02/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

They Kept Us Safe -- or Did They?

President Bush and Dick Cheney, far busier with the Bush-Cheney Legacy Tour than with their final days exercising executive (or whatever branch Cheney's in) power--we can hope, are offering one overarching defense of the administration's performance: there was no further attack on "the homeland"--i.e., the US of A--since 9/11.

Setting aside the matter of the post-9/11 white powder episodes, this argument has a certain appeal that has attracted conservative pundits and bloggers. Sure, there have been terrorist attacks since 9/11 on London, Madrid, and Australians in Bali, as well as all sorts of folks in Mumbai, but--homeland safe.

So, if Bush & Cheney et al are entitled to brag about keeping America safe for seven years, logic dictates that Bill Clinton and co. can similarly boast about no attacks on the homeland after the first World Trade Center assault in 1993. Sure, there were attacks on the USS Cole and the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania--but nothing on the "homeland."

So, a question for conservatives: did the Clinton administration, like the Bush administration, do a fine job of protecting the country once it had undergone one al-Qaeda attack? Or did both administrations fail to prevent the initial attack in the first place?

Or does al-Qaeda just have a longer time-frame for its attention span than American administrations?