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What Did Bush Know, When?


The above question screams from mainstream newspapers. It froths from liberals’ lips. What troubles me more, however, is that some leftists also find it important. Prevalent Question: What did Bush know and when did he know it regarding possible terrorism threats preceding 9/11–and what did Bush do in light of his knowledge?

Absent Question 1: What did Bush know and when did he know it regarding the likely effects of bombing Afghanistan after 9/11–and why did Bush go ahead and bomb in light of his knowledge?

Absent Question 2: What did Bush know and when did he know it regarding the impact of the Iraq Embargo–and why does Bush persist with the embargo in light of his knowledge?

Absent Question 3: What did Bush know and when did he know it regarding the impact of his globalization policies, his arms shipments and production, his repressive civil legislation, his economic and cultural policies, his UN vetoes and ecological isolationism, and so on and so forth–and why does Bush persist with these policies in light of his knowledge?

Supposing we had the means to answer the question about Bush’s foreknowledge of 9/11, it would at most reveal that U.S. intelligence services lack competence. But these are the U.S. same intelligence agencies that can’t find the perpetrator of the recent anthrax attacks, even though the anthrax came from Fort Detrick, Maryland, and even though, given the skills required, the number of possible culprits is a handful.

Of course these agencies lack competence. Moreover, what good does demonstrating the incompetence of U.S. intelligence agencies do peace and justice? Should bolstering surveillance budget allotments be a new progressive program plank?

In contrast to the difficulty of knowing Bush’s foreknowledge of terrorist tactics, it’s easy to know what Bush knew and when he knew it about bombing Afghanistan, about the Kyoto Accords, about Mideast policy, about implications of embargoes on Iraq and Cuba, about globalization, and so on. And knowing this would reveal important truths profoundly relevant to peace and justice concerns.

So why is any leftist caught up in the hypocritical democratic party and media maven hoopla? When TV news allots massive time to a story vaguely correlated to progressive concerns, must we immediately hop on board?

The irony is that the question “what did Bush know before 9/11?” may be the only “what did he know” question that Bush can answer without revealing a grotesque value system.

Bush can say, for example, “I knew that our intelligence services reported numerous threats, just as they have reported at all other times. I did not, in response, shut down transportation and communication because if I did, the next day I would have heard ten times as many threats, and thereafter I would have had to permanently shut down all communications and transportation, if I accepted that approach.”

This is also the answer Democrats would give, were Democrats in the White House for the event. And it is the answer the media mavens would give, were the media not concerned to put some brakes on the Bush juggernaut.

Okay, if the government knew that planes might soon be flown into the sides of skyscrapers, then instructions to pilots and even to passengers should have been different, sure. And maybe some politicians are sincerely concerned to correct these failings–it’s possible. But none of that makes expanding CIA spending a leftist agenda.

Hold on. The media want to restrain the Bush juggernaut?

Yes, the Bushite maniacs in Washington have sufficiently worried sectors of our ruling elites so that elements of the media have begun seeking self-serving ways to slow down the madness. Why don’t the media just call it immoral, call it imperial, call it warmongering, repressive, vile? They don’t do that because they like those features, and they don’t want to draw attention to them, much less ridicule them.

They worry that the Bush approach has gone a little over the top–but not that it is immoral or imperial. They want to curb the excesses, but they don’t want to point the populace toward system-defying insights.

Not surprisingly, therefore, democrats and media commentators ask what Bush knew regarding 9/11, rather than asking how markets, private ownership relations, and government bureaucracy compel horrible outcomes regardless of what Bush or anyone else knows.

The left should not climb aboard as a barely audible echo to a crescendo of hypocrisy.

The left should direct public attention back on the plight of Palestinians, on the Iraq embargo and impending invasion of Iraq, on the enlarging war in Colombia, and on the horrors of globalization, racism, sexism, and wage slavery.

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