Wednesday, February 17, 2010

911 proves Republicans have no standing to talk about terrorism

Two weeks ago Republican senator Susan Collins appeared on one of the Sunday talk shows talking about Obama having a blind spot when it comes to terrorism. Her reason was the Obama Administration decision to try the Nigerian Christmas Day terrorist in a federal court ( the fact that the Bush Administration did the same thing twice is, of course, not mentioned).

This, according to Collins and to every other Republican who thinks they know something about terrorism, proves that Obama doesn't understand the terrorist threat or that its all about it being a war.

But Collins, who said Obama has a blind spot about terrorism never demanded the impeachment of George W. Bush and neither did any other Republican, when the information was revealed that George W. Bush had known about and ignored every sign,every warning, every piece of hard intelligence, that told him the United States was about to be hit with a major terrorist attack. And he had that information from multiple sources as recently as August, 2001, less than one month before the 911 attacks. And he did nothing.

Neither Susan Collins nor John McCain, nor John Bohener, nor Newt Gingrich, nor any Republican had anything to say about that at the time. After 3000 Americans were killed, after the World Trade Center was destroyed and the Pentagon hit because of the gross negligence of Bush, Rice and Cheney, none of them, no member of the party that beats its chest over its national security credentials, demanded Bush's impeachment or resignation for ignoring not just warnings, but intelligence that could have prevented 911.

Both Richard Clarke and George Tenant, Director of the CIA testified that in the summer of 2001, Al-Qaeda chatter had sky rocketed to the highest levels Clarke had seen in his 20 years as anti-terrorism czar under four presidents. The CIA intercepts of Al-Qaeda chatter revealed that the U.S. was going to be hit with a major terrorist attack that the attack was IMMINENT, ( the translation of one intercept was, "the match has been lit",) and in the words of the CIA memo, the attack was going to be "spectacular".

Clarke and Tenant testified that in August of 2001, they were, in Clarke's words, "running around the White House like men with their hair on fire" trying to get Bush's attention regarding a major imminent terrorist attack and they were rebuffed They were rebuffed by Bush. They were rebuffed by Rice. Neither agreed to have so much as a meeting.

Clarke and Tenant implored Rice to set up a meeting with Bush telling her of their concerns but Bush refused to meet with them and went on vacation to Crawford. As a matter of fact Bush refused to have any meeting with Clarke to discuss terrorism at all in the eight months from the time he took office up to the 911 attacks.

At the same time Clarke and Tenant were trying to tell Bush about the impending attack, and in August of 2001, Bush was given an intelligence memo dated August 6,2001 telling him that not only was Al-Qaeda preparing to attack WITHIN the United States, but page 2 of the memo told him that as part of the attack, Al -Qaeda planned on hijacking U.S. airliners.( see the the front page of the NY Post accompanying this article)

The same memo also told Bush that Al-Qaeda had buildings in New York City under surveillance.

Bush did nothing. Absolutely nothing. He did nothing even though when he first took office he was told by the FBI, CIA,Richard Clarke,outgoing president Bill Clinton and outgoing National Security Advisor Sandy Berger than Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were the single biggest threats to U.S. national security in the world. Bush ignored them.

Had Bush ordered the FAA to put out a high priority alert to all US airlines and major airports to be on the alert for possible attempts at hijacking by middle eastern men after getting the information in the August 2001 PDBm that alone would have prevented 911.

Republicans who always bet they can win by underestimating the intelligence of the American people, have been complaining for weeks that it was the Democrats who dropped the ball over the Christmas Day bomb attempt because, they say, the Nigerian had bought a one way ticket to Michigan, paid cash and didn't have any luggage and that should have sent up red flags.

On the morning of 911, nine hijackers all bought one way tickets on transcontinental flights to California, none had luggage, and all paid cash buying the tickets on the spot, paying full price of $2500, when most people book in advance to take advantage of discounts. If there has been an FAA alert for any suspicious behavior by middle eastern men because of a threat of possible hijacking, what kind of red flags would that have sent up?

If Bush had at the very least taken Clarke, Tenant and the CIA's warnings seriously, had he taken the intelligence report that said Al-Qaeda was planning on hijacking US airliners seriously, had he taken seriously the warning that intercepts of Al-Qaeda chatter indicated that we were about to be hit by a major attack and it was imminent, and had the FAA issued that alert what do you think would have happened the morning of September 11,2001 when those middle eastern men bought those one way tickets with cash?

Bush blamed intelligence failures for 911 but the only intelligence failures were at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on the part of Bush, Rice and Cheney. Intelligence failures and the worst case of gross negligence related to the national security of the United States in history.

Bush should have been impeached or forced to resign. It didn't happen because of the Republican desire to cover it up and avoid the blame and the sheer cowardice of the press who to this day is afraid to hold Bush accountable.

Republicans succeeded in deflecting the blame because they rightfully knew they could underestimate the intelligence , not of the American people but of the American press.

But they may be pushing their luck. You would think that with the blood of 3000 Americans on the hands of the Bush Administration Republicans would have the sense to let sleeping dogs lie and just shut up. But it may be part of their strategy to be on the offensive and not let the truth catch up with them.

Maybe its time for the press and the Democrats, if they have the guts, to finally get the truth about 911 out in the open and place blame where it belongs. Maybe that will be the thing that shuts the Republicans up. And at the same time, let the American people know why.


Anonymous said...

If Napolitano talked like a Republican, she would have said that the security system that G.W. put in place had failed and that the Obama administration would take a close look at every part of the system to correct any deficiencies. But it's clear that Obama and the Democratic leadership reserve playing the blame game against their own, i.e., the Clintons.

Anonymous said...

Tom, you fail to mention ALL the chatter before Bush even took office, i.e. Clinton's PDB dated 4 DEC 1998

Unknown said...

According to Richard Clarke's testimony, who was there during both administrations, Clinton implemented every suggestion Clarke had and did everything possible in the war on terror. Clarke said pointedly there was nothing Clinton didnt do that should have been done.

One thing Republicans conveniently forget is that when Clinton unleashed a missile barrage against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to try and kill Bin Laden the Republicans accused him of a wag the dog strategy to distract people from his Lewinsky problem. Republicans never took terrorism seriously until it was too late.

DancingOpossum said...

Yep, and Clinton made a point of telling the incoming admin. that they had better look at this stuff VERY seriously as their first order of business. He made no bones about it and was astonished when they ignored him.

That's exactly right--the Republicans dont' care about terrorism until it's too late. Or until it's a useful tool for further subverting our civil liberties and engaging in endless war.

And yes, on the latter points I know the Democrats are just as bad. That's why I don't support either party anymore. Still, there is no denying that we had a damn good president in Clinton--best in my lifetime.