July 26, 2004
9/11 COMMISSION REPORT PORTRAYS A 'NATIONAL
** Global media praise the
"self-cleansing" report on pre-9/11 intelligence, bureaucratic
** Critics bemoan the
report's failure to "point the finger of blame" at specific
** The 9/11 panel's
findings show force must "go hand-in-hand" with winning hearts and
** Iranian papers label
allegations of Tehran-bin Laden cooperation al-Qaida
'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
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,
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
BRITAIN: "Judgment Day
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
"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
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?
"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'."
"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 failings...as 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
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
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
"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/"
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
ITALY: "Al-Qaida Bush And
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
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
"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
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."
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
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.”
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.”
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."
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
"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
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
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
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."
"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
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
"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?"
"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!"
"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
"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
"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."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
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
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
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."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
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
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
"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
the West and the Muslim countries."
IRAN: "Washington Is
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
"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
"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
"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