Deliver us from Frank Church and Jimmy Carter
Hope sprang eternal that the 9/11 Commission would focus on fixing the systemic problems that facilitated al Qaeda’s sneak attack on September 11, 2001. But, no.
The Democrat members spent their time saying the Bush Administration didn’t do enough during its eight months in office prior to 9/11. The questioning of National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, reminded this observer of Old Salem.
The Republican members spent their time pointing out how the Clinton Administration had eight years to do something about Osama bin Laden and failed to do anything meaningful even after a series of attacks upon American sleeping quarters, on two of our embassies, the first attack on the World Trade Center, in Somalia and even an attack on one of our warships, the USS Cole.
To be anything other than a partisan waste of time, the 9/11 Commission needs to recognize the essential causes of the 9/11 disaster and make recommendations on how to fix them. This sad story begins with the Church Commission in 1975.
Based on the recommendations of Senator Frank Church, the Democrat-controlled Congress, led by the likes of Ted Kennedy and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), passed laws erecting an information firewall between the FBI and the CIA. Ever since, FBI and CIA officials have lived in fear of being hauled into court or being fired because they dared to share information about the suspicious activities of certain individuals – especially, anyone of color or who wears a towel around his head.
Post 9/11, the Bush Administration tried to break down that information flow firewall with the Patriot Act. Guess who is trying to repeal the Patriot Act? The ACLU and the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate, namely Senator Kennedy and Senator John Kerry. Check the voting records.
But if the 9/11 Commission wants to dig back into when our current troubles really began, they need to look at Jimmy the Baptist Carter. In the 1970s, America had a firm ally in the Shah of Iran whose nation was positioned as a buffer between the Soviet Union and the rest of the Middle East. On a one-to-ten scale of depots with Hitler and Stalin scoring ten, the Shah was about a three.
The Shah was caught between the militant Islamic clerics who hated him for allowing women to be educated and for his many western ideas and between the secular progressives who wanted the Shah to pull Iran even faster into the 20th Century. (Note: It was the Shah who hired Ross Perot’s computer firm to come to Iran for the purpose of constructing a social security system patterned after ours.)
In Deliver us from Evil, Sean Hannity wrote: “…I’m continually astonished at just how much damage Jimmy Carter managed to do in his single four-year term. Tolerating the Soviet arms buildup, endorsing Senator Frank Church’s gutting of the CIA, giving away the Panama Canal – his administration undermined American interests at every turn. But it’s hard to think of a blunder that had longer and more disastrous repercussions than his betrayal of Iran.”
Now, with 20-20 hindsight, we must look back on the Shah’s pro-U.S. regime as a Golden Age in our relations, not just with Iran, but with the entire Middle East. It has all been downhill from there.
The Ayatollah Khomeini imposed a harsh rule upon Iran that made the Shah look like Mother Theresa. Worse, the Ayatollah fanned the hopes of radical Ayatollahs from Afghanistan to Egypt and across every Muslim country in between. Ironically, the rise of a militant Iran caused the U.S. to look more favorably Iran’s neighbor – Saddam Hussein’s more secular Iraq. By engineering the fall of the Shah, Carter set off a cascade of terrible reverses and regrettable choices for the U.S. and our allies.
Osama bin Laden got Khomeini’s message: “America is weak. America has blinded its intelligence agencies and hog-tied its internal security forces. Militant Islam, this is your chance!”
Now you know the start of the story.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – novels about terrorist attacks on Colorado’s water supply and on the Panama Canal, respectively.
©2004. William Hamilton.