Why was it in our national interests for the Administration to facilitate the evacuation of Bin Laden family members and other prominent Saudis from the United States in the days immediately following 9/11?
While hundreds of other Arabs living in the United States were rounded up and detained after 9/11, raising concerns from civil liberties advocates, the Bush Administration authorized members of the Bin Laden family and other prominent Saudis to leave the country without first undergoing FBI interviews. In one instance, members of the Bin Laden family were allowed to leave the country on a private jet out of the very airport where two of the hijacked 9/11 planes had departed just days earlier (See Craig Unger’s article, "Saving the Saudis," in the October 2003 issue of Vanity Fair).
Knowing that Afghanistan was a hotbed of terrorism, why didn’t the Administration do more prior to 9/11 to increase security or plan to remove the Taliban?
Although the Administration knew that the Taliban were hosting al-Qaida recruits in Afghanistan and severely oppressing the Afghan people, the White House didn’t adopt formal policies to combat the Taliban or al-Qaida in the country until just before 9/11. The Administration also failed to fly Predator drones – unmanned aerial vehicles often used for reconnaissance – over Afghanistan during its first eight months in office.
Follow-up: Knowing Afghanistan is a hotbed for terrorism, why hasn’t the Administration done more since 9/11 to increase security and promote stability in Afghanistan?
With the Administration shifting the majority of its focus to Iraq over the past year, Afghanistan is still not secure or free from terrorism today. Taliban attacks are on the rise, security is virtually non-existent outside Kabul, elections have been postponed, and the country produced three quarters of the world’s illicit opium in 2003. The United Nations Development Program warned recently that Afghanistan is at risk for reverting to a "terrorist breeding ground" if more is not done.
Despite its obsession with Iraq before 9/11, immediately after 9/11 and since 9/11, why did the Administration fail to plan for the post-conflict transition in Iraq?
Six days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush signed a secret directive ordering the Pentagon to begin drawing up Iraq invasion plans. Eighteen months later, the U.S. launched the attack on Iraq. During that entire time period, no adequate plan for securing and rebuilding post-conflict Iraq was put in place by the Administration, and internal planning by the State Department and CIA was ignored.
As American Progress notes, there is still no plan for the post-handover administration of Iraq, militias have not been disarmed and continue to attack U.S. troops, adequate numbers of Iraqi army and police forces have yet to be trained, and the U.S. continues to bear the brunt of reconstruction costs despite the funds pledged at the October donors conference. Violence and insecurity continue to rock the country and claim U.S. lives.
What took so long for the Administration to agree to allow the 9/11 Commission to review thousands of pages of Clinton Administration records containing information about efforts against al-Qaida?
The Administration was withholding almost 75% of the pages of the Clinton records from the 9/11 Commission until its recent agreement to allow the Commission to review the documents was spurred by Commission members’ protests. Although the White House has finally relented to a review, it hasn’t agreed to let the Commission have copies of the documents.
If we have more questions in the course of our investigation, would you be willing to come testify under oath again?
In exchange for Dr. Rice’s testimony, the White House forced the Commission to "accept in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice." Thus, the American public will not be able to explore any serious questions arising from new developments that might show contradictions or conflicts with statements made by White House officials. Furthermore, the White House insisted on the Commission’s private meeting with the President to be held jointly with the Vice President.