A Bush league presidency
By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher
President Bushs administration continues to display its amateur league status.
Despite all the ballyhoo of the pundits about the expertise brought in from his fathers administration, George W. Bush stands as proof to the maxim that a team is only as good as its coach.
CBS broke the story last week that President Bush had been briefed last August about the possibility of hijacked planes being used as weapons against targets in America.
As should be remembered, President Bush took a 31-day working vacation during August.
In fact, a British news site ananova.com filed a story on Aug. 8, 2001, pointing out: The U.S. President is spending August in Texas as the Washington Post newspaper accused him of spending 42% of his time on holiday since his inauguration. The newspaper said he has spent 54 days at his ranch, four days at his parents holiday home in Kennebunkport and 38 days at his presidential retreat, Camp David.
Add in the assertion by the highly respected Janes Intelligence Digest that
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Bush was briefed by Russian intelligence on al-Qaeda intentions as early as March but failed to take action.
Other sources have said Bush was warned by the Israeli Mossad and German intelligence before 9-11 of highjackers using planes as weapons.
So one of our Internet writers aptly asks, Q: What should a president do when informed of impending hijackings?
A. Inform Congress and ask for assistance in thwarting the hijackings.
B. Order armed air marshals placed on every plane in the U.S.
C. Inform the public and issue a general hijackings alert to all ticket counters, airports and travel agencies throughout the U.S.
E. Order increased airport security and screening of passengers and increased security at flight schools throughout the country.
F. Go on vacation.
Now add in the admission by the government that FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft had seen the now infamous memo from the Phoenix officeconvenientlytwo days after Sept. 11.
The supposed stalling of reports from the Phoenix and Minneapolis field offices that contained information about the use of flight schools and the detaining of an actual hijacker with his laptop are being blamed on the mid-level offices of the FBI.
The Chicago Tribune reports; Within the FBI, blame is settling on the counter-terrorism division, an office whose duties have been awkwardly divided between the Washington and New York office. That report also noted the memo may have been mistakenly routed to the bureaus Iran desk.
The fall guy in this intelligence fiasco is clearly becoming the FBI, despite the fact that the field agents did a fine job.
Also remember that the Oklahoma bombing brought the FBI 1,000 more field agents to combat domestic terrorism.
Then comes the amazing coincidence that a plan to dismantle the al-Qaeda network had arrived on Bushs desk on Sept. 10!
The Bush administration is responsible for the FBI administrations actions and its own untimely ones, if they are to be believed.
The spin doctors in the Bush administration are in full damage-control whirl, whipping out easily-remembered phrases like the blame game, partisan politics and second guessing.
How about even a first guess that resulted in action?
The best defense is a good offense, goes the cliche; hence the attacks on anybody, Democrats in particular, who wants answers to the ever increasing number of questions that this paper has stressed ever since 9-11.
Yes, 3,000 Americans died on 9-11. The anger over their deaths should not diminish or be defused by the Republican administration saying the Democrats are seeking political advantage. Political advantage be damned! Any real patriot wants to know why in the hell 3,000 American citizens were killed and why didnt our government stop it or at least warn us, when the evidence continues to mount that the government knew something was coming?
Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice made the damage-control circuit of the Sunday talk show, after last weeks CBS story. They were treated very gently by hosts like NBCs Tim Russert and ABCs Cokie Roberts. Hummmthe administration wasnt on CBS.
Take the gloves off. The Bush administrations aggressiveness has everybody cowering.
Independent investigations needed
The attacks on Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga) should suffer chagrin in the light of the CBS and new FBI and Justice Department revelations. Her questions about the Carlyle Groups connections to the Bush administration and the bin Laden family demand answers.
Also, as our Senior Editor Joe Baker pointed out in his April 17 editorialWhere are the answers?: On Sept. 10, some 4,516 put options were bought on United Airlines stock. High levels of put options were also placed on stocks of Merrill Lynch Stanley, AXA Re, which owns 25 percent of American Airlines, and Munich Re. Put options on the two airlines were 600 percent above normal.
People have made money on the Afghanistan war and on the very tragedy of 9-11 itself. A full investigation is more than warranted, and arrest warrants may come out of that investigation. At least, we are entitled to have extensive answers as to why our government didnt at least warn us about 9-11.
Now House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) has called for an independent commission to investigate 9-11. So had McKinney.
Now Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has said that the administration must work in good faith with the Congress.
Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz) have asked for a bi-partisan commission.
The Bush administration wants the investigation to stay in the congressional intelligence committees where they can keep a handle on revelations through party loyalists and secrecytheres political advantage, Mr. Cheney.
New fear offensive
Mr. Cheney and FBI Director Mueller have now come out with their latest round of scare tactics to defuse the pressure of the fact that the Bush administration knew that al-Qaeda would use hijacked airplanes before 9-11.
The targets de jour are apartment buildings with delivery systems of fashion being suicide bombers, a la Israel.
We wont be able to stop it, says Mueller.
We cant stop such attacks? What of all the money and civil rights sacrificed on the holy altar of the Patriots Act? What of all the new powers and personnel that came into play after the Oklahoma bombings? What of the standing army of the FEMA/National Guard powers, procedures and coordination that extend right down here to Winnebago County? What about the FBI, CIA and all powerful, supposedly Oz-like NSA? What about our local police forces? Taxpayers, American citizens, are we getting what we pay forsecurity, truth, justice and the American way? Lets kick some tail!
Mueller says were beat before terrorists even attack. If the administrations response is anything like that to the forewarnings we had about 9-11, hes right.
The dam of the flag-wrapped, Big Brother Bush administrations effectiveness and credibility is beginning to crack. Just hope that our Congress and some real journalists can save us from drowning in a rush of stonewalling bullieson vacation with our lives.