Thursday :: Sep 11, 2003

Bush Call For Expanded Patriot Act Covers His Failures


by Steve

On this second anniversary of George W. Bush’s greatest failure, and an impeachable one at that, Bush and Rove decide to trot out another misdirection play for 2004: give us even more power and we can catch more terrorists. The problems with this bit of craven cover-their-assess are many. Insufficient power to snoop here domestically isn’t the reason why Bush has failed for two years to grab Osama Bin Laden or Mullah Omar, the anthrax terrorist, make a credible case against Zacarias Moussaoui, or explain why he let the Bin Laden family leave America in the days after 9/11. In fact, Bush and Ashcroft gave no evidence yesterday why existing powers aren’t working or have precluded the government from doing its job. It was just an attempt to misdirect and take advantage of the 9/11 anniversary.

In fact, we did get a glimpse of why Bush is rolling this out now:

It is far from clear that Mr. Bush will win the powers he seeks. A Republican strategist who is close to the White House said, "Bush is betting that he will either get the powers or get an issue he can use to club his Democratic opponent, whoever that turns out to be."

The strategist said Republican polling found that support for expanded powers remained strong, especially among Mr. Bush's conservative base.

But although Bush didn’t mention Mr. “Dead or Alive” because that would highlight’s Bush’s failures to date and the hollowness of this action, he didn’t miss a chance to lie again:

On a day that a new tape of Osama bin Laden was released, Mr. Bush never mentioned Mr. bin Laden's name, although he said, "Al Qaeda has lost nearly two-thirds of its known leaders."

He came close to repeating two of the most controversial statements he made this year about Iraq, that it supported terrorism and that it had weapons of mass destruction.

"The terrorists have lost a sponsor in Iraq," the president said. "And no terrorist networks will ever gain weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein's regime. That regime is no more."

It would help a little if the media would question the White House in the coming days to ask specifically what proof they had of Iraq sponsoring terrorists. You can email David Sanger and ask him to do so at dasang@nytimes.com. Yet Bin Laden’s recent tape, regardless of whether or not it really is Bin Laden, shows that contrary to Bush’s pronouncements, Al Qaeda is still around, able to incite its followers to harm America and our troops.

However, it is clear that Congress may not go along with this hocus-pocus, even though they know that yesterday’s speech was nothing more than another Bush use of the tragedy for political gain.

As David Corn of the Nation notes, any claims by Bush that he is doing all he can to protect us from another domestic attack are lies. Port security has been underfunded below even what the Coast Guard says is needed. There is no significant commitment to protecting chemical plants even two years after 9/11. Tom Ridge’s Department of Incompetence is underfunding local government first-responder needs, and the Administration opposes the screening of cargo on passenger planes. Why? Because in all these instances, such measures would place a burden on Bush’s corporate checkwriters, or divert money from Bush’s ideological preference to deal with terrorism overseas through military means rather than here at home through prevention and detection.

And on this anniversary of 9/11, David Plotz of Slate does a nice job of exploding some of the myths about the catastrophe, although the weakest point he makes regards the “misconception” that the terrorists profited from insider trading on airline stocks in advance of the catastrophe. To rebut this myth by saying that neither the SEC nor the Chicago Board Options Exchange have announced the results of their investigations or filed charges is less than conclusive, given who controls the SEC and has oversight over the CBOE. But Plotz makes a good argument overall.

So take yesterday’s speech by Bush for what it was: another misdirection attempt by a failed administration to appease its base but with no real commitment to protect this country.

Steve :: 10:06 AM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!