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#16: "Operation Ignore"? Someone is ignoring some facts.
Franken’s book has a chapter called "Operation Ignore," in which he wants his readers to believe that the Bush administration sat on its hands and did nothing in the weeks before September 11. There was, of course, no plan from Bush’s office called "Operation Ignore." Franken made it up. (This is Franken's idea of humor.)
Franken takes issue and totally misrepresents the way the Bush administration reacted to a report on national security by the Hart-Rudman Commission from February 2001. The bipartisan commission was composed of seven Democrats and seven Republicans, including Newt Gingrich, who released a strategy and program for reform "based on its assessment of the next 25 years"1 (italics added). The Commission’s report clearly took a long-range outlook on how the United States should approach its national security. But Franken leads many readers to believe that the commission’s report was some urgent call for President Bush to revamp the entire national security infrastructure immediately. (See pages 117-118 of Lies (pp. 126-127 of the paperback).) In fact, the commission wrote, "We propose significant change, and we know that change takes time."2 Franken has completely mischaracterized the report from the Hart-Rudman Commission.
There was one major immediate recommendation that the commission made in the final pages of its report: "The President should create an implementing mechanism to ensure that the major recommendations of this Commission result in the critical reforms necessary to ensure American national security and global leadership over the next quarter century"3 (italics added).
What did President Bush do? On May 8, 2001, he established the Office of National Preparedness to address security reform and to "work with state and local governments to ensure their planning, training, and equipment needs are addressed."4 Vice President Dick Cheney was asked to oversee the development of the effort, including leading "a new task force to address terrorist threats."5 He was to "report to Congress by October 1, after a review by the National Security Council."6 In his statement, Bush added, "No governmental responsibility is more fundamental than protecting the physical safety of our nation and citizens."7
Well, the National Security Council held four deputy committee meetings between May and July 2001 to enact a more proactive strategy in dealing with al Qaeda.8 Unfortunately, the directive was not finalized until September 4, and the President had not reviewed its content before September 11.9
Meanwhile, in July 2001, the CIA managed through "intelligence activities and liaison activities to disrupt (terrorist) attacks in Paris, Turkey, and Rome."10 Administration groups, such as the Counterterrorism Security Group (CGC), which was at the direction of Clinton-appointed National Security Council special assistant Dick Clarke, were meeting "almost daily ... sometimes twice a day"11 to address concerns of potential attacks overseas. On July 2, the FBI had released "a message saying that there are threats to be worried about overseas."12 Yet as all of this happened, Franken wants his readers to believe Bush was implementing something called "Operation Ignore."
Franken’s "Operation Ignore" is more like "Operation Franken Invention."
[Special Note: Click here to read what Dick Clarke told members of the press in August 2002 about what the Bush administration did in the fight against terrorism in 2001.]
[Special Note #2: The topic of "ignoring" terrorism may aptly apply to the Clinton administration, as evidenced by the testimony of Michael Scheuer. In 2004, Scheuer, a former CIA officer in charge of operations against Al Qaeda from Washington, revealed that
"[B]etween January 1996 and June 1999 ... I speak with firsthand experience (and for several score of CIA officers) when I state categorically that during this time senior White House officials repeatedly refused to act on sound intelligence that provided multiple chances to eliminate Osama bin Laden - either by capture or by U.S. military attack. I witnessed and documented, along with dozens of other CIA officers, instances where life-risking intelligence-gathering work of the agency's men and women in the field was wasted." (emphasis mine)
Read his article, originally published in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday December 5, 2004: http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/printer_120604E.shtml. Who was President between 1996 and 1999? You got it: Bill Clinton. Scheuer's experience was also formulated in a bestselling book, Imperial Hubris.]
1 “Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change: The Phase III Report of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century,” The United States Commission on National Security,/21st Century, February 21, 2001, p. 116. [The report is here.]
4 “Cheney to Oversee Domestic Counterterrorism Efforts,” U.S. Department of State, May 8, 2001. [text is at http://usinfo.state.gov/regional/af/security/a1050878.htm.]
8 Dana Priest, “White House Kept Key Portions of Report Classified,” Washington Post, July 25, 2003.
9 Ibid. [See also Gerald Posner, Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 (New York: Random House, 2003), pp. 157-158.]
10 Condoleezza Rice in a press conference, Thursday May 16, 2002. The text of which is linked here.