Skip to comments.Senate Leaders Scrap Over Clinton's 9/11 Guilt
Posted on 12/30/2001 10:05:43 AM PST by paltz
Senate Minority Whip Don Nickles (R-Ok) made it clear on Sunday that upcoming congressional hearings into the 9/11 terrorist attacks will explore the Clinton administration's eight year failure to deal with Osama bin Laden - and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle didn't seem to like it one bit.
NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert raised the issue with the two political powerhouses as they sat side-by-side on "Meet the Press," prompting charges and counter charges over the previous administration's culpability.
The rancorous exchange went like this:
RUSSERT: Could the Clinton administration have done things more aggressively?
DASCHLE: Well, I think we can always look back with some hindsight and recognize that we could have been more aggressive in one particular occasion or another. But by and large I think they did it right as well. They pursued the bin Laden forces and al Qaeda as aggressively as I think they could given the circumstances.....
NICKLES: I would take a little different opinion than my colleague on the previous administration. I think they dropped the ball. I mean, we had the bombing of the World Trade Center in '93. We had the bombing in Saudi Arabia, the Khobar Towers. We also had other bombings that bin Laden was involved with - the USS Cole, the two embassies.
And all we did was throw a couple of cruise missiles. We never really stayed after him. There was some strong rhetoric but we never used U.S. forces. We never really went after him to the degree - he was even transferred from Sudan.
We tried to get him to go to Saudi Arabia and maybe we didn't put enough pressure on to get him to go to Saudi Arabia to have him tried there. Or maybe have him tried in the United States. We had an opportunity to apprehend him when he was kicked out of Sudan. We didn't do that.
DASCHLE: I think I would just say, though, that we did apprehend a terrorist coming into Seattle that could have had major destructive ability with the chemical weapons he was controlling.
I would say also there wasn't a lot done before Sept. 11 by (the Bush) administration. So we can fault past administrations and probably should. Now we've got to look forward and I hope we will. (End of excerpt)
Next Russert asked whether Republicans would have supported President Clinton as much as Democrats now support Bush if 9/11 had happened on his watch.
"You bet," replied Nickles, citing the bipartisan reaction to Clinton's handling of the Oklahoma City bombing. "But it takes leadership," he added. "And now we have strong leadership. I think it's a little overdue but I think it's been a fantastic effort to date."
Irked at Nickles' claim that the GOP backed Clinton's anti-terrorism efforts, Daschle cited criticism of the August 1998 cruise missile attacks against bin Laden, which many now believe were merely an attempt to distract from the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal.
"He was criticized for those (cruise missile attacks)," the top Democrat complained. "He was accused of doing things that had nothing to do with foreign policy as he was trying to respond. So there wasn't really the kind of Republican support for the president that I wish there would have been."
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Please pass the barf bag - extra large size.
Its amazing that such a little man can make me want a Large barf bag.
CLINTONS SILENCE: Only a few days ago, we were told that former president Bill Clinton was launching a new spin campaign to help counter the notion that he was lax on terrorism.
In todays New York Times, hardly an anti-Clinton paper, a thorough three-part series on the Clinton terrorism legacy concluded. It was pretty damning, although it gave Clinton far more leeway than I think he deserves.
And what was Clintons response? He refused to be interviewed. Getting other people to spin for you is ok. Actually taking personal responsibility and facing up to your mistakes is once again an impossibility for the ex-president.
Yeah, that photograph of Colonel North and me is one of my favorites. I hope to get some good pics of Sec Rumsfeld at CPAC this year if he shows up.
"Has that clinton "legacy" made you feel safer yet?"
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