Monday, March 26, 2012

Karl Rove and the Truth about the Hunt for Bin Laden 2/2

President Bush
President George Bush 
by Nomad


Part One of this series

Distraction
In our examination of the Bush administration’s failure to bring bin Laden to justice, we now come to Jan. 29, 2002. It was the date of the president’s State of the Union address- known more famously known as the “axis of evil” speech.
In his speech, he identified Iraq, along with Iran and North Korea, as an "axis of evil." He vowed that the U.S. "will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

Two years later, in a speech on the floor of the Senate, Senator Edward Kennedy would astutely note what the president did not mention in the famous speech.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11th President Bush right spoke about the need to put Afghanistan on the right course....


Instead of finishing the job, however, President Bush foolishly and recklessly diverted America's attention from the real war on terrorism in Afghanistan by rushing to a war in Iraq, a country that had no operational links to al-Qaida terrorist.
That shift was all but sealed by the time of President Bush's State of the Union Address on January 29, 2002. Karl Rove had told the Republican National Committee that terrorism could used politically... That is Karl Rove in 2002: Republicans could "go to the country on this issue."
What did President Bush say about bin Laden in the State of the Union address that day? Nothing.
What did he say about the Taliban? Nothing.
Nothing about bin Laden, a fleeting mention about al-Qaida, nothing about the Taliban in that State of the Union Address.
With those words, we lost our clear focus on the imminent threat to our national security- Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The president had checked the box on Afghanistan and was poised to use the 911 attacks to advance his Iraq war agenda..
Without a doubt, the war with Iraq has distracted us from the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Osama Bin Laden Nomadic Politics
Osama Bin Laden
One of the greatest challenges for the administration was not finding bin Laden but finding a way to seamlessly link Saddam Hussein with, if not bin Laden, then  al-
Qaida.

It wasn’t going to be easy. Only a month after the 9/11 attacks, an FBI agent met with a number of people who had had ties to bin Laden regarding any connections between Hussein and  al-Qaida  The informers laughed at the suggestion. Bin Laden hated the Iraqi dictator, calling him a “Scotch-drinking woman-chasing infidel.”


Nevertheless, in October of 2002, disregarding bin Laden altogether, Bush outlined the supposed threat of al-Qaida in Iraq:
We know that Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al-Qaida have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some a al-Qaida leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.
Yet, this claim was in fact discounted by a British Intelligence investigation that very month. The investigation concluded that: 
".. al-Qaida has shown interest in gaining chemical and biological expertise from Iraq, but we do not know whether any such training was provided. We have no intelligence of current cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda and do not believe that al Qaeda plans to conduct terrorist attacks under Iraqi direction."
But then President Bush didn’t need British intelligence to tell him what he already knew. 
As mentioned on Wikipedia (although the original link has been scrubbed):
Ten days after the September 11 attacks, President Bush received a classified President's Daily Brief (that had been prepared at his request) indicating that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the September 11th attacks and that there was "scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda."
When Politics Meets War
According some writers, within the Bush administration, there was, at least, one man who saw how the value of a war in Iraq. That man was Karl Rove. Todd A. Davis in his book, The Global War on Terror points out:
Karl Rove directed much of the domestic public relation campaign, to enhance Bush's reelection efforts, and to reduce the perception that Bush's economic policies had failed. James Moore [co-author of the bestselling, Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential] observed in the LA Times, May 7, 2003 that "Karl Rove led the nation to war to improve the political prospects of George w. Bush. I know how surreal that sounds. But I also know it is true."


The Bush economic plan had failed miserably and bin Laden had escaped, so the global war on terror appeared to be a failure. Bush had to do something bold to try to salvage his political career, and to make the numbers go up prior to the election. Rove perceived that the invasion of Iraq would both distract from Bush's economic failure, and present an easy target for an invasion by a global superpower.
Had Rumsfeld actually followed through with his assigned mission to capture or kill bin Laden, the whole invasion of Iraq would have been less of a possibility. As it was, Bush and his administration had their work cut out for them.
The only problem in Rove's scenario was that little, if any, real evidence existed that would link Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden. Morre said that, "the neoconservatives in the Cabinet were itching to launch ships and plane to the Mideast and take control of Iraq. Rove converged the dynamics of the times. He convinced the president to connect Hussein to Bin Laden, even if the CIA could not. This misdirection worked. A pew survey taken during the war showed 61% of Americans believed that Hussein and bin Laden were confederates in the 9/11 attacks."

Rove had cleverly found the propaganda tool that lead to both Bush's resurgence in the polls and to war in Iraq. Rove was partly in charge of the media campaign to soften up public perception toward a possible conflict, and he did influence some elements of the Bush Administration's agenda.
In any case, Bush himself admitted that the whole justification for the war- insofar as  al-Qaida - was untrue. In an interview with ABC News' Martha Raddatz, George Bush states:
BUSH: One of the major theaters against al-Qaida turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al-Qaida said they were going to take their stand. This is where al-Qaida was hoping to take-


RADDATZ: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

BUSH: Yeah, that's right. So what? The point is that al-Qaida said they're going to take a stand. Well, first of all in the post-9/11 environment Saddam Hussein posed a threat. And then upon removal, al-Qaida decides to take a stand.
He barely notices that he has just perjured himself.
In Bush's reasoning, there was no difference between future possibility and present certainty- not when it came to finding a rational to invade Iraq. There’s more evidence to support the conclusion that, despite what President Bush told the American people, the links between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were a few unreliable and often contradictory pieces of information. The evidence for the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was more of the same. 
But between those two, it was sufficient to persuade the American public to approve of an unnecessary and disastrous invasion of Iraq.


In the end, with the Iraq occupation dissolving into a self-acknowledged quagmire, George Bush finally conceded defeat. From his mission to hunt down bin Laden and to deliver justice, to rooting out imaginary  al-Qaida  agents in Iraq, to tracking and eliminating weapons of mass destruction, there was, in fact, very little to point to as a success. How bare are those cupboards?
On August 30 2004, in a TV interview, President Bush told the American people the truth. Finally, at long last. 
When asked whether America could win the war on terror, he answered:
"I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the - those who use terror as a tool are - less acceptable in parts of the world."
After the deaths of, at least, 109,032 people including 66,081 civilian deaths, after at least $757.8 billion spent on a needless war, this is what qualifies as a neoconservative success.

Rove’s Role in the War on Terror
The use of war to gain political advantage is nothing new. In the 1980s, Thatcher used the Falklands war to increase her popularity. Reagan invaded the defenseless isle of Grenada in order to distract attention from the Beirut bombing which cost 249 American servicemen.

But the war on terror is a unique kind of war. For one thing, in the hands of an unscrupulous leader, it can be turned off and on quite easily by issuing alerts with few details (due to national security). 

As Maurice Mullard and Bankole Cole note in their book, Globalisation, Citizenship and the War on Terror:
In the United States, the Republican Party strategist Karl Rove utilized the rainbow colours of the terror alert on the eve of the 2004 presidential election and the detentions of alleged terror suspects in the mid-term election of November 2002 and 2006 to remind people that the USA was still at war and that nation was safer under Republican control since by implication the Democratic Party was soft on terror and not to be trusted with the national security.
A war on terror is a public relations cornucopia, a magician's top hat. The alleged threats to the public can be stage-managed to the benefit of those in authority.
Since governments have the monopoly on such information, it is governments and their intelligence services that can give direction to stories. There are no independent checks and balances. In the war on terror, citizens have become the passive consumers of information. There is little room for space for independence of judgement. Democracy is replaced by the politics of trust, compliance and servitude. The question of the security of the state is beyond public scrutiny. The security of the state cannot yield to scepticism. Those who question state action are accused of treachery, madness aor of literally supporting terrorism.
It calls to mind George Orwell’s “1984,” doesn’t it? The character from that book Emmanuel Goldstein, the enemy of the state, reveals the truth, a truth that can very easily be applied in the USA since Bush.
"The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city.. And at the same time the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival."

"It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist."
Rove himself knows full well how useful an open war on terrorism can be. It has become his one-pony act but Fox News is more than happy to promote it. In 2006, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Rove told Republican National Committee:
"The United States faces a ruthless enemy, and we need a commander in chief and a Congress who understand the nature of the threat and the gravity of the moment America finds itself in," Rove said. "President Bush and the Republican Party do. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many Democrats."
Barack Obama- Nomadic Politics
President Barak Obama
That particular meme has now been disproved. The best that Rove and Fox News can offer is to underrate the accomplishments of President Obama. It’s all they have left. Still, the facts speak for themselves. 

Karl Rove has a lot to answer for but given the Obama administration’s reluctance to prosecute any of the major league political players (or anybody except Bradley Manning and Julian Assange), it is unlikely that Rove will ever be called to account. And with people like Rove and Cheney and Wolfowitz and George W. Bush himself, it is that very fact, that nobody has the nerve to look them in the eye and demand justice, which  verifies, in their own mind, that they were right and the rest of the world is wrong.. and weak. Unless justice is served, some kind of justice, you can expect them to be given plenty of air time on Right Wing propaganda machines like Fox news.

With the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama announced, “Justice has been done.” And yet, as long as Karl Rove is allowed to give his unrequested advice to the president, a president who has actually accomplished the mission that all Americans wanted, then that statement is only half true.
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