Today is September 11, 2011–ten years after Islamic terrArabists slammed planes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, killing more than 3,000 Americans.
(They would have slammed a fourth plane into the White House or the Capitol Building, but for the heroic resistance of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93.)
In the years immediately following 9/11, politicians of both parties used this anniversary to trot out flags and patriotic speeches.
This was especially true for officials of the administration of George W. Bush–which, even as the rubble was still being cleared at the Pentagon and World Trade Center, was preparing to use the attack as an excuse to topple Saddam Hussein.
(Hussein had had nothing to do with the attack–and there was absolutely no evidence proving he did. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was that “W” had the excuse he needed to remove the man he blamed for the 1992 defeat of his father, George H.W. Bush.
(Bush believed that his father would have been re-elected if he had “gone all the way” into Baghdad. He, George W. Bush, would finish the job that his father had started but failed to complete.)
So here it is ten years later, and, once again, those who died are being remembered by friends and relatives who knew and loved them. They are also being celebrated by politicians who knew them only as potential constituents.
Yes, it’s well to remember the innocents who died on that day–and the heroism of the police and firefighters who died trying to save them.
But it’s equally important to remember those who made 9/11 not simply possible but inevitable.
And that does not mean only the 19 highjackers who turned those planes into fuel-bombs. It means the officials at the highest levels of the administration of President George W. Bush.
Officials who, to this day, have never been held accountable in any way for the resulting death and destruction.
Obviously, such an indictment is not going to be presented by TV commentators today–not even on such liberal networks as CNN and MSNBC. And most definitely not on the right-wing Fox network.
Fortunately, British historian Nigel Hamilton has dared to lay bare the facts of this disgrace. Hamilton is the author of several acclaimed political biographies, including JFK: Reckless Youth and Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency.
In 2007, he began research on his latest book: American Caesars: The Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush.
The inspiration for this came from a classic work of ancient biography: The Twelve Caesars, by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus–known as Suetonius.
Suetonius, a Roman citizen and historian, had chronicled the lives of the first twelve Caesars of imperial Rome: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.
Hamilton wanted to examine post-World War II United States history as Suetonius had examined that of ancient Rome: Through the lives of the 12 “emperors” who had held the power of life and death over their fellow citizens–and those of other nations.
For Hamilton, the “greatest of American emperors, the Caesar Augustus of his time,” was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who led his country through the Great Depression and World War II.
His “”great successors” were Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy–who, in turn, contained the Soviet Union abroad and presided over sustained economic prosperity at home.
By contrast, “arguably the worst of all the American Caesars” was “George W. Bush, and his deputy, Dick Cheney, who willfully and recklessly destroyed so much of the moral basis of American leadership in the modern world.”
Among the most lethal of Bush’s offenses: The appointing of officials who refused to take seriously the threat posed by Al-Qaeda.
And this arrogance and indifference continued–right up to September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center and Pentagon became targets for destruction.
Among the few administration officials who did take Al-Qaeda seriously was Richard Clarke, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council.
Clarke had been thus appointed in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. He continued in the same role under President Bush–but the position was no longer given cabinet-level access.
This put him at a severe disadvantage when dealing with other, higher-ranking Bush officials–such as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.
These turned out to be the very officials who refused to believe that Al-Qaeda posed a lethal threat to the United States.