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Tuesday, March 16, 2004
 
Why is it Kerry's Fault? Because We Suck.

Hesiod brings to our attention a lovely little article in which John Kerry is blamed for the security failures at Boston's Logan International Airport that contributed to the 9/11 attacks.

Former FAA security officials say the Massachusetts senator had the power to prevent at least the Boston hijackings and save the World Trade Center and thousands of lives, yet he failed to take effective action after they gave him a prophetic warning that his state's main airport was vulnerable to multiple hijackings.

He just did the Pontius Pilate thing and passed the buck" on back through the federal bureaucracy, said Brian Sullivan, a retired FAA special agent from the Boston area who in May 2001 personally warned Kerry that Logan was ripe for a "jihad" suicide operation possibly involving "a coordinated attack."


Later in the article, Sullivan is quoted as having told Kerry that "The DOT OIG [Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General, to which Kerry had forwarded the materials Sullivan gave him] has become an ineffective overseer of the FAA."

Whose fault is it that the DOT had ineffective oversight? Kerry's? Before 9/11, Kerry could be forgiven for assuming that the Bush administration actually cared about airport security, and was doing the best it could to improve it. Especially in light of the fact that the situation was already common knowledge.

Rewind to May 6, 2001. That night, a Boston TV station (Fox-25) aired reporter Deborah Sherman's story on an undercover investigation at Logan that Sullivan and another retired agent helped set up. In nine of 10 tries, a crew got knives and other weapons through security checkpoints - including the very ones the 9/11 hijackers would later exploit.


Kerry just underscored the point. If he's at fault for the continued security lapses, then so is everyone else who saw that report. Unlike most of them, Kerry actually did something about it.

I think their underlying logic is even more telling, even if I do have to stretch to make the point:

1. Kerry's having passed on the warnings to the DOT, under his own imprimateur, wasn't enough because everybody knows the Bush admin wouldn't take anything from a democrat seriously.

2. Instead, Kerry should have jumped up and down, screaming, to get them to do something about this, which would have made Bushco even more suspicious of political motives.

3. Upon reflection in the light of the media attention (?) generated by Kerry's paroxysms, Bushco would finally come to realize that the safety of air travel is its responsibility, and did something about it to guard its political flank.

That's the most charitable interpretation of their argument I can come up with. The presuppositions behind it, that the Bush administration is selective about which realities it acknowledges and only reacts to situations that directly affect its political fortunes, both describe a group that is manifestly unfit to wield power.