Six years on ...

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

September 11, 2007: "How I Spent the Last Six Years," A brief list that might easily have been written by George W. Bush.

Regarding the attacks:

  • Ignored persistent warnings of an imminent terrorist attack.
  • Continued reading The Pet Goat ...
  • Went up in Air Force One after having been informed it was a likely target.
  • Spent the day in a panicky runaround, leaving it to others to reassure and inform a shocked nation.
  • Later sold photographs of self on same day for purposes of Republican fundraising.
  • Purposely misled rescue workers and volunteers about the safety of the air quality around Ground Zero.
  • Declared, like Wyatt Earp, to capture Bin Laden "dead or alive."
  • Told the rest of the world either they were "with us or against us," like Superman or something ...
  • Ignored the fact that most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia; pretended they were from Iraq.

Regarding Afghanistan:

  • Refused the help of NATO.
  • Squandered numerous opportunities to capture bin Laden, allowing him to escape at Tora Bora and elsewhere.
  • Rejected a more effective strategy of police work and targeting killings for mass bombings that helped alienate the population.
  • Allowed the Taliban to regroup and rebuild.
  • Allowed Al Qaeda to regroup and rebuild.
  • Allowed heroin production and exports to increase.
  • Allowed country to lapse back into chaos and threaten nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Regarding America:

  • Insisted on the right to arrest American citizens and hold them indefinitely without right to habeas corpus, thereby invalidating virtually the entire Constitution.
  • Kidnapped individuals for the purpose of "rendition" and certain torture, violating national laws at will.
  • Opened secret torture prisons in former police states and lied about it.
  • Wiretapped American citizens without warrant or lawful authority.
  • Monitored the actions of loyal patriotic organizations without warrant or lawful authority.
  • Attacked patriotism of everyone who questioned mindless path to self-destruction and attacked media sources who informed Americans of the actions of their government as having "blood on their hands."
  • Set up ineffective, scandal-plagued Department of Homeland Security.
  • Failed to protect obvious targets like nuclear and chemical power plants, ports, and the like.
  • Hyped phony arrests of unserious nutcases as victories in war on terrorism.
  • Refused New York City sufficient funds to protect itself from future attack.

Regarding Iraq:

  • Lied about evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Lied about ties to Al Qaeda.
  • Lied about Iraq's nuclear weapons program.
  • Lied about infamous "Prague meeting."
  • Lied about lying about all of it.
  • Attempted to destroy reputation of loyal government servant, Joe Wilson.
  • Lied about willingness to fire anyone involved with doing so.
  • Failed to provide troops with sufficient body armor, vehicular protection.
  • Insisted on repeated stop-loss orders.
  • Cut medical spending for wounded veterans, resulting in substandard care for the wounded.
  • Refused to allow photographs of honored war dead.
  • Refused to attend funerals of killed soldiers.
  • Refused to give a military recruitment speech.
  • Told Americans to go shopping; offered further tax breaks to the wealthy, asking sacrifices of no one but soldiers and their families.
  • Opened and maintained a prison at Guantánamo that violated U.S. and international law, branding the United States as a rogue nation.
  • Misled Congress for purposes of securing war authority.
  • Failed to send sufficient troops for post-invasion occupation.
  • Failed to heed any postwar planning recommendations.
  • Failed to ensure restoration of order, post-invasion.
  • Failed to secure weapons sites, post invasion.
  • Failed to reach out to population.
  • Refused to count numbers of civilian dead and wounded.
  • Failed to set up functional government, police force, etc.
  • Arrested innocent individuals for the purpose of torture.
  • Lied, once again, about ties to Al Qaeda.
  • Failed to re-assess failed strategy, refused to replace incompetent subordinates.
  • Failed to heed message of 2006 congressional elections to draw down war, escalated it instead.
  • Failed to heed both Iraqi and U.S. population's repeatedly polled preference for withdrawal.
  • Squandered sympathy of entire world, drastically sinking global opinion of the United States.
  • Squandered hundreds of billions -- and, ultimately, trillions -- of dollars, destroying a functioning nation.
  • Strengthened Iran.
  • Strengthened Syria.
  • Strengthened Libya.
  • Weakened Israel.
  • Weakened Jordan.
  • Weakened Egypt.
  • Killed more than 3,000 Americans.
  • Wounded nearly 30,000 Americans.
  • Killed and wounded untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
  • Provided recruitment material for terrorists the world over.
  • Continually attacked the patriotism of those who suggested alternatives that might have avoided much of the above.
  • Redoubled "determination," "strength," "grit," etc., every time any of the previous disasters was discovered.

And perhaps most amazingly of all: Got most of the mainstream media to go along with almost all of it ...

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Ben Miller
Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman --

You have to love CNN.com. On one side of the main page is the headline under "Politics" - "Iraq hearing could bolster Bush policy." And on the other side is a poll where 63% of those voting said they did not agree with Petraeus' assessment of Iraq. So who is being bolstered by the hearings? Not the American people. Also, that is a great headline -- "hearings could bolster." They also could have written, "Iraq hearing could hamper Bush policy," or probably most accurately, "Iraq hearings could have no impact on Bush policy because the close-minded stubborn president isn't changing course no matter what is said or happens."

Name: Jesse Kornbluth
Hometown: New York

HEADLINE ON WALL STREET JOURNAL:
Petraeus Pledges
Modest Pullout,
But Little More

HEADLINE ON NEW YORK POST:
4 STARS
Gen. dazzles Congress
with Iraq testimony

Name: Traven
Hometown: Seattle

Eric,

Forgive me for being stupid, but doesn't the fact that the Sunnis in Anbar are now taking on al-Qaeda because the latter have tried to assert their fundamentalist ways pretty much lay to rest the neocon notion that there was some kind of connection between Saddam the Sunni and bin Laden the Salafist, which they posited as an important reason for the war? I haven't seen them admitting as much but again, maybe I'm just too stupid too see how this proves Bill Kristol, et al, have been right all along...

Name: David Fuller
Hometown: Peotone, IL

Dr. A.,

In response to Larry Howe's challenge, I must confess that I really wasn't sure who Pierce was even talking about in his screed. I kept reading the phrase "these people" that he kept using, and there were references to faith-based voters on the right, but then other references thrown in that seemed to encompass anyone of faith. I thought several times about responding to Pierce, but couldn't really determine with which group he had the real problem. Religious right? All religious voters? Maybe I'm just slow and didn't understand what he meant.

But for the record, this Christian, progressive voter sure wishes there were more liberal Christian folks speaking up in the media for those of us that reject the idea of a hateful, bigoted Christian outlook. Jim Wallis of Sojourners is a good start (and I think Pierce was okay with him -- ???), but my sense is that a lot of what he may be taking issue with is plain old mindset more than religion. If he hasn't done so already, Pierce should really read "Conservatives Without Conscience" by John Dean. The book is a little disjointed at times, but it made me realize why I'll never be able to talk to some of my neighbors and family about religion and politics, too. I think THOSE are the people Pierce is referring to. But there are sane, progressive Christians out there. I'm one of them. And I know I'm not the only one, too.

So I disagree that there is no political advantage to be gained here. A vast majority of Americans believe in God or a higher power. But less than half of that number go to church on a regular basis. That means there's plenty of American voters that believe in God, but don't believe in a God that gives daily orders to Presidents either. I know -- I'm one of that latter group, too. And THAT'S the group of voters to whom we can appeal.

But we won't win them with the political language of the religious right -- we'll win them by talking the language of the progressive left. You know, the kind of people that have bothered to read Scriptures like Matthew 19:21, 1 Timothy 6:10 and Luke 6:37, instead of a singular focus on Mark 16:15 (which may not even have been uttered by Christ anyway).

Name: Jim Hassinger
Hometown: Glendale, CA

I think Lt. Col. Bateman is correct. The Army's culture can't be like a college dorm or an Internet chat room. Given a task, they should pass their dissent up the chain, or resign and speak. I worry about the time when a general's political opinion matters squat. Oh, wait. General Petraeus is being used like that, and allowing himself to be used.

It's funny, because his doctrine calls for one GI for every 40 residents. Back of the envelope calculations: 750,000 troops. Say 500,000. Otherwise, you're just punting the ball down the field until the next time, when they'll say things are improving enough to wait another 6 months.

His speech this morning reminded me of nothing but Powell's horrific speech before the U.N. He should have resigned, too.

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