Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Road to 9/11... redux...

...the political lamp cannot stay unlit... alas...

On Friday I responded to the ABC “docudrama” the Road to 9/11, with a challenge for some brave reporter out there.

“Go track down how many FBI agents the Bush White House re-assigned during its first six months, diverting the agents from duties protecting the public, over to searching for indictable offenses* committed by the Clinton Administration.”

My personal tally, from informal sources, is shocking. But if only ONE were verified, it would be enough, matching all of the innuendos spread by the deceitful miniseries.

EmpoweringCitizensNow I am behooved to follow up with one more rebuttal. Further proof that Clinton Staff were taking bin Laden and the Taliban seriously, entirely repudiating the image presented by ABC.

I posted a detailed article in 2004, demonstrating that the very swiftness of our response to the 9/11 attacks, unleashing a stunningly effective and well-organized campaign to topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, is proof enough that aggressive planning had been taking place for years... in other words, under the previous administration. Indeed, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush had little time to do much more than say “Go!” to an already-existing war plan.

--- excerpt---

”The existence of this plan is apparent on many levels, for example in the rapid convergence of skilled special forces teams that were already trained to interact with well-developed contacts among Uzbeki, Tadjik and other tribal leaders.

“Moreover, the Taliban were clearly aware that such plans existed. On the morning of September 9, 2001, the formidable guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of the opposition Northern Alliance, was assassinated by an Al Qaeda suicide squad at his base in Khvajeh Baha od Din, specifically in order to foil the cooperative campaign that was sure to be unleashed by America when hijacked planes were sent diving into New York and Washington, two days later. Osama bin Laden's operatives thus hoped to derail an allied retaliation scenario that had been in complex preparation for more than a year.

“While we can fret over the unsatisfying aftermath of warlords, opium fields and other doubts, there can be no question that the initial portion of the Afghanistan Campaign was resoundingly successful -- more so than any other foreign involvement there since Alexander the Great. Credit should be apportioned equally between the President who said "go-get-em" (without the catastrophic political meddling we saw in Iraq) and the previous administration, who assigned professionals the long and hard task of preparing for this deed.”

--- end ---

What I left out of that missive -- and the larger article -- was further implicit evidence... manifest in the stark difference between two military doctrines -- between the Afghanistan intervention and the subsequent plunge into Iraq. Ask any military officer. The two approaches were almost diametric opposites, with the former involving careful planning, mature engagement of local forces, steady diplomacy, as well as utter respect for the capabilities and advice of skilled professionals.

In fact, the closest parallel to the Afghanistan operation was the previous major use of American force -- the Campaign in the Balkans. From the careful use of special forces and air power to the consequent low US casualty figures, it is clear that both endeavors were “cousins” in areas of both doctrine and effectiveness. (This comparison only applies to the first year in Afghanistan, of course. The bungled subsequent period is another matter, entirely, as the Bush Administration made this engagement entirely its own.)

The contrast with Iraq is stunning, on a dozen levels. For example, after telling us for thirty years that “we lost Vietnam because of meddling by politicians,” some of the same rightwing radicals have become the worst meddlers in US military history, micro-managing our troops in ways that not only have devastated their effectiveness, but that make Robert MacNamara look like George Patton. Just the violation of contract-vetting rules, a boring but important topic, has created a scandalous wound, bleeding our troops while pouring millions into the pockets of hand-picked cronies.

The chief result... destruction of our reserves, deterioration of readiness and savage abrasion of our mainline forces... could not have been more thoroughly accomplished had it been planned. But I’ve made that argument elsewhere.

Here, my chief point is this; there is a long list of differences between these two interventions, between the initial intervention in Afghanistan and the debacle in Iraq. That list of differences reflects upon the different styles of two very different administrations.

All of the evidence, from planning style to rapidity of response, to the assassination of Massoud... all of it... points to a Clinton Administration that was very busy waging the war on terror, with the same patient relentlessness that it had brought to the task of bringing peace to Europe, for the first time in 4,000 years.

=== ADDENDA =====

Relevant to the preceding. Can you guess what crazy, America-hating "Defeatocrat" made this statement?

"When presidents fail to make hard choices, those who serve must make them instead. Soldiers must choose whether to stay with their families or to stay in the armed forces at all. Sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless missions rapidly saps morale. Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness."

If you guessed The 2000 Republican Party Platform, you get an extra beer tonight.

The failure of the Democrats to make this THE issue of the campaign is staggering. It simply beggars the imagination.


(* Lest we forget; the sum total of Clintonites actually indicted for malfeasance in the performance of official duties amounted to exactly...zero.)



Anonymous said...

If you guessed The 2000 Republican Party Platform, you get an extra beer tonight.

I don't get a beer, but you do for that nice bit of investigative work. I couldn't even watch Bush's speech last night; I had to dissect it by transcript. So how you managed to wade through all that Republican drivel is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

DB, did you read about the anecdote about the planning for the Iraq war, in which it is reported that Rumsfeld THREATENED TO FIRE anyone who made plans for occupation / pacification / rebuilding?


Calling this incompetence is far too kind.

Rumsfeld is actively delusional.

I'm trying to think of who will play him in the tragi-comic movie they'll someday make about this fiasco.

David Brin said...

Stefan, you are one of the wise-guys. And yet, relentlessly, you accept the complicated and unlikely explanation, instead of pondering the one that Occam's Razor would point us toward.

Mere incompetence does not satisfy/explain all of this. It doesn't. It simply does not.

There comes a point when we must turn full-circle. Even the reasonable man eventually (reluctantly) decides to replace calm explanations of "incompetence" with far darker and more paranoid -- but vastly more apropos -- theories of deliberate malignity.


Rob passed on to me (offline) one of the cants that is currently making the rounds on right wing sites. That Clinton-Albright-Clark went into the Balkans under pretexts that were fully as dishonest as the ones that W used to snare us in a land war of attrition in Asia.

Specifically, the rant is that we were suckered into attacking Serbia by trumped-up tales about "400,000 murdered kosovar Albanians"... who were not (afterwards) found to have been genocided, after all.

I guess I'll take advantage of this spot to reprint my response here:

Rob. Thanks for sharing this moronic stuff. First off, Albright et.al. NEVER mentioned the 400,000 figure, or anything like it.... though I believe she mentioned such numbers of people being AT RISK..

Moreover, there was no doubt at that point about the GENERALLY genocidal nature of the Serbian regime. Mass graves were most definitely found in the town of Srebrenica, in Bosnia. (They are still being exhumed, to this day.) No. The attack on the Kosovars was simply a last straw that got the Europeans to finally ask for our help.

(Are the rightist nut jobs saying we should have REFUSED our allies' pleas? Yes that would be typical of them.)

In fact, the Balkans intervention was not justified as an EMERGENCY at all. It was always treated by the Clinton Administration as a case requiring urgent ELECTIVE SURGERY, a distinction that I make clear at: http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html

An “emergency” means that normal, nitpicking legal procedures appropriate for peacetime can be temporarily (though modestly) suspended. During a true emergency, the commander in chief is given quasi carte blanche , allowed to grant some no-bid contracts that bypass standard accountability processes, allowed to clamp some transient secrecy and permitted to draw upon the nation’s reserves, depleting the readiness of our armed forces in order to deal with a current crisis. NO WONDER BUSH STARTED OUT CLAIMING EMERGENCY REASONS FOR HIS WAR!

Emergency reasons (an immediate and present danger of mass death from Iraqi WMDs) that were outright lies. Deliberate and total lies, so bald faced that anyone who believes otherwise is simply too deluded to classify as an adult.

But the point is that NOW Bush & cronies are claiming other justifications. e.g. "Spreading democracy and peace and western values."

Here's where, as you know, I part company with vapid-peacenik leftists. Because I actually quite believe that America can and should do exactly that sort of thing! We are in a dangerous world and I deeply believe in democracy and peace and individual liberty and western values of accountability/tolerance, as the main tools by which humanity might manage to save the world.

Moreover, the Balkans Intervention was an archetype of exactly that kind of elective surgery! We did careful and patient diplomacy. Got our alliances lined up under conditions of truthful consensus. And when we went in, it was with overwhelming force and fierce, utter-effectiveness that achieved clear goals in less than 6 months.

All at the cost of ZERO AMERICANS LOST.

All of the traits of elective surgery were maintained. Our state of readiness was not compromised; almost no reserves were used. Only a few slight variations in contracting were allowed and those were closely examined afterward, with absolutely no sign of crony favoritism.

Goals accomplished? A European continent at peace and law for the 1st time in 4,000 years. Soaring American popularity... including in the muslim world. Increased world acceptance of American leadership.

The important point is that Iraq is the diametric opposite in every conceivable way. See:http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html

Even after the WMD lie was exposed and the new justifications were those of spreading peace/democracy/etc, we remained on emergency mode, resulting in devastating graft, theft crony-corruption, destruction of the reserves, demolition of military readiness, torching of alliances, a plummet in our world popularity and esteem and a ready-made recruitment program for radicals in the Muslim World.

And an officer corps that is at war with the GOP. fighting for its life against partisan meddlers who make Robert MacNamara look like George Marshall.

Five years... more than long enough for a Congress (if we had one) to deliberate and actually DECLARE a war... and ask the aristocracy to help pay for it, the way every previous American aristocracy was at least patriotic enough to step forward and help pay for wars fought by other peoples' sons.

Five years... longer than it took for the US to stride, united and confident, from the ruin of Peral Harbor to world-spanning and total victory.

Five years in which a “state of war” has stoked a state of emergency, justifying a cloak of secrecy worse than during the Cold War. When the total number of victims has actually been lower than our traffic deaths in any given month. Moreover, the cities, where we were and are targets, don’t perceive a state of war. City dwellers are unafraid.

Crime, crime, crime! But above all, the crime of weakening our republic. Dividing us. Fomenting civil/cultural division/war within our own country.

No. Visit http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html. These people justify their war by saying that Democrats are unwilling to fight for America and our values. But they are the ones who are (at best) incompetent at pursuing the assertive agenda of Pax Americana. They are destroying Pax Americana, setting the world abuzz with meetings (every month!) wherein Russia, China, India and Europe and many others gather to make plans.

Plans to decisively end the reign of an empire that is not longer unassailably popular, but that now seems more vulnerable than any point in a hundred years.

They have done this to us, the neocons. And There are very dark reasons.

It is time for Democrats to point to the Balkans.

“There! There is your refutation! We can fight. But we choose to do it as adults. As citizens of a decent nation and world. As real Americans.

As people who are sane.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think the best version of "The Road to 9/11" I've read was in Al Franken's book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them." He explains how Bush and company rejected the assessment of the Clinton administration that Al Qaeda was a significant threat to national security, and proceeded to implement what Al Franken called "Operation Ignore."

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that we probably would have captured Bin laden if only Rumsfeild had ordered the 82 airborne to surround Tora Bora as the CIA asked for. But they were too busy getting ready for Iraq to care. From what I read only one group of less than two hundred Alcada escaped. A force of thousands destroyed with a few hundred CIA and Green Berets with afghan allies. Imagine the success we would have had with a few thousand Americans to watch over our new allies.

golob said...

Another interesting post, David. Thank-you.

What exactly do you have in mind as far as malfescence? Saudi Arabia already has the most powerful weapon of all: US Goverment Treasury Bonds. Are you leading towards an Ike's nightmare scenario?

It would be fascinating to see, in thirty or fourty years, something like "Tora Tora Tora" for the September attacks, with both sides participating.

NoOne said...

David Brin opined

Even the reasonable man eventually (reluctantly) decides to replace calm explanations of "incompetence" with far darker and more paranoid -- but vastly more apropos -- theories of deliberate malignity.

David, please, please do not veer off into paranoia. I'm now turning a lot of my pragmatic friends onto your blog and they'll take your excursions into paranoia (which happen every once in a while) as an excuse to tune out. Please do not give in to your romantic side on this one.

David Brin said...

Hokay. But youse guys in the know can snicker when I REFER is passing to dose paranoid riffs, yah?


Hey, I was mentioning the r"oil thing too often anyways. The sifters was gonna catch me. Da sifters... eeek.

(But oh, the corelations!)

Anonymous said...

Kinda OT, but I don't have much to say about the main topic, so. Dr. Brin, did you see this article about the resurgence of sci-fi in China yet?

Anonymous said...

"with the same patient relentlessness that it had brought to the task of bringing peace to Europe, for the first time in 4,000 years."

Yes, resulting in the ethnic cleansing of practically every Serb living in the province of Kosovo. It's quite simple to bring "peace" to a region beset by ethnic tension when you allow one combatant to expel the other wholesale. Which begs the question - how are the Western elites any different from Milosevic?

The difference is that Milosevic was unable to complete his goal.

"Moreover, there was no doubt at that point about the GENERALLY genocidal nature of the Serbian regime."

And yet this selfsame Western establishment saw no problem in providing active assistance to an embarrassingly large number of other regimes with "histories of genocide" far, far worse than that of Milosevic. The Turks in Northern Kurdistan and Cyprus, the Indonesians in Aceh and East Timor, and the Israelis in Palestine and Lebanon all inflicted grotesque and genocidal oppression on the "subhumans" in their mists, and all carried out their atrocities with generous aid from, and the full imprimatur of, Clinton and the European leaders. Not only did the West not make any material attempt to stop these genocides, they actively assisted through under-market price weapons transfers and active diplomatic support. It's rather difficult to imagine this same set of elites being reduced to tears over a few dead Kosovars, after they helped butcher hundreds of thousands of Kurds, Palestinians, Bengalis, Biafrans, and Malays over decades.

On the other hand, the Kosovo War did eliminate a frail Russia's last staunch ally on the European continent outside Belarus. Perhaps that's something to consider...

"Soaring American popularity... including in the muslim world."

The Muslim world's reaction (to the extent that it matters) to the Kosovo War was one of almost universal condemnation of the Western allies for illegally attacking Yugoslavia. No Muslim paper of importance endorsed the attacks; most simply saw it as yet another act of American/European imperialism. The one (rather slight) exception to this was Turkey, a state with geostrategic ambitions in the Balkans that welcomed the reduction in Moscow's influence on the peninsula.

Anonymous said...

Where did it all go wrong, then?

I disagree that we used the right strategy at the start of Afghanistan, but I would certainly agree that it was a reasonable course to take.

Even a few tax cuts seemed like a good idea to stimulate the economy after 9/11.

How did we get from reasonable to...today?

This Bush press conference, on Dec. 28, 2001, is a clue.

Where's bin Laden, what is our mission in Afghanistan, Enron, military tribunals, recess appointments all come up in it...and I don't think Bush liked having to give the answers he had to give:


Kevin said...

A theory that makes sense to me about why Rumsfeld insisted on Iraq-lite was that the invasion was a demonstration intended to intimidate other nations too and that the whole point was not only to do it, but to do it so casually and easily that Iran etc. would see that the US could easily do it again anytime. Gulf War I, as successful as it was, was also clearly not a process the US could duplicate every 6 months.
This theory makes sense to me. Otherwise, I am forced to join Dr. Brin's Legion of the Paranoid and conclude that the entire upper echelon of the US government is filled with Saudi and/or Iranian Manchurian candidates.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Doc,

Off topic, but I thought you might be interested in one old-fashioned, more-or-less respectable Republican saying "enough":


Anonymous said...

When did our air force turn into PETA?

Now the secretary of the air force, Michael Wynne, wants to test microwave weapons on U.S. protestors before we risk hurting enemies with them.

Sounds like PETA insisting on testing drugs and cosmetics on humans (our own kind) rather than animals (some other kind).

When did the Bush administration become sensitive to the health of our enemies? Sounds positively bleeding-heart liberal.


wkwillis said...

The Serbs live in the corner of Kosovo that is not being ruled by the Kosovo government. It is defacto independent.

Sean Dustman said...

As a guy on the ground, I do wonder what direction we're heading. Firing of people who projected future war costs that were above what they told the public is fact (even if those were actually low figures). There have been many mistakes and not admitting them is just another one, notice how many ex military are running on the "Defeatocrat" side of the house? There must be a reason.

Off the subject, just finished Kiln People and was stunned and amazed, it was one of the most original and amazing reads I've had this year, good job!