Bush Fiddled While NYC Burned

by Michael Colby

The decision to send Condoleezza Rice out before the reporters yesterday to downplay new evidence that the White House had credible warnings of Osama bin Laden’s plans to hijack planes was a huge slap to the face of reason. Rice’s two main arguments seeking to belittle Bush’s prior knowledge lacked the credibility that the hijacking warnings were filled with.

First, Rice declared that the hijackings said nothing about "using the planes as missiles." Rice’s reasoning ignores the internal Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that at least one student had approached a flight school in search of training in all aspects of flying big jets with the exceptions of taking off and landing. For an intelligence agency with a near-unlimited budget and person power, it wouldn’t seem that hard to put two and two together on this one.

Next, Rice declared that if the Bush administration wanted to do anything preventive in regards to the hijacking threats it would have resulted in a widespread disruption in commercial airline travel. Besides being rather callous towards the nearly 5,000 people who lost their lives, this excuse is just plain ridiculous.

As it turns out, these hijackings did cause widespread disruption of the airline industry, but only after the bin Laden crew carried out their tasks to what they declared to be near-perfection. September 11th wasn’t that long ago to have forgotten that all the nation’s airports were closed, the airlines received billions of dollars in bailouts, and federal regulators immediately (and dramatically) changed the manner in which every man, woman, and child approaches the act of flying.

The troubling reality, no matter how much spin the Bush administration and its fawning media put into it, is that the credible evidence of an attack by a group of people who every intelligence official in the U.S. knew was fanatical and capable enough to inflict widespread damage was both kept secret and ignored.

Imagine, for example, if the same amount of time and hand wringing had been put into implementing a plan to this hijacking threat as most members of the Bush inner circle put into dumping their Enron portfolios? That is, you’ll recall, exactly what the Enron-insiders-turned-Bush-officials were up to in the summer of 2001 when the hijacking threats were made known to the administration.

Finally, the public should be informed as to why it took more than eight months after this attack before this information became publicly available. Let’s not forget that the U.S. went to war over this action, decimating a nation, throwing world security into turmoil, and, interestingly enough, still failing to "get our man." Every member of Congress who rushed to their post-September 11 podiums to lust for revenge and provide the Bush administration what amounted to a blank check for war should now be wondering about the evidence their own government withheld from them. What if, at the time of those frantic days after the attacks, the public and congress knew that the Bush team was sitting on evidence warning of the attacks?

Most of the media–particularly the right-wing talk shows and pundits–are busy spinning the disclosure of the hijacking warnings as much ado about nothing. But this nation lost 3,000 citizens, the "crown jewels" of the Manhattan skyline, our sense of security, and precious civil liberties, not to mention unleashing a vicious war against Afghanistan while the Bush team knew that the acts creating the entire mess were on the way.

Ironically, the same conservative members of Congress and the media who maniacally pursued the impeachment of Bill Clinton for being on the receiving end of a blowjob are now declaring that Bush’s prior knowledge of what amounted to "the worst ever attack on our soil" was really no big deal. Go figure.

Michael Colby is the editor of Wild Matters. He can be reached at mcolby@wildmatters.org

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