bureaucracybusters

FORGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART TWO (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, Politics, Social commentary on November 28, 2012 at 12:00 am

Republicans claim to be “deeply troubled” by the conduct of Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, after the Benghazi tragedy, which left four dead Americans in its wake.

But they showed no such concerns when the George W. Bush administration refused to seriously address the mounting evidence that Al Qaeda intended to strike at the United States.

And when that refusal snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans.

It’s important to remember those who made 9/11 not simply possible but inevitable.

And that does not mean only the 19 hijackers who turned those planes into fuel-bombs. It means those officials at the highest levels of the administration of President George W. Bush.

Officials who profited economically and/or politically from the tragedy but were never accountable for the resulting death and destruction. Starting with the former President himself.

Even at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August, Bush was hailed as the man “who kept us safe.”  Except, of course, for that small matter of 3,000 dead Americans on 9/11.

British historian Nigel Hamilton has dared to lay bare the facts of this outrage. Hamilton is the author of several highly 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.

Richard Clarke

Clarke had been thus appointed in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. He continued to hold this role under President Bush, but with a major difference: 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 Dick 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.

In a perverse travesty of justice, Condoleeza Rice appeared as a featured speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention that nominated Mitt Romney for President.

Without a hint of apology for her own neglectful role in making 9/11 not only possible but inevitable, she said on August 29:

“I will never forget the bright September day, standing at my desk in the White House, when my young assistant said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center–and then a second one–and a third, the Pentagon.

“And then the news of a fourth, driven into the ground by brave citizens that died so that many others would live. From that day on our sense of vulnerability and our understanding of security would be altered forever.”

Hamilton noted that Richard Clarke was certain that Osama bin Laden had arranged the [USS.] Cole bombing in Aden on October 12, 2000.

For months, Clarke tried to convince others in the Bush Administration that Bin Laden was plotting another attack against the United States–either abroad or at home.

During the first eight months of the Bush Presidency, Clarke was forbidden to brief President Bush, despite the mounting evidence that al-Qaeda was planning to strike.

Even more vexing for Clarke: During his first eight months as President before September 11, Bush was on vacation 42% of the time, according to the Washington Post.

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