Trump Should Blame Clinton, Not Bush, for 9/11

Repeating the Democratic mantra that President George W. Bush, barely eight months into his presidency on September 11, 2001, was responsible for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers, Donald Trump says his immigration stance would have prevented the atrocity.

On Monday, the mouth that roars told “Fox and Friends that his policies would have made it more difficult for the 9/11 hijackers to obtain visas and challenged presidential rival Jeb. Bush’s assertion that his brother, President George W. Bush “kept us safe”:

Donald Trump on Monday continued to defend and explain how he would have prevented the 9/11 attacks, touting his "very, very strong" policies on immigration that would have made it more difficult for the hijackers to obtain visas.

"Well I think certainly could have done a lot better," the Republican presidential candidate told "Fox &Friends." "If you look at it, Jeb during the debate said 'my brother kept us safe,' and I said to myself I didn’t want to embarrass him that night, but I said to myself, well wait a minute, he kept us safe? We lost the World Trade Center on Sept. 11."

Yes, Jeb Bush admitted in his 2013 book, Immigration Wars, that a number of the 9/11 hijackers entered the U.S. on visas that were granted by a “leaky” immigration system, but that system was in place before his brother took office, and the visas were granted to the 9/11 hijackers before George W. Bush took his oath of office.

For example, according to an analysis by FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, ringleader Mohamed Atta, who flew American Airline flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, had first entered the U.S. in Newark in June, 2000 on a tourist visa, was later charged in Florida for driving without a license, and had a bench warrant issued for failing to show up in court. He left and re-entered the U.S. several times after that but could have been barred by the administration of President William Jefferson Clinton before 9/11 and before George W. Bush took office.

As Joel Mowbray wrote in National Review in 2002, two brothers who were also on that flight, entered the U.S. to join Atta’s plot in 2000:

Brothers Wail and Waleed al-Shehri applied together for travel visas on October 24, 2000. Wail claimed his occupation was “teater,” while his brother wrote “student.” Both listed the name and address of his respective employer or school as simply “South City.” Each also declared a U.S. destination of “Wasantwn.” But what should have further raised a consular officer’s eyebrows is the fact that a student and his nominally employed brother were going to go on a four-to-six-month vacation, paid for by Wail’s “teater” salary, which he presumably would be foregoing while in the United States. Even assuming very frugal accommodations, such a trip for two people would run north of $15,000, yet there is no indication that the consular officer even attempted to determine that Wail in fact had the financial means to fund the planned excursion. They appear to have received their visas the same day they applied.

Trump doesn’t mention Hillary Clinton’s husband in his litany of blame for 9/11 even though a number of the hijackers entered the U.S. on his watch and even though Bill Clinton laid the seeds for 9/11 by his treating the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 as a law enforcement matter and by flubbing numerous opportunities to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. As Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) editorialized back in 2008:

Fact is, the Clinton administration's decision to treat the February 1993 attack as a law enforcement matter rather than a declaration of war on the United States was the first step down a road to a 9/11 that saw Americans killed by terrorists on three continents without a decisive military response. Obama would take us down that path again.

James Woolsey, who was CIA director in 1993, says that advocating the law enforcement approach ignores the fact that bin Laden was indicted in 1998 before the bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the attack on the USS Cole.

The Cole attack occurred in October 2000, one of the opening salvos by terrorists that Bill Clinton ignored. Bill Clinton had many opportunities to get Osama bin Laden, including during the famous “wag the dog” attack as he was consulting with presidential adviser Monica Lewinsky. As IBD noted:

Another chance came on Aug. 20, 1998, in the famous "wag the dog" attack at the height of l'affaire Lewinsky, when cruise missiles were actually fired at a bin Laden encampment in Afghanistan.

Problem was, Clinton ordered that the Pakistanis be informed of the attack, lest they believed the cruise missile in their air space were fired by India, which didn't have any cruise missiles.

The news, of course, was leaked and bin Laden fled.

Yet another missed opportunity came in May 1999 when the CIA reported that bin Laden would be in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for five days. As the 9/11 Commission report said: "If this intelligence was not 'actionable,' working-level officials said at the time and today, it was hard for them to imagine how any intelligence could meet that standard."

It was the Clinton administration that could have put Osama bin Laden out of commission before 9/11. It was under the Clinton administration that Americans were killed by terrorists on three continents without a meaningful response.

It was under Bill Clinton that we left Somalia in disgrace after dead Americans were dragged through the streets, giving Osama all the encouragement and proof of our lack of will he needed.

The fact is that President George W. Bush did keep us safe after September 11, 2001 attacks. It was the actions -- or lack of them -- by President Bill Clinton that led to the attack and put us in the crosshairs of the 9/11 hijackers and Osama bin Laden.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.