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Fox News' Guests: Stop Finger-Pointing Over 9/11

Reported by Judy - September 26, 2006 -

Does Martha MacCallum need a hearing aide? Three members of the A-List of her new "Live Desk" show Tuesday (Sept. 26, 2008) told her it was counterproductive to keep talking about who was to blame for 9/11, but she apparently did not hear them and kept talking about it.

MacCallum was still talking about Chris Wallace's ambushing of President Clinton on "Fox News Sunday." For those of you who have avoided cable television for the last four or five days, Wallace asked Clinton why he did not do more in the war on terror, just four minutes into an interview during which Wallace had promised to spend at least 7 and a half minutes talking about Clinton's global initiatives conference.

Like the good little Fox News employee she must be to have landed her own show, MacCallum
blamed Clinton for all the finger-pointing, forgetting that it was Wallace who brought the issue up. And she brought up Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's responses to Clinton's interview.

Nevertheless, when she asked her "A-List" about it, three of the four panel members agreed
the exchanges were not helpful: R.P. Eddy, senior fellow for terrorism at the Manhattan Institute; Julie Roginsky, Democratic strategist, and Sherry Davey, a comedian whose brother-in-law died on 9/11.

After they all said that, MacCallum's response was, "Well, do you think that these people would have just after Sept. 11 sort of thrown up their hands and said, 'Well, gee that attack worked really well. Let's just all go home and get on with our lives?'" Huh?

Then MacCallum said the finger-pointing should continue. "I know that people don't like finger-pointing and it becomes politicized, but is there any more important issue when people go to the polls?" she said.

So what was the point of having the panel if MacCallum overrides their opinions and states her own?

MacCallum's "Live Desk" also featured Rice's rebuttal of Clinton's criticisms of the Bush administration's lack of action on terrorism during its first eight months in office, with Rice claiming, "but the notion that somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do [much] is just flatly false and you know I think that the 9/11 Commission understood that."

Since Rice brought it up, here's what the 9/11 Commission Report said:

"Within the first few days after Bush's inauguration, [Richard] Clarke approached Rice in an effort to get her--and the new President--to give terrorism very high priority and to act on the agenda that he had pushed during the last few months of the previous administration. ... The national security adviser (Rice) did not respond directly to Clarke's memorandum. No Principals Committeee meeting on al-Qaeda was held until September 4, 2001." (p. 201)

"At the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shelton did not recall much interest by the new administration in military options against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He could not recall any specific guidance on the topic from the secretary (of defense Rumsfeld)." (p. 208)

"(Rumsfeld's) time was consumed with getting new officials in place and working on the foundation documents of a new defense policy, the quadrennial defense review, the defense planning guidance, and the existing contingency plans. He did not recall any particular counterterrorism issue that engaged his attention before 9/11, other than the development of the Predator unmanned aircraft system." (p. 208)

"The FBI's assistant director for counterterrorism, Dale Watson, told us that he felt the new Justice Department leadership (John Ashcroft) was not supportive of the (counterterrorism) strategy. Watson had the sense that the Justice Department wanted the FBI to get back to the investigative basics: guns, drugs, and civil rights.. ... On May 9, the attorney general testified at a congressional hearing concerning federal efforts to combat terrorism. He said that 'one of the nation's most fundamental responsibilities is to protect its citizens...from terrorist attacks.' The budget guidance issued the next day, however, highlighted gun crimes, narcotics trafficking, and civil rights as priorities. Watson told us that he almost fell out of his chair when he saw this memo, because it did not mention counterterrorism." (p. 209)

"The Justice Department prepared a draft fiscal year 2003 budget that maintained but did not increase the funding level for counterterrorism in its pending fiscal year 2002 proposal." (p. 210)

I could go on pointing fingers, but is that really productive?