A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
July 22, 2002
A Sleeping Giant: The Bush White House in 2001
President Bush has said, on a number of occasions, that the terrorists on 9-11 "awakened a sleeping giant." This is, perhaps, one of the most forthright comments he has yet made on the subject. America did indeed sleep prior to 9-11 and the administration slept as soundly as anyone.
Let me take you back to the summer of the year 2001. A lot has happened since then but I'm sure that you can remember if you try.
Most Americans, and the press, were spending a lot of time talking about Chandra Levy.
Other than that bothersome CIA briefing on August 6th about bin Laden attacking America and hijacking planes -- what else was going on? What was our government doing in the months before September 11th, 2001?
A search of the White House web site can be most revealing. Where was terrorism on the list of priorities for the president, his advisors and members of his cabinet? What was the press focused on last summer? What was capturing the imagination of the American people?
The National Security Council is headed by the National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, and has been responsible for coordinating the activities of agencies including the FBI and CIA since the Truman administration. On July 22, 2001 Ms. Rice, when asked about terrorism, focused on National Missile Defense and "rogue nations." http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/07/20010722-7.html
On June 22, 2001 the president mentioned "terrorism" in a speech but, like Ms. Rice, only references it to support his National Missile Defense policy:
Bush: "It's time to come together and to think about a new security arrangement that addresses the threats of the 21st century. (Applause.) And the threats of the 21st century will be terrorist in nature, terror when it comes to weaponry. What we must do -- freedom-loving people must be willing to think differently and develop anti-ballistic missile systems that will say to rogue nations and leaders who cannot stand America, or what we stand for: you will not blackmail us, nor will you blackmail our allies." http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/06/20010622.html
The president spent the month of August on the ranch in Crawford. We were told he was reading about John Adams and thinking long and hard about stem cells. He gave a prime-time speech on August 9th (3 days after the CIA briefing) assuring us that the American Zygote population would be protected from terrorists in white lab coats. Thank GOD. The press was keeping themselves busy in Texas investigating the president's golf swing. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/08/20010807-2.html
I believe that the rest of the month was spent clearing brush on the ranch.
On August 29th the president gave a speech on "National Defense Priorities" where the subject of terrorism never came up. Instead he was selling National MISSILE Defense by talking about "rogue nations." http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/08/20010829-2.html
On August 31, according to the White House, "Security" was FOURTH on the list of the "president's priorities for the fall:" * economy * education * opportunity * security http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/08/20010831-3.html
Security was defined as "job security, health security, and of course national security." http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/08/20010831-15.html
Similar statements were coming from the Department of Defense:
Testimony before the House Budget Committee on the FY 2002 Defense Budget As Given by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Comptroller Dov Zakheim, Cannon House Office Building, Wednesday, July 11, 2001. http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/2001/s20010711-depsecdef2.html
As Given by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, Director, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, July 17, 2001. http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/2001/s20010717-depsecdef2.html
As icing on the cake, on September 10th, 2001 John Ashocroft denied additional anti-terrorism funding for the FBI and terrorism didn't make it into his top 10 priorities. He was concerned about sex and drugs...not terrorism.
The American giant slept indeed in 2001.
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