A story that appeared in The New York Times should put us all on notice.
Bill Clinton — out of office and angry at how he's been treated as a former president — has been holding meetings on how to get out there and work on his legacy. The spin team is back in action, and here's the agenda:
• Remind America of the Clinton economy
• Remind America of the Clinton anti-crime record
• Beseech America not to blame Clinton for Usama bin Laden
"They're trying to blame bin Laden on us," one participant in the Clinton legacy meetings wailed.
Bill Clinton himself chaired these meetings, and soon you will see Sandy Berger, Bill Richardson, Gene Sperling, and other spin meisters of old hitting the airwaves to say: Bin laden wasn't our fault. It's the economy, stupid. Bin laden really wasn't our fault. Crime was down under Clinton, and bin Laden really, really, really wasn't our fault.
Well, okay. I, for one, would like to know whose fault bin Laden really was. If the Clintonistas want to get out there and debate this question, let's do it. But first, we need to set some facts in concrete so they can't be mushed around to suit legacy purposes.
When did the Clinton administration's spy apparatus learn that the bad guys in the Black Hawk incident in Somalia were really Al Qaeda members, sent by bin Laden to ambush Americans and not run-of-the-mill Somalis with their run-of-the-mill AK 47s?
When the bombing of the Cole and the American embassies in Africa happened, did the Clinton administration know bin Laden was to blame? When did they find out?
Was there a bin Laden connection to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing?
Did the Clinton administration have a bias toward low Saudi oil prices at whatever cost, including the cost of ignoring bin Laden?
Bin laden was a problem that was like a cancer ... small but growing larger, then growing deadly.
What we would have expected from our president was that he marshal intelligent information to put a stop to the cancer while it was still small.
What we know for a fact is that we, as a country, didn't recognize how dangerous bin Laden was. Now we need to find out what the former president knew and when he knew it. Then we'll be able to debate that legacy thing.
That's My Word.
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