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In the recent discussion on the FBI alert on Almanacs, Tomeboy made this comment:
"The paradox that drives me mad is that many who decry supposedly draconian measures to thwart terrorism are the same ones demanding answers why Bush didn't know about 9/11 before hand. (except for Dean who believes he did). A discussion for another time."
I figured my journal would be a better place for this comment than another on the Almanac story.
I think it's definitely true that SOME civil libertarians protesting the PATRIOT Act, et al, are either saying 9/11 should have been known about about or, more darkly, that the President knew it was coming.
We civil libertarians should make it clear that we accept the risk of terroristic acts as part of the open society we want to live in. "Live Free or Die" was the cry of our founders, and it should be good enough for us today.
However, we should also point out that according to publically known information, the great failure of 9/11 wasn't the lack of intelligence per se, but a failure of agencies to share the information that they had. A few of these problems were addressed in the USA PATRIOT Act, but the most major -- the lack of coordination between FBI and CIA and the lack of translation resources for the National Security Agency were left unaddressed.
Additionally, I believe it can't fairly be said that the USA PATRIOT Act was meant "to fix the problems of 9/11" because 1) similar legislation had been proposed and rejected back in 1996, and 2) The Act was passed in Oct 2001, months and months before any reports on "what went wrong" were available.
One final note on 9/11 is that according to the minority authors of the Joint Intelligence report on 9/11, available through GPO Access, is that if standard visa procedures had been followed, 15 of the 19 hijackers would have been prevented entry. This might not have prevented 9/11, but probably would have diluted its impact.