Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Bushites Want To Rewrite History; Facts Never Were Their Strong Point

The Bushites Want To Rewrite History; Facts Never Were Their Strong Point

Bush administration officials -- former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others -- are all over the networks, taking credit for building the intelligence apparatus ("enhanced interrogation" and the like) that eventually enabled the United States to track down Osama bin Laden.

Will any of those smug politicos have the honesty to remind us that back in 2001 bin Laden was cornered in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan, and President George W. Bush called off the hunt?

He and his claque of neo-con enablers were too busy ginning up the war in Iraq to be bothered completing the job Bush himself only weeks before had identified as the top priority in his "war on terror." And so bin Laden escaped to inspire a new generation of terrorists and plot new orgies of blood for them to wallow in.

Amid the jubilation over bin Laden's death, no one should forget that the mission in Pakistan would not have been necessary if Bush had not called off the hunt in Tora Bora so that our troops could embark on a war that would kill more than 4,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis. A war based on groundless "intelligence."

A war that is a major contributor to our economic and geopolitical problems.

A war that may have done more to inspire anti-American terrorism than Osama bin Laden ever could.

Bush should be run out of town on a rail. Bush called off the hunt for bin Laden only 6 months after September 11 because Bush wanted to invade Iraq. So much for 3,000 dead Americans. Bush gave up on them before the smoldering ashes at Ground Zero had barely gone cold. We are literally in greater danger as a country because of the incompetence of the man running our nation. God help us.

Politico reports that supporters of George W. Bush are “irked” that the former president isn’t getting more credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, despite the droves of conservatives lawmakers and pundits who have been rushing to give Bush equal credit as Obama.

But this praise for Bush relies on rewriting history to obscure the fact Obama re-prioritized the hunt for Bin Laden after Bush had largely abandoned the effort to focus on Iraq.

While many conservatives are triumphantly replaying Bush’s September 2001declaration that he would find Bin Laden, just months later, by Bush’s own account, he was unconcerned about the terrorist mastermind. Asked about the hunt for Bin Laden at a March, 2002 press conference, Bush said, “I truly am not that concerned about him. I am deeply concerned about Iraq.” “I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you,” Bush added.

By 2006, the trail for Bin Laden had gone “stone cold” and Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes said Bush told him that hunting Bin Laden was “not a top priority use of American resources.” (Indeed, there was a flailing war in Iraq to fight.)

That year, it was revealed that the administration had shuttered the CIA’s Bin Laden unit in late 2005. As the New York Times reported at the time, the move reflected ashift in resources to Iraq:

In recent years, the war in Iraq has stretched the resources of the intelligence agencies and the Pentagon, generating new priorities for American officials. For instance, much of the military’s counterterrorism units, like the Army’s Delta Force, had been redirected from the hunt for Mr. bin Laden to the search for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed last month in Iraq.

But Bush’s biggest misstep in the Bin Laden hunt occurred years before, in the early days of the war in Afghanistan. As a 2009 Senate Foreign Relations Committee reportfound, the Bush administration blew a critical opportunity to capture Bin Laden in 2001. Bin Laden was wounded and on the run, but top Bush national security officials rejected repeated pleas for reinforcements from commanders and intelligence officials fighting the terrorist leader in the caves of Tora Bora, despite the availability of resources:

Fewer than 100 American commandos were on the scene with their Afghan allies and calls for reinforcements to launch an assault were rejected. Requests were also turned down for U.S. troops to block the mountain paths leading to sanctuary a few miles away in Pakistan. The vast array of American military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of the Marine Corps and the Army, was kept on the sidelines. Instead, the U.S. command chose to rely on airstrikes and untrained Afghan militias. [...]

Even when his own commanders and senior intelligence officials in Afghanistan and Washington argued for dispatching more U.S. troops, [Commanding Gen. Tommy] Franks refused to deviate from the plan.
The report “removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora,” but that decisions made by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his deputies, and other top administration officials allowed Bin Laden to escape.

The consequence of this missed ooportunity are tremendous. As Lt. Col. Reid Sawyer, the director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, told NPR yesterday, “if bin Laden had been killed in Afghanistan eight years ago in the caves of Tora Bora, al-Qaida might well have died with him. Now the organization is diversified enough it could weather bin Laden’s death — and hardly miss a beat.”

Moreover, as Rumsfeld himself acknowledged, Bush’s extra-legal torture and rendition policies did not help capture Bin Laden. Enhanced interrogation techniques did not work. Bush ordered one final push to capture Bin laden shortly before he left office, but this effort too was unsuccessful.

The killing of Osama bin Laden brought back memories of September 11, 2001 for many, and, just a few months short of the 10th anniversary of those horrendous events, most Americans believe the attacks changed the country for the worse.
Osama bin Laden went down, and President Obama has gone up – in the polls, that is.

Americans overwhelmingly endorse the president’s decision to kill bin Laden and don’t believe a greater effort should have been made to bring the terrorist mastermind to trial. Eighty-six percent (86%) of Adults approve of the president’s decision authorizing the mission to kill bin Laden. Only 14% say the special operations forces involved in the mission should have tried harder to capture bin Laden so that he could have been given a fair trial.

A month ago, voter confidence in U.S. efforts in the War on Terror had fallen to its lowest level in over four years, but that confidence has soared following the weekend killing of bin Laden. Fifty-five percent (55%) of voters now believe the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror, the highest level of confidence measured since early February 2009. Voters have only rarely expressed this much confidence in seven years of surveying on the question.

Voters are also much more confident that the country is safer today than it was before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that bin Laden orchestrated.

Americans still remain highly concerned about the possibility of a terrorist attack in the United States in the near future, but that concern has not increased because of the killing of bin Laden. Most also feel bin Laden’s death will not worsen U.S. relations with the Muslim world.

However, Pakistan where bin Laden was found may be a loser following the weekend’s events. Eighty-four percent (84%) of Americans think it’s at least somewhat likely that high-level officials in the Pakistani government knew where bin Laden was hiding. That includes 57% who say it is Very Likely they knew. Just 15% now feel that the United States should continue military and financial aid to Pakistan.

The president, on the other hand, has clearly benefited at least in the short term from the killing of bin Laden.

In April, Obama’s full-month Presidential Approval Index rating was –15, showing no change from March but down four points from January. But by week’s end, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll found the lowest level of Strong Disapproval for Obama since July 2009. Overall, it was his best Approval Index rating in three months.

Grades for the president’s national security performance also bounced higher, but ratings for his handling of economic issues held relatively steady. This highlights the president’s longer-term problem since voters continue to regard the economy as the number one issue in terms of how they vote, well above national security.

More than seven years ago, U.S. troops captured Saddam Hussein at a time when Iraq was the central front in the War on Terror, and Hussein was public enemy number one. That capture led to an immediate increase in consumer and investor confidence.

The Rasmussen Consumer/Investor Indexes show a similar response this week. By Friday, the consumer index was up seven points since the announcement of bin Laden’s death, and the investor index was up nine points in the same period. But both are still down from three months ago. Only 10% of investors rate the U.S. economy as good or excellent these days, showing little change from Sunday.  Forty-seven percent (47%) give the U.S. economy a poor rating, down six points from Sunday.

April was a turbulent month for consumers, according to the Discover U.S. Spending Monitor, but ultimately changed little from March.

The Rasmussen Employment Index, which measures workers’ perceptions of the labor market each month, regained five points in April after falling to a recent low in March. Yet despite April’s gain, confidence in the labor market is still down from the beginning of 2011. Just 19% of working Americans now report that their firms are hiring, while 25% say their firms are laying workers off. It has been nearly three years since the number reporting that their firms are hiring has topped the number reporting layoffs.

Voters continue to believe tax cuts and decreases in government spending willbenefit the nation’s economy. But most also still think government spending will go up under the Obama administration. 

Senate Republicans are calling for side-by-side votes on the president’s 2012 budget proposal and the House-approved debt reduction plan by Republican Congressman Paul Ryan. While opposition to Ryan’s proposal is increasing, even more voters are saying no to the president’s. Just 30% favor Obama’s budget proposal, while 50% oppose it.  Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.]

By comparison, slightly fewer voters (26%) favor Ryan’s proposal, but fewer (34%) also oppose it. A sizable 40% still don’t know enough about the plan to have any opinion of it.

Despite the recent first-ever press conference by a Federal Reserve Board chairman, voters continue to view the Fed’s performance with skepticism and are evenly divided when asked whether the Fed chairman or the president have more clout when it comes to the economy.

For the first time since Democrats in Congress passed the national health care billin March of last year, however, support for repeal of the measure has fallen below 50%. Yet most voters still believe free market competition rather than more government regulation is the better way to reduce the cost of health care in America. 

As for challengers to the president’s reelection, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appears to have the solidest support when likely Republican primary voters are asked who they would definitely vote for now. Despite the media coverage he’s been getting, more primary voters say they would definitely vote against Donald Trump than for him.

In fact, just 15% of all voters think Trump is seriously running for president. Trump’s unfavorable ratings have been going up, and 62% of voters believe the media is paying too much attention to his interest in running for the presidency.

Most voters continue to feel they have very little in common ideologically with the average member of Congress. But Republicans in Congress are now seen as more conservative than they were a month ago. The honeymoon period may be over for House Speaker John Boehner, too, with his favorable marks falling sharply from last month's high.

Republicans held a three-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending May 1, 2011. That was up one point from the previous week which marked the narrowest gap between the parties since October 2009.

In April, the number of unaffiliated voters in America grew for the fourth straight month. Now, 34.8% of American Adults consider themselves to be Republicans, 33.5% say they are Democrats, and 31.7% say they’re not affiliated with either major party. The April results represent the fifth time in the past six months that there have been more Republicans than Democrats in the nation. They also mark the lowest number of Democrats ever recorded in Rasmussen Reports tracking since November 2002.
In other surveys last week:

-- Twenty-five percent (25%) of Likely U.S. Voters say the country is heading in the right direction. But this survey was completed just before the bin Laden news became public.

-- Seventy-two percent (72%) of Americans say it’s at least somewhat likely that the price of gas will rise above $5 a gallon by July 1, up 14 points from two months ago.

-- A plurality (43%) of Americans say high gas prices have had a significant impacton their daily lives. Many also say they are driving less now than they were a year ago.

-- Voters strongly believe the government can do something to lower rising gas prices, but they have mixed feelings about dropping the federal gas tax: 44% say the government should eliminate the federal gasoline tax until prices at the pump come down, but 35% disagree.

-- Forty-six percent (46%) of Americans still think 21 is the proper drinking age, but support is up slightly to 35% for dropping it to 18. Perhaps not surprisingly, younger adults are more enthusiastic about lowering the drinking age than their elders.

-- Americans want something brewed on American soil when it comes to beer, and their top choice is Budweiser. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of American beer drinkers choose domestic beers over imported ones. Twenty-two percent (22%) like imported beers more.

The number of people following Rasmussen Reports on Twitter topped the 100,000 mark on Monday, highlighting our major - and growing - influence on the social media scene.

A Twitter following of this size clearly establishes Rasmussen Reports as one of the nation's most influential political and lifestyle media outlets. You can join this growing list ranks @RasmussenPoll as the 20th  most influential political tweeter, right ahead of Markos Moulitsas of The Daily Kos, The Washington Post's Ezra Klein, top Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee, influential GOP Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina and House Speaker John Boehner. Another measure of influence can be found at

According to this measure, @RasmussenPoll ranks in the top 1.1% of all tweeters.

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