From a speech delivered by Sen. John Kerry during an appearance in lower Manhattan, October 18, 2004:
My fellow Americans.
For several days, I have refrained from speaking publicly about the events that led to last week’s devastating terrorist attacks on the Stock Exchange here in New York and at the World Bank in Washington.
But now, I can no longer remain silent.
All of us support the president in the war on terrorism. We are united–as we have always been united–against those who would do us harm.
But we have now learned that last week’s attacks–and the hundreds of deaths that resulted from them–could have been prevented.
We have learned that in June and July of this year, our government arrested senior al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan.
U.S. agents seized computers filled with information about the attacks that took place last week.
The information was very detailed. The terrorists had studied every aspect of the Stock Exchange and the World Bank.
They knew how many people walked by each building at every minute of every day.
They knew the buildings’ structures. They knew their weak points.
They knew which type of explosives would do the most damage.
All of that information–and much, much more–was contained in those computers captured in Pakistan.
And yet, did the president put the nation on alert?
Did he move heaven and earth to guard those buildings, to re-route traffic around them, to warn people of danger?
The answer, sadly, is no.
Administration officials say they did not act because the information was “old.”
Some of it, they say, dated back before September 11.
One official even told the Washington Post, “There was nothing that we heard that was new. Why raise the alert level?”
In the days after September 11, 2001, we all asked why our government didn’t “connect the dots” of intelligence pointing toward those terrorist attacks.
We thought our leaders had learned some lessons.
Now, we discover that they did not.
With these new attacks, we discover that there weren’t just dots pointing toward the Stock Exchange and the World Bank.
There was a fully formed, richly detailed road map, telling our government just where–and how–the terrorists planned to strike.
And our government did nothing.
My friends, that should never, ever happen again.
As a candidate for president, I will not comment on the bipartisan impeachment proceedings begun by my colleagues in the House. They have a solemn duty to perform under very difficult circumstances.
I will only say that we have an opportunity to choose real leadership on November 2. And now–more than ever–we know what we must do.