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« You Can't Say That! | Main | ET »

"An Attitude Of Look The Other Way"

Rich Lowry describes how we rewarded terror and attacks on us in the nineties, in the Khobar Towers bombing.

When Freeh told national security adviser Sandy Berger there was evidence to indict several suspects, Berger asked, "Who else knows this?" He then proceeded to question the evidence. A reporter for The New Yorker who later interviewed Freeh about the case writes that the FBI Director thought "Berger . . . was not a national security adviser; he was a public-relations hack, interested in how something would play in the press. After more than two years, Freeh had concluded that the administration did not really want to resolve the Khobar bombing."

The price of not getting to the bottom of the matter ? although the Saudis opened up somewhat in response to Freeh's proddings and allowed the questioning of suspects ? wasn't just shrugging off the murderer of 19 Americans. It was failing to understand fully the changing nature of the terror threat. "Khobar provided the keys that unlocked the new terror world," says one terror expert. "Everything you needed to know about the new terror network, the cooperation between all the different sects and factions, the rise of Wahhabi radicalism in Saudi Arabia, the changing dynamic of the Middle East ? it all was present in that case."

I would note that, similarly, we've never really found all of the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing, for the same reason, with an additional one. Not only would proof of a Middle East connection have required undesired action on the part of the Clinton administration, but it would have diluted the politically-useful message that this was the sole act of "angry white men," the same ones who'd been stirred up by Rush Limbaugh into giving the Republicans control of Congress the previous fall.

One other interesting parallel.

The pattern of Saudi non-cooperation had been set after the Riyadh bombing, when the Saudis denied FBI agents access to four suspects, and swiftly beheaded them to lend finality to that lack of access.

And interestingly, Tim McVeigh is also no longer around to tell the whole story (had he ever been willing to do so--it appears that he wanted all the credit for himself, and wouldn't want it to look like he needed foreign assistance).

Posted by Rand Simberg at November 03, 2003 10:30 AM
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> we've never really found all of the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing

Some other things we've never really found:

WOMD in Iraq
The Loch Ness monster
The Roswell space aliens

But of course, the search goes on. The truth is out there.

Posted by Ron Garret at November 3, 2003 12:54 PM

> Some other things we've never really found:

> WOMD in Iraq
> Bigfoot
> The Loch Ness monster
> The Roswell space aliens

Yeah. This is getting ridiculous. Maybe the Oklahoma City bombing was some sort of secret conspiracy involving "Slick Bill", Janet Reno, the French, Saddam and Al Qaeda.


Posted by Marcus Lindroos at November 3, 2003 01:16 PM

Ignoring WMD (on which any sensible jury remains out), the items you cite haven't been found because they probably don't exist, as opposed to the one that I was talking about, which people in the Clinton administration were told to not look for, and would have found quite inconvenient if it had shown up.

And nice strawman, Marcus.

Posted by Rand Simberg at November 3, 2003 01:22 PM

Kudos to Rand for bringing this up. We need to keep asking ourselves if we really know what we think we know about terrorism in the 1990s.

And no, Mr. Lindroos, no conspiracy is necessary or even suggested. The Clinton administration just kept looking the other way, hoping that Middle Eastern terrorism really wasn't there. If this "see no evil" approach happened in a case where a Middle Eastern connection was undeniable, like WTC' 93, why wouldn't it also have happened in OKC '95, where initial reports also suggested Middle Eastern terrorism? Anybody who really looks, like Jayna Davis, can find these links.

Posted by Joshua Chamberlain at November 3, 2003 01:47 PM

Rand, You sure do attract some real space willies!

Posted by Chris Hall at November 3, 2003 02:38 PM

Has anything *ever* come of follow-up interviews with Terry Nichols? Seems like there were lots of tantalizing bits being hinted at by the press for a while, re: his connections with terrorist organizations in the Phillipines, and their possible links with either Al Qaeda or even Saddam. What's the deal there?

Posted by Greg Hill at November 3, 2003 02:45 PM

"But of course, the search goes on. The truth is out there."

The "X Files" was not a documentary. But "Red Green' most definitely is.

Posted by Raoul Ortega at November 3, 2003 06:24 PM

It's absolutely sickening to me that people will let personal bias distract them from truth. Ridiculing the pursuit of truth is equally appalling. There are credible leads in the OKC bombing that definitely should have been followed but have been ignored. Nothing operates in a vaccuum. Even assuming the federal building was the operation of a lone nutcase, does not mean that useful intelligence to related groups could not have been uncovered.

While I'm ranting. How about shooting the bastards that cheer every time American lives are lost?

Bigfoot and the X-files... shame on you.

Posted by ken anthony at November 4, 2003 06:36 AM

Yes, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the eight years of the Clinton Administration were totally devoid of anything that might be called "leadership".

They were happy to ignore the growing terror threat because addressing it would have required serious attention to a seroius issue. That and use of the military, something the Clintonoids disliked.

The serious histories of the Clinton years will not be kind to Slick Willie. He knows this and is constantly trying to amend his pathetic leadership scorecard. Most recent example: His assertion that he told George W. in his "exit interview" (get that!) that Bin Laden was the most dangerous guy out there, not Iraq or Sadaam.

Lame, very lame.

Posted by Thomas J. Frieling at November 4, 2003 06:51 AM

> Yes, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the eight years of the Clinton Administration were totally devoid of anything that might be called "leadership".

That's wrong. The Clinton years were full of leadership. He effectively moved things towards his goals. Disagreement over those goals does not change that fact.

Posted by Andy Freeman at November 4, 2003 08:24 AM

Perhaps you could enlighten us all on the list of Clinton accomplishments?

The only one of note is welfare reform--foisted on him unwillingly by the new Republican majority in the House post 1994.

And remember he vetoed it twice, signing it the third time in August 1996 only after Dick Morris focus-grouped the issue and warned Clinton he could lose the election if he vetoed it a third time.

And don't give me that balanced budget crap. Clinton did nothing to balance the budget (outside acquiesing to the Republican led budget reforms). He never tried to cut serious spending and lucked into a surge in tax collections that (briefly) brought the budget into balance.

And as we all now know, a lot of the go-go '90s economic boom was built on sand. But then you couldn't expect Clinton to be aware of that, could you? Sure, they were just Arkansas rubes who you couldn't expect to know how the markets worked. Except for that ten grand Hillary turned into one hundred large over night in pork futures. It's easy to do that--we all do it from time to time, right?

Gimme a freakin' break.

Posted by Thomas J. Frieling at November 4, 2003 11:34 AM

Hindsight's a wonderful thing, ain't it!

Posted by tdent at November 5, 2003 08:09 AM

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