Monday, October 30, 2006

Nov. 7 Is About an Incompetent Named Bush

Incompetents are often the last to notice their failures. It would be a mistake to put all the blame on Bush. Certainly, Cheney and Rumsfeld have had a role in creating the fiasco in Iraq and elsewhere. But at the end of the day, the president must be in charge and must make changes when the incompetence becomes evident. In Bush's case, the incompetence isn't merely evident, it is rampant.

Every administration inherits highly qualified professionals from the previous three or four administrations. Our government can't function well without them. The FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon, the State Dept. and many other agencies would have trouble maintaining their skills without the continuity that the professionals provide. One of the marks of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld era is the relentless effort by these three men to shove experts and professionals aside to pursue their ideological delusions. Bush has a great public relations machine but that machine can no longer obscure Bush's many failures.

Here's another selection from Ron Suskind's book, The One Percent Doctrine, that illustrate the breakdown of the presidency under Bush; the two excerpts concern Zubaydah, a barely functional travel agent for al Qaida who was 'interrogated' weeks after his capture by clumsy methods one expects of third-rate countries:
Zubaydah's injuries—gunshot wounds to the leg, groin, and abdomen—had been successfully treated by the finest U.S. physicians in late April and early May. The doctors repaired internal bleeding, a fracture and organ damage.

He was stabilized by mid-May and, thus ready. An extraordinary moment in the "war on terror" was about to unfold. After months of interdepartmental exchanges over the detainment, interrogation, and prosecution of captives in the "war on terror"—as well as debates over which "debriefing" techniqaues would work most effectively on al Qaeda—the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he said. [pg. 111]

(snip)

According to CIA sources, [Zubaydah] was water-boarded, a technique in which a captive's face is covered with a towel as water is poured atop, creating the sensation of drowning. He was beaten, though not in a way to worsen his injuries. He was repeatedly threatened, and made certain of his impending death. His medication was withheld. He was bombarded with deafening, continuing noise and harsh lights. He was, as a man already diminished by serious injuries, more fully at the mercy of interrogators than an ordinary prisoner.

Under this duress, Zubaydah told them that shopping malls were targeted by Al Qaeda. That information traveled the globe in an instant. Agents from the FBI, Secret Service, Customs, and various relaed agencies joined local police to surround malls. Zubaydah said banks—yes banks—were a priority. FBI agents led officers in a race to surround and secure banks. And also supermarkets—al Qaeda was planning to blow up crowded supermarkets, several at one time. People would stop shopping. The nation's economy would be crippled. And the water systems—a target too. Nuclear plants, naturally. And apartment buildings.

Thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each flavor of target. Of course, if you multiply by ten, there still wouldn't be enough public servants in America to surround and secure the supermarkets. Or the banks. But they tried. The FBI generally kept its various alerts secret. But word drifted out to the media, time and again, considering the thousands that were involved. [pgs. 115-116]

The signature operation of the Bush Administration will always be remembered by historians as this: garbage in, garbage out. Running around in circles based on the rantings of an unstable person is not preferable to letting the professionals do things in a way that is productive. Let's not forget that warnings about 9/11 by experts were ignored by Bush. The fiasco in Iraq too was largely a function of ignoring experts and professionals before and after the fall of Baghdad in order to send cronies, ideologues and young Bush loyalists to run Iraq and disappear with billions of dollars of reconstruction money. While all this incompetence and larceny was going on, while the experts and professionals were being ignored, shoved aside or fired, the Republican majority in Congress sat on its hands and watched with glee how Bush's numbers soared with each new phony victory and each new fearful revelation.

Cheney, who says the insurgents are "in their last throes," is still on the job and should have been replaced at the 2004 Republican convention. Calls for Rumsfeld's resignation have been repeatedly ignored by the White House. In the end, George W. Bush does know how to campaign and smile and lean forward and wave his arms, but he still doesn't know how to run a country.

We need to rein him in before he does more harm. We need to sit down with the military and ask what they really think. And we need to start dealing with our nation's future.

Staying home Nov. 7 is not an option.

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