George Bush's Crumbling Credibility

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