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From Where the Threat Comes

January 16th, 2009

One boast that comes up again and again from the Bush administration, its supporters, and its apologists, is that they succeeded at one thing: they kept us safe from terrorist attacks over the past seven years. They remind us, again and again, that there has been no foreign terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. And that is true, in that there has been no major foreign terror attack on American soil. What is not true, not even by a long shot, is that this is an accomplishment of the Bush administration, due to any successful policy.

First of all, terrorists attacked the United States in 1993, with the World Trade Center car bombing. After that, there was no foreign terror attack within the United States for the remainder of the Clinton administration. But try to get a right-winger, especially one touting the Bush administration’s “accomplishment,” to say that this was because Clinton effectively waged a war on terrorism. Easier to wring champagne from a dry rock. If Bush accomplished a great feat, then so did Clinton–at far less cost.

But, they will tell you, Clinton let the terrorists lay the foundation for the 9/11 attack. Not true: it was not even close to recognizable during his administration. And when he left, he gave the Bush administration the strongest message possible: Al Qaeda is your strongest threat. And he gave the Bush administration the method with which to fight them: shake the trees, monitor and coordinate all data coming in from intelligence and law enforcement agencies, then investigate all leads. The Bush administration then received, from the intelligence community Clinton had built, a plethora of warnings, clues, and red flags warning them of 9/11. Bush ignored all of these. This was Bush’s fault, not Clinton’s.

But still, even if you accept that Clinton protected us from terror attacks, then you must admit that Bush did as well, right? The answer is no: Bush cannot take credit for the lack of attacks any more than he can take credit for the lack of meteors flattening major cities. Simply because none came, it does not show an accomplishment on his part. Port security, to this day, remains dangerously lax. Our borders remain porous. Al Qaeda remains strong, in fact emboldened from Bush’s policies. Just because there has been no major attack on U.S. soil does not mean that Bush protected us from one.

All you have to do is ask a simple question: what were the planned attacks we were protected from? If Bush did such a great job, then there must be records of terror attacks that have been foiled. But when you look at the plots Bush claims to have foiled, all you have are scattered plots hatched by bumblers and fools, dim-witted radicals who could barely buy their own boots, let alone stage attacks against the United States. The greatest threat was the plot in Britain to carry explosives on planes in water bottles, and yet even that plot was, at best, what is now euphemistically called “aspirational.” The plotters had no explosives, not even airplane tickets. All they had was an idea, and some links to terror groups. And even in this case, the Bush administration arguably made things worse: the British wanted to let the plot develop to the point where contact was made with real terrorists–but the Bush administration, for political purposes, pressured them to break up the plot prematurely, and so people who could pose a far greater threat were not caught.

The fact is, no terrorist plots of any real threat were broken up by the Bush administration. Domestic anti-terror measures remain anemic. The reputation of America has been severely damaged, while Al Qaeda is swimming in a sea of volunteers generated by the Iraq War and images like those from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

True, there has been no attack on U.S. soil–but Bush has obligingly transported Americans that Al Qaeda and others can kill much more conveniently close to home. 2,974 victims were killed on 9/11. However, 4,226 American soldiers (and a number more non-military Americans) have been killed in Iraq over the past five years–the equivalent to another 9/11 and then some. The monetary cost has also been similar, if not worse, to the cost of 9/11. In many other ways, Bush’s Iraq War has cost even more–9/11 did not break our military, nor did it wreck our international reputation and standing–quite the opposite, in fact.

The truth that is inescapable in the end is that far from protecting us, the Bush administration has made us far more vulnerable, far more weak. Why Al Qaeda has not attacked on U.S. soil, when they clearly are and have been very much able to do so, is known only to them. That reason, whatever it is, is the only reason we have not seen a U.S. attack (though we have seen a large number of very deadly attacks elsewhere all across the globe). And whatever that reason is, it has nothing to do with the anti-terror policies of the Bush administration–unless they have been holding back as a means of supporting the disastrous-to-us, but beneficial-to-terrorists Bush policies.

Bush is little else but a pathetic fraud, claiming a lack of evidence as evidence of a great achievement. But he will soon strike a great accomplishment in fighting terrorism: he will leave office and no longer be a threat to the American people, no longer be a fantastic boon to the terrorists.

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  1. Hachi Gatsu
    January 17th, 2009 at 06:59 | #1

    Well said, something I’ve been noticing for quite a while myself.

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