Saturday, April 10, 2004
Not with that attitude, Missy!
In her session before the Sept. 11 commission, Condi displayed a mastery of evasion tactics and "exonerated" her boss and all his associates. "There was no silver bullet," she said, implying that only some sort of magic or superhuman effort would have been required to stop the supernatural "werewolf" represented by al Qaeda.
So. Condoleezza Rice expresses very little confidence in the abilities of the FBI and the CIA and the government in general to stop al Qaeda in the days before Sept. 11, 2001. I ask, what would it have taken, really, if you accept the idea that fundamentalists are human beings, not mystical and unstoppable creatures? A little more vigilance, a little less emphasis on Iraq, the observance of security measures already in place, maybe shorter vacations at the Crawford ranch. The Sept. 11 attacks were carried out by 19 al Qaeda operatives in the U.S. illegally, many of them previously noted by various U.S. security organizations.
Condi says there was no way the government could have stopped them. That fewer than two dozen religious fanatics had basically neutralized the nation's security forces.
I see something of contradiction here. If the U.S. government couldn't identify and control a handful of terrorists, and if that same administration couldn't see a looming and deadly threat like the one that knocked down the World Trade Center, then why should that same government be expected to magically acquire the wisdom and expertise to attack Asian nations, stop terrorism, bring freedom and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, unify the entire Middle East and manage the whole thing so well that no unforeseen elements would add to the bloodshed and create a costly and horrifying quagmire? After all, the information that was used to justify the "pre-emptive" strike on Iraq was just as vague as the information trickling in before Sept. 11, 2001, that indicated an attack against U.S. interests was imminent. And the information about Iraq was not just vague, it was manufactured and intentionally misleading.
Do you see what I mean? The system that couldn't possibly have stopped Sept. 11 was anointed by the Bush Administration as the holy and infallible organization that would bring peace and prosperity and democracy to the poor, suffering people of Iraq who were eagerly awaiting the chance to be blown to bits by the U.S. military as a prelude to a U.S.-controlled "democracy." The system that couldn't keep track of fewer than a dozen terrorists should have no problem managing the fates of millions of Iraqis comprising numerous competing religious groups and ethnicities who might object to a U.S. invasion.
I also see a problem in the lack of accountability. If there was no way to stop the Sept. 11 terror attacks, then no one is accountable. Where does the buck stop? Apparently nowhere near the president or his inner circle.
If no one was responsible for the intelligence failures that made Sept. 11 such a walk in the park for the terrorists, then ultimately, no one is responsible for anything that takes place during the watch of the Bush Administration. And that's just how they act. No one has any shame about lying or twisting the evidence or withholding information from Congress.
It's one thing to lie about your drunk-driving record or your military service. But another thing entirely to lie about matters of global importance when the stakes are so high, when hundreds of young soldiers who put their faith in their leader will die, thousands of innocent civilians will be killed, and none will really know the reason why.
In the same political culture that says no one is accountable for the intelligence failures that led to Sept. 11, it is no wonder that no one seems the least bit self-conscious about the failure to bring peace or democracy to Iraq. No one, that is, except for a few people who have been booted out of the administration for standing up to Bush and Cheney and pals to say that their loyalty is to the people ... and not to the man who sits in the president's chair.