The ink was barely dry on the Sept. 11 commission's report as Republican and Democratic campaign strategists launched their respective spins on the story. "Blame the opposition party" is the primary objective of this exercise and voters can expect to hear plenty of partisan rhetoric at the major party conventions this summer. That's a pity.
Doesn't a national tragedy of the magnitude of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks deserve more serious consideration than that which is offered by the politics-as-usual policy of our two major parties?
The nation would be better served if Democrats and Republicans could follow the tone of the Sept. 11 commission, panel made up of disparate yet talented individuals came up with unanimous recommendations for improving our intelligence capabilities. The Sept. 11 commission was no ivory tower group of academics. It included members who were familiar with the give and take of partisan politics but who came to a specific set of conclusions and recommendations. The panel wisely put aside the question of blame and looked forward to how the nation's intelligence system might be overhauled and improved to prevent another 9/11 attack. The commission, while citing "specific points of vulnerability" also refused to speculate whether the attacks could have been prevented.
There's no question the United States' intelligence-gathering agencies are too fragmented. Commission Chairman Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana, said a key finding was that no one was in charge of making sure that intelligence agencies pool resources, avoid duplication and plan jointly.
Turning its attention to the possibility of future terrorist attacks, the report issues a sobering warning against Americans' pinning too many hopes on stemming this enemy by crushing Al-Qaida and perhaps one day capturing Osama bin laden.
"The problem is that Al-Qaida represents an ideological movement, not a finite group of people," the report concluded.
It's clear America was sleeping when it came to assessing and reacting to the terrorists' capability to attack America. Leaders of both parties owe it to the nation to look forward at how the system can be improved and reformed and to swiftly take appropriate actions. There's no time to waste pointing fingers at each other.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.