Friday, December 05, 2008

He did not keep us safe

The Wall Street Journal, in an unsigned editorial, Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal today, declares that for all his faults and failures, at least George W. Bush "kept us safe."

In the seven years since 9/11, there were no further attacks on American soil. This is an argument that's been around for a while but is newly re-emerging as the final argument for Mr. Bush: the one big thing he had to do after 9/11, the single thing he absolutely had to do, was keep it from happening again. And so far he has. It is unknown, and perhaps can't be known, whether this was fully due to the government's efforts, or the luck of the draw, or a combination of luck and effort. And it not only can't be fully known by the public, it can hardly be fully known by the players at all levels of government. They can't know, for instance, of a potential terrorist cell that didn't come together because of their efforts.
One could argue that the 9/11 attacks themselves represented a profound failure to "keep us safe," especially after the explicit warnings Bush received during the early months of his presidency about the threat of terrorism in general and al Qaeda in particular.

But even if one chooses not to argue that, it is just false for the WSJ Noonan to assert that there were no terrorism attacks on American soil after 9/11.

In the fall of 2001, five people died after inhaling anthrax spores distributed through the U.S. mail to news organizations and government facilities, including congressional offices.

Bush himself, in November of that year, described the anthrax mailings as a "second wave of terrorist attacks" on American soil.

"As all Americans know, recent weeks have brought a second wave of terrorist attacks upon our country," Bush said. "There's no precedent for this type of biological attack."
The claim by Bush apologists that there have been no post-9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States is a simply a lie.

But even if one chooses to ignore that act of terrorism, it is still difficult to make the case the Bush "kept us safe."

At least, it is difficult to make a case that the people of New Orleans, and everyone else who witnessed Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, might find persuasive.

The suggestion that George W. Bush "kept us safe" during his presidency is objectively, demonstrably false. He did no such thing. It is absolutely unacceptable for anybody, especially in the pages of a news outlet like the Wall Street Journal, to revise history in order to claim that he did.

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