June 28, 2004

A SAUDI NON-CONNECTION: Daniel Drezner has a column discussing something from the 9/11 Commission report that didn’t get a lot of attention, perhaps because it undercuts Bush critics who say he’s too cozy with Saudi Arabia:

If those who oppose the Bush administration want to excoriate the government for making it appear that the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda was stronger than it actually was, so be it. But it would be nice to see some of those critics acknowledge that their preferred target has been absolved as well — and that the administration has not been lying down on the job in making life difficult for Al Qaeda.

Of course, the force of this point depends to some degree on how much faith one has in the Commission, and I have very little. In addition, the finding that “we found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior officials within the Saudi government funded al Qaeda,” strikes me as rather carefully worded. But it’s certainly true that those who treat the Commission as reliable in other contexts have to deal with this finding, too. Or at least they would, if anyone paid it any attention.

UPDATE: Drezner has more thoughts on his blog. Why don’t I think much of the Commission? Leaving aside Jamie Gorelick’s various conflicts of interest, the relentless partisan public posturing and the tendency to ignore important issues, all well-documented in the blogosphere, caused me to decide that it wasn’t a serious enterprise, and was aimed at the TV cameras more than the truth.

For a somewhat different view, read Mark Steyn’s column on How the September 11 commission blew it: “These poseurs have blown it so badly they’ve become the definitive example of what they’re meant to be investigating: a culture so stuck in its way it’s unable to change even in the most extreme circumstances.”

Okay, it’s not that different.