USA: Flaw of omission
Ivan Eland «View Bio

Although the 9/11 commission’s investigation has won praise in the US media for being bipartisan, on balance it has not made us safer. The commission discovered new information to rewrite the history of the 9/11 attacks, uncovered government incompetence that should make Americans wonder if those attacks could have been prevented, and made some useful recommendations. But the panel avoided the most important question surrounding the attacks – their underlying cause.

The commission showed that the Bush administration, in the months prior to 9/11, had much more warning of an impending terrorist attack than previously thought. The panel also correctly criticized the performance of US intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, aviation security, and the military prior to and on that horrible day. Finally, the commission made useful recommendations to safeguard American liberties.

But like many government and quasi-government bodies after 9/11, the commission focused on dubious recommendations about what the authorities could do to improve their response to terrorism, instead of the more important question of what the government could do to reduce the chances of an attack in the first place. The greatest flaw in the commission’s analysis and recommendations was one of omission. The panel did not address the underlying causes of the 9/11 attacks.

In his statement upon release of the commission’s report, Thomas Kean, the commission’s chairman, incorrectly opined that terrorists hate America and its policies.

But even Al Qaeda does not hate America per se. The group’s statements indicate that it hates US foreign policy toward the Middle East, especially the US government’s propping up of corrupt Arab regimes.

Furthermore, repeated polls in the Islamic world (including two polls in ‘friendly’ Arab countries released recently by the University of Maryland and the Arab American Institute, and Zogby International) indicate that the United States is hated not for its culture, technology, or freedoms – as President Bush would have us believe – but for its foreign policy. The president has further inflamed that hatred with his illegitimate invasion of a sovereign Iraq – a nation that had no weapons of mass destruction and that the 9/11 commission has said had no “collaborative relationship” with Al Qaeda.

It is from this sea of hatred that the blowback terrorism of a small minority of individuals emanates. Ending longstanding US government meddling in the Middle East would do more than any of the commission’s recommendations to reduce terrorist attacks on innocent Americans.

Ivan Eland is the director of the Center of Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute