The U.S. government was ill-prepared to detect mistakes by al-Qaida plotters and stop the worst terror attacks in American history, the Sept. 11 commission said Wednesday in a final report that recommends sweeping overhaul of the nation's intelligence services to disrupt future attacks.
Bush thanked them for a "really good job" and said the panel makes "very solid, sound recommendations about how to move forward."
"I assured them that where the government needs to act we will," Bush said.
Ummm--how about resigning?
Less than four months before the presidential election, the commission's work already has ignited partisan debate over whether Bush took sufficient steps to deal with terrorism in the first year of his administration. Republicans have argued that Bush had just eight months to deal with the terror threat while Clinton's administration had eight years.
Have they argued that Clinton tried to deal with it, with some success, in those eight years, while the Bushies used their eight months to ignore the issue, cut the funding, and when the threat got really serious go on vacation?
Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar in the Clinton and Bush administrations and now an ABC consultant, said on the network's "Good Morning America" the commission avoided controversy. "To get unanimity they didn't talk about a number of things, like what effect is the war in Iraq having on our battle against terrorism. Did the president pay any attention to terrorism during the first nine months of his administration? The controversial things, the controversial criticisms of the Clinton administration as well as the Bush administration just aren't there."
"What they didn't do is say that the country is actually not safer now than it was then because of the rise in terrorism after our invasion in Iraq."