So, Dick Cheney is back in the corporate media, telling everyone that President Obama is ignoring national security and endangering America. And the corporate media let him get away with it, as if he's some paragon of expertise on the issue. He is, in fact, the exact opposite. It was his administration's incompetence that allowed the worst ever attack on American soil, and it was his administration that followed that attack by undermining our national security, even more.
Because neither the corporate media nor most Democratic "leaders" seem to know how to respond to this astonishing hypocrisy, it's worthwhile, once again, taking a look at some fundamental facts. Much of this is a compendium of re-posts. Much of it, no doubt, will need to be re-posted many more times. The corporate media should know these facts, and it may take endless repetition of them for the corporate media even to become conscious of them. Every Democrat or progressive who gets face time on television should know these facts. The DNC should make these facts basic talking points, for all party officials, elected or otherwise.
Bush Administration incompetence and negligence made possible the September 11 attacks.
Before the 9/11 attacks, both the Minneapolis and Phoenix FBI offices uncovered evidence that could have revealed the entire plot. The agents in these field offices did their jobs, without torturing people, wiretapping random innocents, or racial profiling. The agents in these field offices did what professional law enforcement officials are supposed to do, and had they been able to interest their nominal superiors, 9/11 might never have happened. But they couldn't interest their nominal superiors. Plain old incompetence led to these agents' important revelations being ignored. But that was the pattern with the Bush Administration.
Time Magazine: At the very beginning of the Bush Administration, during the transition, President Clinton's National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, warned Bush National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice:
I believe that the Bush Administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject.
Salon: The Bush Administration ignored the two and a half year Hart-Rudman U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century's warnings about terrorism, choosing, instead, to conduct their own study.
Washington Post: But neither Bush nor Cheney made good on an announced plan to make such a study.
Newsweek: 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.
CNN: Clarke's own words...
I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue.
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.
Associated Press: Although Predator drones spotted bin Laden at least three times in 2000, Bush did not fly them over Afghanistan for the first eight months of his presidency.
CNN: Obsessed with missile defense, the Bush Administration thought it was wrong even to focus on Osama bin Laden.
Time Magazine: In July, 2001, CIA Director George Tenet warned Rice "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.
MSNBC: Clarke again...
...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.
Newsweek: Just days before the attacks, Don Rumsfeld was vetoing a request to divert $800 million from missile defense into counterterrorism.
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.
New York Times: Not to be outdone, just a day before the attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft turned down "F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators."; instead, he "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."
CNN: 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.
Salon: Bush responded by telling the agent briefing him...
All right. You've covered your ass, now.
And he went fishing.
Bush Administration incompetence and negligence allowed the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks to get away with it.
Bush Administration incompetence allowed bin Laden to get away, when he could have been caught or killed, at the battle of Tora Bora.
BBC: The Taliban grew stronger.
New York Times: They grew stronger in nuclear armed Pakistan, threatening to overrun the government.
Spiegel Online: Al Qaeda also regrouped, and grew stronger in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Washington Post: A 2007 assessment by the National Counterterrorism Center, was even titled "'Al-Qaida Better Positioned to Strike the West."
Washington Post: The failure was so complete that both Afghanistan and Pakistan were having to negotiate reconciliation with the Taliban.
New York Times: A British commander in southern Afghanistan even asked U.S forces to leave the area, because the high level of civilian casualties was, understandably, alienating the locals.
Attacking Iraq exacerbated threats to our national security.
New York Times: Turning attention and resources to Iraq undermined the Afghan war.
New York Times: It also began spawning a new generation of terrorists.
McClatchy Newspapers: Terrorism increased, all around the world.
Wall Street Journal: The administration stopped the military from attacking Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before the start of the Iraq War.
Council on Foreign Relations: A year later, he founded "Al Qaeda in Iraq" and pledged allegiance to bin Laden.
Los Angeles Times: U.S.-run "detention camps" in Iraq became breeding grounds for new terrorists.
Washington Post: The Pentagon lost track of 190,000 assault weapons given to Iraqi security forces.
National security was further undermined for petty political reasons.
Washington Post: When a new Bin Laden tape was obtained by an undercover intelligence operation, in November 2007, the Bush Administration was told to keep it a secret until Al Qaeda had released it. But the Bush Administration leaked it to the press, thus alerting Al Qaeda to the fact that they had a security breach, and destroying years of security work.
The most successful international team ever assembled to probe suspected WMD activities is shutting down this week, thanks to U.S. and British insistence. The team (the U.N. commission initially acronymed UNSCOM and then UNMOVIC) spent 16 years uncovering and destroying Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and missile weapons programs. The U.S. invasion of Iraq proved that the U.N.'s intel-overruled by the Bush administration-had indeed been correct: Saddam no longer had WMD. But late last month, the U.S. and British governments pushed through the U.N. Security Council a vote to halt funding for UNMOVIC.
A new Cold War?
New York Times: "Missile Defense" provoked Russia into ceasing to comply with a treaty on conventional arms.
International Herald Tribune: Missile Defense also provoked Russia to re-target its missiles at Europe.
Overall, our national security was undermined from without.
Washington Post: Bush's overhaul of security at federal buildings may have made federal employees less secure.
Surveying more than 100 of America's top foreign-policy experts-Republicans and Democrats alike-the FOREIGN POLICY/Center for American Progress Terrorism Index is the only comprehensive, nonpartisan effort to mine the highest echelons of the nation's foreign-policy establishment for its assessment of how the United States is fighting the war on terror.
How bad was the Bush Administration?
Nearly every foreign policy of the U.S. government-from domestic surveillance activities and the detention of terrorist suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to U.S. energy policies and efforts in the Middle East peace process-was sharply criticized by the experts. More than 6 in 10 experts, for instance, believe U.S. energy policies are negatively affecting the country's national security. The experts were similarly critical of the CIA's rendition of terrorist suspects to countries known to torture prisoners and the Pentagon's policy of trying detainees before military tribunals.
No effort of the U.S. government was more harshly criticized, however, than the war in Iraq. In fact, that conflict appears to be the root cause of the experts' pessimism about the state of national security. Nearly all-92 percent-of the index's experts said the war in Iraq negatively affects U.S. national security, an increase of 5 percentage points from a year ago. Negative perceptions of the war in Iraq are shared across the political spectrum, with 84 percent of those who describe themselves as conservative taking a dim view of the war's impact. More than half of the experts now oppose the White House's decision to "surge" additional troops into Baghdad, a remarkable 22 percentage-point increase from just six months ago. Almost 7 in 10 now support a drawdown and redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq.
More than half say the surge is having a negative impact on U.S. national security, up 22 percentage points from just six months ago. This sentiment was shared across party lines, with 64 percent of conservative experts saying the surge is having either a negative impact or no impact at all.
They rated the handling of the war as a 2.9 on a scale of 10. Only 12 percent believed a withdrawal from Iraq would lead directly to a new terrorist attack in the U.S.
National security was undermined through the systematic abuse of military personnel.
Overused and over-extended.
Christian Science Monitor: As of the beginning of 2006, Stop-Loss policy had prevented at least 50,000 troops from leaving the military when their service was scheduled to end.
USA Today: Multiple deployments were adding to the troops' stress.
CNN: In April 2007, tours of duty were extended from 12 to 15 months.
New York Times: Republicans killed Democratic Senator Jim Webb's attempt to give troops more down time between deployments.
MSNBC: Deployed single parents were having to fight to retain custody of their children.
International Herald Tribune: The bipartisan National Governors Association warned Bush that use of National Guard troops for his Iraq escalation was overburdening already overburdened units, and undermined the Guard's ability "to respond to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, forest fires and other emergencies."
CBS News: To accommodate Bush's Iraq escalation schedule, two Army combat brigades had to skip their planned desert training.
Agence France-Presse: Nearly two-thirds of polled veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars considered the military over-extended.
Inadequately protected and inadequately cared for.
New York Times: A 2006 study showed that eighty percent of marines killed from upper body wounds would have survived, if they'd had adequate body armor.
Newsweek: Troops were forced to improvise their own vehicle armor, because the military wasn't providing the real thing.
Washington Post: Even as the escalation began, thousands of Army Humvees still lacked FRAG Kit 5 armor protection.
TXCN News: Soldiers were provided such inadequate supplies of water, on the battlefield, that it was literally making them ill.
Salon: The Veterans Administration knew as early as 2004 that there were serious problems with the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center- and did nothing.
Salon: The Department of Defense also knew about the problems long before public exposure, and the resulting outcry forced them actually to do something about it.
NPR: Veterans were receiving fewer medical disability benefits now than before the war
MSNBC: Up to twenty percent of Iraq Vets may have been suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Washington Post: A Pentagon task force concluded that the available medical care for those troops suffering psychological problems was "woefully inadequate."
Salon: Wounded soldiers classified as medically unfit for battle were being reclassified as fit, so they could be sent back into battle.
Salon: These reclassifications were done to provide enough manpower for Bush's escalation.
Salon: Even soldiers with acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were being sent back to Iraq.
Understandably, morale deteriorated
Spiegel Online: Troops stationed in Germany were increasingly going AWOL rather than be cannon fodder for Bush's insanity.
New York Times: The army had to revise upwards its understated desertion rate.
Boston Globe: West Point graduates were leaving the military at the highest rate in three decades, as repeated tours of Iraq drove out some of the army's best young officers.
Associated Press: The Army had its highest desertion rate since 1980.
Psychological trauma and suicide.
CBS News: By July 2007, some "38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of Marines report psychological conditions such as brain injury and PTSD after returning from deployment. Among members of the National Guard, the figure is much higher — 49 percent — with numbers expected to grow because of repeated and extended deployments."
Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that:
The prevalence of reporting a mental health problem was 19.1% among service members returning from Iraq compared with 11.3% after returning from Afghanistan and 8.5% after returning from other locations (P<.001). Mental health problems reported on the postdeployment assessment were significantly associated with combat experiences, mental health care referral and utilization, and attrition from military service. Thirty-five percent of Iraq war veterans accessed mental health services in the year after returning home; 12% per year were diagnosed with a mental health problem. More than 50% of those referred for a mental health reason were documented to receive follow-up care although less than 10% of all service members who received mental health treatment were referred through the screening program. </p>
Soldiers who have served -- or are serving -- in Iraq are killing themselves at higher percentages than in any other war where such figures have been tracked.
Associated Press: The army experienced the highest suicide rate in 26 years.
New York Times: By January 2008, traumatized Iraq veterans were leaving "a trail of death and heartbreak in U.S."
Washington Post: Suicides among active-duty soldiers had reached their highest level since the Army began keeping such records.
Washington Post: In April 2008, 300,000 veterans of the Bush wars were reported to be suffering from PTSD or major depression.
The Oregonian: In July 2009, a report showed a dramatic jump in the rate of mental illness, among veterans of the Bush wars.
Boston Globe: By July 2009, homelessness was rising among female veterans of the Bush wars. Many are single parents.
Science Daily: By November 2009, the rate of PTSD among Iraq troops was reported to be as high as 35%.
San Francisco Chronicle: Homelessness, overall, was rising among veterans of the Bush wars.
Associated Press: That month, after years of Bush Administration neglect, Obama VA Secretary Eric Shinseki vowed to end veterans' homelessness.