My mother always taught me that it was impolite to point.
Apparently, some mothers missed this chapter in the guidebook to
motherhood, and this is the reason we have politicians. In recent
weeks, the government has seen so much finger pointing that it is a
wonder an eye has not been poked out. With a presidential election
looming in the near future, it is unfortunate that President Bush
and his administration are at the end of these fingertips.
The surge of the current blame game can be attributed to Richard
Clarke, the former White House terrorism adviser. Clarke went
public with information and a book to discredit the president’s
role in fighting terrorism and preventing the Sept. 11, 2001,
tragedy. Since this uprising, the media have been anxious to ravage
any inkling of information supporting this claim and have called
vehemently for the testimony of National Security Adviser
Condoleezza Rice at the Sept.11 committee hearings.
Just last week, Rice testified before the committee
investigating the Sept. 11 attacks and stated that the Bush
administration did not have any specific warnings that al-Qaeda was
planning this attack on the United States. Meant to be an
information-gathering session, the questioning took a more
political turn as Democrats grilled her about the information
received in 2001. The recent outcome of this testimony is the
public release on Sunday of a confidential briefing from Aug. 6,
2001, titled “bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S.” In this
memo, the public is presumably supposed to find clear-cut evidence
that the Bush administration knew enough information to take action
and avoid the Sept. 11 occurrences.
Although the Democrats will attack this document and dissect it
for evidence of their case, the information they are looking for is
just not there. The information in this briefing did not warn of
the attacks but rather referred to the possibility of occurrences.
Of the statements made in this briefing, much of the information
provided to the president was from the past and discussed
intentions, such as Osama bin Laden’s desire to attack the United
States. The FBI had already been handling dozens of bin Laden
investigations, the statements inside this briefing included. There
were also two statements that indicated more recent findings
regarding threats, such as an anonymous call to a U.S. embassy
warning of a bomb possibility. These, too, were under investigation
and did not provide any information related to the date of the
Sept. 11 attacks. As this information was known to the president to
be under FBI investigation, and no information leading to an attack
on Sept. 11 was found, a full-blown search did not seem warranted
at the time.
It sure is easy now to look back and say, “The president could
have done more.” As they say, hindsight is 20/20, and in this case
many pointing fingers are accompanying hindsight. This blame for
lack of attention and action in the summer of 2001 is ridiculous.
The government receives thousands of tips regarding national
security, and it does its best to investigate those that pose a
serious threat. It is obvious that there were investigations into
bin Laden and his activities, and it is unfortunate that the
government was not able to stop the horrible tragedy.
Would Bush and his administration let threats go without
investigations or let an attack of this magnitude occur if the
information was there? The answer is a resounding “no.” Blaming
Bush is not going to make this tragedy disappear. Instead, it is
being used as a diversion tool to help the Democrats in the
If we want to continue this blame game, let us point our fingers
at bin Laden, the leader behind Sept. 11, or at al-Qaeda, the
executor of these attacks. Or better yet, let us turn those fingers
around and point them at those who have to stir up trouble in order
to gain popularity and always seem to have an answer after the
fact. It always is easier when you have the answer key in front of
you before a big test. Best of all, let everyone drop the finger
pointing; it is, after all, rude.
Stacey is a senior majoring in marketing. Her column runs every