[Mb-civic]     Cheney's Threat      Boston Globe | Editorial

Michael Butler michael at michaelbutler.com
Fri Sep 10 17:42:38 PDT 2004

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    Cheney's Threat
    Boston Globe | Editorial

     Friday 10 September 2004

     When Vice President Cheney said Tuesday that voters would increase the
chances of another terrorist attack on America if they vote for John Kerry,
he crossed what should be an impermeable line separating democratic decency
from the sort of demagoguery that disfigures politics in places like
Belarus, Burma, or Iran.

     Cheney said of the voters' choice in the coming presidential election:
"If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again,
that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of
the United States." This assertion was not only false and defamatory; it was

     The logic of Cheney's remark is that every American who votes for Kerry
will be exposing every other American to another Sept. 11 or something even

     Yet Cheney himself told Fox News in May 2002, "I think that the
prospects of a future attack on the US are almost a certainty." Now he
pretends to know that another terrorist atrocity would be more likely in a
Kerry administration than in a second Bush term. Cheney is also pretending
that Kerry voters will be responsible for inviting any such attack. This
flight from reason suggests an effort to make the public forget the failure
of the Bush administration before Sept. 11 to heed repeated warnings of Al
Qaeda's intention to attack the US homeland.

     Richard Clarke, former terrorism adviser on President Bush's National
Security Council, described in his book "Against All Enemies" his strenuous
efforts to persuade his superiors to focus on the danger from Osama bin
Laden's network. Describing George Tenet's efforts to make Bush grasp the
looming terrorist threat in the summer of 2001, Clarke said the former CIA
director had been coming to the White House each morning with "his hair on

     According to Clarke and other insiders, Bush, Cheney, and their
colleagues often appeared to dismiss the threat from Al Qaeda purely because
that threat had been a primary concern of the Clinton administration.
Indeed, Bill Clinton has said he tried to warn Bush that bin Laden would
demand attention as the number one danger to US security.

     Cheney was one of the foremost Bush advisers who took office in January
2001 clinging to Cold War habits of mind. Those old cold warriors found it
hard to take seriously a threat that did not emanate from a nation-state
such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a rogue regime endowed with an army, a
defense industry, and intelligence agencies. In this flawed view of the
world, bin Laden was belittled as a non-state actor incapable of interfering
with US strategic interests.

     Bush and Cheney are entitled to base their campaign on a claim -
however debatable - that they are best suited to protect Americans from
terrorism. They are not entitled to claim that a vote for Kerry is a vote to
expose the United States to another terrorist attack. Cheney owes an apology
to the voters.



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