There are two things that Donald Trump is really, really good at, namely getting a lot of attention for himself and getting under Jeb Bush’ skin. From the beginning of the campaign Trump has been trolling Bush, initially by calling him a low-energy candidate and telling his own large crowds how Bush’ much smaller crowds fall asleep while their candidate is talking. During the first Republican debate Bush felt the need to respond, albeit jokingly, by choosing ‘Ever Ready’ as his secret service code name and telling Trump how full of energy that made him. Trump smiled and dropped the topic, but then he found something better. During the second debate Trump made a critical remark about Jeb’s brother Dubya, to which Jeb responded “say what you want about my brother, but he kept us safe.” You could see Trump’s brain going into overdrive, as he immediately realized that he had struck gold, but during the debate he didn’t know how to capitalize yet. That came last week, when in an interview with Yahoo Trump reminded the viewers that Dubya was President when 9/11 occurred, without directly blaming him, and doubled down on it in an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace Sunday morning.
Of course Jeb Bush took the bait and put out a statement that anybody who blamed his brother for 9/11 was delusional. He reminded us that Dubya had only been in office for 9 months when the World Trade Center came down and the Pentagon was attacked, and that after the attacks the President united the country. Jeb may have thought that he had put the issue to rest, but it turned out that Trump, who only kept repeating the simple fact that Dubya was living in the White House on 9/11, had opened a can of worms that had been closed way too long. In the New York Times Kurt Eichenwald wrote an Op-Ed piece in which he showed that Dubya not only received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda on August 6, 2001, but that in the months before the CIA frequently warned the government of Al Qaeda’s intentions, including a report on May 1 that ‘a group presently in the United States’ was planning a terrorist operation. According to Eichenwald the warnings were ignored because the neo-cons in the administration believed that Bin Laden was trying to divert their attention from Saddam Husain, whom they considered to be the real threat to US security.
In a column in the Washington Post Eugene Robinson writes that obviously Dubya cannot be blamed for 9/11, because only the terrorists who masterminded and executed the attacks are responsible, but that by the same token he cannot be credited with having kept us safe, because 9/11 happened on his watch. Eichenwald strongly suggests that if the White House had taken the warnings from the CIA seriously numerous dots would have been connected and the attacks might have been prevented.
The debate about events leading up to 9/11 is not only unfortunate for Jeb Bush, but also for the Benghazi committee that is about to question Hillary Clinton about her actions before and during the attack on the US consulate. If Dubya cannot be blamed for 3,000 deaths in New York City, in spite of advance warnings, how can Hillary be blamed for 4 deaths in Libya, where no intelligence was available?
The 9/11 discussion unveils that a lot of information about the attacks is still kept under the lid. In the meantime Trump is trolling Jeb, whom he calls soft on immigration, even more by stating that the terrorists would not have been in the US if his own harsh immigration policy would have been in place.