Keeping Us Safe

by digby

Can someone explain to me how it is that Peggy Noonan can claim that Bush kept us safe? Didn't we have the worst terrorist attack in US history while he was president? Didn't his team brush off warnings ahead of time and didn't the president himself tell tell the CIA briefer on August 6th, 2001 that he had "covered his ass" by telling him that Bin laden was planning to attack inside the United States? Why should he get credit for "keeping us safe." (I won't even go into Katrina or the financial meltdown as measures of how well he did at other measures of security.)

Noonan and her friends are searching madly for some kind of bright spot in Bush's otherwise epically failed administration. This is the best they can come up with. But while the government certainly did tighten security after 9/11 --- as any president would have done, by the way --- his foreign policy and military exacerbated the threat many times over.

Last week-end an ex-interrogator wrote about his experience with torture in Iraq. He wasn't talking about the bad apples, but rather the normal, every day practice of torture under the authority of the top brass, which he claims was not only ineffective but lethally counterproductive. He discusses the ramifications of that policy:

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans.

Looks like Peggy Noonan and her pals don't count American soldiers as Americans. How shocking.

I don't think this is the beginning of a Bush rehabilitation project (although it's never to early to start.) This seems like the sad, faint grasping at straws of tired supporters who don't have anything to work with. But you can be sure that if another terrorist attack takes place in the US --- as is probable --- this will be the first thing dredged up as proof that Democrats can't be trusted. It's probably important to constantly push back on these memes, even if they are only weak little attempts at finding a silver lining. Someday they will come back to haunt us.