Thursday, June 03, 2004

Terror War(ning) as Political Hay

On May 26th, Daniel Schorr's NPR commentary "Terror War as Political Hay" suggested many things about the Bush administration's use of the "war on terror" and terror warnings as "political hay," but as usual stopped short of saying that Bush and Co. has been lying all along about the U.S. war in Iraq being the "central front in the war on terror." Bush recently repeated this lie at my alma mater, the US Air Force Academy.

Schorr reminds us that most Americans think that Iraq had something to do with the 9/11 attacks, even though anyone who is the least bit knowledgeable about these matters knows there is no connection whatsoever. Schorr does not make it clear that the Iraq-9/11 connection is one of the BIG LIES of Bush and Co. Instead of calling Bush's repeated assertions that the war in Iraq is the "central front in the war on terror" (or his treatment of a connection between 9/11 and Iraq as a given) simply what they are--bold-faced lies--Schorr calls these assertions an "ideological fixation," suggesting that Bush and Co. actually believe their own lies. Wrong. These are simply lies made by people who know they are lying.

With regard to terror warnings, Schorr points out that Bush's claim about Iraq being the "central front in the war on terror" contradicts Ashcroft's and Mueller's recent dire warning that Al Qaeda plans a major attack on the U.S. this summer. Schorr's point is a good one: if the war in Iraq is so central, does that make the fight against Al Qaeda a marginal concern?

But this is not Schorr's central concern when it comes to the recent terror warning. Rather, Schorr points out that Bush's popularity has been steadily dropping as the situation in Iraq gets worse for U.S. forces in Iraq, and for the administration. Bush's approval rating on Iraq is at 40%, an all-time low, while the U.S. public's disapproval of his handling of the Abu Ghraib scandal is at a "dramatic 57%" (I think Schorr means dramatically high, but 57% seems dramatically low to me).

Schorr ends his commentary by simply pointing out that, when it comes to "dealing with terrorists," Bush leads Kerry 52 to 39% in the polls. Thus, "intended or not," Bush is helped politically when dire terror warnings are issued at press conferences by members of the Bush administration.

Schorr refrains from saying out right that the warning was not based on increased intelligence "chatter," that the warning, in other words, was issued to raise Bush's approval ratings as the election draws nigh.

But Schorr must have written his commentary before we learned that Tom Ridge, the director of Homeland Security, was informed about the supposedly raised terror threat at the same time as the rest of us were. Let's make this clear: Ashcroft and Mueller issued the warning at a press conference and Ridge did not know about it. Prior to announcement, Ridge was actually playing down the threat level. But now, after some damage control among the members of the board of Bush and Co., Ridge and Ashcroft have come out saying that the Justice Department and Homeland Security are now on the same page.

Again, Ridge is the director of Homeland Security. Wouldn't Ridge have been in the loop if the threat were real?

We might also ask why Ashcroft, our attorney general, would be giving such news conferences, and not Ridge? The FBI is part of Justice, and they supposedly found the new intelligence ... which, by the way, has since been seriously called into question, if not completely discredited. We might also ask why the terror alert level was not raised when Ashcroft and Mueller discovered all this evidence of dire threats? Ridge, it would seem, should have some say in terror alert levels. That's his department.

The answer, it seems to me, is pretty clear: Bush and Co. are, as Schorr suggests, using terror warnings to make political hay. It is difficult to fathom how irresponsible this is--how unethical this is, how hateful. If the U.S. is attacked, I hope those who are attacked have not been in any way dulled by Bush and Co.'s cries of wolf.

Another impeachable offense, it would seem.

I wish the 52% who think Bush is better on terror than Kerry would think about a few basic ideas. The war in Iraq is not part of the war on terror. The U.S. war in Iraq has been fanning the flames of Arab and Muslim hatred of the U.S., and increases U.S. insecurity with respect to Jihadist terror.

Using terror warnings to make political hay is so reprehensible ... it is hard to see straight as I write. Obviously, false warnings gravely increase our homeland insecurity. When it comes to getting their way, Bush and Co. seriously don't seem to care how many lives they put in harms way, Iraqi or American.

No comments: