Home>News Center>World

9/11 panel report elicits praise, political carping
Updated: 2004-07-23 09:14

Like patients analyzing a Rorschach test, readers of the final report by the September 11 Commission were able to find support for their individual views on the reasons and remedies for the 2001 terror attacks.

U.S. President George W. Bush latched on to the panel's finding that US security lapses were "institutional" rather than a failure of his particular administration.

Valecia Parker, a survivor of the 11 September, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon cries during a meeting of the 9/11 Commission after a copy of their report was released in Washington, DC. [AFP]
The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, exulted that the report appeared to exonerate his kingdom of complicity in the plot, even though the vast majority of the hijackers who commandeered the planes used in the attacks were of Saudi origin.

And opposition Democrats in the Republican-controlled US Congress insisted that Thursday's report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States underscored GOP-intransigence on matters of national security.

"We know that our ports and our waterways and our borders are not adequately protected. We know that the plutonium and the uranium that exist out there in the world that makes us vulnerable, " said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi, wearing a blue shirt, and his brother, Salem al-Hazmi, in the white shirt, wait at the security checkpoint at Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va. on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, as a screener checks Nawaf's carry-on bag for explosives. Nawaf set off two metal detectors before another screener checked him manually with a handheld device. Both were permitted to board the plane, which hours later crashed into the Pentagon. [AP]
"Why is this not a priority for the Republicans? Why is this not a priority for the President of the United States?"

For their part, Republicans made it clear that they believed the security breakdowns which allowed the attacks to take place resulted from failed policies carried out during Democratic President Bill Clinton's tenure in the White House.

"During the 1990s, America's intelligence capacity was crippled, and our international credibility was undermined by our refusal to take the terrorist threat seriously enough," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said.

The towers of the World Trade Center pour smoke shortly after being struck by hijacked commercial airplanes in New York in this Sept. 11, 2001 file photo. [Reuters]
"The question our nation now faces is whether we want to return to the '90s law enforcement approach to terror or whether we want to reaffirm our commitment to fight and win the war on terror," the Texas Republican said.

Earlier, Democrats and Republicans had tempered their comments, praising the committee's Herculean achievements on compiling and analyzing a mountain of evidence over nearly two years, and lauding the evenhanded tone of the final document.

But the sparring parties gave in over the course of the day to political wrangling, led by Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry who, taking a swipe at Bush, said the Republican president had not done nearly enough to combat terror since the al-Qaeda attacks.

"This report carries a simple message for all of America, about the security of all Americans: We can do better," Kerry said. "We must do better and there is an urgency about us doing better."

Bush's presidential campaign wasted no time in firing back.

"The Commission's report makes the case for the policies that U.S. President Bush has been pursuing in the War on Terror and eliminates any doubt that the best defense against the threat of global terror is a strong offense," the campaign said in a statement.

While President Bush welcomed the report and praised its conclusion that we are safer today but still have more work to do, our opponent attacked the administration's progress and leadership in the War on Terror, breaking his own pledge to focus on 'bipartisan solutions'," the campaign complained.

The Republican president, who had initially opposed creating the commission, eagerly associated himself with some of the recommendations from the 10-member panel.

"I agree with their conclusion that the terrorists were able to exploit deep institutional failings in our nation's defenses that developed over more than a decade," he said in a speech in Glenview, Illinois.

Other comments on report ranged from high praise for the panel's exhaustive efforts, to outrage over perceived flaws and oversights in the document.

"They have done an incredible job," said New York Senator Chuck Schumer, whose state, site of the World Trade Center twin towers, was hardest hit in the terror attacks nearly three years ago.

His Senate colleague, Hillary Clinton, praised the commissioners, called the report "a great testimony to the their willingness to search hard for the truth, to get at the facts."

The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts said the report was as being spot-on in its finding that US intelligence officials failed to think outside the box in envisioning the kinds of attacks terrorists might devise.

But critics were emphatic in debunking the report.

Kyle Hence, co-founder of 9/11 Citizens Watch, called the document "a whitewash ... a farce, an out-and-out cover up, and a shameful, colossal spin job."

He added that the group intended to issue its own analysis, detailing its view of how the 9/11 attacks were carried out.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Wanted: Jobs for millions this year



Beijing warns Taipei about missing tourists



Pilot projects mapped for green economy



China unhappy with British comments on HK



Flood death toll reaches 100 in Yunnan



Power consumption hits new record


  US reports 94 cases of prisoner abuse in Iraq
  Turkish train derails, killing 36 people
  9/11 panel report elicits praise, political carping
  Only 6 militants surrender as Saudi amnesty expires
  9/11 panel says 'we are not safe'
  Filipino hostage back home after two-week ordeal
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
9/11 panel says 'we are not safe'
Sept 11 panel points to many Bush, Clinton failings
9/11 panel blames 'institutional failings'
Video shows 9/11 hijackers' security check
US Congress: 9/11 reforms unlikely this year
Clinton aide: I made an honest mistake
9/11 report won't say attack preventable
  News Talk  
  Will Saddam Hussein get a fair trial?