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Archive for the ‘Osama bin Laden’ Category

There are very few “it moments” in life. The moments where you view your life in terms of before “it” and after “it”. “Before I got married”. “After Dad died”.

Six years ago today was one of those days on a global scale. For people around the world now view their lives through the prism of “before 9/11” and “after 9/11”.

Save for nineteen, neither the passengers nor crew on those four planes that cool Tuesday morning had any idea that as they walked towards their planes, death walked among them, elbowing its way through the crowd like some obnoxious tourist.

Nor did any of us have any idea that six years later, their murders and the murders of the thousands inside the World Trade Center and Pentagon would be largely unavenged, their president using their lives and deaths as leverage to bargain for the war he wanted rather than the war that began that day.

Freedom is but a flickering candle in the gale force wind created by an administration that saw 9/11 as opportunity rather than tragedy. As the flaming remains of the World Trade Center leapt into the New York skies, spreading the residue of burning jet fuel and the ashes of the fallen into the lungs of the brave souls who dug through the rubble searching in vain for survivors, the White House planned an assault on two fronts.

One seemed a logical counter response to the administration’s claims that “they hate us for our freedom” by eliminating that which it claimed they hated. A set of laws that only Stalin could have loved wound its way through the corridors of Washington DC, voted on by a Congress full of enablers and “opposition” that were too timid to risk being seen as “un-American” by the very people that did their level best to destroy all that America was supposed to stand for. The USA PATRIOT Act, Orwellian in both name and scope, ushered in the era of “sneak and peek” warrantless searches and national security letters, closely followed by a warrantless wiretapping program that the founders of this nation would have horsewhipped anyone for suggesting.

The second front was a war not against those who attacked us, but against those that this administration prioritized out of sheer dislike. Certainly, our armed forces made a brief pit stop in Afghanistan— But there was never any doubt that all roads led to Baghdad. Before he even addressed the nation over the World Trade Center attacks, George W. Bush was bellowing “Saddam! Iraq! Iraq! Saddam!” to his cabinet.

The administration used strategy in Iraq that would have to be improved upon before it could even be called “dismal”. It waged a proxy war against those who attacked us and the government who harbored them not because it was strategically sound, but because doing it right would have meant that the American people were weary of war long before George W. Bush got the conflict he wanted. Al Qaeda pumped millions of dollars per year into a nation where the average annual income for a family of four was under $25. The militias that fought on our side in Afghanistan cared nothing for the murders of our people in Washington DC, New York City, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania— They cared about taking their country back from another violent militia that left them out of the loop. We liberated the Afghan people from a government of murderers and delivered them into the hands of people that think murdering a former president and dragging him through the street is an honorable means of transferring power.

And for what? So we could spend our “six days, six weeks, I doubt six months” taking down Saddam Hussein, he of the terrible Weapons of Mass Destruction Program, he who cavorts with Osama bin Laden, dancing on the graves of New Yorkers in drag in the pale moonlight.

Of course, all that we were told in the buildup to the war with Iraq that had any resemblance to reality is that yes, there is a nation called Iraq, and its capital is Baghdad.

Saddam was scum. Whether you opposed the war or thought of it as a nifty idea (Presumably while sending someone else’s kids off to bleed the desert red), he was indeed scum.

But “He’s scum” isn’t a proper justification for warfare. So the American people were fed a steady diet of fiction with a thick layer of “9/11” spread across the top like icing.

2,998 people were murdered by a madman that twisted and distorted the Koran into a justification for murder. And the legacy of those 2,998 people has in turn been twisted by a madman into a war which, while it might wear noble trappings, feels just as murderous to the innocents caught in its crossfire.

Just as the people in the Towers and the Pentagon needed rescue while the president impotently read a children’s book for seven long minutes, the legacy of all those murdered on September 11, 2001 must be rescued. For every injustice committed by our government in the days since has been committed in their name.

We “need” to let the federal government listen in on phone calls— It’s the only way to prevent another 9/11. We “need” to go to Iraq because Big Bad Saddam with his “nookyaler” missiles might bring down another 9/11 on us. And now, we “need” to stay there because fighting them over there means we don’t have to fight them over here.

Our government shows just how much they believe in that notion every day of our lives— If fighting them over here was what it took, why would we need to dispense with civil liberties here?

The soldier that dies in Iraq today does not do so because the White House wants to avenge two-year-old Christine Hanson, whose trip on United Flight 175 was her first and last, or its own Solicitor General’s wife, conservative pundit Susan Olsen, or Todd Beemer, the man that uttered the “Let’s roll!” sentiment that has been misappropriated by men far less courageous than he was, or even Betty Ong, the flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11 who was the first to alert anyone that there was even a problem. The soldier on the battlefield may well have had any and all of the four or the 2,994 other souls that perished with them when he agreed to trust the commander-in-chief to expend his life wisely rather than recklessly. But this White House has no such concerns.

It now invokes 9/11 only as a shield to deflect criticism of its disregard for the basic liberties guaranteed by the Constitution or in telling us why we have to fight a nation that had nothing to do with the attack.

Today, we will all take a moment today and pause, thinking of the horrors of that day, saying a prayer either silent or aloud that their souls have found peace.

And then pray that we become better at guarding their legacy so that the dimming, flickering candle of freedom is not extinguished by this or any other administration.

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Any time a White House has a problem that it knows cannot be solved, they appoint a “czar”. We’ve got a drug czar, an intelligence czar, and now, according to today’s Washington Post, the Bush White House wants to appoint a “War Czar”.

Problem is, they can’t find anyone to take the gig.

I love my country, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to heal all that ails it… So I’ll take the job.

The first thing we need to do is reassert control over our own wars. I’ll shift 5,000 personnel from Iraq to Afghanistan to bolster the NATO forces there. Canada is bringing more bodies home from Afghanistan than we are these days— They and the British are actually dealing with a resurgent Taliban in Southern Afghanistan.

The second thing I’ll do is lobby Congress to pass a War Profiteering Act, much like we had in WWII. If Dubya wants to be remembered as a great president, he would do well to remember that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president that got us through our most difficult war, managed to do so while speaking out against the “war millionaires” rather than simply handing them blank checks. A statute against war profiteering might actually help prevent our next needless war.

The third thing I’ll do is set out definite timelines with the new Iraqi government based on the September 2008 timetable set out by Congress. That’s sixteen months. The new goal of the Iraqi government is to take over another 10% of our work every six weeks, reducing our involvement to a supporting role. Just because this war was started aimlessly doesn’t mean it has to end that way. As long as we keep doing the Iraqi military’s work, they’ll never feel the need to step up. We have to make it clear that we are patient, but not infinitely so.

Fourth— This is something Dubya claims to do already, but clearly does not— I’ll actually listen to the generals. You know, those guys with all the medals and stripes all over their uniforms that have actually spent decades studying war strategy? I’m thinking they might be more useful in a time of war than the suits at the Pentagon that were telling us we would be greeted by flowers. This would be a significant policy change for the White House, which tends to ignore generals in lieu of advice from someone that a general called the “stupidest fucking guy on the planet“.

Fifth— Let’s run our wars like we don’t have ADD for a change. Remember that Osama bin Laden guy? I want his head on a pike in front of the White House. We can mummify it, and have Pentagon employees pass it around and take it home every night like it’s the Stanley Cup. Okay, maybe those last two ideas were kind of gross— Just throwing out some ideas. But we’re suffering from “mission creep”, and it’s time to focus. This is a war against al Qaeda— And even the most novice of war strategists would tell you that creating new al Qaeda factions, giving them a new breeding ground, and giving them a place to practice killing Americans is a pretty bad idea. We couldn’t be helping them more right now if we started tasking the White House Communications Department with making al Qaeda recruiting videos. Focus. Ignore the shiny thing on the ground over there.

So whaddya think? Do I have the job?

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