January 08, 2009
"But He Kept Us Safe After 9/11!!!"
"There are some who would like to rewrite history. Revisionist historians is what I like to call 'em." - President G. Walker Bush (6.16.03)*
As the country says goodbye to George Bush, his handlers, sycophants and apologizers have been telling anyone who will listen that their man is a hero who saved America from the terrorizers. Take for example this creepy transvestite talking to Matt Lauer on The Today Show:
(at approx. 2:40: "I'm grateful to him for keeping the nation safe for the last 8 years. We'll see if that continues.")
Sure. He kept us safe. After he didn't. 9/11 ring a bell?
Then there's Time Magazine's Mark Halperin who thinks Bush did a bang-up job after 9/11 (and thinks "other presidents wouldn't have performed as well"):
Enough of this b.s. Former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke, who tried to warn the Bush Administration about "al Qida" but was ignored...
...has penned an op-ed to rewrite the rewriters of history:
George Bush, still President, is engaging in a legacy tour of media outlets. This comes despite his earlier having said he did not know how history would judge the Iraq war "because we'll all be dead."And, The Huffington Post's Bob Cesca has nice little rundown of the Bush Administration's actual "heroics":
Actually, many people are already dead because of Bush, and that is the point to keep in mind when he talks about his legacy.
Among the themes Bush is striking are that through action at home and fighting "them" over there, not over here, his administration stopped terrorist attacks and prevented another 9/11. There is a surface plausibility to those claims, as there has often been with the messaging served up by the Karl Rove spin machine. But let's look beneath the surface of the assertions.
There wasn't a second 9/11? That's obviously true, but it misses the point. First, we must remember that Al Qaeda terrorists are patient, deliberate planners who often wait years between strikes. Second, there was the first 9/11 - and it happened on Bush's watch. Without rehashing the entire 9/11 Commission Report, the historical record is pretty clear by now that Bush did virtually nothing about the repeated warnings to him that those cataclysmic attacks were coming. Unfortunately, I can personally attest to that as well.
Bush saved American lives? Tell that to the families of the 4,200 U.S. military personnel who have perished in the needless war in Iraq. While they served heroically and deserve the great thanks of the American people, the tragic truth is that they were engaged in a war we should not have been fighting and which was sold to the Congress, the media and American people with exaggerated and even false claims.
What I recall is a litany of awful, illegal and destructive responses to September 11 on behalf of the president. I'm thinking specifically about White House-sanctioned torture. I'm thinking about extraordinary rendition. I'm thinking about Abu Ghraib and illegal invasions and interminable occupations. I'm thinking about how a CIA agent tasked with tracking loose nukes was outed as part of effort to lie about the justifications for that invasion and occupation. I'm thinking about 35,000 American military casualties. I'm thinking about post traumatic stress disorder. I'm thinking about a system that allowed many September 11 heroes to die of respiratory-related illnesses. I'm thinking about illegal and unconstitutional searches and seizures. I'm thinking about the USA PATRIOT Act, the Military Commission Act and the "terrorist surveillance program." I'm thinking about known-knowns, "bring 'em on" and "watch what you say" warnings. I'm thinking about orange alerts, duct tape, bottled-liquids bans, cable news animations of exploding airplanes and national waves of hysteria tweaked by well-orchestrated fear-mongering campaigns. I'm thinking about the tens of thousands of terrorist attacks -- some of them on American soil, most of them against American interests and all having occurred despite the lie that the Bush administration has "kept us safe." To that point, I'm thinking about decades of future blowback which historians and foreign policy experts might attribute directly to President Bush's reaction to September 11.Okay fellow bloggers and cocktail party soap-boxers: You have your assignment.
Instead of compassion, reason, rationality and inspiration tempered with humility -- traits evident in the crisis-handling of other presidents -- we can easily recall self-indulgence, dangerous pride and indignity; sloganeering and exploitation in lieu of positive words and deeds -- words and deeds which so many of President Bush's predecessors have managed to summon under similar duress.
So in the face of a well-funded and high profile revisionist crusade, one of the most important tasks of our generation will be to preserve the real legacy -- the legitimate history -- of the Bush administration, and especially the sheer mediocrity of President Bush's immediate response, and utterly destructive long term reaction to September 11.
The motivation for rising to this challenge need only be found in the thought of our posterity learning the history of those days and the broader history of this decade as written by Mark Halperin and Karl Rove.
*Click link to listen to a great hero.