How Obama Can Keep
Posted: July 26, 2007
by Jack Cashill
If Al Gore enters the race for the Democratic nomination, as seems likely, the candidate who will suffer most is Barack Obama.
Gore’s book, Assault on Reason, is designed to woo the party’s angry left base that Obama has been more benignly courting.
To stop Gore, the one person Obama might want to talk to is Victoria Cummock. Cummock has a unique insight on Gore. A citizen activist, she served on the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security that Vice President Al Gore chaired in 1996-1997.
In January 1997, she first grew alarmed when the vice president’s staff circulated a draft final report that essentially eliminated all security measures from their findings.
Gore withdrew the draft and amended it. On February 12, 1997, he issued a final report that has all the appearance of seriousness.
The following excerpt from Gore’s introduction seems to refer to the demise of TWA Flight 800 in July 1996, the event responsible for the commission and the only aviation attack within the last eight years:
At the time Gore made this comment, TWA Flight 800 was still an open and active case. The FBI would not “resolve” it for another nine months.
Following this paradoxical introduction was a series of recommendations that seem both forceful and reasonable, to wit, “3.13 Conduct airport vulnerability assessments and develop action plans.”
These recommendations did not trouble Cummock in general. What she criticized was their vagueness. She cited 3.13 above, like many others, for its absence of “specificity,” “accountability,” and “timetables/deadlines.”
“In summary,” Cummock wrote, “the final report contains no specific call to action, no commitments to address safety and security system-wide by mandating the deployment of current technology and training, with actionable timetables and budgets.”
Without tough and timely enforcement, she rightly believed that the recommendations would become just so many words on a page, pure Washington spin.
“After much thoughtful consideration and with a very heavy heart,” Cummock filed a dissent against the Gore proposal.
Gore stated publicly that he would include the dissent in the final report. But when he presented that report to the president, he not only failed to accommodate Cummock, but he also claimed that the report’s findings were unanimous.
“Both of those Gore lies are on video tape,” reported the Washington Times. “NBC’s Dateline has the tapes.”
With her dissent suppressed, Cummock sued the vice president, the secretary of Transportation, and the commission in District Court.
In her view, as expressed in her ultimately successful appeal of a dismissed suit, “The Clinton Administration had formed the Commission simply to obtain rubber-stamp endorsement of a predetermined policy agenda, rather than to facilitate genuine deliberations.”
As to the Gore Commission, despite Cummock’s valiant efforts, it came to naught or something close to it.
If Obama is clever, however, Gore may once again pay a political price for his failure to act. I say “once again” because it seems likely that John Kerry used the threat of exposure to force Gore out of the 2004 race before he got in.
In the weeks following September 11, 2001, several political insiders referred to the destruction of Flight 800 as a terrorist incident. But only one did it twice.
That person is Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
Appearing on Larry King Live on September 11 itself, Kerry suggested that TWA Flight 800 was brought down by a terrorist act. On September 24, on Hardball with Chris Matthews, I watched as Kerry casually recited a number of terrorist attacks against the United States, among them TWA “Flight 800.”Like Larry King before him, Chris Matthews either did not catch the remark or chose to let it pass.
If the first admission seemed more or less innocent and accidental, the second one had to be purposeful. Indeed, Kerry’s office took and responded to calls about his remarks on Flight 800 after the first incident.
There is more evidence to consider. On September 20, 2001, one mainstream newspaper, and only one, broke the story of how the Gore Commission failed to address airline safety.
That newspaper just happened to be John Kerry’s hometown cheerleader, The Boston Globe. As it happened, the paper released the story five years to the day after the dog-training story broke, and it was damning.
Of course, it is possible that Senator Kerry merely misspoke about a terrorist attack against TWA 800 on two occasions, and it is possible too that the Globe’s entrance into the fray was merely coincidental, as was its timing.
Given the brutal realities of presidential politics, however, it seems likely that these revelations were calculated and perhaps even coordinated.
Gore now seems poised to enter the race for president once more. Hillary Clinton is in no position to challenge Gore on anything having to do with TWA Flight 800 or the commission it generated.
Obama is. He might just take his cue from John Kerry.If President Bush showed, in Gore’s words, a “reckless disregard for the American people,” the story of how Al Gore willfully undermined his own airport security commission makes Bush look like Paul Revere.
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