presents The Angry Liberal
The Future of Terrorism in America: Can Bush Outwit a Clever Enemy?
June 4, 2002
At long last, the September 11 spell that drew America around the current White House occupant like a moth to a flame is showing signs of weakening. As revelations begin to surface about memos and arrests that might have tipped off the Bush administration that trouble was a brewin', some Americans are beginning to wonder whether allowing a presidential candidate of limited attention span and intellectual capacity to litigate his way into the White House was such a good idea after all. And wonder they should.
First of all, nothing I've seen indicates that Bush and his all-conservative orchestra should have known that an attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was imminent. Any idiot can take action when presented with a date, time, place, and cast of characters. That's not the point. The point is that George W. Bush is not the kind of president who will thwart an attack on America when presented with sketchy warnings. For starters, Bush has never been described as "clever." Likable, perhaps, if your tastes run to drunken underachieving fraternity types. Folksy, to be sure. Unfortunately, I wouldn't expect Goober from "The Andy Griffith Show" to foil an international plot, either. Bush was elected (and I use the term loosely) during a time of peace and prosperity when some Americans decided things were so good, even somebody like Bush could mind the store. Those people were dead wrong. On September 11, a group of terrorists managed to destroy America's two tallest buildings and kill thousands of us using nothing more than box-cutters. They succeeded because they concocted a very clever plan. It will require top-notch intellectual leadership to foil future acts of terrorism perpetrated by a clever adversary. Aside from perhaps being able to crush a beer can on his forehead, George W. Bush is not clever. Not remotely so.
Next, it's important to realize that terrorists will not yell, "Put 'em up, America!" before attacking. Short of killing everybody on the planet who might harbor some hostility toward America, our only chance to prevent future attacks lies in the collection and study of intelligence. The key to stopping terrorists before they strike America lies in the details, and Bush is not a detail-oriented guy. This fella is famous for his demand that briefings be condensed to a single page before he reads them. Kids, warnings of bin Laden's plan would never have shown up in a one-page memo. If you doubt Bush's inability to grasp details, simply look to his campaign contributors. Bush collected steamships full of campaign cash from Big Business precisely because corporations realized that Bush wouldn't challenge their plans for getting self-serving legislation enacted into law. For example, Bush is still happy to let Enron plan America's energy future despite increasing evidence that Enron committed crimes during the California energy crisis of 2001. He doesn't understand the details in their proposed energy policy and isn't particularly interested in the consequences anyway, so Kenneth Lay whispers it in Bush's ear and Bush repeats it to the world. Bush isn't supported by corporations because he can connect the dots; he is supported by them because he can't. The very same lack of interest in policy and short attention span that allowed Bush to raise record amounts of money from the Enrons of America during the last election is now a huge liability in the face of a well-organized and secretive enemy.
Finally, there is the "laziness" factor. On August 6, Bush was presented with an intelligence briefing discussing the possibility that Al-Qaida might attempt a hijacking aimed at Americans. When he received it, Bush was on the longest vacation ever taken by a U.S. president. That's right, a short seven months into his new job, the new guy decides to take the entire month of August off. As word leaked out that Bush was setting a presidential vacation record, he cut it short, on paper at least, by returning to the White House on Friday morning. Then he left Friday afternoon for a weekend in Camp David, stretching the vacation back to its original record-setting length while allowing the slacker to deny holding such a shameful place in the annals of the presidency. But the fact remains that Bush was vacationing when he received the briefing. Who has time to contemplate international terrorist threats when there's brush to cut on the back 400? On a good day, Bush has trouble sitting still through a second page of a brief. I'm betting that he's even worse on vacation. Of course, the administration is frantically pointing out that the briefing was too vague to take concrete action. When questioned about it, Dick Cheney dragged out the straw man and gave him a thrashin':
"You're going to shut down the nation's aviation system based on that report? You wouldn't."
When did that become our only possible response to a terrorist threat, Dick? We could heighten the nation's alertness, perhaps. Warn airlines, perhaps. But do nothing? I don't think so. In a silly attempt to paint as fools those who would question its inaction, Cheney has inadvertently set the bar for the Bush administration's handling of incoming terrorism intelligence: Ignore it or panic. Do nothing or shut down the nation's aviation system. Is this what the administration has in mind for future terrorism threats? Let's hope not.
are beginning a new era in which America will need to demand more of its
leaders than ever before. Any moron can cut taxes (Right, Dubya?). Anybody
can respond to a successful terrorist plot costing a couple of million
dollars by borrowing billions from our children and funding every imaginable
type of weapon. The future prosperity of this country, however, will depend
to a great extent upon our ability to prevent terrorism before the shiny
new weapons ever get used. To this end, it is time for America to begin
sending the sharpest knives in the drawer to Washington. Let us hope for
the sake of the nation that George W. Bush is the last of the soup spoons.
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© 2002, The Angry Liberal
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