I’ve been watching all the furor over Condi Rice’s willingness to testify under oath before the 9/11 Commission, which is playing the blame game to the hilt. It reminded me of what happened when my father was shot by John Hinckley 23 years ago today, on March 30, 1981, and how differently the matter was handled then.
Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States was nearly killed by that bullet yet nobody called for a commission to be appointed to discover how, with all of the precautions taken to protect him, it could have happened.
At the time we sat back and tried to determine how it had happened. Along with my brother and my sisters I had Secret Service protection and we knew how hard it was for us to do anything normal people do with the Secret Service around us 24 hours a day, and how much harder it was for my father who was all but wrapped in a protective cocoon.
Yet here was my father walking out of the Biltmore Hotel surrounded by this huge contingent of Secret Service agents there to protect him, and John Hinckley got through and was not only able to shoot my dad but also to shoot a police officer, one of the Secret Service agents, and dad’s press secretary Jim Brady.
You couldn’t help but wonder how this could have happened with all these people protecting him. We could have sat back and blamed the Secret Service, we could have asked for Congressional hearings to find out if they knew anything prior to the shootings but, ultimately what it came down to was what the Secret Service told me – that as well-trained as they are in the art of protecting presidents there is one thing they could never train for – and that’s to train against the crazies –those people who are willing to lose their lives to kill a president.
John Hinckley was one of the crazies.
When you look at what happened on 9/11, you have a similar circumstance. You can blame the CIA, you can blame the FBI for not sharing information, you can blame the president, but the fact of the matter is that even though there were screw-ups, nobody could have predicted it. Nobody.
Moreover the President moved quickly to deal with the problem by creating the Department of Homeland Security so that there would be a way for the government to connect the dots so it wouldn’t happen again. That’s what had to be done, and what was done.
Now we have this 9/11 Commission and we have people trying to affix blame, trying to point fingers, trying to imply that if A hadn’t happened B wouldn’t have happened and what it all come down to is the same answer the Secret Service had when my dad was shot – essentially that the CIA and the FBI could do everything possible to catch the bad guys but the one thing they can never train against are the crazies.
The 19 people who took over those planes and flew them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania were the crazies. Now we have a grandstanding commission that is unwilling to tell the American people the truth – that what happened on 9/11 was not the President’s fault but the insane actions of the crazies working for the craziest man of all, Osama bin Laden.
Let this be clear – 9/11 could not have been prevented. The crazies were already here when President Bush took office. They’d been here for a long time plotting the 9/11 outrage and nobody had a clue about what kind of insanity they were up to.
There was nothing Colin Powell could have done, nothing Condoleezza Rice could have done, nothing Donald Rumsfeld could have done, nothing President Bush could have done because nobody ever told them, “Oh, by the way, 16 of the 19 hijackers are already in the U.S. training for 9/11.”
All this commission is doing is grandstanding and politicizing a tragedy. Every single member of the commission knows that nobody could have predicted 9/11. The media knows it, Richard Clark knows it, but unfortunately the public watching their antics doesn’t know it. And if the commission and the media have their way, they never will.
©2004 Mike Reagan. You must contact us if you would like to print this column in your publication or post on the internet. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561