Newspaper Editorials Praise 9/11 Report

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By: Charles Geraci

There were few surprises today in the editorial reaction to the report of the 9/11 commission in the nation’s largest newspapers. Nearly all of them surveyed by E&P were supportive of the report and its findings.

The Washington Post was typical in writing that the report offers “a useful analysis of the changes that have taken place since, as well as the changes that have not taken place, ” and calling the commission’s unanimity and comprehensiveness “impressive.”

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland had perhaps the catchiest opening: “Let us first dispense with perhaps the least relevant conclusion of the Sept. 11 commission: the final score of missed ‘operational opportunities’ that conceivably might have prevented the atrocities of the day stands at President Bill Clinton 4, President George W. Bush, 6.”

Other papers stressed the commission was wise to hold back from casting blame on either the Bush or Clinton administrations. The Chicago Sun-Times said the commission’s “emphasis was on solutions, not blaming individuals when everyone misjudged the rising threat of Islamic terrorism.”

Several papers emphasized a need for Congress to act after the commission’s report. The San Francisco Chronicle said, “Congress has no more urgent duty than to assess and act on the findings …” The Sun-Times added, “At least we hope that having the serious shortcomings of our intelligence spelled out in black and white will galvanize Congress and the president into acting quickly to do what is necessary to upgrade the system.”

The Chicago Tribune insisted that “the repair job falls to Congress.” The Philadelphia Inquirer said that “Congress and President Bush should adopt quickly many of the recommendations in the Kean commission’s welcome report.” The paper came out in support of a national counter-terrorism center headed by a single chief who reports to the president.

The Kansas City (Mo.) Star found reason to criticize the government for “complacency” and for “not putting enough money into needed improvements, and some approved money has been frittered away.”

Most papers relied on the report to cast blame, rather than do so in their words, but the New York Daily News did not restrain itself. The paper said that “responsibility rests with two presidents, Congress, the CIA, FBI, Defense Department, FAA and a thicket of other agencies, which is to say the failures are spread far and wide.”

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