Naked In The Bush
The sheer incompetence of the Bush administration in the war on terror now stands exposed. It’s time for Americans to elect a new chief.
Clarke touched off a fire-storm by his scathing criticism of the Bush administration’s handling of the war on terrorism in his just-released book Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror and in testimony before an independent commission investigating the Sept 11 hijackings.
Clarke alleges that Bush and his security team failed to heed repeated and mounting intelligence warnings of al-Qaida attacks in the summer of 2001, only months before the World Trade Center attacks. He also charges that after 9/11, the Bush administration manipulated the public anger over the attacks to mobilize the country for an invasion against Saddam Hussein, who had played no role in the Sept 11 attacks. Finally, he asserts, that the misguided war on Iraq diverted crucial intelligence, military and financial resources away from the hunt of al-Qaida and its leader Osama bin Laden. It also enflamed Islamic hostility, the incubator for new al-Qaida recruits, against the United States.
There is nothing remarkable in Clarke’s allegations. Bush’s preoccupation with Iraq and his cavalier approach to terrorism is obvious to anyone attentive to the public record. Reports released by the 9/11 commission document that a disinterested Bush was repeatedly cautioned about mounting al-Qaida threats – warnings, which evoked some imperial wisdom on “swatting flies.”
Bush, who won the disputed presidency through legal manipulations, then presided over a disastrous economy, saw the war on terror as a public relations bonanza and milked the 9/11 tragedy for all its political worth.
The commander asleep at the wheels even had the gall to make the war on terrorism the linchpin of his reelection campaign, selecting the improbably liberal city of New York for the conservative Republican National Convention to shamelessly showcase poignant images of the 9/11 tragedy. Understandably therefore, the president’s men are panic stricken over the public attention being paid to a former courtier’s revelations that the emperor wore no clothes. Clarke, remember, was close enough to see the emperor naked.
Bush’s attack dogs were unleashed to discredit Clarke, to cloud the issues, to make his criticism sound partisan. Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., even sought to intimidate Clarke by threatening to declassify his two-year-old congressional testimony, in which Clarke was allegedly more flattering of his then boss than now when he is free of official retaliation. Clarke better watch his tongue, Frist seemed to caution: we could prosecute you for perjury.
Ironically, Clarke announced that he welcomes the declassification, suggesting that the secret testimony and communications of of Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice also be declassified.
The public can see through this right wing politics of smear, character assassination and intimidation. A Newsweek poll after Clarke’s televised appearance before the 9/11 panel found that voter approval for Bush’s handling of the war on terror fell a solid 13 points – from 70 percent in January to 57 percent.
Any wonder? Bush protested: “Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to strike America, to attack us, I would have used every resource, every asset, every power of the government, to protect the American people.”
Of course you would Mr Bush. Terrorists, however aren’t as stupid as you to put you on such advance notice. And if those are the flares you must be sent to wake up, God help America. But then, you are such a believer. You say your prayers. Saner Americans will hopefully vote for a new chief.