Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 27, 2003
WAR: Giving Thanks In The Right Place

Last month, I echoed Frank Gaffney's suggestion on NRO that President Bush should go to Baghdad; I suggested that Thanksgiving would be an appropriate time to go. I was dismayed to see reports that Hillary Clinton would be going (she was in Afghanistan today), not just for the partisan points but because her presence only underlined Bush's absence from what would be an important morale-boosting visit.

News came today, though, that the president did the right thing. Whatever you think of the politics of the event, that's just what it was: the right thing to do, for the sake of our soldiers who don't have the luxury of deciding where they'd like to be for Thanksgiving.

(PS - Oddly, The Corner is noting the visit without giving due credit to Gaffney for being an early booster of the idea)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:28 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)
Comments

Did you see Bush choke up at the reaction from the soldiers there? I choked up, too.

I understand Americans who disgaree with Bush about Iraq and everything else. I understand those people who think he's stupid (even if I disgaree). But I can't understand those people who think he doesn't care. The one thing that comes through when Bush speaks, I think, is that he cares. He cares about what we're doing in Iraq. He thinks it's the right thing to do. And he cares about the people who are the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq trying to make it happen.

About Hillary, I respect the fact that she's in Afghanistan. Even if it's all political calculation (and I'd like to think it's not), it's still important that she's there. It's important to the men and women stationed there, and it's an important signal to the people in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Posted by: Andrew at November 27, 2003 10:37 PM

An Excuse-Spouting Bush Is Busted by 9/11 Report
by Robert Scheer

Busted! Like a teenager whose beer bash is interrupted by his parents' early return home, President Bush's nearly three years of bragging about his "war on terror" credentials has been exposed by the bipartisan 9/11 commission as nothing more than empty posturing.

Without dissent, five prominent Republicans joined an equal number of their Democratic Party peers in stating unequivocally that the Bush administration got it wrong, both in its lethargic response to an unprecedented level of warnings during what the commission calls the "Summer of Threat," as well as in its inclusion of Iraq in the war on terror.

Although the language of the commission's report was carefully couched to obtain a bipartisan consensus, the indictment of this administration surfaces on almost every page.

Bush was not the first U.S. president to play footsie with Muslim extremists in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, nor was the Clinton administration without fault in its fitful and ineffective response to the Al Qaeda threat. But there was simply no excuse for the near-total indifference of the new president and his top Cabinet officials to strenuous warnings from the outgoing Clinton administration and the government's counter-terrorism experts that something terrible was coming, fast and hard, from Al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden's gang, they said repeatedly, was planning "near-term attacks," which Al Qaeda operatives expected "to have dramatic consequences of catastrophic proportions."

As early as May 2001, the FBI was receiving tips that Bin Laden supporters were planning attacks in the U.S., possibly including the hijacking of planes. On May 29, White House counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke wrote national security advisor Condoleezza Rice that "when these attacks [on Israeli or U.S. facilities] occur, as they likely will, we will wonder what more we could have done to stop them." At the end of June, the commission wrote, "the intelligence reporting consistently described the upcoming attacks as occurring on a calamitous level." In early July, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft was told "that preparations for multiple attacks [by Al Qaeda] were in late stages or already complete and that little additional warning could be expected." By month's end, "the system was blinking red" and could not "get any worse," then-CIA Director George Tenet told the 9/11 commission.

It was at this point, of course, that George W. Bush began the longest presidential vacation in 32 years. On the very first day of his visit to his Texas ranch, Aug. 6, Bush received the now-infamous two-page intelligence alert titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in the United States." Yet instead of returning to the capital to mobilize an energetic defensive posture, he spent an additional 27 days away as the government languished in summer mode, in deep denial.

"In sum," said the 9/11 commission report, "the domestic agencies never mobilized in response to the threat. They did not have the direction, and did not have a plan to institute. The borders were not hardened. Transportation systems were not fortified. Electronic surveillance was not targeted against a domestic threat. State and local law enforcement were not marshaled to augment the FBI's efforts. The public was not warned."

In her public testimony to the commission, Rice argued that the Aug. 6 briefing concerned vague "historical information based on old reporting," adding that "there was no new threat information." When the commission forced the White House to release the document, however, this was exposed as a lie: The document included explicit FBI warnings of "suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York." Furthermore, this briefing was only one of 40 on the threat of Bin Laden that the president received between Jan. 20 and Sept. 11, 2001.

Bush, the commission report also makes clear, compounded U.S. vulnerability by totally misleading Americans about the need to invade Iraq as a part of the "war on terror."

For those, like Vice President Dick Cheney, who continue to insist that the jury is still out on whether Al Qaeda and Iraq were collaborators, the commission's report should be the final word, finding after an exhaustive review that there is no evidence that any of the alleged contacts between Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein "ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with Al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."

So, before 9/11, incompetence and sloth. And after? Much worse: a war without end on the wrong battlefield.

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

Posted by: Vickie Bahultz at July 28, 2004 5:15 PM
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