So a couple of days before the third anniversary of 9/11, a videotape arrives featuring Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri. He warns the United States to expect an attack.
The country, already stuck in permanent yellow with frequent trips to edgy orange, already treated to constant insistences that it panic-and-purchase by Tom Ridge and Dick Cheney, already assured that at some point before the Nov. 2 elections (or after!) a terrorist attack will come, was now told that intelligence officials “played down the tape’s significance, saying it was not necessarily an indication of a pending Qaeda attack.”
This is business as usual for the Bush administration. When North Korea says straight out that it’s building nuclear weapons, we go hunting for them in Iraq, which claims not to have them and which is being searched by United Nations experts who can’t find them either.
The United States continues to suffer a logic deficit, which is why Bush might get re-elected. The nation thinks it’s at its cleverest when it zigs instead of zags, especially when zigging makes no sense. Our enemies would expect us to zag, you see!
Vice President Cheney’s vomitous speech in Iowa on Tuesday, warning U.S. voters that a vote for John Kerry for president means another 9/11, was another good example of this.
“It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll get hit again and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States,” he said. The White House has declined to back away from this, instead saying Cheney was discussing policy about whether Kerry would slip into a “pre-9/11 mindset.”
Cheney’s comments were reminiscent of President Bush’s “Bring it on” challenge to terrorists shortly after 9/11, which was peculiar because, well, that’s exactly what the terrorists had done. (What Bush had been trying to say was “Bring it on now that we’re ready.”)
The Iowa comments were similarly peculiar in that the 9/11 attacks were pretty devastating themselves, and Bush and Cheney were in office then. Furthermore, there has been no shortage of terrorist alerts during this administration, although Cheney seems to be hinting that Homeland Security need not try too hard to prevent terrorists attacks before the election, because they won’t be “devastating.” Intelligence officials agree, apparently.
So now the country is to believe that the terrorists will hit really, really hard when Kerry is elected because they think they can get away with it — although it’s Bush and Cheney who have allowed Al Qaeda to continue to make threats, by shifting resources and energy to Iraq, that hotbed of terrorism so devious and subtle that incidences of terrorism have risen since its invasion and occupation.
But it’s not illogical that Osama bin Laden has been allowed to stay out there, plotting. Bush said he wanted bin Laden “dead or alive,” and he got the latter, allowing him to remain a war president, allowing Cheney to strike fear in the hearts of voters.
That part, at least, makes sense.