Favorite

Soft on terrorism 

President Bush's hopes for re-election rest almost entirely on the public's perception that he's a merciless scourge of terrorists. Polls show that it is about the only area of public policy where voters rank him well ahead of John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee. It is more perception than reality, and the perception depends upon the media's continuing to lie doggo. But if reports like that of Jim Miklaszewski get much circulation the whole charade will be undone. Miklaszewski is the well-traveled television reporter, one of the few good ones in the breed. He reported the other day that starting long before the invasion of Iraq President Bush blocked three separate efforts by the military to take out the terrorist leader who is now assigned the blame for most of the mayhem in Iraq the past several months. The White House apparently worried in 2002 that if Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi and his Ansar al-Islam group were destroyed it would eliminate one of Bush's prime justifications for going to war. And he very badly wanted the war. Some of the most pervasive urban legends, circulated on talk radio and right-wing web sites, are those about President Clinton blocking efforts to kill Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders. None of them is true but the Bush administration has deftly promoted the legends without mentioning them specifically. Only he, so the administration says, had the guts to go after the terrorists pre-emptively before they had a chance to strike. Zarqawi is the Jordanian-born Sunni who the administration says is trying to foment civil war among the tribes and religious sects and blame it on the Americans. General John P. Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, told a congressional committee last week the Americans there were pretty sure that Zarqawi was behind the bombing of Shiite holy sites that have killed more than 700 people and injured thousands in recent weeks. American intelligence intercepted a letter that they believe was from Zarqawi asking al-Qaida, bin Laden's network, to organize attacks on Shiite sites to foment civil war. U. S. officials said al-Qaida turned down the proposal, and now it denies complicity in the attacks on the Shiites. It would be pretty serious if we could have taken out Zarqawi and much of his network long before they did so much carnage and Bush stopped it. Imagine if Bill Clinton had done such a thing. On the day that Abizaid was laying the blame for the bloodshed on Zarqawi, Miklaszewski was reporting for NBC News that in June 2002, while Bush was trying to organize a coalition at the United Nations to authorize an invasion of Iraq, intelligence sources learned that Zarqawi had set up a weapons laboratory at his camp in Kirma in northern Iraq where deadly ricin and cyanide were being produced. Zarqawi's suspected association with al-Qaida was the sole basis for administration claims that Saddam Hussein harbored terrorists and was in league with Osama bin Laden and, by implication, could conceivably have had some connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It was a fanciful connection all along because Zarqawi's camp and laboratory were in one of the no-fly zones in Iraq that was protected by the United States and was off limits to Saddam's men. The area was essentially a U.S. protectorate. When they pinned down Zarqawi's location in northern Iraq, the Pentagon drafted plans to wipe out the lab and probably Zarqawi himself with cruise missiles and airstrikes, but the plan was debated to death in Bush's national security office. Four months later, intelligence learned that Zarqawi planned to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe. The Pentagon readied another plan to attack, but Bush scotched it, too. By that time, the course had pretty well been set for an invasion of Iraq with or without international support. In January 2003, still weeks before the invasion, police arrested six terrorist suspects in London and found a lab connected with Zarqawi's camp in Kirma. The Pentagon geared up again for an assault but Bush's Security Council killed it a third time. Miklaszewski reported that Pentagon officials were sure of their plan but that the administration at the time feared that eliminating the terrorist base in northern Iraq would undercut the case for war. Bush was still making a show of enlisting U.N. support for the invasion and he and Dick Cheney were telling the American public Saddam was in league with the 9/11 terrorists. When American forces did attack the camp after the war started Zarqawi and most of his followers had broken camp and left the country. Like Osama bin Laden, Zarqawi is still loose and wreaking havoc. Taking him out two years ago would have eliminated one pretext for war, which was as flimsy as the other major justification, that Saddam Hussein had a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and was soon to have nuclear weapons that he would unleash on us. But politics of the basest kind trumped concerns about terrorism, as it has almost every time. A few thousand Iraqis paid the price this time but, hey, what's so terrible about that?
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Awaiting remorse

    William Faulkner, who wrote a fine novel or two about coming to terms with an inglorious past and the healing power of remorse, would have liked January — a few days of it, anyway.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Trump's obsession

    Is it a only a personality disorder, a deeper character flaw, or just an insecure ego, this obsession of President Trump with settling scores with his predecessor, Barack Obama, and critics of all stripes?
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Religion as excuse upends Constitution

    Tirades over religious liberty since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages nationwide have awakened the ghost of James Madison, the author of the constitutional doctrine on the matter, and it isn't happy that his effort to protect religious inquiry in America is being corrupted.
    • Jul 9, 2015
  • Guns, God and gays

    Many more mass shootings like the one last week in Roseburg, Ore., will stain the future and no law will pass that might reduce the carnage. That is not a prediction but a fact of life that is immune even to Hillary Clinton.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • "Nasty Woman" at HSU: 32 artists celebrate Women's History Month

    A photograph of a woman doing a headstand so you can see her red underpants. A sculpture by Robyn Horn titled "Approaching Collapse." Those and other works that assistant professor of photography Margo Duvall says "celebrates the female voice in art" for Women's History Month go on exhibit March 1 in the gallery in the Russell Fine Arts Building.
  • Home again

    The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
  • Bungling

    If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they'd read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration.
  • UPDATE: Campus carry bill amended by Senate to require training

    The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Awaiting remorse

    William Faulkner, who wrote a fine novel or two about coming to terms with an inglorious past and the healing power of remorse, would have liked January — a few days of it, anyway.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Trump's obsession

    Is it a only a personality disorder, a deeper character flaw, or just an insecure ego, this obsession of President Trump with settling scores with his predecessor, Barack Obama, and critics of all stripes?
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Future is female

    • Good article. I think you are right about running a new type of candidate, with…

    • on February 17, 2017
  • Re: Bungling

    • When did liberals and so called progressives start hating on old Russia? In the the…

    • on February 17, 2017
  • Re: Bungling

    • Press conference? Is that what that was? I thought I'd had the misfortune of stumbling…

    • on February 17, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation