Bush Campaign Lies

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #66: Bush is 'Leading the Way' on Reforming and Strengthening Intelligence and Coordination 

So claims the Bush campaign. This is just part of a broader claim that Bush has made 'three years of progress in the war on terror'. First, here's an outline of how Bush is 'leading the way':

  1. Acting on 36 of the 9/11 Commission's 41 recommendations.
  2. Proposing the creation of a National Intelligence Director (NID).
  3. Transforming the FBI.
  4. Establishing the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC).
  5. Creating the Terrorist Screening Center.
  6. Creating U.S. Northern Command.
  7. Proposing and signing into law the USA PATRIOT Act.
  8. Creating a White House Homeland Security Council, led by a homeland security advisor who reports directly to President Bush.
  9. Creating President Bush's Board on Safeguarding American's (sic) Civil Liberties.

Let's start with item (1). How much leadership is evidenced by the fact that Bush has acted on --- or followed 36 of the 41 recommendations made by the 9/11 commission? This is not exactly 'leading the way', especially when, as with the Department of Homeland Security, Bush stubbornly resisted even convening the 9/11 commission in the first place.

Item (2) doesn't bolster the 'leadership' claim either, since the creation of the NID post was the chief recommendation of the 9/11 commission. And again, Bush changed his initial position on the NID; some might even say he 'flip-flopped'. Although he initially opposed giving the NID budgetary authority, he now supports it.

The TTIC (4) seems to actually be a worthwhile program, as does the TSC (5), although serious doubts have been raised about the TSC's effectiveness. Congressman Jim Turner, a Democrat from Texas, explicitly blamed a lack of leadership by the administration for the fact that, as of March 25, the TSC still didn't have a fully integrated terrorist watchlist database:

"Responsibility for this task shifted four times during the first 2 years after 9/11. And since the responsibility for the project has been given to the FBI, the deadline for completing it has been moved to December of 2003, to March, 2003, to mid-summer of 2003, and now through December of 2004.


It is striking to me that the same week Secretary Ridge announced that this project was one of his top goals for 2004, a senior official in the Department of Homeland Security questioned whether watchlist consolidation was even necessary."
The U.S. Northern Command (6) seems like a good idea, too --- albeit one understaffed and underfunded, but does Bush really want to run on the effectiveness of the Patriot Act (7)? It's true that there have been no major terrorist incidents since the Patriot Act became law, but neither have there been any suspected terrorists convicted under the act, and it's a little-known fact that many of those arrested under the authority of the Patriot Act were arrested for crimes which had nothing to do with terrorism.

Of course, many of us among the Loyal Opposition have concerns about the potential for civil rights abuses inherent in the Patriot Act. It is likely in response to these concerns that Bush signed executive order 13353 on August 27, establishing the President's Board on Safeguarding Americans' Civil Liberties (9). But the thing is, the foxes are guarding the henhouse. The board is administratively part of the Justice Department, and is staffed almost exclusively by officers of the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the defense and intelligence communities.

John Ashcroft is looking out for my civil liberties. I feel better already! Great leadership, George!

8:34 PM