The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, October 20, 2004  

The Age of Unseriousness

Can anyone tell me what this quote, from Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday, is supposed to mean?

The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us -- biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

This is not new. This is not new news. And reading that quote in conjunction with Cheney subsequent comments makes it all the more baffling:

That's the ultimate threat. For us to have a strategy that's capable of defeating that threat, you've got to get your mind around that concept. . . . I don't think there's any evidence to support the proposition that he would, in fact, do it.

That Sen. John F. Kerry wouldn't, in fact, do what? "Get his mind around that concept?" This is baseless and meaningless chatter from our snarling, sniveling vice president.

And we're supposed to take the Bush administration seriously when it comes to terrorism? Here's the Bush-Cheney team's latest effort to hide a congressionally mandated report by the CIA's inspector general, completed four months ago, that is reportedly critical of the administration but that is essential to understanding how to manage intelligence given changing national security threats to the U.S. Here's Robert Scheer writing at AlterNet ("The Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket," October 19):

The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the Congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.

"It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed," an intelligence official who has read the report told me, adding that "the report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward."

When I asked about the report, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, said she and committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) sent a letter 14 days ago asking for it to be delivered. "We believe that the CIA has been told not to distribute the report," she said. "We are very concerned."

It never ceases to amaze me how much these two bozos -- if I might crib from Bush Père -- get away with, particularly when it comes to national security, terrorism, and foreign policy.

You know, this strikes me as the kind of thing an enterprising reporter covering the Bush White House might ask about every single day until the document is released, or a reporter who actively cultivated sources in the intelligence community might actually obtain by various means. Rare birds, they.

So what is to be done? Scheer and his source observe:

The stonewalling by the Bush administration and the failure of Congress to gain release of the report have, said the intelligence source, "led the management of the CIA to believe it can engage in a cover-up with impunity. Unless the public demands an accounting, the administration and CIA's leadership will have won and the nation will have lost."

Ask for it. You, the public. The mainstream media fell asleep on this one months ago.

Welcome, readers, to the age of unseriousness.

[Post-publication addendum: Act For Change is hosting a Working Assets Action you can use to send a message to President Bush asking for the release of the inspector general's report.]

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