The war president

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 25, 2004

First, a note on last week’s column about the price of oil.

The price of oil in the United States has officially broken the old record set last year. I thought maybe the oil companies would try to hold it down to avoid too much bad press, but once again I underestimated the pure, unmitigated gall and greed of these corporations. They have no shame, they care nothing about the American people or the economic health of the nation, and they know no fear because the president and vice president are their lapdogs.

One more thing on this topic: What’s the deal with the pump speed? I’ve noticed at every pump I’ve gotten gas from that even though the price is 25 percent more per gallon, it takes longer to get $10 worth of gas. I guess they slow the dispensing speed so that people think they’re not getting ripped off. I just wanted to take note of that curiosity.

Okay, on with the show. I’ve taken a hiatus from bashing Bush in recent weeks to give folks a bit of a break, but that’s gotta end. The assertions by Richard Clarke, former counter-terrorism expert for the past four presidents, make it necessary to remind readers of what was at stake when we unilaterally (along with the &uot;coalition of the willing&uot; countries we bribed or coerced) invaded Iraq.

I’ve been doing a bit of reading about Clarke and have discovered that this 30-year federal employee is very well respected. While he has been described as arrogant, he’s also described as highly intelligent, fiercely loyal, and – surprise – a diehard Republican. At least he was until Sunday when Bush’s attack dogs went to work to smear his name since they couldn’t refute his allegations.

Basically, Clarke says Bush wasn’t very interested in al Quada – long known to be &uot;at war&uot; with the United States and responsible for almost every major terrorist attack upon Americans here and abroad. Clarke couldn’t get his message across to the president until a week before Sept. 11, 2001 even though he had been warning Bush’s aides that al Quada was planning a major attack. Too late.

After 9/11, Clarke said Bush immediately focused on Iraq as the culprit even though there has never been a connection between al Quada and Saddam Hussein. I’ve been telling you that since it became obvious Bush planned to wage war on Iraq in the summer of 2002. To the fundamentalist Islamic members of al Quada, Saddam Hussein was as much an infidel as George Bush was. There is no way they could have worked with Saddam. It didn’t make sense in the summer of 2002 and it didn’t make sense on March 20, 2003 when the U.S. invaded Iraq. It still didn’t make sense when Saddam was dragged out of his hole in the ground by U.S. soldiers at the end of last year.

Whatever the reason [&uot;he tried to kill my daddy&uot;], Bush has wanted to finish the Gulf War even though, from an international standpoint, the war was over in 1991. To justify his fixation on waging war on Saddam Hussein, Bush has mislead or lied to the American people. Very few people outside of the United States fell for it, but most Americans did.

They believed there was a link between the 9/11 terrorists and Iraq because their president said there was a link. They believed Saddam Hussein was going to give the terrorists chemical, biological and nuclear weapons to use against the United States because George W. Bush told them so. There’s no need to list all the half-truths, un-truths, and lies that sent 150,000 American men and women into a war that was not only foolhardy, but which also delayed the legitimate war on terrorism going on in Afghanistan.

Troops and equipment were diverted from the war in Afghanistan so we could invade Iraq. The Taliban and al Quada have been able to catch their collective breath because we didn’t have 100,000 troops on the ground clearing out the pockets of resistance remaining. Now they have been able to make future plans, recruit more fanatics to their cause, and take the terror war to Iraq.

The Bush administration now rightly claims that the front line terrorists are in Iraq, but they weren’t there until our soldiers became targets and they weren’t there until hundreds or thousands of new terrorists rallied to the cause to defeat the crusaders who invaded an oil-rich Islamic nation.

We were at war with al Quada before 9/11, but few of us knew about it because for the most part it was being fought by covert agencies like the CIA. We have defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan, for a brief moment had al Quada within our grasp, and have conquered Iraq, but we’re less safe today than we were on 9/12/’01 because al Quada is stronger, more determined, and operating in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan without fear.

Check out the story in the online &uot;Slate Magazine&uot; at