Since Christmas Day, when the Underpants Bomber was taken off a plane in Detroit, there has been nothing but criticism of the Obama Administration’s handling of this near-disaster. The usual right-wing talking heads were beside themselves that this kid made it all the way to Detroit without being detected. For them, it was like an unexpected Christmas gift left by a Real American Santa Claus. Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano’s foolish remark that the system “worked” didn’t help and only fueled the already-burning fire.
Things have gotten so nasty that I almost believe an honest-to-God successful attack would really make these people ecstatic. They’d crow to the news outlets: “See, I told you so! It’s all Obama’s fault!!” They’d gleefully sprint from news channel to news channel with barely disguised self-righteousness, happy they were proven right.
But the Republicans’ hypocritical claim that Obama “doesn’t get it” regarding al Qaeda or the “war on terror” is weak and childish. In their minds, since it took Obama three days to make an official comment on the Underpants Bomber, he’s laissez-faire on terrorism. They’re apparently unable to remember how many days it took for George W. Bush to acknowledge the disaster in the homeland that was Hurricane Katrina. But they’ll just rail on about Obama: How dare he go golfing in Hawaii! He isn’t looking out for our security! He can barely understand what all the fuss is about!
The fact is, the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks occurred eight months into Bush’s presidency and more than a month after he’d received a presidential daily briefing titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” Assuming both Republicans and Democrats can still agree on mathematics, eight months is still longer than three days.
Republicans also conveniently overlook the fact that Bush waited six days after shoe bomber Richard Reid was caught to make an official statement. He then went from Camp David to his ranch in Crawford, Texas — not to the White House — to continue his own vacation.
I love the revisionist-history talking points that have been sent to all the Republican yabberers who repeat them verbatim on the air with nary a shameful face. Dana Perino, Karl Rove, Mary Matalin, Lynne Cheney, Big Dick — they all claim, if you can believe their audacity, there were no terrorist attacks under Bush after Sept. 11. Rudy Guiliani even went one claim better and actually said there were no attacks on Bush’s watch, period. Such fiction from Rudy “Noun, Verb, 9/11” Guiliani! How astounding that he forgot his one and only talking point of significance during the last eight-and-a-half years! Perhaps the Republican’s constant lying about Iraq’s part in attacking the U.S. on Sept. 11 made Bush’s spokespeople comfortable with verbalizing fabrications without blinking an eye.
Per Media Matters, watch how Fox’s Monica Crowley explains the difference between the shoe bomber and the Underwear Bomber (these names are killing me) on the O’Reilly Factor:
Here’s the transcription, because it’s delicious:
CROWLEY: After 9/11, President Bush and Vice President Cheney had a 100 percent perfect track record in keeping the homeland safe from an Islamic terrorist attack. So far this year, we’ve had numerous attacks.
O’REILLY: Well, what about the shoe bomber? What about the shoe bomber?
CROWLEY: That was coming into the United States. It was not a domestic terror attack. I mean, it was meant to be, but it was stopped by the folks on the plane.
So the shoe bomber wasn’t a domestic terror attack because it was “stopped by the folks on the plane”? You mean, Ms. Crowley, the way the Underwear Bomber was stopped by passengers on the plane? This is how we all know this claim of complete safety under Bush is total nonsense and easily disproven. Let’s see how many attacks, successful or thwarted, actually occurred:
2001: Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, attempted an attack that was foiled by passengers on the plane. Tried and convicted in a civilian court, now being held in a federal lockup.
2001: anthrax attacks, which then-Attorney General John Ashcroft called a terrorist attack and remain unsolved.
2002: attack against the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport when Hesham Mohamed Hadayet opened fire, killing two people and wounding four others before being shot dead. Tried and convicted in a civilian court, now being held in a federal lock up.
2002: D.C.-area sniper John Allen Muhammad, a Muslim, was tried and convicted on in a civilian court on terrorism charges; he was put to death on Nov. 11, 2009.
2002: Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was tried and convicted in a civilian court of plotting to kill people overseas and of supporting terrorism, now being held in federal lockup.
2002: The FBI thwarted the locally-recruited terrorist cell the “Lackawanna 6” by the capture of Juma al-Dosari in Afghanistan and subsequent interrogation while imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Tried and convicted in a civilian court, now being held in a federal lock up.
2003: In the Brooklyn Bridge plot, American citizen Iyman Faris was charged with plotting to use blowtorches to collapse the Brooklyn Bridge. Faris was arrested by the FBI after they intercepted a phone call to al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan. Tried and convicted in a civilian court, now being held in a federal lock up.
2004: In the financial centers plot, Dhiren Barot, the Indian-born leader of terror cell, plotted bombings on financial centers. Arrested in Pakistan.
2004: In the Penn Station plot, James Elshafay and Shahawar Matin Siraj sought to plant a bomb at New York’s Penn Station, near Madison Square Garden, during the Republican National Convention.
2006: In March 2006, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill graduate Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar drove an SUV into an area of campus, striking nine pedestrians. According to reports, Taheri-azar said he acted because he wanted to “avenge the deaths or murders of Muslims around the world.”
This is only a list of attacks that camethisclose. There were more that were stopped, many we may never know about. Oh, and for those who believe these animals shouldn’t be tried in a U.S. civilian court, did you notice how many of the examples above were tried and convicted in civilian courts and are now serving time in federal penitentiaries? Why was this acceptable under Bush but not under Obama? Could this be another specious, hypocritical example of Republican revisionist history? A better word might be lies.
Republicans need to stop their finger-pointing and histrionic fear-mongering. Terrorism is not a game to be played for political capital. Continuing streams of lies about how Obama “doesn’t get it,” how he loves terrorists or how he wants to dance with al Qaeda or any of the other insane ramblings of these angry, pouty, disgraceful people does the nation no good. It’s sickening how these radical right-wingers crow about how liberals don’t care about keeping us safe. These tired arguments about who keeps us safer aren’t just divisive. They hurt this country as much as any attack, thwarted or not, ever will.
Terrorist attacks, and plans for terrorist attacks, are facts of our future. We can’t return to the days when our enemy was a definable country identifiable on a map. These freaks are slippery, greasy, oily, and when we fight internally, they win. Terrorists are the ideological warriors of the future and presidents will do all they can to keep them from doing any actual damage. The measure of success should be whether there are successful attacks on U.S. soil or against our citizens worldwide. On that score, the Bush and Obama administrations have each done remarkable job.
For eight years we may not have liked Bush or his illegal war in Iraq, but there wasn’t immediate blame whenever a pin dropped — nor was there quite this much vitriol directed towards him when thwarted attacks were uncovered. (True, vitriol was directed at Bush for other reasons.) No one wanted to bear witness to a deadly attack. Now the Republicans are all but praying for one.
I believe those wishing for Obama’s failure, those hoping for another terrorist attack on the homeland, are as traitorous as any al Qaeda operative. Maybe it’s time Republicans reassess what their mothers told them about lying. Something about…”pants on fire”?
Elizabeth Burke, a New York-based actor, has been involved in politics since her first campaign at age 16. Burke’s Law does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.