Never Forget The Summer Bin Laden Briefly Distracted Us From Saddam Hussein

  axis of fantasy

This guy, so deviousIn the summer of 2001, while most Americans were first and foremost worried about shark attacks, our newly installed neocon foreign policy leaders had their eyes on the real enemy, the one man who was working tirelessly to destroy us: Saddam Hussein. This evil dictator, whose plans for world conquest had received a minor setback a decade earlier when the vast majority of his armed forces and military hardware were destroyed, was assembling a fearsome arsenal of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons to strike at us. The only thing that could sap America’s resolve to finish the job and kill the guy who tried to kill the president’s father after the president’s father tried to kill him? Why, Saddam Hussein’s very best friend, Osama bin Laden, who spent much of 2001 running a disinformation campaign (with the liberal CIA’s help) meant to stop our heroic march to Iraqi victory.

Today’s New York Times reminds us of the days when the Bush Administration’s heroic foreign policy advisors were almost — almostdistracted from their primary mission:

The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.

But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.

 
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But the neocons did not give up the fight to defeat Saddam! This led the pro-Iraq forces to take ever more desperate measures. For instance, “On July 9, at a meeting of the counterterrorism group, one official suggested that the staff put in for a transfer so that somebody else would be responsible when the attack took place,” like a bunch of whiny babies. Then, in early September, Osama bin Laden did manage to organize a massive terrorist attack on the United States, the aftermath of which delayed our important work in Iraq by more than a year. But we persevered, and that is why Iraq is a flourishing democracy today.

The Bush Administration officials who gave their all to spread freedom are still vocal defenders of their work:

Ohhhhh, Ari

Haha, Ari, we think we see a flaw in your reasoning! You see, a “truther” is someone who thinks that the Bush Administration orchestrated a series of attacks inside the United States and managed to pin them on foreign terrorists, in a conspiracy that must have involved hundreds of people and yet left no fingerprints behind. This would involve a staggering degree of competence, which is why only crazy people believe it. [NYT]

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About the author

Josh was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, leaving him with a love of chicken wings and a tendency to say “pop”. He taught ancient Greek and Roman history to undergraduates before fleeing from academia in terror; worked for a failed San Francisco dot-com that neglected to supply him with stock options or an Aeron chair; lived in Berlin, where he mostly ate Indian and Ethiopian food; finished in third place on his sole Jeopardy! appearance (the correct answer was “Golda Meir”); and was named 2007 Blogger of the Year by The Week, for obvious reasons. Josh is the creator/editor of COMICS CURMUDGEON (which you should read) and does geeky editing and writing about geeky things such as "the Java programming industry for JavaWorld." He lives in Baltimore with his wife Amber and his cat Hoagie.

View all articles by Josh Fruhlinger

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134 comments

  1. Gratuitous World

    When I coached against the Chicago Bulls' teams of the 90s, I always demanded an automatic double-team whenever Rodman or Luc Longley got the ball. (and Dickie Simpkins, obvs)

    signed,
    Neocon Hoops Coach

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      Heh, when *I* coached against teh Bulls back in the 90's, I always just offered to throw the game, for money. For some reason, they always paid me.

  2. hagajim

    some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster

    Well history kind of proved that it wasn't, and that group of people in the administration were kinda fucking idiots.

  3. FakaktaSouth

    I don't believe W or any of them "let" it happen, I don't believe they did anything. But I do still believe he thinks it was the greatest damned thing that could have ever happened to him in his "Presidency." He got to play with a bullhorn and everything.

    Fucking 92% approval rating for a minute after that shit. Unreal. THAT is what I will never forget.

    1. comrad_darkness

      Especially after he and Cheney went pants wetting AWOL that day. Their absence really let Giuliani shine.

    2. An_Outhouse

      Real people would have realized that they failed miserably, apologized, and resigned. Incompetent, narcissistic, immature assholes were allowed to run our country. That's what makes me so angry. Romney is exactly like them but I bet he's even more incompetent and more in love with himself.

      1. Veritas78

        I was, too. Those were lonely days, when Ari Fleischer was telling us to "watch what we say" and everyone was creaming over our sadistic boy-king and his cowardly veep.

    3. Lascauxcaveman

      We're Americans; guns and bombs and 'splosions make our brains all funny.

      I'm happy to report I was one of those "8 percenters" back then.

    4. James Michael Curley

      I was doing Compuserve those days and helping to moderate a forum "Democrats" formed in 1998. Things one wanted to post often took 24 to 36 hours to show up. I had posted a scathing attack of Giuliani on 9/10. It appeared on 9/12 and I was roasted, mostly by people who had almost prior knowledge of him.

      It must be remembered with the humanity of 9/11 that Giuliani sought to declare the primary (which was being held that day) as invalid and not getting any traction on that suggested the November election be postponed. This is a major difference with Republicans, democracy can be interpreted into their image. The Democratic interpretation of democracy, whether you agree with it or not, is objective and goes forward regardless of the alleged hindrances, costs or false allegations of voter fraud.

    5. Millennial Malaise

      I don't know. "Let" certainly has strong implications, but you also don't rig an election without an end game. Dubya needed to be in office so DickHead could get his Oil War. I don't think they "let" it happen either, just that they didn't give two shits and a war in Afghanistan probably did wonders for Halliburton's balance sheet. Bonus war, thanks Al Queda!

      ETA: That approval rating was super depressing if only because most people would get fired or jailed with the level or incompetence displayed. Derp Derp, indeed.

      1. FakaktaSouth

        Right. "Let" I believe their incompetence reigned supreme, they had no idea what was going on, or how spectacularly this would all go down, but when certain things "did" well, you know, how bout how well all that worked out? Lucky "us." I would NEVER believe W would be involved in something that actually was so horribly horribly effective, ever, nor that HE was EVER involved iN ANY big boy decisions. I would never put anything past Cheney, not ever ever ever, but that's just because I hate him irrationally.

    6. mrpuma2u

      I will never forget ABC throwing Bill Maher under the bus, and then stopping it and backing over him for saying that the Bushwacker was still stupid, and 9/11 was not going to raise his IQ.
      How prophetic Bill turned out to be. I remember saying to my first wife back when the friends of Dumbya's daddy rigged the game (Supreme court made him POTUS) that he was going to get us in a war.

      I also never get tired of that picture of Rummy shaking Saddam's hand, as the Raygun's lackey, selling the helicopters that would later be used to gas the Kurds.

    7. Boojum

      See, "let" it happen implies a level of competence, while less than that required of the "Truther" conspiracy, is still far, far above W's Peter Principle.

      More like "stood by helplessly, masturbating to pictures of Saddam Hussein, while out in the world other things happened."

  4. An_Outhouse

    Its truly unbelievable that these incompetent misfits did not immediately resign but were actually re-elected. Isn't there an island that they could be banished to? Is Alcatraz still available?

    1. mrpuma2u

      In my commie radical dream world Gitmo is turned into a museum like Robbins Island in S.A. and Dumbya has to be a tour guide/janitor.

  5. hagajim

    I agree with Ari, Bush didn't know anything about 9/11 – he was too busy trying to learn how to tie his shoes. #incompetentloser.

    1. An_Outhouse

      there is some reason that after hearing a news report on the radio as it was happening I was telling a colleague "its probably Bin Laden".

  6. Goonemeritus

    There is a difference between being a Truther and knowing the Bush administration dropped the ball. By the way the expression “dropped the ball” does not come close to describing the monumental incompetence displayed by those idiots.

    1. BaldarTFlagass

      Perhaps "the Bush administration's handling of national security was reminiscent of a monkey fucking a football" would be a more appropriate simile.

    2. Terry

      "Dropping the ball" in this case means being guilty of profound negligence that facilitated the murder of thousands of people.

  7. randcoolcatdaddy

    9/11 is the time for me to reflect on how much Bush's presidency flushed our economy, our foreign policy, our basic freedom and civility right down the toilet.

    Ari – you can take your twits and stuff them right up your twat.

    1. GunToting[Redacted]

      A (liberal) friend of mine posted a "what lessons did you learn from 9/11" post, and my reply was that "In times of crisis, civil liberties are the first to go. And, they don't come back."

    1. YasserArraFeck

      Time to reinvade Iraq to find those hidden Saddam clones that we just know are out there somewhere – you know, like in The Boys from Baghdad

  8. BaldarTFlagass

    Looking back over the last decade, it's really hard to argue against the point that the terrorists won.

    1. Chichikovovich

      If you go through the lists of complaints Bin Laden published regularly before the attacks, you'll see he didn't get everything he wanted. Happily the US still holds firm with iron discipline to the things that matter most to Americans, like supporting the Saudi regime and keeping troops on the soil of Saudi Arabia.

  9. SoBeach

    It only took a few hours for the Bush administration to start linking the 9/11 attack with Saddam. And even though everyone in Washington knew it was straight up bullshit they got away with it.

    Our invasion of Iraq after 9/11 was a bigger failure of leadership and the press than even the most cynical could have imagined.

    Stupid Dixie Chicks.

  10. KeepFnThatChicken

    Y'know, I don't hate Bush at all for 9/11. I really don't. I hate him because he was a horrible, misinformed, stupid, uncharismatic sock puppet.

  11. badseeds

    I had a dumb blog way back in those primordial times, and I wrote something like, "It's a gift from heaven. All he has to do is stand around and look presidential, and he's got it made."

    And still he fucked it up.

  12. ttommyunger

    "Huge Talking Penis Holds Forth Once Again!" . No one ever talks about the fact that the real reason Sadaam was taken down is the fact that he was determined to start selling his oil in Euros instead of Dollars; however, in a Country where 15% of its population believes Peewee Herman killed bin Laden, I'm not at all surprised…

    1. Pithaughn

      Yep, before the Iraq occupation, zero US companies with oil field contracts. After the occupation, almost all oil field contracts are US. For FREEDOMS!

      1. James Michael Curley

        On the contrary. China got a large number of the bids in the 2010 round of government offtake agreements.

        1. Pithaughn

          Public Servant Cheney, somehow is now worth over $150million. What grade provides that level of compensation?

          1. unclejeems

            Harry Truman said that anyone who left public service with more money than he had when he entered it was a crook. Spot on, Harry, spot on.

    2. James Michael Curley

      Good point, I haven't thought about the Euro issue for years. It would have delivered a massive blow to the dollar as 'the world's currency.' The last of similar events was Nixon's float which resulted in a 10% 'effective' devaluation of the dollar. I was working in a bike shop that sold German and Brit bikes and the need was that we had to look up the price of a part and add 10% to it.

      1. ttommyunger

        The fact that this information is still available by googling it proves that the dicks running the show have yet to exercise complete control of the web. Some comfort…

        1. James Michael Curley

          I think Google sux and a recent NYT article about how tuff life is for a person who has to cull the internet of disturbing photos and such so Google's image will be preserved subtly illustrates how easy censorship of the net could be implemented by a government entity.

          The other big problem with the type of search engine which evolved from the Google mold is that looking for things is like looking for the dime you dropped in the cesspool.

          Still, Alta Vista which was still there about a year ago, is almost impossible to use for most people without training.

          So the greatest advancement in communications since Gutenberg slides into the too typical morass of meeting only the standards of the least common denominator.

  13. ManchuCandidate

    On the other hand, the neocon motherfuckers had a long track record of being wrong on most everything:
    1) Proclaimed that the Soviets were building the naval version of the Golden Horde (they weren't and couldn't)
    2) Assumed that the Soviet Union would be around forever (they didn't)
    3) Proclaimed that the USSR was close to us in technology (they weren't)
    4) Said history was dead (it wasn't.)
    5) Said Sadman was behind AQ (it wasn't.)
    6) Something about greeting US Amercian troops with flowers and candy not RPGs and AKMs.
    7) Weapons of Mass Destruction. Up there with OJ's wife's killers.

    1. Guppy

      Proclaimed that the USSR was close to us in technology (they weren't)

      To paraphrase something I heard a long time ago, the Soviets could build capable and comparable jet fighters and such, but toasters not so much.

      1. GunToting[Redacted]

        The joke I've heard is the woman who worked for a Soviet toaster factory… They made one part at a time, and she would steal one to take home so she could have a real toaster at home. After 6 months, she made the final part of the toaster. When she took it home and put it together, it was really an AK-47.

      2. doloras

        To put it another way: the Soviet Union invented Teflon, but American capitalism had the idea of putting it on saucepans and making them non-stick.

  14. fartknocker

    It happened and we need to move forward as a nation. 343 FDNY firefighters died and that hurts me. I spent 10 days in that pile as a sector officer for TX Task Force 1 and I am still overwhelmed by the work of the rescuers and iron workers who moved more steel than I've ever seen in that period. As my wife said "It's our generation's Pearl Harbor."

    Support the families and live your lives.

    Sorry for this snarkless moment.

    1. actor212

      I'm with you. It's time to build a future. I grieve for my friends who lost family and close friends that day, and for my part, I grew up with those Towers so my own history changed that day, but we can still remember without losing sight of what has to come.

      We should build off that day.

    2. LibertyLover

      I am all for supporting the first responders and those that are still trying to clean up this mess.

      I do believe that we should move on and it is old news, BUT, I would like to point out that this is still relevant today for the reason that Romney has surrounded himself with the same neocons that were advising the Bush/Cheney regime…. John Bolton, Dan Senor, Max Boot, Eric Edelman, Eliot Cohen, Cofer Black, Walid Phares, and Michael Hayden to name a few….

      And that is why we can never forget…

      (Another snarkless moment)

      1. fartknocker

        You are correct my friend. Thank you for bringing this discussion back to today's reality. And thank you for sharing those names. Tonight I'll spend some times on the google machine learning about these people.

  15. badseeds

    Also: "weapons of mass destruction related program activities."

    Someone actually sat down and typed that, seriously, and it was swallowed whole.

  16. Ruhe

    Believing Bush was somehow too incompetent to take the CIA briefings seriously makes us "Truthers"? So now Ari's gone from being a mouthpiece to a fashioner of fine, diminutive cod-pieces.

  17. fuflans

    i like to celebrate 911 by wondering what would have happened if katherine harris had, you know, stayed at IBM or whatever.

    me and 100,000 dead iraqis.

  18. sbj1964

    As Americans we did not have the high ground morally with Saddam.After all what did he do?He went into another land Raped,Murdered,and killed the native people,and stole they're land.Hell that's how we got this country.

  19. Ruhe

    I'm noticing a few people here describing the Bush Iraq adventure as some sort of failure. It was only a failure if you think the goal was to get the WMDs and establish a new democracy. Does anybody really think that was the goal? How many totally new military contracts were written as that war geared up? How much money was there to be made or just flat stolen? From a certain perspective Bush's war was a tremendous success. Certainly Dick is still smiling.

    1. Chet Kincaid_

      Well of course from their perspective it wasn't a "failure." And there was no "failure" to get the WMDs — if they weren't there, you can't fail to get them. And a "new democracy" was not the goal, it was supposed to have been a positive side-benefit. No, the failure was going to war in the first place, and it was not determined by the outcome.

  20. Chet Kincaid_

    "Obama needs to stop blaming my brother for 9/11, when it is clearly Obama's responsibility now. Obama has been President for nearly 4 years, and 9/11 has still happened! Sincerely, Jeb."

  21. Pithaughn

    The USA is so big it must fail. The other side of the " to big to fail" ism. I'm no expert on human history but has'nt every large empire failed due to being to big for their britches? Eventually some combination of debt and overly zealous leadership causes the empire to collapse?

  22. SaintRond

    I well remember Bill O'Reilly angrily calling endlessly for the extermination of all the sharks in all the oceans because they have fundamentally bad characters and want to kill us because of our freedoms.

  23. MilwaukeeKent

    "Alright, you've covered your ass, now get out of here!" W. Bush to CIA daily briefer on August 6th, 2011, tossing the Presidential Daily Briefing headlined "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S." back in his face.
    "You've got to connect this to Iraq! You've got to connect this to Iraq!" Paul Wolfewitz to Assistant on morning of 9-11.

    Assholes. Never Forget. And never elect their kind again, like on November 6th for instance.

  24. fawkedifiknow

    One thing you are unlikely to hear from the neocons is a demand that the government release the memos. They will attack the reporter's credibility relentlessly, but they aren't going to be in favor of disclosing things they have been trying to keep secret for the last 11 years. You figure out what it means.

  25. Callyson

    BTW, a quick Google search is pulling up nothing that shows Kurt Eichenwald is one of the truthers. Unless Ari Fleischer considers Wikipedia's summary of Eichenwald's career to be evidence of frightening trutherism:

    Kurt Alexander Eichenwald (born June 28, 1961), is a contributing editor with Vanity Fair and a New York Times bestselling author of four books, one of which, The Informant, was made into The Informant!, a motion picture.. He formally was a a writer and investigative reporter formerly with The New York Times and later with Condé Nast's business magazine, Portfolio. Eichenwald had been employed by the Times since 1986 and primarily covered Wall Street and corporate topics such as insider trading, accounting scandals, and takeovers, but also wrote about a range of issues including terrorism, the Bill Clinton pardons controversy, Federal health care policy and sexual predators on the Internet.

  26. One_who_wanders

    The last paragraph of this newsletter is one of the best on this I have ever read. It is also why I don't believe in government coverups of anything major from Area 51 aliens to Chem trails.

  27. SayItWithWookies

    The extent of Dubya's administration's criminal negligence — from ignoring the warnings about al Qaeda to invading Iraq to warrantless wiretapping, Gitmo, extraordinary rendition, torture, cutting taxes in a time of war, wrapping himself in the flag whenever he was criticized for his fucking lawlessness and evil — is just so huge and terrible it's hard for me to grasp at once. Everybody who contributed to that adminstration should be forever banned from public service — and yet Romney would bring them all back. Never fucking forget.

  28. An_Outhouse

    When God was handing out reading comprehension, Ari thought he said said 'new suspension' and thought he didn't need that. His shocks were fine the way they were.

  29. T3rbo

    Ah, 9/11 day. A time to reflect on how many
    US troops killed in Iraq (4486)
    in afghanistan (2114)

    US troops wounded in Iraq (32223)
    in Afghanistan (15332)
    http://icasualties.org/OEF/index.aspx

    Percent of troops who may suffer from PTSD due to combat exposure: 30-35% (http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/vietnam-vets-study.asp)

    Number of troops who serve in Iraq over 1 million (source sought)

    Number of troops who suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI): 253,000 (http://www.health.mil/Research/TBI_Numbers.aspx)

    Number of Iraqis killed: over 100,000 (http://www.iraqbodycount.org/)

    Never forget, indeed

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