There's no question about it. Dick Cheney is absolutely right when he says that terrorists are "very much aware of our political calendar here." After all, Cheney would not be Vice President today had Bin Laden not issued his video shout-out to the America people in 2004 .
Under the Republicans, Iraq has become a combination job fair and training ground for the terrorist networks. The policies of this Republican Administration have been a bonanza for the bad guys.
Leaving aside all other considerations about the war, it's fair to say that it has been the most spectacular national security failure in American history. Terrorist incidents ballooned from 3,192 in 2004 to 11,111 in 2005 alone. A third of those were in Iraq itself, while a distracted America failed to stop the other two-thirds elsewhere around the globe.
The report card is in on Republicans and America's safety, and they get an "F." The only way to measure progress on a global iniative like anti-terrorism is to look at success and failure on a global level.
So, when Cheney goes on to boast that "we've gone five years without another (homeland) attack" I imagine it's scant comfort to the families of more than 3,000 Americans killed in Iraq (counting contractors.) It probably doesn't provide much comfort to the victims of the bombings in Bali, Madrid, and London either. And as far as the homeland is concerned, I still say it's like driving blindfolded and bragging you haven't hit anything yet.
Of course, by Cheney's logic he's failed to match the accomplishment of the Clinton Administration. They went six years after the first World Trade Center attack without a homeland incident. And, who knows? We might be up to eleven years by now if Bush and Condi had bothered to read that "Bin Laden Determined to Strike ..." memo.
Cheney's also correct that " the ultimate threat is a group of terrorists in one of our cities with a nuclear weapon." That makes it all the more stunning to realize that our GOP-led government still doesn't examine 95% of the containers brought in through our ports.It's been over a year since I wrote that the next Katrina could be a nuclear attack. Last year retired Admiral Richard Meis conducted an independent study of the GOP Administration and its crony-laden Department of Energy's handling of radiological materials, and here's what he said:
That's nothing less than disastrous incompetence in the face of nuclear terror - on Cheney's watch. (A big part of the problem is the Administration's outsourcing of our nuclear safety to private contractors.) And how about this quote from a GAO study?
"Some radiological waste storage areas may lack adequate protection against sabotage which could cause wide-area radiological dispersal."
Let's face it: these guys are too cronied-up, greedy, and incompetent to keep us safe. They're a terrorist's dream come true.
"The US Defense Department failed to secure sources of radiological material in Iraq for six months after the US invasion in 2003, during which period some were looted or scattered."
So of course Cheney's correct when he says that the terrorists watch our electoral process. They don't want the gravy train to stop now. A well-run national security strategy based on renunciation of torture, strong international alliances, firmer inspection procedures, and a safe and well-ordered withdrawal from Iraq would take away their biggest recruitment bonanza and source of propaganda. It would also put the bad guys on the run, and make it harder for them to do their dirty deeds.Dick's overreaching a little, though, when he says this:
That's as overheated as his wife's soft-core porn. (She denied it was porn, of course, as she attacked Jim Webb's writing. Judge for yourself: "He reached down as if to tie it shut, but slipped his hand inside instead, inside her unbuttoned nightgown too ... They moved into the bedroom. 'Mmmmmm,' he agreed as they fell toward the bed." There's more here.)
... when the Democratic Party in Connecticut purged Joe Lieberman, in effect, drummed him out of the party on the grounds that he had supported the President in the global war on terror, that sends a message to the terrorists overseas that their basic strategy of trying to break the will of the American people may, in fact, work.
If anything, the notion that America might develop a well-designed plan to withdraw from Iraq would disturb the terrorists, who don't want to be deprived of the war's ability to churn out more and more recruits.
As for this disgraceful new bill: Think the bad guys are afraid of a little torture? In their worldview, that - like martyrdom - helps buy a quick ride into paradise. It's the torture of the innocent that harms our interests, and there's widespread documentation that we've done exactly that many times in Iraq. Torture is yet another propaganda victory for Al Qaeda. To them (and many neutral Arab observers), it confirms the impression that the West is immoral and should be resisted.
That's why there's open talk about the possibility of another Bin Laden video, or a worse "October surprise," to help the GOP's sagging fortunes. (Dems should have an action plan in place for just such a possibility.)
For the GOP power brokers, an electoral repudiation of Bush/Cheney would be bad for business. And the Cheneys are all about business - whether it's allowing Halliburton to rip off the American soldier, or peddling a little blowsy smut (against their purported "family values") to pump up book sales. Sadly, they're representative of the Republican Party as a whole. Like their fellow GOP leaders, the Cheneys choose greed over ethics and self-interest over service to country.
"Honey," the beautiful redhead murmured to her blogger-husband, "won't a Democratic victory make us safer, both here at home and on that European 'second honeymoon' you've been promising?"
"Mmmm," he agreed as they fell toward the bed.