Editors Note: Walter Brasch is former a former newspaper reporter and editor and a university professor. His current books are America’s Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government’s Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights and ‘Unacceptable’: The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina. Both are available through amazon.com and other on-line sources.
The Bush Magical Mystery Political Capital Tour
by Walter Brasch
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and the rest of the gang that thinks they’re a war cabinet supporting the man who thinks he’s a war president used the fifth anniversary of 9/11 to tell the world how great they are.
In speech after speech, all meant to boost their neocon candidates’ chances for re-election in two months, they dominated the news media to proclaim that under their watch there have been no more attacks on American soil. They looked directly into the cameras and told us that because Americans are fighting in Iraq, the terrorists aren’t in New York City. For their part, the establishment media willingly disseminated the PR.
What wasn’t stated in the rah-rah political boosterism was that the massive babbling was nothing more than sleight-of-hand distortion. The sleeping Bush–Cheney administration before 9/11 had begun to reduce the effectiveness of FEMA, cut back funding for the FBI counterterrorism operations, failed to act upon a number of FBI warnings about potential terrorists already in the United States, and disregarded substantial and significant warnings of the impending attack. Even one month before 9/11, President Bush apparently didn’t do much with a Presidential Daily Brief that was entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside U.S.,” and then stood flat-footed when first told about the 9/11 attacks. But then his advisory council, largely composed of his father’s advisors, regrouped and led him into at least the appearance of being presidential.
To strike the terrorist base camps, Bush ordered troops into Afghanistan to tear down the Taliban regime that protected the al-Qaeda terrorists, and vowed to capture Osama bin Laden. Five years later, the Department of Defense, the CIA, and the “Big Ear” NSA have admitted that the trail to bin Laden is cold. But, there are about 15,000 troops in Afghanistan, which under American control again leads the world in growing opium.
In Iraq are about 150,000 American troops because the war president and his war cabinet wanted to invade Iraq, and lied to the American people. Even knowing substantial evidence to the contrary, they blatantly told us that Saddam Hussein had ties to 9/11 and al-Qaeda. They said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The establishment media unquestioningly channeled the message.
The non-combatant “White House Warriors” who planned to “shock and awe” the world with a swift military strike, claimed American troops would be welcomed by the Iraqis who would give them joyful praise and even flowers, much like the liberated French gave conquering Americans in World War II. They claimed the war, which has now cost Americans about than $440 billion, would be financed by oil revenue. What they didn’t tell Americans is that there are no oil revenues, and that American oil-based corporations have had massive windfall profits to be added to millions of taxpayer-provided dollars that have either been misplaced, unaccounted for, or can’t be traced.
Because of diversion of funds, equipment, and supplies into the Iraq war, combined with the placement of the National Guard and their materiel in Iraq, America is less protected against hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters.
For his part, Donald Rumsfeld refused to allow the military to plan for a post-war occupation. “In his own mind, he thought we could go in and fight and take out the regime and come out,” Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, who was in charge of the Logistics War Plans Division, told Orin Kerr of the Hampton Roads (Va.) Daily Press this month. Rumsfeld “said we will not do that because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war,” and threatened to fire anyone who argued for post-war planning, said Gen. Scheid.
The military weren’t the only ones threatened. In Bush Speak, enhanced by almost every talk-show mouth and right-wing politician, and led by the draft-dodging Dick Cheney, refusal to buy into the Bush–Cheney propaganda was equated with refusal to “Support the Troops.” Those who questioned the Bush–Cheney administration were branded “cut and run cowards”; they were called unpatriotic, even treasonous, accused of “aiding the enemy.”
It was those “unpatriotic traitors” who questioned why the Bush–Cheney administration was methodically shredding the Constitution. They opposed the excesses of the USA PATRIOT Act, opposed renditions, opposed torture of prisoners, challenged the suppression of First Amendment rights of free speech, spoke out against the Administration’s quashing of Fourth Amendment rights of privacy, and the Fifth and Sixth amendment rights of due process, and the eighth amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.
The war in Iraq has now cost more than 3,000 American lives, caused more than 20,000 injuries, thousands of them permanent. At least 41,600 civilians and others in the combat zones have been killed, according to the nonpartisan estimates of Iraq Body Count, which keeps detailed data on all deaths in Iraq.
To continue to instill fear into Americans, the Bush–Cheney Administration has used the fifth year anniversary of 9/11 to tout the $20 billion spent on airport security, but hasn’t acknowledged the vulnerability of the nation’s ports, railway or bus systems. While praising the new multimillion dollar counterterrorism building and all the agencies working within it, it hasn’t acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security has become a bungling bureaucratic nightmare. And, underneath all of the blustering and braggadocio is still a domestic reality—health care, the environment, and protection of all Americans against workforce exploitation and poverty is of secondary importance to this Administration.
Two days after his election in 2004, George W. Bush told America he “earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style.” He said, “That’s what happened in the—after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I’ve earned capital in this election—and I’m going to spend it.”
For several months after 9/11, Americans were united in their grief. Almost the entire world, including countries with a majority of its population Muslim, was America’s ally. President Bush and his war cabinet squandered that good will by their arrogant jingoistic deceitfulness and stupidity, and are now on a nationwide tour to invoke the memory of 9/11 and try to hammer-lock the nation into believing that they needed to give up some Constitutional and fundamental rights in order to be safe. The President has spent all of his political capital and has put America into debt.
America is divided, more so than during the Vietnam War. The Bush–Cheney legacy won’t be that they stopped terrorism, but that they played upon fear to promote a political agenda that fractured a country almost as much as the Civil War ever did.