Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Emperor Has No Clothes

The latest terrorist arrests in the UK show that John Kerry was right. John Kerry has been vindicated. George Will makes the case today in this context:

"Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry's belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."Immediately after the London plot was disrupted, a "senior administration official," insisting on anonymity for his or her splenetic words, denied the obvious, that Kerry had a point."
This was the great tragedy of the 2004 election, that people bought into the nonsense that voting for Bush made them safer, and mocked people like Kerry who proposed solutions that did not involve dividing the world into the "good guys" and the "evildoers" and bombing the latter back to the Stone Age (as Seymour Hersh showed, this way of thinking is alive and well in the Bushite bubble). And Bush had the gall to say:

"We disrupted a terror plot, a plot where people were willing to kill innocent life to achieve political objectives,"
No, Dubya, you didn't disrupt anything. Your reckless middle eastern adventures have made the world a more dangerous place. And instead of taking intelligence seriously, the Bush administration has actively undermined it. By exposing the identity of Valerie Plame to embarrass her husband when he criticized the faulty logic that underpinned the Iraq war. By using terror alerts for political gain. As Josh Marshall noted:

"The 18 months prior to the 2004 presidential election witnessed a barrage of those ridiculous color-coded terror alerts, quashed-plot headlines and breathless press conferences from Administration officials. Warnings of terror attacks over the Christmas 2003 holidays, warnings over summer terror attacks at the 2004 political conventions, then a whole slew of warnings of terror attacks to disrupt the election itself. Even the timing of the alerts seemed to fall with odd regularity right on the heels of major political events. One of Department of Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge's terror warnings came two days after John Kerry picked John Edwards as his running mate; another came three days after the end of the Democratic convention.

So it went right through the 2004 election. And then not long after the champagne corks stopped popping at Bush campaign headquarters, terror alerts seemed to go out of style. The color codes became yesterday's news. With the exception of one warning about mass-transit facilities in response to the London bombing on July 7, 2005, that was pretty much it until this summer. "
The problem with detailing the faults of the Bush administration in a zero-oversight environment is that there are so many of them, and as the next disaster arrives, the last one is quickly forgotten. But Paul Krugman is right to bring our attention to an important little fact that we should not so conveniently forget:

"Suspicions that the Bush administration might have had political motives in wanting the arrests made prematurely are fed by memories of events two years ago: the Department of Homeland Security declared a terror alert just after the Democratic National Convention, shifting the spotlight away from John Kerry and, according to Pakistani intelligence officials, blowing the cover of a mole inside Al Qaeda."
More here. Yes, with the Bush administration, politics is everything. And since the corporate donors won't exactly line up behind the appropriate safety measures to secure cargo on plane and nuclear and chemical facilities, well, we are still in the danger zone, despite the aggressive rhetoric. Here's something to bear in mind:

"About one quarter of all U.S. air cargo is transported by U.S. passenger planes. Based on the best current estimates, between 10% and 15% of the more than six billion pounds of cargo that flies that way each year ends up actually inspected."
So yes, John Kerry was right. Right on the use of intelligence and law enforcement as a means to defeat terrorism. Right on the need for a multilateral approach and nurturing allies. Right on the need to go after Al Qaeda, not got mired in a diversion like Iraq. Right to hone in on implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. But no, people believed the drivel about the pansy boy on the windsurf that was no match for big bad Bush. And now we are paying the price. Say it loudly: THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES.

1 comment:

shadhu said...

Morning Minion's points are fully valid, but the question is how do the Democrats carry this message to the voters this fall and beyond? I am amazed by recent opinion polls that show large parts of this society continue to believe that Saddam was complicit in 9/11, that Iraq had WMD, and that supporting Israel at all cost makes sense. Who will persuade them otherwise? How will one do that?