According to polls, the public perceives Republicans as stronger on national security than Democrats. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past century, Democratic presidents have been the dominant force in protecting our country.The fact that so many Americans perceive Repukes to be the best choice for national defense is evidence that they are pushovers for packaged PR poopoo, and easily seduced by diabolical political image-crafting. Reality certainly has no place in the Bush supporters' world.
Historically, Democratic presidents have been much stronger than Republican ones in protecting the United States against real threats. They include WW I (Wilson), WW II (Roosevelt), the (Truman) Doctrine to contain the Soviet Union, and Kennedy’s nuclear confrontation with the same country during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In each case, there was a strong adversary where the outcome was truly uncertain. In the showdown with the Soviet Union, the world as we now know it could have been destroyed. In more recent times, Clinton led a successful NATO effort to stop the genocide in Kosovo -- without loss of American life.And yet, they're perceived as the experts, just because they talk tough. There mouths have gotten us into the mess we're in today.
Over the past century, Republican presidents have managed but one war successfully -- the first Gulf War. In that war, the Republican President led a massive coalition against a small country with little air or sea power and where the outcome was certain. The outcome of the current war in Iraq was thought to be certain, too. However, it has been the worst justified and most poorly managed war in history, even topping our fiasco in Viet-nam.
Clinton on TerrorismSickening, isn't it? To know that this is reality, not just some weird movie?
In 1998, Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States and bombed two U.S. embassies. In response, Clinton increased anti-terrorism budgets, launched cruise missiles at al-Qaeda training camps and tried to capture or kill bin Laden and his lieutenants. Clinton also authorized the CIA to assassinate bin Laden. In addition, Clinton arranged to receive a pipeline of daily reports on al-Qaeda activities. His staff considered him obsessive on the subject.
In 1999, Clinton exercised widespread precautions to prevent terrorist attacks of any kind at the crucial turn of the century. These precautions and public awareness helped to prevent further attacks, including one at the Los Angeles airport.
During presidential transition, he personally warned Bush that al-Qaeda would be his “gravest and greatest” threat and passed to the new administration his plan of attack in special briefings to Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice. According to a senior Bush official, the Clinton plan contained all the steps that were eventually taken after 9/11.
Bush on Terrorism
At the outset and again during the spring and summer of 2001, the Bush White House repeatedly received expert advice on the gravity of the threat as well as many warnings from around the world of an impending attack. These warnings, described as the most urgent in decades, specified the use of hijacked aircraft as weapons. For example:
In March, Italy warned us of a very, very secret al-Qaeda plan.
In April (and again in July), Afghanistan warned us of a huge attack on America and aircraft suicide missions.
In June, Germany warned us of plans to use commercial aircraft as weapons.
In July, Egypt warned us that 20 al-Qaeda members had slipped into the U.S.; 4 of them had received flight training.
In July and August, England warned us of multiple airplane hijackings and that al-Qaeda was in the final stages of preparing a terrorist attack.
In August, Russia (Putin) warned that suicide pilots were training for attacks on U.S. targets.
In late summer, Jordan warned us that aircraft would be used in a major attack inside the U.S.
During this period, President Bush received 40 separate CIA briefings on the al-Qaeda threat. One of the last ones said al-Qaeda was “determined to attack the United States.” The CIA Director personally told the White House to expect a significant attack in the near future that “will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties … attack preparations have been made, will occur with little or no warning … this is going to be a big one.” At no time did the President take control, call agency heads together, go into crisis mode, or warn the public.
Like the President, none of the national security officials reporting directly to him showed serious concern. For example, on the day of 9/11, the Secretary of Defense still had not appointed a counterterrorism executive and his Department had no mission to counter al-Qaeda. And, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had not been asked to furnish military options. National Security Advisor Condi Rice was supposed to give a speech, the same day of the attack, on the threats of tomorrow. This speech omitted any reference to the imminent al-Qaeda threat or to Osama bin Laden.
Following the attack, the President evaded all responsibility and, for a year, attempted to block formation of a congressionally-created investigative commission. When that didn’t work, he stonewalled the commission for more than another year -- creating much delay and limiting access to witnesses and sensitive records. The White House obstructionist tactics finally forced the Commission to threaten use of subpoenas.
The end result was a two-year obstruction of the 9/11 investigation, even though it could only strengthen our national security. What was our Commander-in-Chief thinking about? There is just one explanation – fear that his month-long August vacation in Texas had left the nation unprepared and vulnerable to one of the greatest threats of our time, and, further, that public knowledge of this would endanger his reelection.
A major distraction from the war on terror has been Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Diverting our military power from a high-level threat to a nonexistent one will come back to haunt us some day. Bush could have easily avoided this war by simply allowing international experts on the ground in Iraq to finish their search for illegal weapons. Instead, he overstated inherently uncertain intelligence, forced the inspectors to leave Iraq, and invaded.My guess is that their evil will continue. I hope I am wrong.
We’ve heard hundreds of times from the Administration that everyone else believed as they did that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Actually, there were dissenting views from within our own intelligence community, from other countries (Germany, for example), and from international inspectors on the ground in Iraq... Bush told the nation he would invade only as a last resort but did not do so. There is no greater abuse of office by a president than misleading our nation into war.
Republicans cannot afford to lose Congress in the upcoming fall elections. If they do, the Democratic Congress will hold hearings on the legality and constitutionality of various Bush Administration actions, including how we went to war in Iraq. To avoid losing Congress, the Administration will continue to use the fear generated by 9/11 and promote a new and credible national security threat. They believe this will play to their advantage in the elections. In truth, our national security could not be in worse hands.
We are less safe than ever.