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bin Laden Provides PDB, and U.S. Takes Away Civil Liberties

by Last Night in Little Rock

bin Laden yesterday may have given George Bush his latest Presidential Daily Briefing via Al-Jazeerah about more possible attacks on the U.S. Will the U.S. step up "security against terrorism"? Who knows. We didn't the first time.

This time we might, but for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways. One need only look at the PATRIOT Act and what the government has done with it. Who would have imagined five years ago we'd even be having this discussion?

Now, the government has yet another excuse to take away more of its citizens' civil liberties. And that is where the terrorists win: We sit on our hands and let our President turn us into a police state. When our government lives in fear of every citizen, government inevitably will turn against its citizens because it must control their lives to assuage its worries. I've read "1984," and I feel like I'm living it.

Does bin Laden have to attack us to take alter the way of life in America? No; he need only threaten to, and the Bush Administration will, quite predictably, do the rest for him. Everyday, the government intrudes more and more into our personal lives. That is how the terrorists are making their point. Will they "win" by causing further subjugation of the American people, without firing a shot or setting off a bomb? How subtle. How diabolical. How "George."

In the meantime, is the government even looking for bin Laden? Remember that Bush said he doesn't think much about bin Laden.

For background, which none of us can ever forget, although we wish we could, the last declassified PDB about bin Laden was on August 6, 2001 and it warned of attacks on the U.S., but these were dismissed as "historical" by then National Security Advisor Condelezza Rice during her 9/11 Commission two-step. How "historical" was it?

(7) Al Qaeda members—including some who are U.S. citizens—have resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. ...

(10) Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

(11) The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the U.S. that it considers bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

The fact remains that the U.S. is not looking very hard for bin Laden because Iraq War takes too much in our time and resources, as the New Yorker noted 17 months ago:

To the frustration of many of the people involved in the fight against Al Qaeda, the Bush Administration is said to have been distracted by competing priorities—most notably, the war in Iraq. Rohan Gunaratna, a Sri Lankan terrorism expert who has analyzed thousands of Al Qaeda documents recovered by various governments, said, “I feel that if they had not gone to Iraq they would have found Osama by now. The best people were moved away from this operation. The best minds were moved to Iraq. It’s a great shame. It’s the biggest military failure in the war on terrorism so far. The Americans need more resources, and more high-level people exclusively assigned to this task.”

Bush's own rhetoric was designed to whip up support for his personal Iraq war, knowing there would be no personal consequences, but no longer against bin Laden:

Tough talk and aggressive military action have been hallmarks of the Bush Administration’s war on terrorism. In the wake of the attacks on New York and Washington, President Bush made it clear that he was targeting bin Laden; in one speech, he declared that the terrorist was “wanted, dead or alive.” In another speech, Bush said, “If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.” However, as months went by without a successful capture—“point” targets, as individuals are called by military tacticians, are notoriously elusive—Bush rarely mentioned bin Laden’s name in public. The Administration’s attention shifted to building support for the war in Iraq, and Saddam Hussein seemed to replace bin Laden in the role of the world’s most notorious “evildoer.” Indeed, Bush’s reticence on the subject of bin Laden grew so conspicuous that critics, such as the Democratic Presidential candidate Bob Graham, began referring to the terrorist as “Osama bin Forgotten.”

We have all seen the videotape, but on The Daily Show, not the "real news," where Bush remarkably and unabashedly that he doesn't "think much about" bin Laden.

Well, he never did. But, President Clinton, as noted in the New Yorker article above noted, had ordered bin Laden's killing years earlier because bin Laden was a treat to American security. Bush, however, having ties the the good side of bin Laden's family (remember his letting them all fly out of the country right after 9/11 when every other civilian aircraft was grounded?), could not put the hit on the member of somebody's family when his lips are on their fanny. Even a Sicilian family would know how to deal with that issue without upsetting the other family. Bush doesn't.

Instead, we get the PATRIOT Act and bin Laden's Taliban came to the war, and the rest is history. If we are not careful, our society will be "history," killed by "friendly fire."

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  • I have no wish to lower the discourse on this sight, but bin Laden's timing is as welcome as a fart on a first date.

    Re: bin Laden Provides PDB, and U.S. Takes Away Ci (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 09:22:35 AM EST
    When our government lives in fear of every citizen, government inevitably will turn against its citizens because it must control their lives to assuage its worries. I've read "1984," and I feel like I'm living it.
    A government that acts like this one does creates its own nightmare. As more and more civil liberties are eroded the "underground economy" will grow larger and larger as more and more people throw their hands up and say to themselves "to hell with government". It will become a self fulfilling prophecy that "government inevitably will turn against its citizens because it must control their lives to assuage its worries" simply because citizens will either turn against the government and eventually bring it down, or simply treat it like a shark: something to be avoided, not reasoned with or dealt with or followed.
    I learned a thing or two from ol' Charlie don't you know You better stay away from Copperhead Row --Steve Earle


    Re: bin Laden Provides PDB, and U.S. Takes Away Ci (none / 0) (#3)
    by Al on Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 09:31:16 AM EST
    Now, the government has yet another excuse to take away more of its citizens' civil liberties. And that is where the terrorists win: We sit on our hands and let our President turn us into a police state.
    Exactly. And Bush plays along gladly, because a police state makes it so much easier to silence the opposition.

    And the last few years has shown that the more fearful the populace is, the more they A) support Bush and B) vote Republican. This despite the fact that terrorism worldwide has increased something like 600% since the Iraq War started. Brilliant people, they are. I really think the timing and the wording is suspicious for this newest bin Laden tape. It's only a short time till the Patriot Act is up for renewal again, and Bush stomped his feet like a 2 year old when he didn't get his way a month ago on that. And he can't be happy about his approval ratings and the backlash over the wiretapping scandal. This helps him say, "See, this is WHY we HAVE to listen to all your phone calls! And this is why you HAVE to support the Patriot Act! The bogey man is still out there and he'll kill you if you don't do what I say!" At the same time, it makes OBL look kind of "wimpy" for trying to make deals with Bush (are we sure he would actually do that in the first place?) and if OBL looks wimpy, by default that makes Bush look stronger. By wingnut logic, at least... I'm suspicious, at the very least.

    Re: bin Laden Provides PDB, and U.S. Takes Away Ci (none / 0) (#5)
    by Johnny on Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 01:51:19 PM EST
    Oh rojo, do not be so silly and naive. Terrorism is up cuz were in a war! Silly! The Bush a\regime would never use a phony tape of UBL to further a political agenda! Dontcha know you should trust them? Sheez! *sarcasm above* Jim will be along shortly to explain in far better terms why you hate America and want to give UBL a handshake and a free month's membership to the jelly-of-the-month club.

    Does bin Laden have to attack us to ...alter the way of life in America?
    I know it's not a popular practice to speculate about bin Laden's motives. Doing so invites charges of "blaming America" by conceding that our enemies may have grievances against us. Besides, it's much more reassuring to just announce that they "hate us for our freedoms" or declare that they're "evil." But never mind all that. I'll take the plunge here. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that bin Laden is a rational (if radical) actor. What's his motive?

    Re: bin Laden Provides PDB, and U.S. Takes Away Ci (none / 0) (#7)
    by Edger on Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 03:36:02 PM EST
    QIB: Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that bin Laden is a rational (if radical) actor. What's his motive? Bin Laden, on Tape, Reveals Sept. 11 Motive:
    Bin Laden again acknowledged a central role in initiating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed about 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, saying he thought of the idea after the U.S. military involvement in Lebanon in 1982. "As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me to punish the unjust the same way [and] to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women," he said, according to one translation. "It never occurred to us that the commander in chief of the American forces would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone at a time when they most needed him, because he thought listening to a child discussing her goat and its ramming was more important than the planes and their ramming of the skyscrapers," Bin Laden said. "I am surprised by you," the Saudi-born militant said, addressing Americans. "Despite entering the fourth year after Sept. 11, Bush is still deceiving you and hiding the truth from you and therefore the reasons are still there to repeat what happened." Bush, Bin Laden said, "resembles the regimes in our countries, half of which are ruled by the military and the other half by the sons of kingsā€¦. They have a lot of pride, arrogance, greed and thievery." Published on Saturday, October 30, 2004 by the Los Angeles Times


    Re: bin Laden Provides PDB, and U.S. Takes Away Ci (none / 0) (#8)
    by Lora on Fri Jan 20, 2006 at 03:49:17 PM EST
    Where did all the comments go?

    Lora, were you confusing this thread with an earlier one about Bin Laden? I see you posted there too.

    Re: bin Laden Provides PDB, and U.S. Takes Away Ci (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Sun Jan 22, 2006 at 09:05:02 AM EST
    Quaker, you asked earlier about bin Laden's motivations. It's easy to forget under the unrelenting barrage from the administration of propaganda and fearmongering that bin Laden has been very clear about his reasons, and they do not even remotely resemble "they hate us for our freedom" or any of the other BS put forward by bushco and apologists: There is an interesting and somewhat enlightening enumeration of the differences between the CNN & Aljazeera translations of bin Laden's 2004 speech on the eve of the US election here... And there is a full text transcript of that speech (released by AlJazeera) here... A few quotes from it:
    "The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American Sixth Fleet helped them in that. This bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorised and displaced." "I couldn't forget those moving scenes, blood and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high rises demolished over their residents, rockets raining down on our home without mercy." "The situation was like a crocodile meeting a helpless child, powerless except for his screams. Does the crocodile understand a conversation that doesn't include a weapon? And the whole world saw and heard but it didn't respond." "And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children."
    His words put the lie to the entirety of bushco justifications for the so-called "war on terror".