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Donald Trump talks to reporters in New York about the World Trade Center.

Donald Trump, George W. Bush, and Responsibility for 9/11 – The Atlantic

Trump Is Right About

utters plenty of ugly untruths. … His latest ugly truth came during a Bloomberg TV interview last Friday, when he said George W. Bush deserves responsibility for the fact that “the World Trade Center came down during his time.” Politicians and journalists erupted in indignation. called Trump’s comments “pathetic.” Ben Carson dubbed them “ridiculous.” …

Former Bush flack Ari Fleischer called Trump a 9/11 “truther.” Even Stephanie Ruhle, the Bloomberg anchor who asked the question, cried, “Hold on, you can’t blame George Bush for that.”

Oh yes, you can. There’s no way of knowing for sure if Bush could have stopped the September 11 attacks. But that’s not the right question. The right question is: Did Bush do everything he could reasonably have to stop them, given what he knew at the time? And he didn’t. It’s not even close.

When the Bush administration took office in January 2001, CIA Director George Tenet and National Security Council counterterrorism “czar” Richard Clarke both warned its incoming officials that al-Qaeda represented a grave threat. During a transition briefing early that month at Blair House, according to Bob Woodward’s Bush at War, Tenet and his deputy James Pavitt listed Osama bin Laden as one of America’s three most serious national-security challenges.

But both Clarke and Tenet grew deeply frustrated by the way top Bush officials responded.

By early summer, Clarke was so despondent that he asked to be reassigned. “This administration,” he later testified, “didn’t either believe me that there was an urgent problem or was unprepared to act as though there were an urgent problem. And I thought, if the administration doesn’t believe its national coordinator for counterterrorism when he says there’s an urgent problem and if it’s unprepared to act as though there’s an urgent problem, then probably I should get another job.” In July, the Deputies Committee finally agreed to schedule a Principals level meeting on Clarke’s plan. But the schedule for July was already full, and in August too many Cabinet members were on vacation, so the meeting was set for September.

When Donald Trump hurls insults at his opponents, respectable people generally roll their eyes. But it is precisely Trump’s refusal to be respectable that helps him spark debates that elites would rather avoid. And sometimes, those debates are important to have.

Given that George W. Bush’s advisers still dominate the Republican foreign-policy establishment—an establishment that has not broken with his ideological legacy in any fundamental way—his record both before and after 9/11 remains relevant to the terrorism debate today. For many years now, that foreign-policy establishment has insisted that questioning Bush’s failure to stop the September 11 attacks constitutes an outrageous slur. That’s why Fleischer is now calling Trump a “truther.” He’s purposely blurring the line between accusing Bush of having orchestrated the attacks and accusing Bush of having been insufficiently vigilant in trying to stop them. But Bush was insufficiently vigilant. The evidence is overwhelming.

If Jeb’s loyalty to his brother makes it impossible for him to confront that, fine. But he has no right to demand that the rest of the public avert its eyes.

Donald Trump did not start this contretemps. Jeb Bush did by claiming his brother “kept us safe.” This article provides some details of the history of lost opportunities to prevent the 9/11 tragedy. Warnings were presented, information could have been obtained.

An example of this is detailed in Time, May 23, 2002:

In the hours after September 11th, FBI agents in Minneapolis shared a macabre joke. For weeks prior, they had tried to interest FBI headquarters in Washington in Zacarias Moussaoui, now known as the 20th hijacker. They had begged FBI Headquarters to give them permission to seek a search warrant of Moussaoui’s computer. They were denied. In their frustration, they joked that headquarters back in Washington must be infiltrated by agents of Osama Bin Laden. Why else would their work have been thwarted?

The article shows how the Bush administration was “insufficiently vigilant.” Jeb may wish to deny that, but again, Donald Trump has spoken an unpleasant but undeniable truth.

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Bill Leonard October 23, 2015, 8:15 pm

I was so happy when Bush beat Gore, after looking at Clinton for 8 years he was a welcomed sight. And like everyone else I knew thought he did a good job. But I do have to admit when 9/11 hit, the first thing I said was, “Why the hell do we let these Arabs in here in the first place?” Donald Trump is not far off the mark with his statements on the subject. I believe we could’ve avoided it too.

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