Democrats & Liberals Archives

A Presidential Obsession

The revelations Richard Clarke has made in his book and on 60 Minutes should scare all Americans about their current president and his administration. Even as the wreckage of the Twin Towers lay heaped in a smoldering pile, Bush’s administration was seeking out Saddam Hussein and Iraq as targets, not Afghanistan and Al Quaeda.

Already, the Bush administration has played it’s bias and character assassination cards, seeking to impugn the hair-raising scandal of it all amongst it’s constituency by claiming that the whole thing is just Liberal Lies by a guy hoping to get a job with John Kerry. The unfortunate fact is, though, there are too many sources corroborating Clarke’s charges.

In 2000, when asked the question of what posed the greatest threat to the US and it's interests abroad, Bush's answer was Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Bill Clinton's answer, shockingly enough, was Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaeda. Even if Clinton wasn't perfect about seeking out the enemy, he at least knew who his real enemy truly was.

He acted on that, though how sufficiently is an open question. He did something, though and Bush can't say the same. Clinton had his people meeting with him on terrorism every other day. He had people shaking the trees in their department, looking for information on terrorist operations here and abroad.

By contrast, As Clarke alleges, Bush never had a cabinet level meeting on terrorism until a week before 9/11. Under Clinton, Clarke's position was cabinet level. Bush made the office of counterterrorism a staff level position. When the events of 9/11 occurred, Bush forcefully demanded that Clarke find out whether Iraq was involved.

Trouble is, Iraqi terrorism wasn't exactly a high growth sector. The last Iraqi terrorist act on record was eight years before 9/11. The assassination attempt on Dubya's father, that is. After that came out, The Clinton administration bombed Iraqi intelligence HQ and sent them a strongly worded diplomatic message saying that the next time they pulled something like that, Saddam's regime would be next. Eight years passed, and nothing from them since that day. In fact, we wouldn't have Iraqi terrorism again until the American occupation post Gulf-War II.

Paul O'Neill recalls that one of the first things on the agenda was Iraq. It was not there so the facts on the ground could be discussed. Instead, the purpose of the discussion was options for invading it. The Administration's mind was made up.

Trick is, one can make up one's mind about what's going on in the world any way one likes, but when it all comes down to it, there's only one way it has gone down, and only one stream of events coming to fruition, and that is the one we will be left with, when everything is said and done. Right now, the Bush administration is trying to convince the rest of us that it isn't humanly possible to have perfect intelligence. While it's difficult to disagree with that statement in principle, It's really a big vague loophole of an argument. It could be made of a modest error in an otherwise sound intelligence report, or it could be extended to gross negligence. It can also be applied when a Commander in Chief refuses to believe what the best qualified people in the world are telling him. Or if that Commander in Chief decides that he's going to restructure the defense and intelligence establishments to get what he wants in terms of conclusions and evidence.

Bush and his advisors, as Clarke puts it, are stuck in the Cold War, dealing with Cold War issues like Iraq and Missile Defense, but not threats like Al Quaeda and Cyberterrorism. He also says that the administration walked right into Bin Laden's rhetoric, invading an oil-rich arab country and occupying it.

Was Bush fully responsible? No. Clinton perhaps should have backed stronger action against Al Quaeda. But at least he was taking action, and not trying at all costs to finish what his father started.

I know that the Republicans out there will want to remain loyal to their leader. If so, here's the best thing you can do- encourage him to be open and frank with the investigation into 9/11. Right now, your president is making himself look like a man who has things to hide. He has made his relationship with any and all organizations that question him (including the free press) more antagonistic than necessary, and over the two and half years since 9/11, he has done things that are by his own admission based on questionable support.

If there were terrorists in Iraq, why didn't we find the camps, find the documents linking Iraq and the terrorists? If there were WMDs, why has a year of searching in the files of a bureacratically top heavy government failed to find anything? At the very least, your candidate owes you some explanations for these lapses, and ones that don't involve blaming the much more actively anti-terrorist President Clinton.

At the very least, he owes the rest of us an apology. We have confronted him with solid evidence, and in return we get accusations of bias, character assassination, and the kind of doubletalk that would turn a thesaurus's ears blue, if it had them. It is time for Bush to admit the truth.

Who knows? It might be something even we liberals didn't expect.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at March 21, 2004 10:16 PM