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Jewish World Review June 7, 2002 / 27 Sivan, 5762

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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America, warts and all | Last week, Time showed us how bumbling and clueless the FBI was before Sept. 11.

This week, Newsweek's cover story exposes the CIA's incompetence beneath the headline "The 9/11 Terrorists the CIA Should Have Caught."

What will U.S. News & World Report reveal next week? That George W. Bush now remembers sharing a beach house last summer with the Osama bin Laden family?

No one knows how many more embarrassing pre-Sept. 11 security blunders will be exposed. Let's just be thankful that America's crack intelligence agencies are on the job.

Otherwise, a bunch of known Middle Eastern terrorists bent on flying airliners into our tallest buildings would be able to spend 21 months bopping around America, living openly, using their real names, obtaining driver's licenses and credit cards, opening bank accounts and enrolling in flight schools.

Whoops. According to Newsweek's exclusive story, that's exactly what two Sept. 11 terrorists did.

It's not all that shocking, considering what we've already learned about the FBI. But Newsweek says the CIA's Counterterrorism Center watched two future suicide pilots enter the U.S. - and never bothered to tell the immigration service or the FBI.

Not that the FBI would have done anything with the information. But Newsweek says the CIA's refusal to share - a social virtue most of us learn in kindergarten - "may be the most puzzling, and devastating, intelligence failure in the critical months before Sept. 11."

Wait till next week, however, when the National Enquirer publishes FBI surveillance photos of Mohamed Atta going on a blind date with Condoleezza Rice.

Meanwhile, this being June 6, it is a perfect time to check out National Geographic's excellent cover story, "Untold Stories of D-Day."

It might seem we already know all the brave and bloody things that occurred 58 years ago when American, British and Canadian troops hit the beaches of Normandy.

But National Geographic effectively uses 30-plus pages of personal stories, old and new photos and richly illustrated foldout maps to show what it took to prepare for and carry out the world's greatest amphibious landing.

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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

05/30/02: FBI saga gets more depressing
05/13/02: The magazine industry's annual exercise in self-puffery
04/30/02: 10 Minutes with ... The New York Sun's Seth Lipsky
04/26/02: Will the American Taliban go free?
04/23/02: 10 minutes with ... Dinesh D'Souza
04/19/02: Saddam starting to show his age
04/12/02: Newsweek puts suicide bombing in perspective
04/09/02: How polls distort the news, change the outcome of elections and encourage legislation that undermines the foundations of the republic
04/05/02: Looking into the state of American greatness
03/25/02: The American President and the Peruvian Shoeshine Boys
03/22/02: Troublemaking intellectual puts Churchill in spotlight
03/20/02: 10 minutes with ... Bill Bennett
03/18/02: Suddenly, it's cool again to be a man
03/12/02: 10 minutes with Ken Adelman
03/08/02: TIME asks the nation a scary question
03/05/02: 10 minutes with ... Rich Lowry
02/26/02: 10 minutes with ... Tony Snow
02/12/02: Has Soldier of Fortune gone soft?

© 2002, Bill Steigerwald