WASHINGTON - With regard to who did what before Sept. 11, 2001, or the wisdom of going to war in Iraq, Americans need to get a grip and deal with reality. Our nation does not need and cannot risk more partisan politics. Instead, we need increased protection and long-term solutions before a more lethal attack is visited upon us.
Sideshows, finger-pointing, egos and political hacks are delaying the increased protection and solutions our nation demands. Enough is enough. We need to deal with facts and reality and cast aside destructive partisan politics.
Those facts are:
It doesn't matter who did what before 9/11. It's over. Everyone, especially the media, is a genius after the fact. Knowing what we know now, could the Clinton and Bush administrations have done more before 9/11? Sure. Does it make a difference now? Absolutely not. We need and have a responsibility to deal with the reality before us - that terrorists will continue to target our nation until we destroy them or solve the greater geopolitical problem.
By any honest, nonpartisan assessment, our nation is safer now from terrorists than before 9/11. Since that horrible day, our troops, intelligence operatives and allies have openly and covertly hunted down and eliminated terrorists around the world. They continue to do so, and deserve our everlasting gratitude.
In addition, security at our airports, ports and borders has increased dramatically since 9/11. Every federal, state and local law enforcement agency across the nation is more on alert for terrorists now than before 9/11. The USA Patriot Act, while unpopular with many Democrats, editors and liberals, is having a positive effect on the fight against terrorism. To deny the effect of these additional security measures is to frankly expose oneself as politically motivated.
For the most part, the 9/11 commission is not only a joke but a waste of time and taxpayers' money.
If it comforts some family members of those lost during 9/11, then that's good. Otherwise, it's a distraction from our mission in the war against terrorism.
Republican commission members shamelessly shill for President Bush. Democrats do heavy lifting for the John Kerry campaign. Not only is such partisan politics a sideshow, it dishonors the memories of those who lost their lives to terrorism.
According to the report by David Kay, the administration's chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Saddam Hussein and his top generals believed they possessed weapons of mass destruction because their own terrified scientists lied to them. Regardless if any are ever found, the leadership of one of the most evil regimes in history believed it had such weapons. Revisionist or partisan history aside, it was because of that reality that the United States and coalition forces went to war.
The death or capture of Osama bin Laden will mean nothing. Any Republicans banking on this to help re-elect Mr. Bush need to snap out of it in a hurry. If we kill bin Laden tomorrow, other more dangerous fanatics will take his place.
Muslims worldwide who disagree with and are disgusted by a minute minority who would twist their great religion need to be much more vocal, not only in their protests but in their desire to identify the murderers among them. Until such cooperation comes, the danger to all will grow.
The blame for 9/11 rests solely with bin Laden and al-Qaida, period. For Republican sympathizers to try to blame the Clinton administration or Democrats to try to fault Mr. Bush not only is the worst of gutter politics but also plays into the hands of the killers.
As this presidential election year plays out, we all need to realize that putting party before country will distract from our mission and could lead to the deaths of thousands of Americans. Divided and partisan we will fall.
Douglas MacKinnon, press secretary to former Sen. Bob Dole, is also a former Pentagon and White House official and a novelist.