Defying the Imagination

The 9/11 commission report establishes the extraordinary incompetence and ineptitude of the Bush administration.


The 9/11 commission report establishes the extraordinary incompetence and ineptitude of the Bush administration.  
 The unanimous report of the bipartisan 9/11 commission is a searing indictment not just of the intelligence failures that preceded Sept 11, 2001, but also the Bush administration’s policy since.

The 40 policy recommendations, some of which Bush is now rushing to embrace, beg the question, just what has the Bush administration been up to these past three years. The self-proclaimed “war president” has presumably been razor focused on the much ballyhooed “war on terror,” to the exclusion of the economy and just about everything else.

So why does the 9/11 commission still find us so vulnerable? Several commissioners point to “failures of imagination.” The truth is even more depressing. In the face of a ruthless and crafty enemy, the Bush administration has demonstrated startling ineptitude.
After 9/11, the erstwhile-INS (games of musical chairs are the signature of this administration’s war on terror) rounded up aliens from suspect countries and required male adult citizens of some two dozen nations to appear before it for special registration, ostensibly to weed out potential terrorists.

The foolish special registration policy (would a real terrorist volunteer himself at the immigration service’s doors), which served only to create needless panic among innocent immigrants and disrupted the lives of hundreds who had committed the minutest technical violations, was finally abandoned in December 2003.

The Bush administration packed prisons in Guantanamo Bay with hundreds of terrorism suspects from Afghanistan and other parts of the world. The secret detentions and brutal interrogations have reportedly yielded few productive leads and the vast majority of those held for upto two years now are believed to have virtually no links to terror groups. They have instead raised serious concerns about inhumane prisoner treatment and U.S. constitutional violations. There is the diversionary invasion of Iraq, which far from fighting the war on terror may well have exacerbated it, not to say distracted the country from the real task. Then there is the horrendous prisoner abuse scandal at Abhu Ghraib, which has wreaked havoc on America’s moral standing worldwide and cast a shadow of war crimes on thousands of honorably serving men and women of the army. The list is endless.

The war on terror is not fought with a Texas cowboy swagger, but with smarts. Locking up or beating up on people for toughness’s sake may make Bush’s right wing zealots feel good, but it doesn’t solve a thing.

Far from implementing smart strategies to fight terror, this administration has only succeeded in scaring the public and pushed the country into an uncharacteristic funk. The silly color coded alert system, the repeated false warnings, the fracturing of international coalitions, the wanton invasion of a sovereign country, as a result of intelligence failures, political ineptitude or ideological tunnel vision, call it what you will, the ineptness of this administration seems boundless.

Considering that Bush, who fought tooth and nail first against creating the 9/11 commission, then stymied its investigation by resisting its funding requests, time extensions and even witness access, is suddenly wrapping himself in some its recommendations, one should ask: How is it that 10 non specialists with a paltry $15 million at their disposal are able to generate ideas in half the time that Bush had that he now finds so compelling? Why did these solutions evade the Bush administration, notwithstanding its single-minded focus over three years, even with all the resources and reach of the federal government and hundreds of billions of dollars at its disposal?

The answer is as simple as it is wrenching. Forget the politics; it’s not even about “failures of imagination.”

For this is ineptitude and incompetence on a scale that defies the imagination. 

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