Sunday, January 3, 2010

Playing The "Democrats Are Weak On Terrorism" Card?

One week ago, December 27, 2009, on CNN, GOP strategist and former Dick Cheney adviser Mary Matalin defended her former boss charging that President Bush had in fact “inherited a recession” and the September 11th 2001 attacks from President Clinton:
MATALIN: I was there, we inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation’s history.
Former Bush administration spokesperson Dana Perino has also recently claimed that “we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.” Former Bush administration officials seem intent on misrepresenting history to pretend that the country never suffered its worst terror attack in history under Bush’s watch so that 2010 GOP candidates can run on a "strong on terrorism" platform.

It’s a peculiar talking point, even considering the other efforts to whitewash the GOP’s disastrous record.

In reality, the terror attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 — eight months into President Bush’s first term. "Charlie Allen had his hair on fire,'' wrote Richard Clarke, the former counter terrorism chief, at the start of a chapter in his best selling book, Against All Enemies. Clarke's book chronicles the efforts of several government security experts to warn the Bush Administration of a pending attack by Al-Qaeda -- from the weeks before Bush took the oath of office until the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. [CBS News Interview]

Philip Zelikow, Director of the National (9/11) Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, testified that the CIA had issued several warnings that terrorists might fly commercial airplanes into buildings or cities. In briefings during the weeks before Bush took office on January 20, 2001 outgoing Clinton Administration officials advised incoming Bush administration officials that counter-terrorism should be the Bush Administration's number one priority. Throughout the spring and summer of 2001, we now well know, that CIA Director George Tenet, White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke, and several other officials were running around with their "hair on fire," warning that al-Qaida was about to unleash a monumental attack.
On Aug. 6, 2001 Bush was given the now-famous President's Daily Brief (by a CIA briefer), entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” (See the memo here.) warning that this attack might take place " inside the United States."

According to one account, after the PDB has been given to him, Bush tells the CIA briefer, “You’ve covered your ass now” (see August 6, 2001). Incredibly, the New York Times later reports that after being given the briefing, Bush “[breaks] off from work early and [spends] most of the day fishing.” [New York Times, 5/25/2002]

We now know that between January 20 and September 10, 2001 President Bush was briefed on Al-Qaeda over 40 Times.

Dana Milbank and Mike Allen of the Washington Post wrote that on Aug. 7, 2001, the day after the fateful PDB, Bush, "was in an expansive mood … when he ran into reporters while playing golf." The president's aides emphasized that he was working, now and then, on a few issues—education, immigration, Social Security, and his impending decision on [banning] stem-cell research. On Aug. 29 Bush gave a speech before the American Legion outlining the President's defense priorities of boosting soldiers' pay and abandoning the Anti-Ballistic-Missile Treaty.

History records that the Republican administration ignored all warnings...
So why are Republicans stepping up their efforts to white wash the Republican record on terrorism? Terrorism virtually disappeared as an issue in the final Election Day 2008 sprint, despite the best efforts of Obama’s opponent, Republican Sen. John McCain, who had a distinct polling advantage over Obama on the issue because of his military experience. Obama was able to trump the politics of terrorism with a more immediate public crisis – the financial meltdown of September 2008.

After a terrorist unsuccessfully tried to detonate his explosive underwear on a Christmas Day flight to Detroit, Republicans seem to be signaling that they intend to again try to excite voters' fears about terrorists during the 2010 election cycle to rehabilitate the old Republican claim that Democrats are weak on national security - weak on dealing with the terrorist threat.
And who will Republicans target, in their us-against-them messaging strategy, as accomplices in their charges that Democrats are weak on terrorism? An item from this mornings headlines probably answers that question: FOX News Guest: 'Strip Search All 18-28-Year-Old Muslim Men At Airports'.
Related: Rather than strip search 18-28 year-old Muslim men at airports', a more likely response to the Christmas Day underwear bomber will be renewed calls for ‘Naked Scanners’ to digitally strip-search every air traveler.

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