggest challenge for the U.S. is to get the world campaign against terrorism back on the rails and to pursue it with renewed and relentless determination."


PAKISTAN: "American 9/11 Commission's Report


The sensationalist Urdu-language Ummat maintained (7/26):  "Howsoever independent or impartial any American inquiry commission maybe, its report regarding other countries, especially Muslim and affected countries, is not definite and could not be taken on their face value since these agencies are subservient to the policies of their government.  Such commissions do keep an open mind about their country and people but when they are dealing with other countries, especially those who are Muslims or who are 'anti-American' in the eyes of their government then such committees and commissions are not bound to abide by the established international rules and laws of fair play and justice.  A cursory look at the report of 9/11 inquiry commission reveals its partisanship and nationalism.  After absolving the U.S. government, it has implicated the administrative machinery and secret agencies.  The advice to bolster and make them more effective indicates that it is aimed at giving a free hand to the American government to destroy any individual, group or a country and its citizens by declaring them enemies."


"The Final Report Of American 9/11 Inquiry Report"


Karachi-based pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu-language Islam held (7/26):  "The 9/11 inquiry commission has advised West to hold a dialogue with the Islamic world.  This is in fact a very realistic suggestion that has come after quite a while but this suggestion is not expected to win any support keeping in mind that an irritated, impatient and non-farsighted person as Bush is the president of the United States.  But even if such an occasion arises, it is most likely that this dialogue would not be held with the real representatives of the Islamic world but with the pro-western Muslim leaders.  However, the commission's analysis is not correct that that Muslim youth is despair to die due to economic deprivation.  The reason for Muslim youth's anger towards the U.S. is not because of their economic backwardness but due to the patrician and discriminatory policies of the West and the U.S. against Islam and the Muslims.  What the West today is declaring terrorism is in fact the reaction of the tyrannical policies of America.  The Muslim rulers should further the commission's suggesting of holding dialogue between Islam and the West.  This is only the way to restore the West-Islam relations that is in fact need of the hour."


"9/11 Panel Report"


Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language daily Dawn editorialized (7/24):  "It is worth reiterating here its recommendation that the U.S. government should show a long-term commitment towards the Islamic world, especially countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  What America should keep in mind is that success in the war against terror is more likely if these partner countries are seen not as mere client states but as genuine allies in the struggle to stamp out extremism."


"9/11 Commission Report"


The center-right national English-language Nation observed (7/24):  "Considering the virtual helplessness in which the U.S. finds itself in Iraq, though, it is hardly likely that it would risk undertaking another military adventure.  Besides, Iran is a different kettle of fish; its size, the determination of its people to defend their country with memories of the hostage crisis of 1979-80 still fresh in their minds, Washington's policy-makers should not be expected to push their forces across the Persian Gulf....  But fighting the symptoms and not tackling the causes of the malady--political and economic injustice rightly perceived to be committed by the U.S. and its surrogates--would be counterproductive."


"The Eye-Opening 9/11 Commission Report"


The center-right Urdu-language Pakistan commented (7/24):  "The admirable quality of the U.S. democratic system is that it has the capacity to investigate anything and anyone and hold them accountable....  According to the report, the U.S. security system needs to be overhauled.  The CIA chief has already resigned; the secretaries of State and Defense as well as the NSC Advisor must heed the voice of their conscience.  The U.S. too, needs to ask itself the reason and justification for targeting whole countries to avenge the action of a few individuals. The Commission must also look into how the U.S. nation can atone for these sins."


 "The 9/11 Commission Report And The Muslim World"


The independent Urdu-language Din (7/24):  "What is important for us in the 9/11 Commission report is the democratic culture and traditions that have produced this report.  The report shows us how developed nations run their affairs and what behavior they adopt in times of national distress.  Let us set aside for the time being whatever the Bush administration did following the horrific events of 9/11 and the steps it took in the name of domestic security afterwards; we must pay attention to the fact that the U.S. Congress fulfilled the responsibility it had been entrusted as a representative body of the nation....  The U.S. National Commission did not hide any facts in its report as happens in semi-democratic and developing countries like Pakistan."


"9/11 Inquiry Report And Iran"


The leading mass-circulation Urdu-language daily Jang held (7/19):  "The American 9/11 Inquiry Commission has reportedly accused Iran of having links with the terrorists involved in the attack on the [World] Trade Towers and providing eight to ten of the hijackers facilities to go to Afghanistan for training.  It is surprising that on the basis of mere suppositions Iran is being linked with terrorists.  We believe that in such type of sensitive matters nobody should be accused on the basis of whimsy conjectures but solid evidence.  Otherwise it is further going to widen the gulf between

the West and the Muslim countries."


IRAN:  "Washington Is Framing Iran"


Reformist daily E'temad remarked (Internet version, 7/19):  "Analysts of regional affairs predict that with the official publication of the 11 September Commission's report...Iran will face difficult times and international attention will be focused on Iran more than ever.....  While it has rejected any operational connection between al-Qaida and Iraq, the commission has devoted a great part of its report to Iran....  The report is that it directly refers to Iran's connection with al-Qaida and identifies the country in the international community as a supporter of state terrorism.  This is of importance because in the war on Iraq America had referred to a direct connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida and by this means had received the support of the Congress for confronting Saddam's threat.  Therefore, it is thought that the report...will also force the American Congress to act against Iran and will give the Iranian threat an emergency and urgent aspect....  In order to highlight further Iran's role, reference is made in the report to the connection between the Lebanese Hezbollah and al-Qaida and by making the assumption that the Hezbollah is the Tehran government's puppet, they set out somehow to accuse Iran of being connected with terrorism.  Of course...the bulk of the information relating to America's allegation against Iran are based on investigations carried on al-Qaida detainees by America and, of course, from the point of view of independent Western experts, taking into account the long-standing hostility of al-Qaida towards the Shia, especially Iran, such information and revelations could be expected [because] al-Qaida and certain extremist Sunni groups consider Shia to be far more dangerous than the Americans.  Therefore, it is no cause for surprise if al-Qaida sets out to destroy the relations between Iran and the international community....  The propaganda and the numerous mass media reports are considered as a first step towards future action and the aim of creating the present climate against Iran is considered to be preparing public opinion in the international community.  The American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, also has said that if Iran does not abandon its nuclear program, it will pay a heavy price.  He has made reference to the vulnerability of Iran's economy in the face of sanctions."


"Psychological Warfare Against Iran"


Tehran's Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1 observed (7/20):  "In view of the remarks made by George W. Bush, it seems that American officials have adopted ambiguous positions with regard to the Islamic Republic of Iran....  State Department spokesman Richard Boucher...said that America was ready to start direct talks with the Islamic Republic of Iran provided that it comes to the conclusion that such talks are beneficial....  On the other hand, allegations have been made....  Now, the question is...what is the real purpose of American officials in raising such issues?  Is that a well-planned policy or is this just being done for electoral purposes?...  On the whole, when one considers all the positions adopted and views expressed by American officials on the Islamic Republic of Iran one can conclude that their primary aim is to encourage a new psychological warfare campaign against the Islamic Republic of Iran.  In fact, they have concentrated their efforts on tarnishing the international image of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Their second aim is to prepare the ground for ensuring their success in the 2 November elections."




CANADA:  "9/11 Report Shows Need For Better Cooperation"


The conservative Montreal Gazette editorialized (7/26):  "Bureaucracies are like problem children:  they're compulsively self-centered, they resist sharing, and they don't play well with other bureaucracies.  Interagency hostility is staple plot fodder in spy fiction, where the hero agents are routinely undercut by rivals from other agencies on their own side.  It is chilling to note that this state of affairs also prevails in real life, as reported last week by the U.S. commission investigating the 9/11 terrorist attacks....  [It] recommended the creation of a new U.S. intelligence center headed by an intelligence 'czar' to coordinate counterterrorist information-gathering and action.  This may or may not be the answer.  Certainly coordination is imperative, but we should also be aware that an intelligence organization with such sweeping authority could also exceed its mission and abuse its power.  On the other hand, some streamlining might prove useful as the U.S. agencies strive to work better not only with each other but also with many other governments, including Canada's, which are truly partners in the global war against terror.  Most important is a change in attitude by the agencies involved, in all countries.  Bureaucracies by nature resist change, but now they must stop behaving like children."


"A Conspiracy Of Enemies"


The conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun had this to say (7/25):  "Did Iran help al-Qaida stage the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States?...  Why would Iran, knowing it was in Bush's gunsights, join in a monstrous terrorist attack that, if linked to Tehran, could have conceivably brought U.S. nuclear retaliation?  This column has long predicted the Bush administration would orchestrate a pre-election crisis over Iran designed to whip up patriotic fervour in the U.S. and distract public and media attention from the Iraq fiasco.  The growing clamor over Iran's nuclear intentions, with rumblings about air strikes against Iran's reactors in the fall, may prove to be a part of just such a manufactured crisis....  Iran quietly aided the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan that overthrew the Taliban, and jailed scores of al-Qaida members, including one of bin Laden's sons.  Active Iranian cooperation with al-Qaida seems illogical.  Of course my enemy's enemy is my friend, and collaboration was theoretically possible, but Iran derived no benefit whatever from the 9/11 attacks--quite the contrary.  Second, the Bush administration and former Clinton officials are trading accusations that the other was responsible for failing to take action against al-Qaida and its Taliban allies prior to 9/11.  But what no one admits is that both administrations sent millions in aid to the Taliban until four months before 9/11."


"Leading Up To 9/11"


The leading, centrist Globe and Mail editorialized (Internet version, 7/23):  "Critics of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush say that he overreacted to ambiguous intelligence about the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and took his country into an unnecessary war.  But Washington also faces a separate charge:  that it underreacted to ambiguous intelligence about the threat from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida group and failed to stop the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.  They can't have it both ways....  In hindsight, it is obvious that Washington should have gone after al-Qaida more aggressively, tracking down and capturing or killing Mr. bin Laden before his henchmen struck.  In other words, it should have acted pre-emptively.  But isn't that what it has been trying to do ever since?  The war in Afghanistan was designed to shut down the al-Qaida bases in that country before they could be used for another attack.  The invasion of Iraq was designed to close down a regime that had colluded with terrorists and was suspected of building weapons of mass destruction.  The critics now call that pre-emptive war a terrible mistake.  But clearly it was also a terrible mistake not to act pre-emptively before Sept. 11.  If there is any lesson to be drawn from that atrocity, it is that the war against terror can't be won by playing defense alone."


"Flawed 9/11 Report"


The liberal Toronto Star opined (Internet version, 7/23):  "It was by far the most comprehensive investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks...but the bulky 567-page final report released yesterday by the commission probing the events of that fateful day is still disappointing....  What the panel didn't do...was to point the finger of blame at any senior official, including President George Bush or former president Bill Clinton, for lapses in intelligence and security measures.  Nor did it conclude with absolute certainty that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon could have been stopped.  As Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism boss under Bush and Clinton noted yesterday, the panel strove to avoid controversy by agreeing not to criticize either president and failing to address links between the war in Iraq and possible future terrorist attacks.  In its earlier reports, the 9/11 commission documented serious flaws in the early warning system on Sept. 11.  It has also warned al-Qaida was trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, which Saddam Hussein had stopped trying to get years before Bush ordered the war on Iraq.  Bush promised the commission his government will act where it must in order to improve security at home.  He needs to keep that pledge because, despite letting Bush off lightly, the report's catalogue of a nation ill-prepared for modern-day terrorist attacks is unsettling."


BRAZIL:  "The Limits Of The 9/11 Report"


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo commented (7/24):  "The U.S. never intended to be a fortress before Bush and the 9/11 events....  Diagnosis and prognosis are subject to relevant reparations....  This does not mean that the report has distorted reality....  It has become extremely difficult to deny that Bush treated the war on terrorism with amazing negligence....  This explains the suspicion of many that the Bush administration neglected terror not due to incompetence, but because it had its attention turned to Saddam Hussein due to other reasons."


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