Thursday, January 22, 2009

Save Us From the Speechwriters


First it was David Frum, not a stupid man but one predisposed to fatuous assertions; next Michael Gerson, the nation's dumbest syndicated columnist. Now erupting, from deep within the bowels of the White House... Marc A. Thiessen.
When President Bush left office on Tuesday, America marked 2,688 days without a terrorist attack on its soil.
Except for anthrax. And the Beltway sniper (close enough to terrorism to test "homeland security", even if without a political objective). And, although certainly not a terrorist attack, the colossal screw-up after Katrina that let the nation know that, for years after 9/11, Bush and his administration were completely incompetent to handle any large-scale disaster on U.S. soil. And if we're counting days, the amount of time between the first attack on the World Trade Center and the end of Clinton's term was even greater, with no subsequent anthrax attacks to conveniently overlook.

Thiessen's goal here seems to be to defend Bush's record of torture, disregard of the Constitution, and indefinite confinement of suspects without charges or recourse to the courts. It's one of those arguments where Bush's adherents wish to be taken on faith. Khalid Sheik Mohammed refused to talk until he was tortured, and the information gathered was so valuable that only Bush and those with top security clearances, like... his speechwriters have been trusted with the intimate details. But it allowed the government to claim to have prevented terrorist attacks that may have been planned for U.S. soil, and a few of those directed at overseas targets, so, you know, shred the Constitution and all hail Bush. And shame on Obama for describing torture for what it is.

It's astonishing that Bush's defenders are so quick to defend the use of torture, but so scared of the word itself. Have they no courage in their convictions? No, that qualification isn't needed. Have they no courage?
President Obama has inherited a set of tools that successfully protected the country for 2,688 days - and he cannot dismantle those tools without risking catastrophic consequences.
You know, it's like potato chips. You hold a guy without charges or access to the courts, torture him, make sensational claims about what you supposedly learned through torture (but refuse to substantiate them)... and how can you possibly stop at just one? C'mon Obama - taste the forbidden fruit. You'll like it....
On Tuesday, George W. Bush told a cheering crowd in Midland, Tex., that his administration had left office without another terrorist attack. When Barack Obama returns to Chicago at the end of his time in office, will he be able to say the same?
Again, that's a claim Clinton could have made - more honestly. But that's not the point, is it. Thiessen wants to set a stage where any further attack on the U.S. vindicates Bush and redeems his miserable record. From his tone, it almost sounds like Thiessen is hoping for an attack, just so he can snivel, "I told you so." Even though it would vindicate nothing in his argument and, quite possibly, reflect and result from the failure of the Bush Administration's policies.
In 2007, President Bush revealed intelligence that Osama bin Laden had told al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq to form a cell to conduct attacks inside the United States - then the surge drove them from their havens and set back those plans.
In 2004, President Bush (via Condoleezza Rice) revealed that in 2001 they sat on intelligence that Osama bin Laden was determined to attack targets within the United States. I wish he'd taken that, you know, 1% as seriously as the notion that a planned terrorist cell ostensibly to be based in U.S. occupied Iraq had similar intentions.

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