August 08, 2004

Sidney Blumenthal: What the terror alerts really tell us -- There is a vacuum at the heart of Bush's second-term programme.

Two more US soldiers have died in Iraq. For what? The neo-con wet dream of a Third Stooges Reich...Nothing more...Illegitimate, incompetent and corrupt.

Sidney Blumenthal, Guardian: The 9/11 commission
report is a devastating record of Bush's passivity on
terrorism, beginning with his first act: the demotion
of the counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke. The
report documents that the administration "was not
ready to confront Islamabad" on its support for the
Taliban or to "engage actively against al-Qaida" and
that it "did not develop new diplomatic initiatives on
al-Qaida with the Saudi government". Bush told the
commission that the August 6 2001 presidential daily
brief, "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US" was
"historical in nature", though it contained current
information. The neoconservatives, such as deputy
secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz, are depicted as
dismissive - Wolfowitz opposed retaliation for the
al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole as "stale" -and
obsessed with Iraq as the source of all terrorism.

Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies,
Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1276187,00.html

What the terror alerts really tell us -- There is a vacuum at the heart of Bush's second-term programme.

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday August 5, 2004
The Guardian

The fog of war has descended over the campaign. Within
72 hours of the end of the Democratic convention, the
department of homeland security declared a new terror
alert, and the colour-coded level was jacked up to
orange, verging on red. The reason, the government
reported, was that the computer of an al-Qaida
operative captured in Pakistan contained precise
information about threats to five financial
institutions in New York and Washington.
Then additional information was released: the
intelligence was mostly three years old, the al-Qaida
surveillance of US buildings had been mostly conducted
through the internet, the computer file had been
opened again in January for uncertain reason and with
no new surveillance data added to it, and Pakistani
officials said that the captured material indicated no
new al-Qaida planning.

The effect of the alert has been to throw the campaign
into turmoil and momentarily freeze it. John Kerry
decided to accept the administration's explanations at
face value. His critique of Bush's war on terrorism
must be made with iron discipline, based on the facts,
not suspicions. Yet other Democrats claimed the
administration was using the situation for political
advantage, putting additional pressure on Kerry, who
has to hold fast.

In part, the level of partisanship increased because
of the clumsy performance of Tom Ridge, the secretary
of homeland security, who turned the announcement into
a political rally. "We must understand that the kind
of information available to us today is the result of
the president's leadership in the war against terror,"
he said. Whether planned politically or not, the alert
exposed that, for Bush, it is the irreducible basis of
his campaign. And while it starkly elevated his
profile as the "war president" again, it also revealed
indirectly the vacuum of his second-term programme.
His hard-right issues are insufficient for a national
majority, he is weak on the realities of homeland
security, and he is desperate to smudge the history of
his inactions leading to 9/11 and his responsibility
for the deterioration of the Iraqi situation.

The 9/11 commission report is a devastating record of
Bush's passivity on terrorism, beginning with his
first act: the demotion of the counterterrorism chief,
Richard Clarke. The report documents that the
administration "was not ready to confront Islamabad"
on its support for the Taliban or to "engage actively
against al-Qaida" and that it "did not develop new
diplomatic initiatives on al-Qaida with the Saudi
government". Bush told the commission that the August
6 2001 presidential daily brief, "Bin Laden Determined
To Strike In US" was "historical in nature", though it
contained current information. The neoconservatives,
such as deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz,
are depicted as dismissive - Wolfowitz opposed
retaliation for the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole as
"stale" -and obsessed with Iraq as the source of all
terrorism.

Bush's campaign must try to blur memory of his
history. When Kerry seized upon the commission's
recommendations, Bush reacted by endorsing a new
national intelligence chief. But he would give this
new post no control over budget, no White House
office, no power over personnel, and no authority over
intelligence operations. Once again, he appeared to be
acting only on political motives.

Various bills for homeland security languish before
the Congress, as Bush neglects them. His paltry $46m
proposal for port security is more than $1bn short of
what the US Coast Guard says is required. On port
security, 10 Democratic amendments have already been
defeated while Bush has slept. He prefers the money to
be appropriated for tax cuts for the upper bracket.

Bush is haunted not only by the ghosts of his own past
but the ghosts of other presidents past. While he
attempts to redeem his father's political fall by
avoiding his mistakes, his effort at reversal is
creating a similar estrangement from the voters. Elder
Bush won his war against Iraq and withdrew without
toppling Saddam; his ratings were then at their peak.
But his obliviousness to economic circumstances
undermined the heroic image. Lyndon Johnson had an
ambitious domestic agenda backed by a landslide
mandate. But he squandered it in the Vietnam quagmire;
his political credibility undermined his party's for a
generation. Now, Bush's faltering credibility is
tearing at trust in US national security. Perversely,
his campaign must exploit the fears that his failures
have helped engender. For him, this is not a war of
choice, but necessity.

Sidney Blumenthal is former senior adviser to
President Clinton and Washington bureau chief of
salon.com

sidney_blumenthal@yahoo.com

Posted by richard at August 8, 2004 04:56 PM