Tuesday, September 14


Eric Alterman:

The third anniversary of September 11 inspires many conflicting emotions from sadness at the loss, gratitude for the sacrifices of those who selflessly threw themselves into the rescue operations and subsequent physical, cultural and emotional reconstruction efforts and fury at its murderous perpetrators.  But if we are honest we cannot overlook the morally degenerate reaction of our own political leadership.  I was among those who, briefly, allowed hope to triumph over experience.  I praised President Bush’s initial address to the nation and ignored his childish “good vs. evil” and “for us or against us" posturing.  I did not make a big deal over his obvious panic on the day the attack took place.  I supported the war in Afghanistan even though I would have preferred a police and intelligence action.  (And for this I was called a traitor, literally, Little Roy.) 

Even so vociferous a critic of the unelected Bush, Cheney, the Neocons, and the religious right as myself could not bring himself to imagine in that horrific week with the smell of the smoking ruins literally polluting the sky above my house, that America’s president, its vice-president and their advisers would be capable of the following:

* Bush and company specifically ignored multiple warnings of just such an attack.
* Bush and company lied to the heroes of 9/11 about the health and safety implications of breathing the air down at Ground Zero—my own family included.
* Bush and company immediately sought to manipulate the grief and anger of the attacks to launch an unnecessary and counterproductive war against Iraq which has resulted in over a thousand needless American military deaths and U.S. soldiers turning into occupiers and in some case torturers.
* Bush and company lied to the nation about the responsibility for the attack, trying to pin it on Saddam Hussein who had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
* Bush and company allowed its friends in the Saudi royal family to hide its relationship to the killers.
* Bush and company made only a lackluster effort to capture the killers, allowing many to escape at Tora Bora and pulling agents and resources out of Afghanistan to feed its obsession with Iraq.
* Bush and company did everything they could to prevent and later, undermine an investigation of why 9/11 was allowed to happen.
* Bush and company continue to ignore their responsibility to protect the nation from another attack, failing to protect its ports, nuclear and chemical plants, and its most vulnerable urban targets and instead, have actually gone out of their way to inspire more such attacks, despite intelligence warnings  on this very topic.
* Bush and company have destroyed the sympathy our nation enjoyed (and deserved) in the immediate aftermath of the attack and have instead turned that sympathy into global hatred and disgust, further endangering our citizens.
* Bush and company have repeatedly manipulated the powerful imagery of the attacks for their own partisan political purposes.
* Bush and company have repeatedly cowed the media into ignoring, and when that’s impossible, apologizing for, much of the above.

For all of the above, the men and women who people this administration deserved not merely to be repudiated politically but held accountable both morally and legally.  Instead it is they who attack and impugn patriots like lifetime public servants Richard Clarke and Anthony Zinni, whose only crimes were to call them honestly to account for their catastrophic dishonesty, incompetence, and ideological fanaticism.  Since September 11, President Bush and company have accomplished what the terrorists could not; they have divided us against ourselves.  That so much of the mainstream media have proven ineffective-or worse—cooperative with their deceptive efforts give one cause for an even deeper pessimism.  One’s only solace, I suppose, is that we have, as a nation, been through worse—though never, it must be added, under quite such feckless leadership.
[emphasis mine]


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