- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Back in August 1998, as he prepared to inform the nation that he'd lied when he said he'd never had sex with Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton was suddenly faced with a much more serious crisis. Terrorists had just killed more than 300 people in bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. So, Mr. Clinton took time out from his meetings with lawyers and spin-control specialists and declared that he was really really mad about terrorism. "No matter how long it takes … or where it takes us, we will pursue terrorists until the cases are solved and justice is done," Mr. Clinton declared.
Several weeks later, Mr. Clinton decided to take action sort of getting the military to fire 75 cruise missiles at suspected terrorist training camps run by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan (bin Laden escaped unharmed) and destroying the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, which the Clinton administration said was really a nerve gas factory. "But it turns out somebody goofed," William Safire of the New York Times subsequently wrote. "The plant really was making medicine, and we are now quietly paying the Sudanese compensation."
Today, more than three years and 6,000 deaths later, Americans are paying dearly for Mr. Clinton's Clouseau-like war on terrorism. And, now, in the wake of the horrific events of Sept. 11, even Clinton administration officials who were supposedly in charge of this campaign against terrorism have come out of the closet to admit they did a pretty lousy job. "Clearly, not enough was done," said Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general, to the Boston Globe. "We should have caught this. Why this happened, I don't know. Responsibilities were given out. Resources were given. Authorities existed. We should have prevented this." Mrs. Gorelick said that, even though Mr. Clinton doubled the size of the FBI's counterterrorism budget, the bureau was so slow to hire agents to fight terrorism that the money was never used.
"In hindsight, [the administrations effort] wasn't enough, and anyone involved in policy would have to admit that," acknowledged Nancy Soderberg, a senior National Security Council aide.
Sen. John Kerry, a staunch ally of the administration, says that "it is entirely possible" that the Lewinsky scandal was "a distraction" for Mr. Clinton, which may have undermined U.S. efforts to target bin Laden's terror network. The terrifying events of Sept. 11 might have happened regardless of Mr. Clinton's legal and personal problems. But it is undoubtedly true that much of the time Mr. Clinton spent fighting to save his own political hide would have been far better spent fighting the bin Ladens of the world.

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