Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I happened to be walking through the living room while my wife was watching Laura Bush address the Republican National Convention, and I actually heard the First Lady say this:
George is using America’s influence to lift up lives around the world. Millions of children are protected from malaria by mosquito nets the American people provide. In Afghanistan and Iraq, 50 million people are now living in freedom. And let’s not forget President Bush has kept the American people safe.
Four simple clear sentences punctuated by lots of applause. Let’s look more closely, shall we?
George is using America’s influence to lift up lives around the world.
Indeed he is! Thanks to America’s influence, George has lifted up more than a million people in Iraq and tens of thousands of others in Afghanistan — and he has lifted them all straight up to heaven!
Millions of children are protected from malaria by mosquito nets the American people provide.
The generosity of the American people is astounding. Who’d a thunk we could spare all this mosquito netting? It’s a testament to the goodness of America — the world’s greatest democracy. And George Bush’s greatest foreign policy achievement, unless you count the GWOT:
In Afghanistan and Iraq, 50 million people are now living in freedom.
And they’re loving every minute of it, too.
Let me tell you something about the freedom 50 million people are enjoying in Iraq and Afghanistan: It’s a freedom most of my readers have never known, and the lucky ones never will.
I call it “Freedom from Worrying about the Future“.
The Americans and their depleted uranium munitions have made Afghanistan and Iraq uninhabitable. This is most unfortunate for the people who are now living there.
But it won’t bother them for very long, and once they’re gone it won’t bother anybody anymore.
And in the meantime, since they have no future, they have nothing to worry about.
They are free to develop radiation poisoning, suffer and die at their own convenience.
And let’s not forget President Bush has kept the American people safe.
Let us never forget about all the warnings he was given before the attacks of that day — not one of which he heeded.
The White House’s top counter-terrorism adviser, Richard A. Clarke, has testified that from the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency until September 11, 2001, Clarke attempted unsuccessfully to persuade President Bush to take steps to protect the nation against terrorism. Clarke sent a memorandum to then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on January 24, 2001, “urgently” but unsuccessfully requesting “a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack.”
In April 2001, Clarke was finally granted a meeting, but only with second-in-command department representatives, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who made light of Clarke’s concerns.
Clarke confirms that in June, July, and August, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned the president in daily briefings of unprecedented indications that a major al Qaeda attack was going to happen against the United States somewhere in the world in the weeks and months ahead. Yet, Clarke was still unable to convene a cabinet-level meeting to address the issue.
Condoleezza Rice has testified that George Tenet met with the president 40 times to warn him that a major al-Qaeda attack was going to take place, and that in response the president did not convene any meetings of top officials. At such meetings, the FBI could have shared information on possible terrorists enrolled at flight schools. Among the many preventive steps that could have been taken, the Federal Aviation Administration, airlines, and airports might have been put on full alert.
According to Condoleezza Rice, the first and only cabinet-level meeting prior to 9/11 to discuss the threat of terrorist attacks took place on September 4, 2001, one week before the attacks in New York and Washington.
On August 6, 2001, President Bush was presented a President’s Daily Brief (PDB) article titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The lead sentence of that PDB article indicated that Bin Laden and his followers wanted to “follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and ‘bring the fighting to America.’” The article warned: “Al-Qa’ida members–including some who are US citizens–have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.”
The article cited a “more sensational threat reporting that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft,” but indicated that the CIA had not been able to corroborate such reporting. The PDB item included information from the FBI indicating “patterns 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.” The article also noted that the CIA and FBI were investigating “a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.”
The president spent the rest of August 6, and almost all the rest of August 2001 on vacation. There is no evidence that he called any meetings of his advisers to discuss this alarming report. When the title and substance of this PDB article were later reported in the press, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice began a sustained campaign to play down its significance, until the actual text was eventually released by the White House.
New York Times writer Douglas Jehl put it this way: “In a single 17-sentence document, the intelligence briefing delivered to President Bush in August 2001 spells out the who, hints at the what and points towards the where of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that followed 36 days later.”
Eleanor Hill, Executive Director of the joint congressional committee investigating the performance of the US intelligence community before September 11, 2001, reported in mid-September 2002 that intelligence reports a year earlier “reiterated a consistent and constant theme: Osama bin Laden’s intent to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States.”
That joint inquiry revealed that just two months before September 11, an intelligence briefing for “senior government officials” predicted a terrorist attack with these words: “The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.”
Given the White House’s insistence on secrecy with regard to what intelligence was given to President Bush, the joint-inquiry report does not divulge whether he took part in that briefing. Even if he did not, it strains credulity to suppose that those “senior government officials” would have kept its alarming substance from the president.
Again, there is no evidence that the president held any meetings or took any action to deal with the threats of such attacks.
Let us never forget how diligently he obstructed the investigation into those attacks.
Following September 11, 2001, President Bush and Vice President Cheney took strong steps to thwart any and all proposals that the circumstances of the attack be addressed. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell was forced to renege on his public promise on September 23 that a “White Paper” would be issued to explain the circumstances. Less than two weeks after that promise, Powell apologized for his “unfortunate choice of words,” and explained that Americans would have to rely on “information coming out in the press and in other ways.”
On Sept. 26, 2001, President Bush drove to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia, stood with Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and said: “My report to the nation is, we’ve got the best intelligence we can possibly have thanks to the men and women of the C.I.A.” George Tenet subsequently and falsely claimed not to have visited the president personally between the start of Bush’s long Crawford vacation and September 11, 2001.
Testifying before the 9/11 Commission on April 14, 2004, Tenet answered a question from Commission member Timothy Roemer by referring to the president’s vacation (July 29-August 30) in Crawford and insisting that he did not see the president at all in August 2001. “You never talked with him?” Roemer asked. “No,” Tenet replied, explaining that for much of August he too was “on leave.” An Agency spokesman called reporters that same evening to say Tenet had misspoken, and that Tenet had briefed Bush on August 17 and 31. The spokesman explained that the second briefing took place after the president had returned to Washington, and played down the first one, in Crawford, as uneventful.
In his book, At the Center of the Storm, (2007) Tenet, refers to what is almost certainly his August 17 visit to Crawford as a follow-up to the “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US” article in the CIA-prepared President’s Daily Brief of August 6. That briefing was immortalized in a Time Magazine photo capturing Harriet Myers holding the PDB open for the president, as two CIA officers sit by. It is the same briefing to which the president reportedly reacted by telling the CIA briefer, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now.” (Ron Suskind, The One-Percent Doctrine, p. 2, 2006). In At the Center of the Storm, Tenet writes: “A few weeks after the August 6 PDB was delivered, I followed it to Crawford to make sure that the president stayed current on events.”
A White House press release suggests Tenet was also there a week later, on August 24. According to the August 25, 2001, release, President Bush, addressing a group of visitors to Crawford on August 25, told them: “George Tenet and I, yesterday, we piled in the new nominees for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Vice Chairman and their wives and went right up the canyon.”
In early February, 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney warned then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle that if Congress went ahead with an investigation, administration officials might not show up to testify. As pressure grew for an investigation, the president and vice president agreed to the establishment of a congressional joint committee to conduct a “Joint Inquiry.” Eleanor Hill, Executive Director of the Inquiry, opened the Joint Inquiry’s final public hearing in mid-September 2002 with the following disclaimer: “I need to report that, according to the White House and the Director of Central Intelligence, the president’s knowledge of intelligence information relevant to this inquiry remains classified, even when the substance of the intelligence information has been declassified.”
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, also known as the 9/11 Commission, was created on November 27, 2002, following the passage of congressional legislation signed into law by President Bush. The President was asked to testify before the Commission. He refused to testify except for one hour in private with only two Commission members, with no oath administered, with no recording or note taking, and with the Vice President at his side. Commission Co-Chair Lee Hamilton has written that he believes the commission was set up to fail, was underfunded, was rushed, and did not receive proper cooperation and access to information.
A December 2007 review of classified documents by former members of the Commission found that the commission had made repeated and detailed requests to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 for documents and other information about the interrogation of operatives of Al Qaeda, and had been told falsely by a top C.I.A. official that the agency had “produced or made available for review” everything that had been requested.
Let us never forget how heroically his administration protected the rescue and recovery workers by claiming the air in NYC was safe to breathe when it really wasn’t.
The Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) August 21, 2003, report numbered 2003-P-00012 and entitled “EPA’s Response to the World Trade Center Collapse: Challenges, Successes, and Areas for Improvement,” includes the following findings:
“[W]hen EPA made a September 18 announcement that the air was ‘safe’ to breathe, it did not have sufficient data and analyses to make such a blanket statement. At that time, air monitoring data was lacking for several pollutants of concern, including particulate matter and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Furthermore, The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) influenced, through the collaboration process, the information that EPA communicated to the public through its early press releases when it convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones.”
“As a result of the White House CEQ’s influence, guidance for cleaning indoor spaces and information about the potential health effects from WTC debris were not included in EPA- issued press releases. In addition, based on CEQ’s influence, reassuring information was added to at least one press release and cautionary information was deleted from EPA’s draft version of that press release. . . . The White House’s role in EPA’s public communications about WTC environmental conditions was described in a September 12, 2001, e-mail from the EPA Deputy Administrator’s Chief of Staff to senior EPA officials:
“‘All statements to the media should be cleared through the NSC [National Security Council] before they are released.’
“According to the EPA Chief of Staff, one particular CEQ official was designated to work with EPA to ensure that clearance was obtained through NSC. The Associate Administrator for the EPA Office of Communications, Education, and Media Relations (OCEMR) said that no press release could be issued for a 3- to 4-week period after September 11 without approval from the CEQ contact.”
Acting EPA Administrator Marianne Horinko, who sat in on EPA meetings with the White House has said in an interview that the White House played a coordinating role. The National Security Council played the key role, filtering incoming data on ground zero air and water, Horinko said: “I think that the thinking was, these are experts in WMD (weapons of mass destruction), so they should have the coordinating role.”
In the cleanup of the Pentagon following September 11, 2001, Occupational Safety and Health Administration laws were enforced, and no workers became ill. At the World Trade Center site, the same laws were not enforced.
In the years since the release of the EPA Inspector General’s above-cited report, the Bush Administration has still not affected a clean-up of the indoor air in apartments and workspaces near the site.
Screenings conducted at the Mount Sinai Medical Center and released in the September 10, 2004, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) of the federal Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), produced the following results:
“Both upper and lower respiratory problems and mental health difficulties are widespread among rescue and recovery workers who dug through the ruins of the World Trade Center in the days following its destruction in the attack of September 11, 2001.
“An analysis of the screenings of 1,138 workers and volunteers who responded to the World Trade Center disaster found that nearly three-quarters of them experienced new or worsened upper respiratory problems at some point while working at Ground Zero. And half of those examined had upper and/or lower respiratory symptoms that persisted up to the time of their examinations, an average of eight months after their WTC efforts ended.”
A larger study released in 2006 found that roughly 70 percent of nearly 10,000 workers tested at Mount Sinai from 2002 to 2004 reported that they had new or substantially worsened respiratory problems while or after working at ground zero. This study showed that many of the respiratory ailments, including sinusitis and asthma, and gastrointestinal problems related to them, initially reported by ground zero workers persisted or grew worse over time. Most of the ground zero workers in the study who reported trouble breathing while working there were still having those problems two and a half years later, an indication of chronic illness unlikely to improve over time.
Why were the authorities in such a hurry to dismantle the wreckage and get it out of there?
Was destroying the evidence so important that they had to sacrifice the health of thousands of Americans to do it?
Absolutely! The evidence had to be destroyed so the “investigation” could begin!
How else could they fix the intelligence around the policy?