Clinton-Bashing and National Security
Here’s another short excerpt from the Commission Report that I find enlightening. Apparently all of the useless obsession with Clinton’s personal life during 1998 had an impact on our national security:
By the early hours of the morning of August 20, President Clinton and all his principal advisers had agreed to strike Bin Ladin camps in Afghanistan near Khowst, as well as hitting al Shifa… Everyone involved in the decision had, of course, been aware of President Clinton’s problems. He told them to ignore them. Berger recalled the President saying to him “that they were going to get crap either way, so they should do the right thing.” All his aides testified to us that they based their advice solely on national security considerations. We have found no reason to question their statements.
The failure of the strikes, the “wag the dog” slur, the intense partisanship of the period, and the nature of the al Shifa evidence likely had a cumulative effect on future decisions about the use of force against Bin Ladin.
— 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 117-118.
In other words, the Clinton administration did not have any motivations other than national security for their actions. Nevertheless, because Republican criticism of the use of force against Bin Laden was so fierce during 1998 (including the “Wag the Dog” talk about Clinton’s motivations for the air strikes), the Clinton administration was probably discouraged from using further force against Bin Laden. MoveOn.org was exactly right in 1998 – it was important for the country to move on from the Lewinsky business. Too bad we didn’t, for far too long.