“We ‘ad hoc’ our way through coalitions of the willing,” today’s Financial Times reported a “senior State Department official” as having explained a couple of days ago. “That’s the future.” Such sentiments “reflected Washington’s search for alternatives to the post-second world war global architecture in the new era of its ‘war on terror’,” the Financial Times elaborated.
Well. I guess that’s one way to spin global criminality. Though somebody ought to take a memo for the editors at the Financial Times:
Fellas: If you don’t want endlessly to face criticisms for alleged “liberal” and “anti-American” biases, you need to remember that from hereon, when your newspaper names the actions of the American State, you must stop using the lower case. For the lower case is as inappropriate for the American State as it is for God or any other similarly-referenced Supreme Being. Henceforth, not “war on terror.” But rather War On Terror. Or simply WOT. And all the time. Of course, this particular usage follows from the truth that, whatever the American State does, it does on behalf of God Almighty (q.v.). Therefore, American wars of aggression, smaller scale killing and torture expeditions, State repression on the home front, the looting of the national treasury, the taxing of the health and well-being of all future generations, and the like—all of these policies of the current regime merit the upper case. By definition. Automatically. Thank you for understanding. (Just don’t commit the same mistake again.)
To quote the American President (though in this case, it still remains conventional usage to refer to him as Vice President Dick Cheney):
Wartime conditions are, in every case, a test of military skill and national resolve. But this is especially true in the war on terror. Four years ago, President Bush told Congress and the country that the path ahead would be difficult, that we were heading into a long struggle, unlike any we have ever known. All this has come to pass. We have faced, and are facing today, enemies who hate us, who hate our country, and who hate the liberties for which we stand. They dwell in the shadows, wear no uniform, and have no regard for the laws of warfare, and feel unconstrained by any standard of morality. We’ve never had a fight like this — and those of us in positions of responsibility have a duty to wage a broad-scale effort for the sake of the nation’s freedom and our security.
That effort includes a home front, with a great deal of urgent and difficult work and needed to persevere. In his speech to Congress after 9/11, President Bush said that the United States would, and I quote, “direct every resource at our command — every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war — to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.” The Congress of the United States backed him up in full, authorizing the President to defeat an enemy that had already slipped into our country and waged a horrific attack that killed 3,000 innocent, unsuspecting men, women, and children on 9/11.
The President also signed the Patriot Act, which removed the artificial barrier that used to exist between law enforcement and intelligence, and gave federal officials the ability to pursue terrorists with the tools they already use against drug traffickers and other kinds of criminals. There was no need for a tie-breaking vote on the Patriot Act, because the Senate passed it 98 to one.
That law has helped us to disrupt terrorist activity, to break up terror cells within the United States, and to protect the lives of Americans. We look forward to a renewal of the Patriot Act in 2006, because that law has done exactly what it was intended to do, and this country cannot afford to be without its protections.
Another vital step the President took in the days following 9/11 was to authorize the National Security Agency to intercept a certain category of terrorist-linked international communications. There are no communications more important to the safety of the United States than those related to al Qaeda that have one end in the United States. If we’d been able to do this before 9/11, we might have been able to pick up on two hijackers who subsequently flew a jet into the Pentagon. They were in the United States, communicating with al Qaeda associates overseas. But we did not know they were here plotting until it was too late.
If you recall, the report of the 9/11 Commission focused criticism on our inability to cover links between terrorists at home and terrorists abroad. The authorization the President made after September 11th helped address that problem in a manner that is fully consistent with the constitutional responsibilities and legal authority of the President and with the civil liberties of the American people. The activities conducted under this authorization have helped to detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks against the American people. As such, this program is critical to the national security of the United States.
It’s important to note that leaders of Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on the President’s authorization, and on activities conducted under it. I have personally presided over most of those briefings. In addition, the entire program undergoes a thorough review within the executive branch approximately every 45 days. After each review, the President determines whether to reauthorize the program. He has done so more than 30 times since September 11th — and he has indicated his intent to do so as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and similar organizations.
The existence of this program was highly classified, and information about it was improperly provided to the news media, to the clear detriment of our national security. There will now be a spirited debate about whether this program is necessary and appropriate, and the position of our administration will remain clear and consistent. Number one, these actions taken are necessary. Number two, these actions are totally appropriate and within the President’s authority under the Constitution and laws of the country. Number three, this wartime measure is limited in scope to surveillance associated with terrorists; it is carefully conducted; and the information obtained is used strictly for national security purposes. And number four, the civil liberties of the American people are unimpeded by these actions.
Let me dwell on that last point for a minute. I was in Washington in the 1970s, at a time when there was great and legitimate concern about civil liberties and about potential abuses within the executive branch. I had the honor of serving as White House Chief of Staff to President Ford, and that experience shapes my own outlook to this very day.
Serving immediately after a period of turmoil, all of us in the Ford administration worked hard to restore people’s confidence in the government. We were adamant about following the law and protecting civil liberties of all Americans, and we did so. Three decades later, I work for a President who shares those same values. He has made clear from the outset, both publicly and privately, that our duty to uphold the law of the land admits no exceptions in wartime. The President himself put it best: He said, “We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them.”
The American people can be certain that we are upholding those principles. They can be equally certain that our administration will continue to defend this nation to the very best of our ability. As we get farther away from September 11th, some in Washington are yielding to the temptation to downplay the ongoing threat to our country, and to back away from the business at hand. This is perhaps a natural impulse, as time passes and alarms don’t sound. All of us are grateful that our nation has gone four years and four months without another 9/11. Obviously, no one can guarantee that we won’t be hit again. But neither should anyone say that the relative safety of the last four years was an accident. America has been protected not by luck but by sensible policy decisions, by decisive action at home and abroad, and by round-the-clock efforts on the part of people in law enforcement, intelligence, the military, and homeland security.
The enemy that struck on 9/11 is weakened and fractured yet it is still lethal and trying to hit us again. Either we are serious about fighting this war or we are not. And as long as George W. Bush is President of the United States, we are serious — and we will not let down our guard.
All of us know that crucial debates lie ahead, just as we know that the New Year will bring its own set of challenges to our nation. And when those challenges come, America will have the resources, the resolve, and the character to meet them all. The more you know about this country, and the more you travel and see what we’ve been able to achieve in this troubled world, you cannot help but grow in optimism, and, yes, in pride, as well.
Sincerest apologies for quoting this at length. But if you ever imagined what it would be like to eavesdrop on a pack of jackals roaming up and down the alleys and the streets of major American cities, knocking over trash cans and filling their bellies on whatever they uncover, you might as well begin right here, with this pack of American Jackals.
Remember: When in doubt, you’re protecting the world from the threat of Global Terrorism.
There. We are all Terror-Symps now.
Here’s to the warrantless wiretappers!
“President Discusses War on Terror Following Pentagon Briefing,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, January 4, 2006
“Remarks by the Vice President on Iraq and the War on Terror,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, January 4, 2006
“President Meets with Current & Former Secretaries of State and Defense,” White House Office of the Press Secretary, January 5, 2006
“U.S. sees coalitions of the willing as best ally,” Guy Dinmore and Tobias Buck, Financial Times, January 5, 2006
“Bush Defends Iraq Progress,” Ann McFeatters, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 5, 2006
“Bush, Cheney stump seeking public support,” David Jackson, USA Today, January 5, 2006
(FYI: According to the White House Office of the Press Secretary, from left to right, the seventeen figures depicted in the photograph (at top) are former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State James Baker, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen.)