Jewish World Review July 23, 2004/ 5 Menachem-Av, 5764

Wesley Pruden

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Finding meaning in Sandy's pants | The Democratic apologists for Sandy Berger rushed, as expected, into the familiar War Room mode, accusing George W. Bush and his men (and women) of concocting a security scandal to divert attention from the litany of Bush failures they confidently expected to see in the final report of the 9/11 Commission.

As it turns out, there is no litany of Bush failures in the 9/11 report. Failures and shortcomings abound, with blame enough for everyone to share. But there is a connection between Sandy Berger's pants and the terrorist threat that hangs over us all. It's not the connection John Kerry and his accomplices counted on.

The dreadful reality is that nobody yet takes the threat against the Judeo-Christian civilization of the West as seriously as we must if we expect to survive. Airline security, which allowed the Saudi hijackers of September 11 to waltz past the screeners at Dulles International Airport and onto American Airlines Flight 77 with barely any inconvenience at all, is still a grimly bitter joke. Swarthy, dark-hued Arabs (the physical description is crucial and straight to the point) still get aboard the planes and "case the joint" with no one to disturb them, as The Washington Times reported yesterday. The bureaucrats of George W.'s administration still worry more about whether they will be accused of racial profiling than about whether another 9/11 attempt to kill Americans of all hues is imminent, and Bill Clinton thinks a grave security breach by his former national-security chief is something of a joke, too ("we were all laughing about it on the way over here").

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No one, to be sure, looks at Sandy Berger and thinks "wow, hot pants," and his cavalier treatment of secret government documents and the rules that apply to the rest of us is squarely in the tradition of how the Clintonistas, including the ex-president himself, have always treated documents, files, computers and other government property entrusted to them. Craig Livingstone, a Clinton security officer, got away with 900 FBI dossiers on Republican officeholders in the Reagan and first Bush administrations. Several scandal files "inadvertently" landed in Hillary's closet at the White House. John Deutch, one of Mr. Clinton's directors of the CIA, "inadvertently" took a CIA computer, loaded with top-secret stuff, home with him. So far as we know, he didn't stuff it into his pants (which would have given new meaning to "laptop"). Mr. Deutch might have gone to the pokey to reflect on his "inadvertence" if Sandy Berger had not persuaded the president to pardon him. Mr. Clinton's State Department once lost a sensitive computer, too, and Hazel O'Leary, the secretary of Energy in the Clinton administration, abolished security badges at top-secret government nuclear laboratories because she didn't want to hurt the feelings of foreign visitors who might feel "discriminated against." The only people you can safely discriminate against are Americans who don't want to die at the hands of terrorists.

The 9/11 commissioners think it may be time to change that. The report is full of plans and schemes to reorganize the bureaucracy, and such is necessary, but first we have to persuade everyone that getting serious is necessary. If that means paying special attention to the men most likely to kill us, we have to do that, political correctness be damned. If blue-eyed Southern Baptists and blue-haired Lutheran grannies from Minnesota crash airliners into office buildings, we must profile blue-eyed Southern Baptists and blue-haired Lutherans and be wary of them aboard airliners.

The first reaction to the report was encouraging. The president, Monsieur Kerry, his running mate John Edwards, Nancy Pelosi, Dennis Hastert, Joe Lieberman, and numerous Democratic and Republican congressmen all said the right things, putting partisan politics aside if only for the day. (The exception, to nobody's surprise, was Teddy Kennedy, who said the 9/11 report only "makes clear" that September 11 was all George W.'s fault.)

The most eloquent passage in the executive summary was the commissioners' conclusion: "We call on the American people to remember how we all felt on 9/11, to remember not only the unspeakable horror but how we came together as a nation — one nation. Unity of purpose and utility of effort are the way we will defeat this enemy and make America safe for our children and grandchildren."

If we don't, the commissioners left unsaid, there may not be an America for our children and grandchildren to inherit, nor children and grandchildren left to inherit anything.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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