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Commentary :: Government & Elections

Bush Beats Brutal Competition to Become Al-Qaida’s “Man of the Year?

Isn’t it funny how the guy who talks the most about defeating terrorists has done the absolute worst job of doing it? Well, no, it’s not, and what’s even more so not funny is that, if the U.S. gets hit again before the election, it would probably condemn us to another four years of the same bad routine. For more details, read on.
Anyone who thinks Al-Qaida may pull off an "October Surprise" in the U.S. to try to influence the American electorate to dump Dubya is definitely looking in the wrong direction and should probably quit buying maps from Ahmed Chalabi. Al-Qaida (or its innumerable franchisees provided free license[s] courtesy of Bushco’s Iraq subsidiary) might indeed be planning a pre-election spectacular of some sort, but its political intent, if any, would be to help retain our current incrumbent. What better ally could a group determined to undermine the very fabric of American society have than good ol' Mr. War/Peace/War President? With his pathetic performance of promoting panic, pandering to pious party power players, picking the people’s pockets, and populating his presidency with pompous pigheadedness, Dubya’s doing double duty in decimating democracy all by his lonesome George.

Osama bin Laden has probably been uncontrollably grinning non-stop for some time now, given George Bush's uncanny penchant for playing right into his blood-soaked hands. (Perhaps Dubya’s secret plan is to smile bin Laden to death.) I picture the terror mastermind praising Allah for his unbelievable good fortune to have committed September 11's atrocities on Bush's watch (or, more accurately, non-watch).

And why not? After the logical initial U.S. foray into Afghanistan, practically every subsequent Bush push has seemed tailored to inflame the Muslim world, thereby drastically reducing Al-Qaida’s recruiting expenditures for the next, oh, hundred years or so.

There’s always a silver lining, though, since it seems at least one group of folks has shown appreciation for Bush’s “strategy?: Reportedly, in a recent poll conducted by Terrorist World Monthly, Bush overwhelmingly got the bad guys' east-facing nod as “President Most Likely to Make Al-Qaida's Day -- or Century.?

Why will Bush, rather than John Kerry, be the balloting beneficiary if a pre-election terrorist attack does occur here in the states? Simple: Ever since 9/11, Dubya’s scheming dream team has excelled at scaring the bejeebers out of a large number of Americans, constantly reminding them how icky it would be to be nuked or slimed. It matters not that the odds of this happening on an individual basis are actually catawamptiously small, something akin to, say, hearing Bush speak proper English; in other words, practically nil.

I truly don’t write this cavalierly, but a terrorist attack, in a way, is like an airplane crash: it rarely happens but when it does, the people involved usually die; the mathematical chance of a person actually being in one, though, is incredibly miniscule.

Not-so-funny funny things happen, however, when people are frightened or traumatized, regardless of what logic may dictate, and they are far more apt to stick with known misery, if terrified, rather than take a chance on stepping into the unknown (sort of like why I stayed much too long in my first two marriages). Karl Rove (who, if you think about it, looks a lot like another master of propaganda, Josef Stalin, or would, given the right mustache and a lot of plastic surgery to make him look that way), has Bush and Dick Cheney playing the fear angle to the hilt because he understands how people act (and would likely vote) when scared.

But, so does Al-Qaida -- all too well. Obviously, it needs no incentive for carrying out its nefarious acts, but such doings prior to Election Day would likely carry the super-bonus of helping the Bumble Bush stay in the White House, the one most responsible next to Osama himself for keeping Al-Qaida's deadly hives stocked with a steady supply of killer bees, drones decidedly more threatening to America than any that Saddam Hussein possessed. Bin Laden and everyone else alive recognize Kerry is a smart man who is far more likely to cramp Al-Qaida’s style than the incompetent Dubya. (Everyone, that is, except for the hardcore Bush supporters who would cast ballots for Bush even if he were caught on video snorting coke and not having sex, because, after all, he is a Christian, you know.)

Alanis Morissette, listen up: Wouldn’t it really be ironic if Americans elected the Bushies out of post-attack fear, thereby retaining the same crew that, for all of its self-congratulatory chest-thumping, had actually helped grease the wheels for an Al-Qaida encore to begin with? Besides stoking the boiler of global anti-Americanism with the giant coal shovel that is Iraq and inexplicably poking the eyes of longtime allies whose cooperation is indispensable in truly combating terrorism, Bush’s record since 9/11 at helping America defend against and prepare for another domestic attack is simply abysmal:

· Hope Yen of the Associated Press writes in January 2004: “The U.S. Conference of Mayors released a survey of 215 cities that found 76 percent have yet to receive any of the $1.5 billion in federal homeland security funds designated for ‘first responder’ teams such as police and fire departments.?

· MaritimeTV (, billed as “an Internet TV channel [covering] the maritime industry? (who knew?), reports in May 2004 that “87% of the visits to U.S. ports in 2002? were made by “foreign flag ships and crews,? concluding that this “overwhelming presence…in U.S. ports [poses] a clear and present [security] threat.? Why? As Ed Kittel, identified as “Chief of the Explosives Division for the Transportation Security Administration,? explains to Maritime TV: “In the attacks of September 11, clearly we saw that the airplane became the bomb. It would not take much of a leap to show that a ship could become the bomb, particularly a ship with volatile cargo.?

Of course, if it does happen, at least we’d likely be comforted by Condi Rice telling us no one had ever considered the possibility of such a thing.

· If so much carnage could be wrought with just airplanes on September 11, wouldn’t it make sense to exert monumental effort ASAP to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on nuclear bomb components? Well, also in September, according to the U.S. Department of Energy web site, when Secretary Spencer Abraham was in Vienna attending the Global Threat Reduction Initiative International Partners Conference, he told its participants (representatives of nations he deemed “the holders and users of nuclear and other radioactive materials that serve the peaceful interests and objectives of the civilized world…?): “This conference will only be judged a success if we follow on its conclusion with substantive actions aimed at reducing the threat posed by under-secured nuclear and radiological materials.?

Unfortunately, Abraham said this in September 2004. Maybe he and the administration are hoping if they wait long enough, the “born-on? dates for the world’s unsecured supplies of enriched plutonium and uranium will just expire. Alas, as any American grade school science student knows (that is, if there are any left in the country), radioactive stuff has a fairly long shelf life; almost as much, in fact, as a Chik-O-Stix.

Just wondering: How long did Halliburton have to wait before getting contracts to rip off U.S. taxpayers -- I’m sorry, rebuild Iraq?

· Speaking of going nuclear: Ralph Vartabedian of the Los Angeles Times writes in April 2004 that “the General Accounting Office…[reports] that the threat posed by terrorists against the nation’s [nuclear] weapons labs is estimated by intelligence agencies to be far more lethal than what the Energy Department [has planned for].? He also reports: ?A training video produced by the Energy Department shows terrorists defeating the most intensive security measures…The teams are shown moving with lightning speed, penetrating buildings in seconds after alarms go off.? He then offers this reassuring thought: “Energy Department weapons experts estimated that a bomb with a yield of 1 kiloton [enough to ‘cause tens of thousands of casualties’] could be built in minutes by terrorists once they gained access to the materials.?

· OK, so what if some suicidal bad guys get into a nuclear power plant but absent-mindedly leave their “How to Build a Nuke in Five Minutes? manual back at the cave, and just decide to set the place ablaze to try to melt the reactor? No worries; the Bush administration is right on that one, too: The Progressive’s Anne-Marie Cusac reports in August 2004 that, in case of fire at America’s nuclear facilities, the White House, via a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) proposal, wants to “let the power companies rely on workers to run through the plants and try to turn off the reactors by hand while parts of the facilities are engulfed in flames? instead of enforcing the currently mandated installation of automatic heat-activated reactor shut-off equipment. Makes you feel all tingly and mutated inside, doesn’t it?

So, instead of enforcing adherence to current standards, the Bushies simply suggest lowering them. This may be fine for individuals during last call at Joe’s Bar, but is not so great at the national level.

And just what is the NRC’s excuse -- er, reasoning? According to Cusac, former NRC executive director for operations William D. Travers writes: “A concerted enforcement effort creates a prospect of significant resource expenditure without clear safety benefits.? This is typical lapdog federal agency Bushspeak meaning that hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer dollars can go into the Iraq war’s black hole, but nickels and dimes needed to lean on administration power industry cronies to spend a fraction of their precious profits for true national security and safety purposes just can’t be found.

· More fox from the henhouse news: The American Chemistry Council (ACC) says its member companies “[represent] about 90% of America’s basic industrial chemical production? and in June 2004, issued a release crowing about how its affiliated “facilities have completed rigorous security vulnerability assessments? while also soberly proclaiming it “has been pushing the Administration and…Congress to…enact meaningful federal legislation that will require all chemical facilities to address security as rigorously as do our members.?

Funny, ‘cause two years earlier, in summer 2002, according to John Mintz of the Washington Post, “The petrochemical industry…launched an intense lobbying campaign to upend [Democratic New Jersey Senator Jon S.] Corzine’s proposal for mandatory [chemical plant] security measures, prompting most Republicans on the panel to withdraw support.? Last spring, in reaction to another similar bill proposed by Corzine and Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.), ACC spokeswoman Kate McGloon huffed (pun possibly intended): “Government commanding changes in our operations can create unintended risks.?

Why the ACC U-turn this year, then? A little closer look at the group’s new-found regulation adoration reveals it may not emanate so much from altruistic concern over the possible human barbeque factor of people living near the ten percent of chemical companies that choose not to conform to ACC’s self-serving security standards, but rather from those businesses not being forced to fork out the dough to meet them, thereby retaining more of their all-important revenues and giving ACC members a little harder run for their money. Shocking, eh?

And the administration’s reaction to Corzine’s and Edwards’ attempt at much-needed chemical facility security regulation? Well, you know the drill: Mintz reports the White House, along with the aid of Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), responded by formulating “a bill that would require chemical companies to abide by standards drawn up by their industry association [ACC], rather than be subject to mandatory government measures advocated by environmental activists and many Democrats.?

These are but a few examples of how what is utmost on the minds of this administration is not how to best guarantee the safety of the American people, but rather how to best guarantee the safety of continuing unimpeded profits for American Big Business. In those rare cases in which administration pals either haven’t figured out a way to squeeze out or hold onto one last dime -- such as when it comes to countering nuclear weapons material proliferation -- Bush is utterly lethargic, no matter the risk to U.S. citizens.

And unlike our commander-in-sleep, Al-Qaida reads the papers. Its members and those of its countless spin-offs know how thoroughly unprepared he and his fellow power and greed addicts have left us. Though indisputably evil, Al-Qaida and its ilk aren’t stupid, and would love nothing more than a two-for-one attack that would both kill as many Americans as possible plus help keep in power for another four years a guy who, despite all his butchered bluster about protecting the “homeland? (man, how I hate that word), has unforgivably left America needlessly vulnerable, and whose main ability (other than keeping linguists busy) lies in being the best damn recruiter any terrorist organization worth its sand could pray several times a day for.

Here’s greatly hoping, then, that the only October Surprise in store is that the San Francisco Giants win the World Series. (Although, I suppose, in an effort to retain some sort of credibility, I really should use an example that actually has a chance of happening in this lifetime).

Because if, heaven forbid, something occurs this month that is a repeat performance of 9/11 or even worse, not only would it by its very nature be utterly devastating, but also would almost assuredly saddle us and the world with four more years of the counterfeit cowboy from Crawford, a depressing development sure to leave Al-Qaida feeling like it is definitely sittin’ in the catbird seat.

Copyright © 2004 Mark Drolette. All rights reserved.

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