Also in 1996, 19 American servicemen were killed at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. According to Louis Freeh, FBI director at the time, President Bill Clinton took no actions against those responsible or those who sent them. Clinton refused even to ask the Saudis to allow FBI agents to question suspects they were holding. (Freeh noted, however, that Clinton did ask Crown Prince Abdullah for a contribution to the Clinton Presidential Library.)
Immediately following the attacks of 9/11, President George W. Bush declared that the U.S. would no longer distinguish between terrorists and terrorist masters. He told a joint session of Congress: “From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” But Bush never fully implemented that policy, and President Barack Obama rejected it outright.
The killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens along with three other Americans evoked this pledge from Vice President Joe Biden: “We will find and bring to justice the men who did this.” But we are menaced not just by “the men” who carry out such attacks but also by the organizations, regimes and ideologies behind them.
The bomb plot for which Manssor Arbabsiar will go to jail was not authorized by some rogue faction beyond the control of Iran’s rulers. Rather, those rulers are responsible. Once upon a time this would have been called what it is: an act of war.
Also last week: The Treasury Department attempted to call attention to the fact that Iran continues to give safe haven to senior al-Qaida operatives. “We will continue targeting this crucial source of al-Qaida’s funding and support, as well as highlight Iran’s ongoing complicity in this network’s operation,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.