The Bush Administration's Katrina debacle, Iraq being sucked deeper into the civil-war vortex, Afghanistan turning once again into a major war theater, more and more military leaders speaking out about the disaster that is CheneyBush foreign policy, the defection of so many moderate conservatives from their GOP home, the plummeting of Bush's popularity to not much more than his fundamentalist base, the revelation that Bush&Co. have been spying on citizens' phone calls and emails without court warrants, the indictment of CheneyBush's chief aide Scooter Libby for obstruction of justice in the case of the White House's outing of a covert CIA agent, the "rendering" of detainees abroad for extreme torturing, etc. etc.
I'll get to the annual list in a moment. But first let's step back and take a deeper overview. Buckle your seat belts, here we go.
WHAT 9/11 PERMITTED BUSH TO DO
Whatever you may think of 9/11, and the extent of involvement of Bush&Co., it's crystal-clear that the events of that tragic day were and continue to be used as an excuse for a wide variety of immoral and illegal actions by the CheneyBush Administration. The radical agenda that was barely on the public's horizon five years ago has since become all too evident, both domestically and in terms of foreign/military policy, which is why so many traditional conservatives are abandoning the extremism of the Republican Party.
Launching a war against, and then occupying, Iraq is the most obvious foreign result of the 9/11 tragedy -- even though Bush has admitted several times that there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11, and no WMD either. In one of the worst strategic mistakes in modern American foreign policy, the war against the al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan was precipitously abandoned and U.S. troops were dispatched to Iraq, a country of no real threat to the U.S.
Domestically, the near-3000 deaths of 9/11 -- and, let us not forget, the spreading of deadly anthrax spores around the halls of Congress by someone still unknown -- led to the passage of the so-called "Patriot" Act. This collection of martial provisions gave the federal government and its agents unprecedented police power to violate the Constitution and Bill of Rights in its supposed hunt for terrorists. All this while very little has been done to actually make the country more secure, such as checking containers entering ports, improving security at nuclear and chemical plants, x-raying all air freight, and so on.
In short, Bush&Co. used and then grossly abused the awful events of 9/11 -- and continues to do so -- in order to expand and maintain power, to move aggressively in the world, to pay off corporate and wealthy-individual supporters through huge tax breaks (in the middle of a war!), to create a one-party system of government, to neuter the legislative and judicial branches and thus violate our time-honored checks-and-balances system that provides a brake on executive excesses, to amass more and more police powers in federal hands, to effectively control the mass-media and the vote-counting system in this country, etc. etc.
9/11 also gave Karl Rove the fear-tools with which to manipulate the populace whenever he wished. Rove knows he has a lock on about 1/3 of the electorate, the GOP's fundamentalist "base." In several elections since 9/11, he has revved up the fear machine by rolling out the required buzzwords (abortion, terrorists, gay marriage, the flag, illegal immigrants, Muslims, et al.) to cobble together enough support to "win" the elections, even if by the slimmest of margins. (In reference to those margins, election experts have found that there is enough statistical and experiential evidence to say with some confidence that in key states and regions, those balloting-results were fraudulently obtained.)
We'll talk some about what can be done to change the situation toward the end of this essay; right now, let's take a look at this year's compilation of what we now know five years after 9/11.
THE 9/11 LIST
1. The Facts of 9/11. We know that the Bush Administration didn't want the public to learn much, if anything, about the events of that day five years ago. Bush&Co. had to be dragged kicking and screaming into agreeing to the appointment of the official 9/11 Commission, and they named the executive director, one of their made men (now an Administration official).
As it turned out, the Administration wasn't all that cooperative in furnishing documents, Bush would not testify under oath and would deign to appear only with Cheney by his side (here's my imagined transcript of that testimony) ( http://www.crisispapers.org/essays/911-testimony.htm ) , and just recently we learned that the commission was so angered by the constantly-shifting stories told by the Pentagon/NORAD that they were ready to urge that legal charges be filed. ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/01/ar2006080101300.html )
We know that a growing number of academics and scientists have raised serious questions about the official government explanation of the 9/11 events, especially about whether the Twin Towers fell straight down on their own or were guided in that free-fall-speed path by pre-set explosives. Behind all these and other conspiracy theories rests a nagging suspicion among many Americans -- heightened by the admission that the Pentagon lied outright to the 9/11 Commission -- that the Bush Administration may have been complicit in helping orchestrate the 9/11 tragedies. (I do not accept much of that surmising, but until the Administration comes clean on a number of troublesome questions, Bush&Co. will always be, and justifiably so, under a cloud of suspicion for complicity. These questions include why the Secret Service didn't immediately grab Bush at that Florida school and get him on a plane, why NORAD fighter-jets were MIA on that fateful morning, why airline stocks were "shorted" just prior to the attacks. Click here for more info on 9/11 skeptic groups. ( http://www.scholarsfor911truth.org )
We now know -- no matter what one believes about the Bush Administration's level of complicity in 9/11 -- that at the very least the inner Bush circle knew that a huge al-Qaida attack was coming in late-Summer/early-Fall, but they did absolutely nothing to prevent it or prepare the public for its consequences. They knew because fairly detailed, red-hot warnings about planes being used as weapons were supplied to the CheneyBush inner circle by numerous countries' intelligence services around the world. But CheneyBush didn't even call a meeting of involved advisors and counter-terrorism honchos to move on the intel they were getting. In short, Bush&Co. had advance word that something "spectacular" was about to go down, and, for their own reasons, did nothing. Indeed, when the CIA sent a briefer to Crawford, Texas, to go over the ominously-titled August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." -- which talked about N.Y. buildings being cased, preparations for hijacking of planes, terrorists in the U.S. with explosives, etc. -- Bush barely listened and then insultingly dismissed the briefer, saying "All right. You've covered your ass, now."
We know that Bush&Co. saw, in Condi Rice's apt term at the time, the "opportunity" offered by the 9/11 attacks to move quickly and forcefully with the Administration's foreign and domestic agenda. PNAC talked about its Pax Americana plan for global "benevolent hegemony" taking forever to implement unless a "new Pearl Harbor" changed the equation in the public mind. 9/11 came along and served as that "new Pearl Harbor." (See "How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle: A PNAC Primer.) ( http://www.crisispapers.org/editorials/pnac-primer.htm )
2. PNAC & the Neo-Cons. We know that a FarRight segment of the conservative movement was dedicated to using America's sole superpower status to move aggressively in the world while no other country or international force could put up much resistance. The key neo-con leaders in charge of U.S. foreign/military policy (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Perle, Khalilzad, et al.) were founders of, and affiliated with, The Project for The New American Century (PNAC).
The neo-cons realized that presidents enjoy enormous patriotic support during wartime, but when the war ends, those leaders lose their compelling luster, as was the case with Bush#1. Ergo, Bush#2 would become a PERMANENT wartime president, and those who opposed him could then be tarred forever with the "unpatriotic" brush, and their political opposition marginalized. And it worked: the Democrats cowered and gave Bush virtually everything he wanted, up until relatively recently, when occasionally they remember they have spines in their bodies and stand up and fight as an opposition party should.