I've posted this numerous times in numerous forms and it will need to be posted any time Bush or Cheney returns to the headlines. The facts are clear and the evidence overwhelming. Under Bush and his regent and Lord Protector Cheney, U.S. national security was undermined as it never before had been. Remember this. Bear witness. Don't let anyone forget.
- Just a month before the 9/11 attacks, while on a month-long vacation, Bush was personally handed a presidential daily briefing titled:
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, 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.
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 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.
And the Taliban grew stronger. Al Qaeda regrouped and grew stronger. And then the administration made at least 935 false statements to lie the nation into war with Iraq, which undermined the war in Afghanistan, spawned a new generation of terrorists, with terrorism increasing around the globe under their rule.
But that was only the beginning. There was more. Much more. The Bush-Cheney team undermined national security in multiple ways, including abusing and damaging the U.S. military. Click through to see the links. And share. And never forget.
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.
Overall, U.S. 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.
U.S. national security was undermined from within, through the systematic abuse of military personnel.
Overused and over-extended.
Washington Monthly: Stop-Loss policy 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.
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.