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It didn't take long for the usual suspects on the right to start whining about politicizing a historic moment. But it isn't political exploitation to tell the truth. And none of the voices that now decry the truth-telling cared a whit when Bush blatantly exploited the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, with politically timed orange alerts and the lies and fear-mongering that led the nation into a war on a nation that had had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks. Republicans have been dishonestly exploiting fears of foes real and imagined for decades, and the cynical strategy's most recent incarnations have been the questions about President Obama's birth certificate, the lies that he is secretly a Muslim—as if there is anything wrong with being a Muslim in the first place—and of course the Sharia Law freak show, as if anyone anywhere in this nation has ever been threatened with the imposition of any form of religious fundamentalism other than that emanating from the cesspool of right-wing theocrats.

This historic moment is political. All historic moments are political. History is political, and the only people who now claim otherwise do so purely for political reasons. Even the desperation to deceive the public into believing the lie that the Bush administration's immoral, inhuman, and illegal torture regime helped make this successful raid possible is purely impurely political. Dick Cheney wants credit for this success because Dick Cheney doesn't want anyone to remember that his astonshing failures made this raid necessary. Every time Dick Cheney appears on television, it becomes necessary to revisit the historic facts. Every time any Republican or right-wing apologist or oblivious media hack repeats the lie that Republicans are competent, much less superior to Democrats, at protecting national security, it becomes necessary to revisit the historic facts: If not for the Bush administration's unprecedented failure at national security, the unprecedented terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, would not have succeeded.

This is a recap. I have posted it before, in several different forms. Repeating it should not be necessary. These facts should be so much a part of national consciousness as to permanently destroy the credibility of all whose failures allowed the September 11 attacks to succeed. But that would necessitate a dispassionate and honest and professional traditional media, which we clearly do not have. But Democrats, and all who care about historical accuracy, should have these facts readily at hand, to be oft repeated at every opportunity, until they do dent national consciousness. In the absence of a dispassionate and honest and professional traditional media, and given the frequent failures of message discipline by institutional Democrats, the responsibility falls on us.

  • Just a month before the 9/11 attacks, while on a month long vacation, Bush was personally handed a presidential daily briefing entitled:
    Bin Laden determined to strike in US.

    With characteristic intelligence and class, Bush responded with the words:

    All right. You've covered your ass, now.

    And went fishing.

  • But Bush wasn't the only member of his administration to blow off warnings, and ignore the threat of terrorism. Indeed, his Attorney General, John Ashcroft, revealed his own lack of concern just a day before the attacks:
    In his final budget request for the fiscal year 2003 submitted on Sept. 10 to the budget director, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., the attorney general called for spending increases in 68 programs, none of which directly involved counterterrorism. Upgrading the F.B.I.'s computer system, one of the areas in which he sought an increase, is relevant to combating terrorism, though Mr. Ashcroft did not defend it on that ground.

    But in his Sept. 10 submission to the budget office, Mr. Ashcroft did not endorse F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators.

    Mr. Ashcroft proposed cuts in 14 programs. One proposed $65 million cut was for a program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants for equipment, including radios and decontamination suits and training to localities for counterterrorism preparedness.

  • And Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reacted similarly, less than a week before that:
    When Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who was then chairman of the Armed Services Committee, sought to transfer money to counterterrorism from the missile defense program, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sent a letter on Sept. 6, 2001, saying he would urge Mr. Bush to veto the measure. Mr. Levin nonetheless pushed the measure through the next day on a party-line vote.
  • And former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke had this to say about National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice:
    ...I believe it was, George Tenet called me and said, "I don't think we're getting the message through.  These people aren't acting the way the Clinton people did under similar circumstances."  And I suggested to Tenet that he come down and personally brief Condi Rice, that he bring his terrorism team with him.  And we sat in the national security adviser's office.  And I've used the phrase in the book to describe George Tenet's warnings as "He had his hair on fire."  He was about as excited as I'd ever seen him.  And he said, "Something is going to happen."

    Now, when he said that in December 1999 to the national security adviser, at the time Sandy Berger, Sandy Berger then held daily meetings throughout December 1999 in the White House Situation Room, with the FBI director, the attorney general, the head of the CIA, the head of the Defense Department, and they shook out of their bureaucracies every last piece of information to prevent the attacks.  And we did prevent the attacks in December 1999.  Dr. Rice chose not to do that.

  • Indeed:
    We know, for example, that then National Security Adviser Rice was warned repeatedly in 2001 about an imminent al-Qaeda attack against the U.S., but, along with Cheney and Rumsfeld, she simply didn't believe that a cave dweller like Osama bin Laden could be that much of a threat. She was warned by the outgoing Clintonite Sandy Berger, in January 2001. She was warned by the White House counterterrorism scold Richard Clarke. And now, with Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial, and subsequent Washington Post reports, we've been reminded that cia Director George Tenet warned Rice on July 10, 2001, that "the system was blinking red," meaning that there could be "multiple, simultaneous" al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. interests in the coming weeks or months.
  • The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and even Bush himself later made it clear:
    The former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Hugh Shelton, said the Bush administration pushed terrorism "farther to the back burner". And in a sympathetic portrait of the young administration, Bush at War, the president himself told the author, Bob Woodward, that he "didn't feel that sense of urgency" about going after Osama bin Laden.
  • It was clear just a month into the Bush Presidency:
    But when it comes to fighting terrorism, administration officials say the United States has no new initiatives to offer. Top antiterrorism officials in the U.S. government tell NEWSWEEK that Bush and his lieutenants have yet to put forth a counterterrorism plan. So far at least, the Bush team has kept on Clinton's counterterrorism czar, Richard Clarke.
  • There had been explicit warnings even during the transition:
    One such meeting took place in the White House situation room during the first week of January 2001. The session was part of a program designed by Bill Clinton's National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, who wanted the transition between the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations to run as smoothly as possible. With some bitterness, Berger remembered how little he and his colleagues had been helped by the first Bush Administration in 1992-93. Eager to avoid a repeat of that experience, he had set up a series of 10 briefings by his team for his successor, Condoleezza Rice, and her deputy, Stephen Hadley.

    Berger attended only one of the briefings—the session that dealt with the threat posed to the U.S. by international terrorism, and especially by al-Qaeda. "I'm coming to this briefing," he says he told Rice, "to underscore how important I think this subject is." Later, alone in his office with Rice, Berger says he told her, "I believe that the Bush Administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject."

  • But the Bush team was so obliviously sanguine that:
    Though Predator drones spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times in late 2000, the Bush administration did not fly the unmanned planes over Afghanistan during its first eight months and was still refining a plan to use one armed with missiles to kill the al-Qaida leader when Sept. 11 unfolded, current and former U.S. officials say.
  • And as for Cheney himself:
    Bush administration officials told former Sens. Gary Hart, D-Colo., and Warren Rudman, R-N.H., that they preferred instead to put aside the recommendations issued in the January report by the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. Instead, the White House announced in May that it would have Vice President Dick Cheney study the potential problem of domestic terrorism -- which the bipartisan group had already spent two and a half years studying -- while assigning responsibility for dealing with the issue to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, headed by former Bush campaign manager Joe Allbaugh.

    The Hart-Rudman Commission had specifically recommended that the issue of terrorism was such a threat it needed far more than FEMA's attention.

    Before the White House decided to go in its own direction, Congress seemed to be taking the commission's suggestions seriously, according to Hart and Rudman. "Frankly, the White House shut it down," Hart says. "The president said 'Please wait, we're going to turn this over to the vice president. We believe FEMA is competent to coordinate this effort.' And so Congress moved on to other things, like tax cuts and the issue of the day."

    "We predicted it," Hart says of Tuesday's horrific events. "We said Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers -- that's a quote (from the commission's Phase One Report) from the fall of 1999."

    Let's highlight that:

    Instead, the White House announced in May that it would have Vice President Dick Cheney study the potential problem of domestic terrorism -- which the bipartisan group had already spent two and a half years studying -- while assigning responsibility for dealing with the issue to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, headed by former Bush campaign manager Joe Allbaugh.

    The Hart-Rudman Commission had specifically recommended that the issue of terrorism was such a threat it needed far more than FEMA's attention.

    Not only did the entire Bush Administration ignore multiple screaming warnings, but Cheney himself was tasked with studying the risk of domestic terrorism! And even though Bush himself said he'd periodically review the issue:

    Neither Cheney's review nor Bush's took place.
  • Bush and Cheney. Both. Both given specific warnings. Both claiming they would study the risks. Neither doing so. Their entire administration failing in every possible way, despite numerous specific and personal warnings. Despite numerous specific and personal warnings that kept coming, right up until the days before the September 11 attacks. And after the attacks we had this:

    The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.
  • And as Meteor Blades pointed out, last week, just half a year later, we had Bush saying this:
    And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.

It is hard to conceive of an administration being more incompetently reckless with our national security. It is hard to conceive of an administration being more derelict in their most important responsiblity. When Republicans now criticize or question or try to take credit for what was accomplished at Abbottabad, not only are they being dishonest about recent events, they are trying to make us forget how all of this came to be in the first place.

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks could have been prevented. In fact, given both the quantity and quality of the warnings it directly received, only the incomprehensible incompetence of the Bush-Cheney administration could have made the success of those attacks possible. And even after the attacks, the incomprehensible incompetence of the Bush-Cheney team allowed bin Laden to escape, which led Bush himself to lose interest in him. Because he already was focused on what would become his next incomprehensible disaster. It took a Democratic administration to finish the job a Republican administration made inevitable. It took a Democratic administration to clean up yet another of the countless disasters left by a Republican administration. Anyone anywhere who wanted to see this result owes full credit to President Obama for ordering it and leading the organizing of it. Anyone anywhere who wanted to see this result owes full condemnation to the Bush-Cheney team for having made this result something for which anyone anywhere could dream or aspire.

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