This morbid fear of terrorism does not comport with reality. In an article by Zbigniew Brzezinski, entitled "The Dilemma of the Last Sovereign, " Brzezinski puts the matter of global terrorism in proper perspective, citing highly credible sources, including our own Department of State (which once had credibility before Colin Powell and Condi Rice stunk up the place):
"According to official World Health Organization and Department of State statistics, global deaths per year due to physical violence amounted to 1,600,000 (2002), traffic accidents, 1,200,000 (2004), and terrorism 625 (2003). "
And yet, here in America, our whole world turns on this subject of terrorism. 9/11 took care of that. America, never before attacked on its own soil in modern times, was traumatized. There is an argument that even if there were another terrorist attack in the U.S., Bush would still win political points because of his demonstrated willingness to use military power. There are those who still believe this to be the solution, in spite of Bush 's debacle in Iraq, which has led to an incredible wastage of human life, a current cost of $300 billion, the loss of national prestige, and the creation of a breeding ground for future terrorists.
But the sad and scary truth is that there is no end of soft targets in the U.S. and there is no shortage of suicide bombers. A terrorist attack is intended to induce fear. So, an attack need not be as colossal as that of 9/11. Any shopping mall in any city in the country would suffice. Look at the London bombings in July 2005. It wasn 't Buckingham Palace or some major financial center. It was three underground trains and a bus. The final death toll was 52 (not counting the four suicide bombers). But Londoners pressed on with their lives and in matter of days life was back to normal. The matter was treated as a criminal act and turned over to Scotland yard. There were no widespread arrests of Muslim "enemy combatants, " no torture camps set up, no looking for a weakling third world country to bomb just to "send a message. " London kept its cool.
America 's vulnerability to terrorism has long been a matter of great concern to terrorism experts and was a major focus of the 9/11 Investigation Commission. As the Commission noted, the primary soft target is America 's port system. Only about 5% of incoming cargo is physically inspected. All cargo is scanned for radioactivity to protect against a radioactive "dirty bomb, " but the Coast Guard has complained that many of the detectors are unreliable. According to an article by the Associated Press, "[These] devices have frustrated port officials in New Jersey because bananas, kitty litter and fire detectors -- which all emit natural radiation -- set off the same alarms more than 100 times every day. "
But it took the Dubai Ports World issue to bring all this to the public 's attention, which was instantly and overwhelmingly negative. The president 's and Congress ' failure to protect America 's port system is now public knowledge. And this being an election year, it was perhaps not surprising that a House Committee vote against the DPW deal by the incredible margin of 62 to 2. DPW has since withdrawn from the deal. It was reported that through some Karl Rove machinations, DPW was convinced to withdraw in order to save George Bush still further embarrassment.
There have been many editorials arguing that DPW was a perfectly credible company, that the United Arab Emirates was an ally of the U.S. in the fight against terrorism, and that it was wrong to turn away a country simply because it was Arab. I agree. But these arguments are incomplete. They miss the point. As the New York Times noted in an editorial,
"The [Dubai Ports World] deal was approved by an obscure committee of second-level officials. The committee is headed by a Treasury official whose department focuses on promoting trade rather than on security requirements. When [security] concerns were raised, they were never flagged for higher-ups."
In other words, security was never an issue, as it should have been, no matter what company from whatever country was bidding for the ports deal. Our ports are too critical to ignore security concerns. But that 's exactly what George Bush did. It turns out that Bush was never really involved in the details of the deal. It was all handled by "an obscure committee of second-level officials, " as the NY Times put it.
Even on a matter of national security, Bush was once again AWOL.
The Times also noted that, "The president ... has not fought for the money needed to keep the ports secure. The administration has [even] worked to eliminate a port-security grant program from the budget. "
So, if George Bush can 't even bring himself to deal with the issue of terrorism at home, is there anything he can do right? The answer is no, and it is time to take impeachment seriously. The country can 't go on like this for three more years. Or if not impeachment, censure. Sen. Russ Feingold has introduced a resolution for Censure of President Bush for violating the law by using the National Security Agency to spy on Americans, an act which is in clear violation of the Federal Surveillance Act. As Feingold put it, "There has to be, at least a first step, some accountability." Appearing on ABC 's "This Week, "
"What I'm interested in is my colleagues acknowledging that we as a Congress have to stand up to a president who acts as if the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were repealed on September 11. We didn't enact martial law on September 11. We still have a constitutional form of government, and if the Congress of the United States does not stand up for that authority at this point, it will be an historic failure of our system of government."
Gerald S. Rellick, Ph.D., worked in aerospace industry for 22 years. He now teaches in the California Community College system. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org