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