Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Now for the political stuff.

I saw this story in the Washington Post this morning. I guess I haven't been following the debate about the idea of a commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks. Is this really necessary? What are we going to learn from this commission that hasn't already been published, discussed, or otherwise disseminated to the Bush administration and the general public? We know all about how the CIA and FBI sat on terrorist threats and warnings, how lapses in air security going back years allowed the terrorists to carry deadly weapons onto planes, and how previous administrations' policies towards earlier terrorist acts probably encouraged al Qaeda to try this one. The terrorist network responsible for 9/11 is still functioning, though the Bush administration continues to clamor for war against Iraq, so far not directly linked to al Qaeda. I don't suppose Henry Kissinger is going to come back to Bush and tell him 18 months from now that war with Iraq is a waste of time? Certainly not if the commission's report comes back in the summer of 2004, in the middle of Bush's re-election campaign.

On a personal note, lately I've found that assigning blame for misfortunes at work is a waste of time. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to know who made a mistake when you're trying to fix a problem, but in most cases it seems that people are more interested in finding out who did what than they are in fixing the problem and/or making sure it doesn't happen again. I'd rather work toward prevention than punishment when I have the chance. Applying that philosophy to the 9/11 commission, it doesn't seem that important to know that Agent X of the FBI didn't pass along the flight school inquiries, or that immigration officer Steve approved the visa applications of the hijackers. I hope that the commission spends more time investigating why these issues led to the attacks than it does finding out who was ultimately responsible. You can fire people or charge them with crimes, but if you don't close the loopholes or change the policies that allowed people to circumvent the rules, bad things willl happen again.

No comments: