The Bush Administration bitch-slapped John Kerry because nine years ago he tried to cut a $30-billion/Yr Intelligence budget by 1.6-percent over five years. Yep, thats the same President who promises to "answer all questions," but will only officially commit 60-minutes of his invaluable time to the 9-11 Commission. Does Bush really want his own administrations record on Intelligence under a microscope this early in the game?
The publics memory is too short, sure, and since 9-11 weve heard much of renowned Supersoldier George W. Bushs "strong commitment" to the total obliteration of terrorism. Even if it means weve got to put a man on Mars. So maybe nobody will remember that hes the guy who shelved the Hart-Rudman report. Besides, he just had to toss it. The report was thick, and it was put together by big-time wonks, and worst of all it was filled with details. Bush finds details as intolerable as broccoli mush for Easter breakfast. The Hart-Rudman report warned that a terrorist attack on American soil was as imminent as a Presidential vacation.
Bush said hed have Vice President Dick Cheney look into that terrorist thing. When asked about the Hart-Rudman report, that was the official White House line. If anybody cares.
Maybe Heartlanders, in their proud, polished ignorance, will acknowledge that, before all the fun France-bashing, the cool flight-suit-wearing, and that big ass "Mission Accomplished" banner, President George W. Bush, the very pride of Yale University, presided over the greatest intelligence failure in the history of AmericaÜbut will vote for him anyway.
From The New York Times
, February, 2002: "[In a] May 10  letter to department heads, which told them the agenda the new administration was setting, [John Ashcroft] did not mention terrorism. Instead [he] cited seven goals: reducing gun violence and drug trafficking; helping states with anticrime programs; reducing racial discrimination; securing the nation's borders and cutting the immigration backlog; reducing overcrowding and drug use in prisons; securing the rights of victims of crime and strengthening internal financial and computer systems."
On September 10, 2001, seven months after Al Qaida bombed the U.S.S. Cole, John Ashcroft submitted his proposed budget for fiscal year 2003. Of the 68 programs earmarked for increased funding, not one was related to counter-terrorism. The F.B.I. had requested an additional $58 million for 149 new counter-terrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators. Aschroft didnt recommend the request. And its not entirely clear if the next days unpleasantness changed anything but the Administrations testosterone-fueled talking points. While the Attorney General got busy dreaming up the Office of Total Information Awareness and the Patriot Act, the President spent a good deal of time and energy strenuously opposing a bill to create the Office of Homeland Security. It was just too Democratic, if you catch my meaning. Of course, once the bill was wrestled away by the G.O.P., castrated, and turned into an unstoppable red-white-and-blue rocket packed with pork, and a few nice little gimmes for Republican special interests Bush couldnt wait to give his autograph. As waffles go that one was positively Belgian.
And lets not forget all those WMDs. Contrary to Intelligence our President received from some guy, they werent scattered around Iraq like the smoldering droppings of Satans own piata
. Real American Intelligence suggested this might be the case, but that Intelligence, like all the stupid information in the Hart-Rudman report was deemed bad stuff by an administration only interested in news that conforms to a rigid, predetermined political agenda. The Shorter George W. Bush: "Any Intelligence that can be used to curtail civil liberties, spy on the citizenry, or deceive nations is good Intelligence. Everything else makes the terrorists stronger."
And what of our Office of Homeland Security? Has it made us more secure? By all accounts our ports are still an open invitation for disaster and our first-responders are underfunded. Of course, North Dakota, which will be targeted by terrorists only after the rest of the U.S. population has been turned into radioactive zombies, got $19-million from DHS. The tiny town of Memphis, Michigan got $71,000 for its firefighters just in case Al Qaida decides that Macomb County is the fount from which American decadence flows. Idaho got $22-million dollars to save the goddamn potatoes, and even the U.S. Territory of Guam got a cool $6-mil to save the U.S. Territory of Guam. Theres enough Pork here to treat every man woman and child in the United States to a nice barbecue supper with all the trimmings.
So the Bush Administration wants you to know that a long, long time ago, an East Coast liberal named John Kerry proposed a 1.5-billion dollar cut in Intelligence. It seems like a bad move for Bush. But then again, hes never been one to shy away from making ignorant decisions based on bad, cherry-picked Intelligence stripped from anything remotely resembling context. Next thing you know Bush Cos supporters will be going after Kerrys military record .
Paging Micky Kaus, white courtesy telephone
(For another take on this subject, CLICK HERE
. Or go to http://slate.msn.com/id/2096874/)