Blogger “retrogrouch” of the interesting Texas-based blog Barefoot and Naked has dug up a lot of good info (mostly from international papers) in the wake of Richard Clarke’s testimony. Amond the most interesting is clear proof that Condoleezza Rice and Ari Fleischer clearly lied about the administration’s lack of intelligence about commercial planes being used as weapons. Just a few months before 9/11, Bush slept on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Genoa during a trade summit there, because of a specific and apparently credible threat about commercial plans being crashed into buildings there. If the adminsitration couldn’t imagine the same tactic being used on US targets, their lack of imagination is terrifying indeed. Retrogrouch also makes good points about Bush’s “swatting at flies” comment (that’s what the war on terror will feel like as we strike at distributed, independent targets) and the anger of US troops tracking Bin Laden when they were pulled off a hot trail to chase Saddam.
Basically, retrogrouch pulled together several strands that had become apparent to me in the Administration’s meltdown over Clarke’s testimony. For me, the net is that the Bush team just doesn’t understand the painful realities of the rise of non-state actors. Of course it would be easier if terrorists were propped up by states, because those states have “good targets” that can be attacked. Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and others talked of attacking Iraq as “draining the swamp,” i.e., shutting down a terrorist breeding ground. But not only was Iraq not a breeding ground before the war, it is now because of there actions–actions that have mucked up the entire Middle East to the extent that it’s a far swampier swamp than it was 18 months ago. Now with the escalation of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the entire Muslim world believes the US is out to get them–and from their standpoint, that is probably a reasonable belief.
I have to end this with a crass bit of wisdom that would not have been news to my Grandaddy on his farm: if you don’t want flies, stop spreading bullshit around. Given the daily load this administration is dishing out all over the world, we’ll all be swatting at flies for a long time.