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I must say this surprized me~Coming from such a right wing publication and all.........

New Republic The New Republic Online: Crash Course DAILY EXPRESS
by Michael Crowley

Only at TNR Online
Post date 05.17.02

Despite the gleeful braying of Democrats who, after their long period of solemn foreign-policy caution, are now acting like ecstatic children just freed by the school bell, it's not clear that the Bush administration deserves real blame for failing to see September 11 coming. However, in their hyper-defensive response, the Bushies are repeating one infuriatingly disingenuous line that insults everybody's intelligence. Let us now cut to Condoleezza Rice, articulating it in the White House briefing room yesterday:

I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile. All of this reporting about hijacking was about traditional hijacking. You take a plane. People were worried they might blow one up, but they were mostly worried that they might try to take a plane and use it for release of the Blind Sheikh or some of their own people.

This is, quite simply, a load of bunk. First, as my colleague Jonathan Chait points out, the measures you'd use to prevent a suicide hijacking are identical to the ones you'd use to prevent an ordinary hijacking. And second, there was plenty of reason to suspect that terrorists were contemplating suicide hijackings--specifically the fact they had already tried them.

In 1994 a group of Islamic militants hijacked an Air France plane in Algiers and flew it to Marseilles, where they demanded three times the fuel their short flight to Paris--which they declared to be their destination--would require. French troops stormed the plane and killed the hijackers, but released hostages said the terrorists had talked about exploding the plane over Paris or crashing it into the Eiffel Tower.

In 1995 Philippine police broke up an Al Qaeda plan to hijack and explode as many as a dozen jetliners over the Pacific Ocean. The investigation also revealed, as The Washington Post reported last December, that one of the operatives also intended to "buy, rent, or steal ... a small plane, preferably a Cessna, fill it with explosives and crash it into CIA headquarters." And there's more: "There were secondary targets the terrorist cell wanted hit: Congress, the White House, the Pentagon and possibly some skyscrapers," the Post reported. "The only problem, [one suspect] complained, was that they needed more trained pilots to carry out the plot." That last line alone should have had every U.S. intelligence agency monitoring flight schools--or at least paying more attention to the now-famous Phoenix FBI memo warning of suspicious Middle Easterners learning to fly jets.

People also forget that a plane has already crashed into the White House. Back in 1994 a lone nut flew his small propeller plan into the Clinton residence, causing minimal damage. Even Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold talked about commandeering a plane and slamming it into--where else?--the World Trade Center. Finally, let me say from personal experience that even in those carefree pre-9/11 days I used to cringe, during approaches into National and LaGuardia airports, at how near speeding jets could come to landmarks like the Capitol. Fine, call me a paranoiac. But isn't the job of our intelligence and national-security community supposed to be full-time paranoia? For people like Condi Rice to suggest they had never considered this possibility of suicide hijackings is either a bald-faced lie--or a more scathing indictment of our anti-terrorism establishment than any memo the president actually did see.

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), May 19, 2002


Sorry Cherri, TNR is not "right wing". Try neo-Liberal.

-- (, May 19, 2002.

Lars is correct, about the nature of the New Republic.

But Cherri is also correct, in posting the New Republic article with praise. The article is right on the money.

-- Peter Errington (, May 19, 2002.

For some reason, I've noticed, people tend to get the New Republic confused with the National Review. The latter publication, edited (still, I assume) by William F. Buckley, really is conservative.

-- Peter Errington (, May 19, 2002.

Peter, Buckley is no longer the active editor. That is a young buckeroo name of Rich Lowry.

-- (, May 19, 2002.

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