I was going through an old floppy disk of mine, mining some health-and-wellness columns that I wrote awhile back for text that I could use presently. I still do quite a bit of such writing and I found that some of that old text, edited and brought up-to-date, could still be quite useful to me. (If you are interested in that side of my work, you can check it out at my own Web site and on an English one on where I publish about a column a month.)
While I was browsing through that old disk, I came across a letter-essay on 9/11 and its aftermath that I had sent to a friend on February 19, 2002. How that essay came to be on that particular health-stuff disk I have no idea. But anyway, reading through it, I thought that I would share it with you here and add a few comments in re the current "Nigerian terrorist" situation. So here goes.
Hi. I am going to try to keep this one short, but I do want to get a few of these ideas down, and hope to get back to a more detailed treatment of them later.
It appears as if the Bush Administration is facing a 'Terrorism Gap.' The operation in Afghanistan, and its more secretive component around the world, has been remarkably effective. 9/11 is, more and more, appearing to be an isolated, if wholly terrifying and tragic incident. But if that observation is indeed fact, it does not serve the Bush agenda either at home or abroad.
The Bush domestic agenda was, and still is: providing the rich with more and more of a share of the national income; providing evermore profit opportunities for Big Oil by trashing environmental preservation and energy conservation; doing nothing about the Social Security crisis except planning to make it worse by 'privatization' to provide evermore profits for the financial services industry; doing nothing about real domestic problems such as: education, the health care delivery system, dealing with racism, increasing multiculturalism and how to make it work, the continuing export of capital, and so forth. Before 9/11, this troublesome agenda was causing increasing political difficulties for the Busheviks. But hey. 'Terrorism' has given the Bush Administration cover for their true domestic agenda, and they are exploiting that.
On foreign policy, the Bush Administration policy of unilateralism was also failing. 9/11 gave him a chance to put together a 'coalition,' but now the 'continuing threat' is being used as a cover to go back to unilateralism. 'Permanent war' (as you have pointed out from almost the beginning of this historical stage) is something that will serve the Busheviks very well. That's why there is no declaration of victory in Afghanistan, although by most previously used measures we should have declared it some time ago. But that does not serve. Neither, by the way, would a publicly captured or dead bin Laden or Mullah Mohammed Omar (is that the correct name for the former Taliban head of state?) I would not be at all surprised to find out years from now that the two have been in secret American captivity since sometime late fall 2001, or dead but never to have been heard from again. The last thing the Bushies would want, by the way, is a public trial of bin Laden. He's got many too many secrets to spill about U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and with him over many years, which would come out on direct examination at trial. The Bushies would not want to come close to touching that one.
And so, in a generally quiet world (made so in large part because of the effectiveness of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, and the intelligence/security/financial campaign of the U.S. and many other countries around the world) we now a face the aforementioned 'Terrorism Gap.' Bush tells us that there is an 'Axis of Evil' (a ludicrous concept; see my email on it of some days ago). Rummy tells us that while we did well in Afghanistan the fight is far from over, will go on for years, and so on and so forth. And there will be periodic 'warnings and scares.' And so on, and so forth. And who knows, when the public tires of them, there might even be (or has there already been?) a Reichstag fire.
All the best, Steve
That was in February 2002. The Bushies were already developing their detailed plans for the War on Iraq, but they weren't tellin'. In fact Chief of Staff Andy Card actually said, when they were ready to go public with them that "August was not a good time for the rollout." Much better to wait for the fall election campaign. Much better to counter the usual governing party losses in the Congress with the "plan" for a "War on Terror" (which one wise general put into the same category as a "war on flanking maneuvers") dontchaknow. And so it was, very post-9/11.
It is fascinating to compare what the domestic political situation was then with what it is now, in the wake of the "Underwear Bomber." Back then, the message, from both parties, was "the nation has been attacked; we must rally around the President." No major politician was asking why on that infamous day it took the president seven minutes of sitting in a chair reading nursery stories to school children after he was informed of the attack to finally walk out of the room, then only to virtually disappear (after pronouncing almost immediately with no apparent evidence that it was a "terrorist attack") for the rest of the day effectively leaving Darth Vader (ooops, Cheney) in charge. No major politician was asking why, at that first meeting of the National Security Council on Jan. 21, 2001, every time Richard Clarke said "al Qaeda" Bush said "Iraq."
No major politician was questioning the truly biggest (apparent) intelligence failure in U.S. history, the total ignoring of the famous August 6, 2001 intelligence brief, "al Qaeda determined to strike in the U.S.," and the total failure to connect the dots that the FBI was continually coming up with about those Saudis training to fly, but only straight, up-in-the-air, no takeoffs and landings. No major politician was questioning why at the Pentagon there was a 16ft. symmetrical hole in an inner reinforced concrete wall that could not possibly have been made by a hollow aluminum tube, wreckage or not (and there was none). No major politician is questioning why to this day there has never been an investigation of that tragic Pentagon bombing that killed 141 people. No major politician was questioning why, when all other U.S. air traffic was grounded for three days, and the Busheviks had very early on declared that Osama bin Laden was the mastermind (a charge he denied, immediately), about 20 bin Laden family members were quickly flown out of the United States before the FBI could get to question them.
On the other hand, there was one major politician who was loudly applauding what Bush did at the time "launch the war on flanking maneuvers (ooops, I mean terrorism)" who is also one of the loudest GOP screamers concerning every move the Obama Administration does or does not make concerning the current matter. Now this one, many years ago but while in Congress, had himself been linked, correctly or not, with raising money to support the Irish Republican Army. The British government characterized that organization as a "terrorist organization" when it set off bombs at civilian locations in London. But nobody in the mainstream media notices such contradictions. Just as they don't mention that one of the other loudest current GOP critics, Sen. Jim "Ban Gay Teachers for the Classroom" DeMint, has a "hold" on the Obama nominee for head of the Transportation Safety Administration. This is because of the announced intention of the Administration to permit the unionization of TSA employees. Apparently DeMint is more concerned about the dangers to the nation of unions than he is about terrorists, but the political shows just let him rant on without raising that question.
Now here we do have an apparent intelligence/security failure of significance that could have ended in tragedy. Some guy with no luggage, no passport, and a one-way ticket (with such a rich father you have thought he could do better than that) on several different watch lists gets on a plane bound for the United States. Indeed there was a failure there. Nothing like what happened on 9/11 but definitely a failure and if his bomb had worked he would have killed over 200 people. The big difference? What the GOP is doing with the issue, of course. The attack dogs were out almost before the FBI had got to the man's bomb-carrying undershorts. And not just their Privatized Ministry of Propaganda either. Any GOP House or Senate member who could manage to get before a camera was there in full throat. Pulling together? Oh no. Supporting the President in his attempts to improve security? Oh no. Rather almost reveling in the fact that not only is the man a Muslim but also he is black. By God, the Daily Double!!
One just wonders when, if ever, the Obama Administration is going to wake up to the fact that not only do they not have a loyal opposition; but also they have an actively disloyal one. The President, as I have said a number of times in this space, is well on his way to becoming the next one-term Democratic holder of the office. (Yes, Clinton mismanaged his way to only one functional term as well.) Attacking GOPers with even half the ferocity they attack any Democrat is simply not in the DLC playbook. And Obama is looking more-and-more DLC every day.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor of 30 books. In addition to being a columnist for BuzzFlash, Dr. Jonas is also Managing Editor and a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine; a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad; a Senior Columnist for The Greanville POST; a Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter; a Contributor to The Planetary Movement; and a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC.