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Apocalypse Now

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"These people are going to detonate a nuclear device inside the United States ... and we're going to have no one to blame but ourselves." -- Michael Scheuer, former head of the C.I.A.'s bin Laden unit, to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, February 19, 2007

Remember how you watched Richard Clarke testifying before Congress in 2004 and wished his warnings had been taken seriously in 2001? Well, it's déjà vu all over again. The people who know what's going on - the experts who have no hidden agendas beyond sounding alarms and getting the truth out - are frightened. And if they're frightened, so should we be.

George W. Bush (and Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld and all of their minions) should have been taken out and publicly flogged the day that their failure to act on the C.I.A.'s "Bin Laden Determined To Strike Inside U.S." memo was revealed. Not only did this not happen (though it's such a pleasant fantasy), but there was NO OUTRAGE on the part of anyone in a position to point out how unacceptable it was that 3,000 people died a month after those who might very well have been able to prevent their deaths chose instead to shrug off the warnings and continue their summer vacations.

At a press conference on March 13th, 2002, Bush was asked why he'd stopped talking about bin Laden. "I just don't spend that much time on him," he said. "I truly am not that concerned about him." So, a mere six months after the worst attack ever launched against the country it was (and is) his main job to protect, Bush was "not that concerned" that its mastermind was still at large. And did this cavalier statement lead the evening newscasts? Did CNN devote days to it like they just did to the question of the paternity of Anna Nicole Smith's kid? Did the Democrats make even an infinitesimal fraction of the noise that Republicans made about Clinton's blow jobs? No, no, and, of course, no. The statement made no impact on the public consciousness, and Bush was allowed to continue to claim that he was keeping us safe while, with each passing day, he was increasingly putting us in the greatest danger we've ever known.

In the summer of 2004 I sent out endless emails urging the Kerry campaign, MoveOn, and various other 527s to put that quote in an ad and reduce to rubble the preposterous claims that Bush was our Great Protector. Finally, at the start of the third debate, Kerry brought it up. "Gosh," Bush said, "I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations." I spent the next hour on the phone telling every network news department where to that find that damning sound bite. Unfortunately, the media decided that the big story coming out of that debate was Kerry's reference to Cheney's gay daughter, and Bush's quote returned to the mists of the forgotten past. A few weeks later, the Democrats stood by haplessly as a second consecutive election was stolen from them.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are our native Manchurian candidates - could anyone from anywhere else have damaged us more? Muslim terrorists are obsessed with the idea of killing as many Americans as possible. They wake up thinking about it, they spend their days thinking about it, they go to bed thinking about it, and then they dream about it. It is what their entire lives are about, and everything Bush and Cheney have done in the Middle East has increased the numbers of such people exponentially. By any laws of logic and reason, this means that they have made us not safer but, rather, enormously less safe.

We had no trouble calling the suicide bombers crazy for believing that seventy-two virgins would be waiting for them in Heaven. Is born-again Bush any less nuts to believe he'll be rising up to Heaven during the Rapture? For all we know, Armageddon has been his intentional goal from the start. It's almost the only explanation that makes sense. America is Flight 93. It's been hijacked and it's about to crash, and every single one of us has to charge the cockpit.

We have been warned. Al Qaeda is still "determined to strike in U.S." Michael Scheuer is the new Richard Clarke, and he says they're going to set off a nuke here. And if we know it, Bush and Cheney know it, every congressman and senator knows it, and everyone in the media knows it. And yet it's not a big story. Hello? Government people? Media people? I live in L.A. and I'm terrified. You live in New York and Washington, the two likeliest targets. Why aren't you shrieking in the streets?

It's time for citizen action the likes of which this country has never seen. Don't just contact your congressman, contact every congressman, and every senator. Barrage the radio talk show hosts and the reporters and pundits who are failing to bring this subject to the center of the national debate. Demand that hearings be held at which Michael Scheuer and others like him are given a public forum to tell us what they know, what they fear, and what our "leaders" should be and aren't doing to protect us.

Anyone who's read anything I've written about George W. Bush knows that hate isn't a big enough word for my feelings towards him. It's not just that he's an arrogant squanderer with an otherworldly sense of entitlement and a nonexistent sense of responsibility, an ignorant bully whose sadism has been well-documented over the years, and an incompetent failure who has diminished every enterprise he's touched, though each of those is a valid reason in its own right. It's that this arrogance, ignorance and incompetence is destroying my country and threatens to literally destroy me and the people I love. We've already lost the World Trade Center and New Orleans on Bush's watch. In any other civilized nation, just one of those would have been enough to throw him out of office in utter disgrace, yet there he still is, and here we are waiting for the third strike.

If it comes and you aren't annihilated in it, here's who else to blame: Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and every other government official who supports or has supported the diverting of U.S. military efforts from our real enemy to Iraq, including cowards like Colin Powell who knew better from the start but still lied for Bush. Also, Tim Russert, Bob Woodward, David Broder, Judith Miller, and all the other so-called journalists whose craven failure to hold Bush accountable makes them his complicit enablers. Also, if you read this and do absolutely nothing, yourself.

Again, to recap, one of the nation's foremost experts on the subject of Osama bin Laden says that al Qaeda is "going to detonate a nuclear device inside the United States." If that doesn't scare you, you are no longer scareable.