Tags: Bush | Dismisses | 'Second | Guessing'

Bush Dismisses 'Second Guessing'

Friday, 17 May 2002 12:00 AM

"Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people," Bush said.

Bush's remarks from the White House Rose Garden were the first time the president publicly responded to news reports that intelligence officials had alerted him on Aug. 6 that the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda was planning to hijack American airliners.

"You know what's interesting about Washington? It's a town unfortunately where second guessing has become second nature," Bush told the audience of U.S. Air Force officers and cadets.

First lady Laura Bush took the unusual step of weighing in on high-profile White House matters by issuing a statement from Budapest, Hungary, that shamed the Democrats and reporters who exploited the story to play upon the emotions of victims' families.

"I think it is very sad that people would play upon the victims' families' emotions, or all Americans' emotions," the statement read. "I think, really, we need to put this in perspective, and I think it's sad to play upon the emotions of people as if there were something we could have done to stop it, because that's just not the case."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that on Sept. 10, one day before the attacks, Cabinet-level officers had finished a report to dismantle al-Qaeda, but it had not yet gone to the president.

"It involved a direction to the Pentagon to develop military options for the dismantling of al-Qaeda. It involved action on the financial front to dry up their resources, and it also involved working with our, with the Northern Alliance in an attempt to dismantle the al-Qaeda," Fleischer said.

On Capitol Hill, the news of Bush's security briefings during the summer of 2001 spawned renewed interest Friday in expanded investigations into the events before Sept. 11, but prickly partisan bickering as well.

Republicans were grumbling that Democrats went too far in reacting to the revelations about Bush's security briefings. Comments from Democrats such as House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., a White House wannabe, who said Thursday he wanted to know "what the White House knew about the events leading up to 9-11 and when they knew it," rankled Republicans.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., reissued Friday his statement from Thursday that he was "concerned that some Democrats may have decided to pursue partisanship when it comes to the events surrounding September 11th."

Notably absent from Democrats' complaints was any criticism of Bill Clinton's failures that led to Sept. 11, such as his

Investigations on Capitol Hill remain fragmented, with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees taking the lead, but with increasing interest from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the Judiciary Committee would move forward with an inquiry of its own in letters this week to the Justice Department Inspector General asking for an investigation and to FBI Director Robert Mueller asking for the release of documents.

A bill by Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., that would create an independent commission to investigate the events before Sept. 11 has gained major momentum on Capitol Hill. The bill would create a 14-member bipartisan commission that would have the power to subpoena witnesses and hold closed hearings, if necessary, to probe the alleged intelligence failures involved with the attacks.

Senate plurality leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Thursday that a commission might be needed.

House Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind., is also considering yet another investigation, according to sources on that committee.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people, Bush said. Bush's remarks from the White House Rose Garden were the first time the president publicly responded...
Bush,Dismisses,'Second,Guessing'
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2002-00-17
Friday, 17 May 2002 12:00 AM
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