President Obama is calling members of the Intelligence Community to the Oval Office this week to explain their massive failures involving the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas day. However, what this attack highlights isn't just the mistakes made in this case. It also puts into focus what we have done to the world and to ourselves over the last nine years. But with all of the transformations, were they worth the cost? Did we succeed? Did we get what we and the rest of the world paid so dearly for? Hardly. Consider ...
Since 9/11, we have invaded multiple countries around the world, killing tens if not hundreds of thousands, including thousands of our own, spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. In addition, we opened up our own personal Gulag system, including Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, where the Constitution was nothing more than toilet paper and where torture was acceptable. Rendition became part of the everyday lexicon and our government extolled the virtues of waterboarding.
Of course, we didn't stop there. While dismissing the rule of law on a worldwide basis, we also decided the quaint Constitution was easily dismissed here at home as well. Simply another distraction that "terrorists" hide behind. Right? And we mustn't forget the impending mushroom cloud just to make it all more palatable. And try to remain perpetually petrified! In the end, we took the world and beat it like a pinata in an effort to make ourselves safer. And we failed. Consider the Christmas day attack.
Remember, we knew about a potential attack by a Nigerian. We knew about a Yemen connection. We knew about a Nigerian who was becoming radicalized in Yemen. About a one way ticket. About purchasing it in a third country. About carrying no luggage on the aircraft. About a rejected British visa. And about a failure to connect the dots even though we had them all! Sound familiar?
With so many costs paid by so many since 9/11, one would expect that we would be much safer, that the Christmas day attack couldn't possibly happen at all. And yet, here we are! New CIA seems a lot like the old CIA!
Is it not time to ask ourselves why we did everything we did? Why we allowed the Bush/Cheney team to run amok and trample the Constitution while we all hid under our beds and prayed for safety? Why we continue to avoid responsibility for the things we continue to do? Was it all to make us safer, or rather to change nothing and simply provide the illusion of safety?
Never again! We all said after 9/11 that we would learn to connect the dots. And with our willingness to light the world on fire, dance naked around it and congratulate ourselves for being so clever, what happens when we learn little or nothing? Based upon this latest attack, and our response, it appears we will wrap ourselves in another Mission Accomplished banner, invade another country, light another fire and congratulate ourselves again.