George Bush's Crumbling Credibility

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The
Bush administration’s eroded credibility on matters relating
to terrorism, intelligence, and national security was further diminished
this past week by the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s report
on the “US Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence
Assessments on Iraq.”

The
Senate report provided disturbing additional confirmation of the
9/11 Commission’s conclusions last month about the dangers
resulting from the distortions and deceptions of “cherry picked”
intelligence. The New York Times reported that the 9/11 Commission
is nearing a final report that will stand unanimously by
the staff conclusions dismissing the White House theories of an
al Qaeda-Iraq working relationship and any possible Iraqi involvement
in 9/11.

It
gets worse. These findings come along in the context of the additional
new reporting and documentation concerning the administration’s
“Feith-based intelligence” and reckless hyperbole regarding
Iraq’s WMD. Then there is the nightmarish, pornographic, abuse
at Abu Ghraib prison. The multiple US Army investigations
underway in this matter are virtually guaranteed to result in negative
blowback for the administration. Allowing the Army to investigate
itself in this case is irresponsible.

The
Supreme Court’s rejections of the Bush administration’s
antiterrorism legal theories were in strong, plain language: “A
state of war [if only there were a formal declaration!] is not a
blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the
nation’s citizens.” Ouch.

For
those American’s who still read books, the publication of “Imperial
Hubris” by Anonymous (a career CIA analyst, who writes as frankly
and insightfully as retired CIA case officer Bob Baer) did not help
Bush and his neocon sycophants much either.

Many
Bushies, when pressed on these matters, have resorted to the snappy
retort “So what?” Now there’s a devastating argument!

While
campaigning in Tennessee on Monday, President Bush tried to convince
American voters he has made them safer since the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks and told them "we were right to go into Iraq."

Reuters
reported that Bush told employees at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory,
"Today because America has acted, and because America has led,
the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat,
and America and the world are safer."

Oh,
really?

Is
that why Bush administration counterterrorism officials are, according
to Newsweek, planning to postpone the November presidential
election if there is a terrorist attack at election time? –
Because we’re more secure?

President
Bush should read his own State Department report that documents
a 21-year high for significant acts of terror in 2003. You remember
this report. It had to be “reissued” when a “new
data system” incorrectly reported terror numbers that went
“unnoticed” in early drafts until the report was actually
published. Sort of like the real costs for the Medicare prescription
drug bill costs.

Monkeying
with elections is very dangerous business for any administration.
In the midst of our bloodiest war, the fratricide of the Civil War,
Mr. Lincoln managed to get reelected. The “Greatest Generation”
made it through WWII without having to alter the traditional, scheduled,
legal election process. Throughout the Cold War we teetered on the
brink of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union – yet we somehow
maintained the regular, constitutionally mandated requirements of
our republic. Nineteen hijackers, however, have turned the entire
federal government inside-out (i.e. the creation of the Department
of Homeland Security – the largest reorganization of the government
since the Defense Department was created in 1948); suspended some
of our civil liberties (i.e. the USA PATRIOT Act); and opened the
door to the Trotskyite “creative destruction” embraced
by the neocon chickenhawks who started whispering into President
Bush’s ear by midday on Sept. 11th.

So,
we’re more secure? Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned
last week that Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network may attack within
the US to try to disrupt the election. What’s perhaps more
disturbing is that Ridge’s announcement was nothing more than
a repetition of the same warning he made three weeks earlier.

Now,
one must point out that Ridge’s warning came on the day following
the announcement of Senator John Edwards as the Kerry’s VP
choice; that VP Cheney was standing next to Ridge during the announcement;
and that the press conference was called while Cheney just happened
to be touring of a “new” Homeland Security facility that’s
been open for three years. It was all just coincidental, of course.

Despite
the dire warnings and possible need to suspend the November elections,
Ridge decided not to change the nation’s color-coded alert
status. He didn’t advise purchasing duct tape and plastic sheeting,
either.

President
Bush’s other campaign assertion, “. . . the forces of
terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat. . .”
I guess that’s why both the Taliban and the poppy crop are
resurgent in Afghanistan, and several military analysts say NATO
is flirting with failure in supporting the wobbly presidency of
Hamid Karzai. And, of course, there’s still that 6’6"
millionaire who reportedly needs regular dialysis treatment wandering
around the Afghan/Pakistan countryside, despite President Bush’s
“dead or alive” bounty. I’ll discuss President Bush’s
“bring ‘em on” bravado and the sad folly of Iraq
in future columns. Suffice it to say the mission is hardly accomplished
and the losses in lives and limbs are apparently far from over.
Bush’s credibility is crumbling. Kerry has none. What’s
left for the American voter on Election Day – whenever that
will be?

July
16, 2004

Chris
Farrell [send him
mail
], a former Army intelligence officer, defense contractor,
and educator. He is currently a researcher and public policy analyst
living in Northern Virginia. This article was originally published
July 13, 2004.

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