The White House, the Bush campaign and Republicans are spending hundreds of millions of dollars this year to convince swing voters that George W. Bush is a decisive, no-nonsense fellow who does what’s best for the nation. This, of course, requires loads of spin, subterfuge and truth-stretching. There are books overflowing with evidence proving that Bush’s campaign is guilty of massive false advertising. Below is a partial list–much shorter than it could be–of matters Bush’s handlers would prefer swing voters not know.
Bush doesn’t understand the basics of 9/11.
After 9/11, Bush said repeatedly that Al Qaeda had attacked the United States because “they hate our freedoms.” But this was a comic-book rendition of the conflict at hand, and it ignored a slew of geopolitical realities and Osama bin Laden’s actual (and perverse) motivations. As Anonymous (a CIA analyst who headed the bin Laden desk and whose true identity has been revealed as Michael Scheuer) noted in his new book, Imperial Hubris, bin Laden’s “attacks are meant to advance bin Laden’s clear, focused, limited, and widely popular foreign policy goals”–which include ending US support of Israel and apostate Muslim regimes in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan. “Bin Laden,” he writes, “is out to drastically alter US and Western policies toward the Islamic world, not necessarily to destroy America, much less its freedoms and liberties.”
Bush is not taking all possible measures to protect the nation.
Bush has said that his Administration is doing everything it can to protect the homeland, but it has resisted some obvious steps–particularly when industry has complained. In October 2002, Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge called for mandatory government regulations covering security at chemical plants. An attack at such a facility could lead to massive casualties. But the chemical industry has opposed such a measure, and the White House has done nothing to turn Ridge’s idea into reality. The White House has also sided with the aviation industry in blocking legislation that would require airliners to screen cargo carried on passenger flights. About one-fifth of all air cargo transported in the United States is carried aboard passenger flights. But unlike checked baggage, it is rarely screened. How many swing voters realize that when they fly they are sitting above commercial cargo that has not been inspected, thanks in part to Bush?
Bush never bothered to look at the intelligence before launching the Iraq war.
In announcing his intention to invade Iraq, Bush said intelligence gathered by the US government “leaves no doubt” that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs. After the invasion, Bush declared that he had based his decision on “good, solid intelligence.” But how did he know that? In a background briefing last summer, White House aides conceded that Bush had never read the ninety-page National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMDs. (The NIE was a flawed document that wrongly stated Iraq had chemical and biological weapons but that also included serious qualifiers and caveats that should have caused a reader to wonder about those conclusions.) This Commander in Chief once told an interviewer he doesn’t read newspapers; he also does not read the most comprehensive threat assessments before placing US troops in harm’s way.
Bush couldn’t cite evidence to support his claim that Saddam was in league with Al Qaeda.
Bush partially justified his push for war in Iraq by saying before the invasion that Saddam was “a threat because he is dealing with Al Qaeda.” The 9/11 Commission, the House and Senate intelligence committees and the CIA have all reported that there was no evidence of a working relationship between Al Qaeda and the Iraq regime. Rather than acknowledge that he had exaggerated the ties between the two, Bush and his aides have tried to spin facts to support his prewar assertions. But in July 2003, Bush was specifically asked at a press conference to cite the evidence that backed up his pre-invasion claim that Saddam had been in league with Al Qaeda. He replied, “We’ve been [in Iraq] for ninety days since the cessation of major military operations. It’s going to take time for us to gather the evidence.” He had not been asked for new evidence. He had been asked for the initial evidence that supported one of his primary rationales for war. He could not point to a single thing.