Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Bush Strategy of Mixing Politics and Terror

Ever since the horrific Al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 the Bush administration has used terror as a political weapon to reinforce Bush's role as the critical wartime leader. They've also seemingly used terror alerts to call attention away from Democrats' momentum as well as any GOP bad press. In fact, had the Bushies not duped half of America into obsessing over another potential attack we likely would have President Kerry in the White House instead of unCurious George.

As irresponsible and reprehensible as it would be, is it really possible that there's been a systematic effort to pull a bait and switch every time the Bushies feel some sort of political heat? Prompted by last week's heightened alert for the NYC subway system, which has been purported now to have been a hoax, one journalist decided to run a parallel analysis of the other terror alerts against the political turmoil the Bushies have faced since 9-11. What he found is both frightening and infuriating: that this increasingly corrupt administration may have breached national security for purely political purposes.

On MSNBC's "Countdown" show Wednesday, host Keith Oberman's The Nexus of Politics and Terror piece compared the timing of the alerts to various events such as the disclosures of colossal intelligence failures; the DNC Convention; the John Edwards VP selection; and the Karl Rove Scandal. Coincidence or not, it sure appears as though there's been an ongoing, calculated strategy to deflect scandal and controversy, and to trump any successes by Democrats, by issuing terror warnings and/or raising the national threat levels.

Lending credence to this hypothesis is former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, who last May said of the threat-level increases: “More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it. Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don’t necessarily put the country on (alert)… there were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said ‘for that?’”

A synopsis of Oberman's analysis:

#1: May 18th, 2002. The details of the now-infamous “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.” PDB are made public as well as news that the FBI ignored a memo about terrorists training at an Arizona flight school. Two days later FBI Director Mueller warns of another attack and DHS issues a terror alert for NYC landmarks.

#2: June 6th, 2002. Minnesota FBI agent Colleen Rowley testifies before Congress about her warnings to superiors about "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui. Four days later Attorney General John Ashcroft announces that an American named Jose Padilla, in custody for over a month, has been arrested for suspected terrorism in the U.S.

#3: February 5th, 2003. Secretary of State Powell appears before U.N to justify first-strike on Iraq over WMD; anti-war demonstrations occur worldwide. Two days later, Ridge raises terror alert and the government advises Americans to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect against radiological or biological attack.

#4: July 23rd, 2003: The White House admits it knew the accuracy of the infamous "16 words" in the President's State of the Union Address concerning Iraq's attempt to buy uranium from Niger was suspect. Congress's 9-11 report is issued the next day, criticizing government at all levels, and stated that Iraq had no link to Al-Qaeda. Two days later U.S. troops are accused of beating Iraqi prisoners. Three days later, DHS issues a warnings about terrorists planning to use airplanes for suicide attacks.

#5: December 17th, 2003. 9/11 Commission Co-Chair Thomas Kean says the attacks were preventable. Three days later, DHS raises the threat level to Orange, again citing suicide-plane missions.

#6: March 30th, 2004. Chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer tells Congress no WMD has been found in Iraq. Two days later four American contractors working in Iraq are murdered in a horrific display of brutality. The next day, DHS issues a warning that terrorists are plotting to detonate fertilizer and fuel bombs on buses and trains.

#7: May 16th, 2004. Powell tells “Meet The Press” host Tim Russert that much of the information he had been given about WMD was “inaccurate and wrong, and, in some cases, deliberately misleading.” Five days later the first Abu Ghraib Prison photos hit the press. On the 24th, AP confirms U.S. forces mistakenly bombed a wedding party killing over 40 people. Two days later, Ashcroft warns that intelligence points to "Al-Qaeda’s specific intention to hit the United States hard,” and that “90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on the United States were complete.”

#8: July 6th, 2004. Kerry selects Edwards as his vp, causing a lift in the polls, and am increase in media coverage. Two days later, Ridge warns of possible Al-Qaeda attacks during the Summer or Fall.

#9: July 29th, 2004. The DNC convention in Boston dominates the news. Two days later, DHS raises the alert status for financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington. The intelligence data is later proved to be four years old.

#10: October 22nd, 2004. The FBI and other agencies refute the Bushies' claim that terrorists may be planning to disrupt the November elections, citing no direct evidence of any plot. Seven days later--four days before the election--the latest Osama bin Laden video hits the Al-Jazeera Network. A Bush-Cheney campaign official calls the tape “a little gift.”

#11: October 6, 2005. Bush speaks to the National Endowment for Democracy and invokes terror once again and justifies the war in Iraq. Later that day, AP reports Karl Rove will testify again in the CIA leak investigation and faces possible indictment. Hours later, NYC Mayor Bloomberg warns of possible subway terror plot. based on questionable, and dated, DHS intelligence.

Perhaps we'll never know the truth about the political strategy behind the warnings and threat-level increases. But what we do know is that their timing is highly suspect. And in an administration that fosters, as Howard Dean said, a "culture of corruption," I guess where there's smoke there's a likely fire. Andy


MnMnM said...

GO OlberMANn!

"...if anyone in this administration was responsible for the leaking of classified information, they would no longer work in this administration."--Scott McClellan, October 6, 2003
More Bush double speak. 1 - violated the law beyond preponderance of evidence or beyond a reasonable doubt, or perhaps some higher standard?
2 - be taken care off. Does that mean a consulting job for the Carlyle Group or Halliburton; perhaps a cushy government pension or a platinum parachute, administrative leave without pay, perhaps selling some property at 10 time its market value? We may never know. Casper Weinberger and Oliver North and Kathryn Harris were all taken care of weren’t they.
Like OJ, they will not be able to convict Rove at the criminal level but what about a civil level. Perhaps Common Cause, the Taxpayer’s Union, and other groups should file a taxpayer lawsuit alleging abuse, misuse, and malfeasance in office of government paid for information. Mr. And Mrs. Wilson should also join a suit to get a conviction under the Hatch Act (engaging in political activities) or Federal Privacy Act laws. It is a crime to violate any citizen’s Privacy by divulging information to groups or individuals without a need to know or without the appropriate clearances. Whenever any agency . . . fails to comply with any other provision of this section, or any rule promulgated thereunder, in such a way as to have an adverse effect on an individual [the individual may bring a civil action]." 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(D).
I do not believe that Mr. Rove was a Federal Government employee at the time he talked to Matt Cooper. He was a political consultant. I assume he did not have the need to know in his official capacity and he did not have the clearance to know about Mr. Wilson’s wife. Whoever provided this information to Mr. Rove should also be investigated. This might be a clue about why Rove was made Deputy Chief of Staff of the United States (COSTUS). It appears that he and others working with him and perhaps the RNC had access to information protected by the Privacy Act and National Security regulations while Rove was still a political operative. And were his staff, office, and travel expenses paid for by government funds before he became COSTUS. Now that he is COStUS, it might be easy for his lawyer to confuse whether the actions were taken before or after he was appointed. Can NBC get a copy of the oath of Office of COSTUS and post it to their web site? Since he is now Deputy Chief of Staff, does the Hatch Act allow him to be involved in political activities? No matter what the final outcome Rove, the COSTUS, will COST US in the long run. Costs including deaths in Iraq, high gas prices, expenses for lawsuits, and the slow weakening of Freedom of the Press. Which is already on life support. Don’t let them pull the plug on you.
As Daniel Schorr explained in his comments on NPR’s ALL Things Considered on 7/13/05:
...the real issue in the Karl Rove controversy is not a leak, but a war, and how America was misled into that war.
Moreover, the real question is not whether Mr. Rove or anyone at the White House has violated any specific laws; they have betrayed our trust by not answering truthfully when the question of Roves’ involvement was originally posed to them. They could have explained then that Rove made a reference to Mr. Wilson’s wife but did not violate any laws. If it walks like a cover-up, talks like a cover-up, and smells like a cover-up, the American public will assume it is a cover-up.
Finally, a similar civil suit might be in line for the Vice-President. What does his oath of office say? It appears that he may also have violated provisions of the Hatch Act and Privacy Act laws. He has assumed powers well beyond his official duties as VP and had access to information protected by the above laws without the official need to know. Please post his Oath and Position Description.

Anonymous said...

Buzzflash has been accusing the administration of using terror as a distraction for quite some time. What is now stupendously interesting is that Mr. Olberman has been permitted by his employer to go mainstream. I hope he watches his back.