“In previous terrorist attacks – for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in US prisons, incapacitated.”
This is big – because that prosecution, and the ground rules for it, had more to do with our inability to avert 9/11 than any other single factor.
Because we treated the 1993 WTC bombing as simply a crime, our investigation was slow, sluggish and constrained by the need to acquire admissible evidence to convict the terrorists…
Intelligence that doesn’t lead to prosecution isn’t covered. But Obama would cover it anyway. He’d require us all to proceed in the way we had to in the halcyon days after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing – procedures that led us to miss the point of what was going on, to fail to identify the real culprits until it was too late and left us unprepared for future attacks.
Or perhaps he has another follow-up to a terrorist attack in mind. From a 2002 article of mine:
The actions taken by the U.S. government subsequent to 9-11 have generated a lot of discussion about the status of our freedoms as Americans in view of our need of national security through the activities of law enforcement. What most people haven’t thought of yet is what could have happened with a more "broad-minded" occupant in the White House regarding national security possibilities. In the wake of the fear generated by this event, such an occupant could have:
- Sent the Congress home for an indefinite period, saying that it was too dangerous for them to stay in Washington with all of these terrorists about. Since their emergency home in West Virginia is now a tourist attraction, their options would have been limited.
- Enacted restrictions on who could fly, empowering the government to "prequalify" travellers on the commercial air system. In a country as large as the U.S., this would be tantamount to an internal passport system such as existed in the Soviet Union.
- Launched a broad based legal assault on evangelical Christian organisations. Since any Christian organisation worth its salt believes that God is above and beyond any government (as Muslims do also), and since the media have spent so much airtime lumping all "fundamentalists" together, a well oiled propaganda machine (such as the Clinton administration had) could have easily made a "threat to national security" line plausible to many.
This is just a sample; people more familiar with the ins and outs of the legal system could probably add many more ideas to this list.