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Six Years Of Scares: All The President's Fearful Men

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It is an article of faith that the Bush regime has played the fear card ever since 9/11. Mention Al-Qaida, and the congenitally fearful rally around their leader.

But at least in this post, I am somewhat less concerned with the impact of the fear card. I'm more concerned about the fear-inducing psychological roots of some key present and past members of this Administration.

Let's think back to the days, weeks and months right after 9/11. This is where the fear meme congealed, not only as a tactic but a characteristic.

Remember all those color-coded alerts?

In his whiny excuse for a memoir, former CIA director George Tenet said those alerts were attributable in part due to "an operating assumption" that Al-Qaida had smuggled nukes into this country.

Presumably Tenet would have vetted this belief in the company of individuals such as:

Dick Cheney, who is suspicious, fearful, tense and vindictive by nature;

President Bush, who at the time of his election, had only been out of the country three times and had virtually no experience in the Middle East?

FBI chief Robert Mueller, a week on the job after 9/11 and head of an agency whose counterterrorism chief was later revealed in an interview as not being able to tell the difference between Shia and Sunni;

Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose private reservations about the nature of the threat was subsumed by his "good soldier" ways;

Then CIA chief Tenet, an enabling, suck up to the boss type who was embarassed his agents weren't able to infiltrate Al Qaida before the attacks;

Then Attorney General John Ashcroft, fearmeister supreme who thinks the end times are coming soon and some Al Qaida nukes could hasten things.

Then, original Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge tells all Americans to seal their doors in case dreaded poison gasses seep in.

Then you had reporters such as Judith "Saddam has vats of anthrax" Miller, and other reporters who spread the fables that anthrax- used in attacks just after 9/11, could kill millions.

Other reporters fueled fear by feeding us this trash.

And these folks met at the time of a national intelligence infrastructure that had outdated technology, few if any Arabic interpreters, and few human assets. Whether consciously or not, they collectively adapted an "assume the worst" mode. I mean, if something bad happens you are right and if something bad doesn't happen, we "foiled the latest Al-Qaida plot."

And meanwhile, the fear continues. While Scotland Yard manages to infiltrate real terrorist cells, current Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's troops confiscate jells on winding airport security lines.