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 membersâ”including some who are U.S. citizensâ”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 prioritiesâ”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, âI 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. Itâs a great shame. Itâs 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.â
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 Administrationâs 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 âwanted, dead or alive.â In another speech, Bush said, âIf he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.â However, as months went by without a successful captureâ”âpointâ targets, as individuals are called by military tacticians, are notoriously elusiveâ”Bush rarely mentioned bin Ladenâs name in public. The Administrationâs attention shifted to building support for the war in Iraq, and Saddam Hussein seemed to replace bin Laden in the role of the worldâs most notorious âevildoer.â Indeed, Bushâs 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 âOsama bin Forgotten.â
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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