In the wake of Wednesday nightís revelation that George W. Bush had
warning prior to September 11th about possible terrorist hijackings,
democrats might be inclined to say I told you so about the dangers of a
George W. Bush presidency. We might be inclined, that is, if not for
the fact that it would be incredibly disrespectful and useless and that,
at the bottom of everything, we are heartbroken. It is true that we warned
of the damage Bush would inflict if he became President. But even we
had no idea how bad it would get.
Neither, I suspect, did the American press, which is the only way to
account for their sudden inexplicable inclination to actually report
the news. This is ground they havenít trod in almost 30 years, and it
took a massive scandal like Watergate to smoke them out then.
During the 2000 presidential campaign, they did not see fit to report
that Bush went AWOL from the National Guard during the Vietnam War,
even when three United States senators held a press conference on the
subject. They chose not to report allegations about Bushís cocaine arrest
and the mysterious issuance of a new driverís license while his previous
records were expunged. And they chose not to report widespread
allegations of voter fraud in Florida, Missouri, and Tennessee.
When the newspaper consortiumís recount finally ended and showed Gore
the clear winner, they chose not to announce the news, citing the importance
of "national unity", then when they finally did report it, they did so only in a
narrow context and claimed the results actually confirmed that Bush won.
The next day, of course, these papers printed follow-up articles stating
the previous dayís reports of a Bush victory were perhaps a tad misleading
and only pertained if you did not include the ballots that had been thrown out.
If you did include those, most of which showed clear votes for Al Gore,
then Gore won by between 20,000 and 25,000 votes. But those articles
were of course buried in the back pages of the newspapers in question.
The American press seemed to want Bush in the White House so badly,
they were willing to omit facts, bury important information and flat-out lie
to get him there.
Well, folks, you know what they say: Be careful what you wish for, you
just might get it. Any information that comes out now about what Bush knew
before 9/11 the American press is just as culpable for as Bush is himself.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said today that they had "general
information" about possible hijackings but not "specific information about
planes being used as missiles." Forget for a moment that this is untrue,
that planes have been used by hijackers as weapons in the past. If this
administration does not have the basic good sense to intuit that hijackings
are bad things in and of themselves and did not see fit to beef up airport
security in response to these reports, they have no business occupying the
White House. Like a child who doesnít understand the danger of playing
with fire and then whines that itís not their fault when they burn down the
house, the Bush administration now protests, Well, we knew, but we
didnít really know.
It isnít as if this administration has not had plenty of other warnings.
The Hart-Rudman report, issued to Bush not a month into his administration,
was one harbinger; the 1996 Gore Commissionís recommendations for airline
security measures were another. They were dismissed by the Republicans at
the time, of course, as too costly, placing as Republicans always do more
value on profit margins than on human lives.
Another warning was a July 10th FBI memo, now known as the infamous
Phoenix memo, which told in detail of terrorists using American aviation
schools to learn how to fly planes, but strangely not to land them. It even
identified one of the schools by name. But nobody in the Bush administration
thought it was important enough to send agents to check it out. The Congress
certainly would not have known it was worth investigating because, despite
what some Republicans are now claiming, the Senate Intelligence and Foreign
Relations committees got vastly abbreviated versions of the Phoenix memo,
the White Houseís version containing far more substantive information than
the Senate version.
The Republicans are claiming this is a failure of intelligence, but
Iím more inclined
to agree with James Carville: This is a failure to act on intelligence. Somebodyís
got to be in charge. Thatís why Harry Truman put a sign on his desk that said
The Buck Stops Here. But in the Bush Administration, the buck stops at the
press room, where it gets handed off to Candy Crowley and Wolf Blitzer and
the rest of the media lackies, who sneak it out the back way and give it a decent burial.
The signs have been there for months, if the press would only look into them.
Why did Bush ask Senator Tom Daschle Ė threaten him really Ė to so severely
limit the inquiry into 9/11?
Why did George Bush exhibit exactly zero surprise when Andrew Card whispered
news of the attacks in his ear as he read The Hungry Caterpillar to a group of schoolchildren?
Why did Governor Jeb Bush sign Executive Order No. 01-261 on September
eclaring martial law in Florida four days before September 11th? And why, when he
was told of the attacks, did he say, "Was it the terrorists?"
Why did FAA and government officals watch the planes go off course for
before they slammed into the World Trade Center and not even scramble fighter jets?
Is there any significance to the fact that George Bush Sr. is a Senior
Advisor to the
Carlyle Group, which manufactures, among other things, equipment and munitions for
the U.S. military and stands to benefit mightily from the U.S. war on terror, and, by the way,
counts among its investors the family of Osama bin Laden?
These are questions we will only know the answers to with a full investigation.
As with last summerís energy "crisis," about which the Republicans prattled
on and on
that the energy companies were innocent of price gouging and instead we now learn that
Enron engaged in some of the worst malfeasance in corporate history, so too are they
declaring just as insistently that Bush is innocent of any criminality regarding 9/11.
(Forget for a moment that nobody has yet used the word "criminality" to describe what
Bush may or may not have known prior to 9/11; Can you say Freudian slip, Senator Lott?).
If there really is nothing to this story, the Republicans should welcome an investigation to
definitively prove their boy innocent. If they truly feel the patriotism they constantly accuse
Democrats of lacking, they should demand an investigation.
And why are we just finding out now that Bush had advance warning of
The phrase goes, Itís not the crime, itís the cover-up. In this case, itís both.
If the press sees fit to explore these questions (over ground, by the
way, that the international
press has trod and has been reporting for months), more may be revealed in the coming weeks
about specific information provided to the Bush administration by the German, French and
Israeli governments with regard to the Trade Towers as a target and even information concerning
several of the hijackers, principally Mohammed Atta, and about the oil pipeline the Taliban
would not let Bush run through their country. More may be revealed about this pipeline, not the
search for Osama bin Laden, being the real reason Bush bombed Afghanistan, as contended by
Gore Vidal in his new book based on information from FBI agents who say they were threatened
by the government not to reveal our true purpose in Afghanistan.
Rumors have been going around about Bush since long before he entered
the White House.
But now we learn that with George W. Bush, the rumors turn out to be nowhere near as bad
as the truth.
What a crime that the press didnít start reporting the facts before
3,000 innocent people were killed.