Monday, August 06, 2007

We Never Could Have Imagined ( PDB blogswarm )

August 6 is a date which will not go down in history. There will be no future days of remembrance or solemn occasions designed to mark the passing of a notable anniversary. August 6 is more likely to be remembered for the date that Lyndon Johnson signed the voting rights law into force than nearly any other notable event. Yet August 6 should be a solemn day, set aside for national consderation of obvious yet unrecognized truth as I will propose in due order.

August 6 2001 is the date that President George Bush was given a briefing titled "Bin Laden, Determined To Strike In U.S." When the briefer finished the presentation, this was the reaction of President Bush as reported by Ron Suskind: "All right," he [Bush] said. "You've covered your ass, now."

On May 16 2002, then national security advisor Condoleeza Rice told a congressional panel:
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people . . . would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile,"
In case the reader doesn't know this, the August 6 briefing included many aspects of the 09/11 plot, including hijacking airliners etc... It seems to me that there are many many things that have happened since August 06 2001 that no one could ever have predicted, even if you were given a briefing before the event occurred.

Imagine your reaction if someone gave you a memo in the summer of 2001 titled: George Bush: Determined To Blatantly Break The Law. The memo would detail how the President of the United States was breaking the FISA law. The memo would also detail that if this law breaking were to become public knowledge not only would the President continue doing it, he would be defiant in announcing his intention to continue breaking the law.

In the summer of 2001, such a briefing would have been considered far fetched and not believable to the average voter. Yet, much as the August 6 Bush memo used past experience in accurately picking possible targets and tactics, the voters were given a precursor to President Bush's attitude on the constitution before he even took office. He came to power by insisting that votes not be counted, relying upon a dubious decision by a partisan court to give him legitimacy he did not earn at the ballot box. Bush's very first actions after the election demonstrated a lack of regard for the rule of law. The Supreme court ruled against the state courts in a breathtaking example of judicial activism which relied upon dubious legal principle while insuring that the winner of the popular vote and the rightful winner of the Florida delegates would be sent to private life. We saw the care given by Bush and his team to constitutional principle when those principles stand in the way from the very beginning, yet we never could have imagined coming to the point we are at today if we were told about it in the summer of 2001.

In the summer of 2001, we never could have imagined the time when America would implement a systematic regime of torture for people we suspected of being terrorists. Yet President Bush had a record which demonstrated an extremely callous attitude for prisoners while he was governor of Texas. Bush famously mocked the plight of Karla Faye Tucker in an interview with Tucker Carlson as reported by the New York Review Of Books:
Carlson asked Bush if he had met with any of the petitioners and was surprised when Bush whipped around, stared at him, and snapped, "No, I didn't meet with any of them." Carlson, who until that moment had admired Bush, said that Bush's curt response made him feel as if he had just asked "the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed." Bush went on to tell him that he had also refused to meet Larry King when he came to Texas to interview Tucker but had watched the interview on television. King, Bush said, asked Tucker difficult questions, such as "What would you say to Governor Bush?"

What did Tucker answer? Carlson asked.

"Please," Bush whimpered, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "please, don't kill me."

Carlson was shocked.
The New York Review of Books article linked above also draws the parallel between Alberto Gonzales' systematic neglect of any mitigating circumstance when presenting clemency pleas to Governor Bush and Gonzales' later repudiation of the Geneva conventions as quaint. When the administration made the determination that the Geneva conventions were no longer the guiding principle for our conduct with prisoners that was the first step on a very dark and dishonorable path. The path tred by the monsters of history and the dictators of our time. Gonzales showed his colors in the Texas governors office, yet we would never have believed it in the summer of 2001.

There is a verifiable and repeated history of the most callous and uncaring behavior, both from Governor Bush and Alberto Gonzales for prisoners when Bush ran the Governors office. Yet if the typical voter were told in the summer of 2001 that America would soon institute a systematic program (that's a must read story btw) for torturing people who were suspected of wanting to attack America (not even convicted mind you... simply suspected) that voter would most likely have scoffed at the thought of it.

There are so many other examples of unthinkables pre-911 which have become our norm under this administration. Who could have imagined that the man who would cause the deaths of 3000 Americans would be free six years later, but the dictator of Baghdad who had nothing whatsoever to do with the plot would swing on a rope, largely because of him being connected to the attack? Who would have believed in August of 2001 that the President was being snide to a CIA briefer as he was being warned that Osama Bin Laden wanted to hit America, or that the National Security Advisor would one day very shortly say that no on could have imagined them using planes as missles?

So the signs were there for everybody concerned. The administration ignored the warnings and let disaster befall the nation, and somehow the voters of this nation ignored the warnings and also let disaster befall America.

We should make August 6 a holiday and call it National Awareness Day. Not awareness as in let's spy on each other and be suspicious and hostile. Awareness as in let us as a nation take a moment to try to see that which is obvious and right in front of our noses.

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