Monday, September 11, 2006

Respecting History: 9/11 Timeline from Think Progress

For over ten years, right wing Republicans have been doing their best to change history simply by rewriting the past and ignoring facts. This has been even more apparent since the 9/11 tragedy. An important tool for those who wish to hold the Bush Administration accountable for its creative history lessons are timelines that remind people what happened. Keeping in mind that we're still learning much about the Bush years, here's a post-9/11 timeline from Think Progress with a few pieces I've chosen:
To mark the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ThinkProgress has created a comprehensive timeline documenting the key events since September 11, 2001. Our timeline charts five threads:

– The steady increase in international terrorism and the growth of al Qaeda
– The campaign to block and obstruct the work of the 9/11 Commission, and the failure to carry out the commission’s recommendations
– The failure to stablize and rebuild Afghanistan
– The downgrading of the hunt for Osama bin Laden
– The steady decline of America’s image abroad


EARLY DECEMBER 2001: Bin Laden escapes at Tora Bora

“The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda.” [Washington Post, 4/16/02]


MARCH 13, 2002: Bush not concerned with bin Laden

BUSH: And [Osama Bin Laden is] just — he’s a person who has now been marginalized. His network is — his host government has been destroyed. He’s the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match…So I don’t know where he is. Nor — you know, I just don’t spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you. I…I truly am not that concerned about him. [Bush Remarks, 3/13/02]


MARCH 28, 2004: Clarke: al Qaeda has “metamorphized into a hydra-headed organization”

“If we catch [bin Laden] this summer, which I expect, it’s two years too late. Because during those two years when forces were diverted to Iraq…al Qaeda has metamorphosized into a hydra-headed organization with cells that are operating autonomously, like the cells that operated in Madrid recently.” [NBC, 3/28/04]


MAY 2004: Major study finds al Qaeda strong, growing thanks to Iraq war

International Institute for Strategic Studies: “Although half of al-Qaeda’s 30 senior leaders and perhaps 2,000 rank-and-file members have been killed or captured, a rump leadership is still intact and more than 18,000 potential terrorists are still at large, with recruitment accelerating on account of Iraq.” [Time, 5/26/04]


APRIL 15, 2005: Bush administration eliminates State Department’s international terrorism report

The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government’s top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985. [Knight Ridder, 4/15/05]

APRIL 26, 2005: Global terrorist attacks triple over past year

“The number of ’significant’ international terrorist attacks rose to about 650 last year from about 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides briefed Monday on the numbers by U.S. State Department and intelligence officials.” [Reuters, 4/26/05]


LATE 2005: CIA closes unit focused on capture of bin Laden

“The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants. … Michael Scheuer, a former senior C.I.A. official who was the first head of the unit, said the move…’will clearly denigrate our operations against Al Qaeda.’” [NYT, 7/4/06]


JUNE 26, 2006: Violence in Afghanistan worst since 2001

In their biggest show of strength in nearly five years, pro-Taliban fighters are terrorizing southern Afghanistan — ambushing military patrols, assassinating opponents and even enforcing the law in remote villages where they operate with near impunity. [Reuters, 6/29/06; USA Today, 6/19/06]

The above timeline only covers a small fraction of Bush's blunders and failures. Katrina, Iraq, energy prices, the economy and Bush's overall foreign policy could all have their own separate timelines documenting the consequences of his ideological blindness, incompetence and ad hoc attempts to salvage his image with photo op after photo op after photo op.

What's astonishing is that George W. Bush managed to get himself reelected despite his dismal record of failure. Only a very powerful public relations machine, a compliant press and a weak Republican Congress could have allowed Bush's failures to be so thoroughly hidden from a majority of Americans. Americans are catching on but we won't know until November how much the public recognizes the need to change course. If Bush hangs on to Congress, the failures will only get worse. That is something America cannot afford.


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