9/11, 9/11, 9/11 and more 9/11. What was the question again?

Helen Thomas gives Chimpy the total 10-dimensional public degradation he so richly deserves. Does he still imagine that anyone buys the ol’ 9/11 bait-n-switch? 9/11, and here’s Al Quaeda, and here’s the Taliban, and here’s Afghanistan, and – look fast! – here’s Iraq! Next question!

THE PRESIDENT: Helen. After that brilliant performance at the Grid Iron, I am — (laughter.)

Q You’re going to be sorry. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, let me take it back. (Laughter.)

Q I’d like to ask you, Mr. President,

your decision to invade Iraq

has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet — your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth — what was your real reason? You have said it wasn’t oil — quest for oil, it hasn’t been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

[Editor’s note: emphasis mine.]

THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise — in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist — is that — I didn’t want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect —

Q Everything —

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.

Q — everything I’ve heard —

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it’s just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We — when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life.

[Editor’s note: Umm…I grew up in the 80’s, and I don’t recall every feeling that oceans or diplomats would protect me from ICBM’s. “The Day After” anyone?]

And I’m never going to forget it. And I’m never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.

Part of that meant to make sure that we didn’t allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that’s why I went into Iraq — hold on for a second —

Q They didn’t do anything to you, or to our country.

THE PRESIDENT: Look — excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That’s where al Qaeda trained —

[Editor’s note: Oops! Looks like that slippery “they” has wriggled away from it’s original reference to IRAQ. Don’t worry, though. Helen’s got his nuts.]

Q I’m talking about Iraq

THE PRESIDENT: Helen, excuse me. That’s where — Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That’s where they trained. That’s where they plotted. That’s where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I also saw a threat in Iraq.

[Editor’s note: He could finish that sentence with “…while I was tripping my balls off, and I rode on the magic flying doggie to the candy planet where the Foreign Policy Witch showed me a terrifying vision of the future. I’m never buying from that guy again.” Anyway, he sure did talk a lot about Afghanistan in response to a question about Iraq, but as you can see, it all boils down to “Because I felt like it, bitches”.]

I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That’s why I went to the Security Council; that’s why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences —

Q — go to war —

THE PRESIDENT: — and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

Q Thank you, sir. Secretary Rumsfeld — (laughter.)

Q Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: You’re welcome. (Laughter.) I didn’t really regret it. I kind of semi-regretted it. (Laughter.)

Q — have a debate.


15 Responses to “9/11, 9/11, 9/11 and more 9/11. What was the question again?”

  1. blue girl Says:

    Res, why do you think we went into Iraq? Do you think it was pretty much just for the oil? Or just to kick some butt, and we chose Iraq because we *could*? Or because of the overall big idea of Wolfowitz’s that we can remake Iraq in our image and restructure the Middle East? Or Bush just wanted to get Saddam because Saddam wanted to get his dad?

    Or a combination of all of it?

    What do you think?

    I’m reading “Cobra II” right now — have you heard of it? I’m only 35 pages in…it’s about the run-up to the war and the invasion and aftermath. From what I’ve heard — the guys who wrote it said this war will be a case study in mismanagment and bad assumptions.

    So far the book is making Rumsfeld out to be such a total control freak.

    Anyway – I just wondered what your opinion is. Why did we do it?

  2. blue girl Says:

    Forgot to say…

    “Helen’s got his nuts.”

    What a visual. I’d also like to see her get him in a head lock and punch him in the stomach!

  3. Res Publica Says:

    I actually think that the war in Iraq had almost nothing to do with the war in Iraq, except in the pea-brains of a handful of neo-con true believers, who may actually have thought that we could set up a constitutional democracy in Iraq and it would have some wonderful “End of History”-type effect on the region

    The actual purpose of the war was to create a state of war. It’s no big secret that fascism and dictatorship always starts with a Big National Emergency for which your freedom to mouth off to Our Leader must, unfortunately, be set aside (just until the war is over!). The golden opportunity presented by 9/11 consisted in the prospect of an eternal state of war – a permanent state of exception, as Agamben would say. Since a Terror isn’t a place or organization (unless you’re living in a G.I. Joe cartoon), and since a terrorist is just someone who’s sufficiently pissed off and desperate, there’s no way you can ever say “we have won”.

    The only problem before them was that a real War On Terror is conducted mostly in secret, and doesn’t make for enough exciting War News to keep people in a state of militaristic fervor. In fact, the Clinton administration had been fighting a fairly effective war on terror for a long time, which fact was derided by many Republican wankerbots who accused Clinton of an obsession with terrorism. Who knew?

    So the fascists need an actual, old-school, boots-on-the-ground WAR war to be a part of the GWOT, or else their war-as-pretense-for-kulturkamph strategy would never succeed.

    So they went and got ’em a real war. And now we’re in it up to our asses, and anyone who has opposed anything this administration wants to do has been accused of “not supporting our troops”, and given the Democrat’s record on the Patriot Act and countless other GWOT bullshit, one would have to say that this strategy has been an overall success.

    I will be 100% unsurprised if there are no presidential elections in 2008.

  4. peter Says:

    What a nightmare. Read this article everyone:


    It’s a perfect example of why I miss my favourite columnist (she was fired) from my fav. paper.

  5. Res Publica Says:

    Welcome, Peter! It’s so awesome how I try to blog all serious-pants, and I get one new reader.


  6. blue girl Says:

    “The only problem before them was that a real War On Terror *is conducted mostly in secret,* and doesn’t make for enough exciting War News to keep people in a state of militaristic fervor.”

    I completely agree with this and have been mouthing off about it for 2 1/2 years now. (Not quite 3 — had to wrap my mind around it for a few months.)

    Boy, I hate to go as far as saying it’s all a set up for perpetual war — total domination by the right — with the lame left in their cushy positions just following them around like puppies…and that is was all *planned.*

    “I will be 100% unsurprised if there are no presidential elections in 2008.”

    Res! Really? Where would we go? What would we do? We wouldn’t actually go along with this, would we? I wouldn’t. Would it matter? That thought is freaking me out.


    Now, on another note — that’s NOT so earth shattering, but still freakin’ serious to me and others who appreciate the finer things in life — come visit blue girl and send traffic my way.

    I’m trying to make some money!!


  7. blue girl Says:

    Oh. Wanted to say — Hi Peter! Res, getting one new reader is GREAT! One new reader a day would be awesome.

    You mentioned having 50 a day … that’s really cool if 50 people read your blog every day.

  8. Res Publica Says:

    Well I don’t want to sound TOO paranoid. I’m sure everything will probably be fine, but…can’t you see the Bushies trying some bullshit with the elections in 2008?

    I’m not sure that 50 people “read” this blog, so much as “give their screens the finger”.

  9. Brando Says:

    Res, I wish I could believe there was some big conspiracy to keep us in a perpetual state of war, a way to manipulate the American people to perpetuate a Republican domination. I would feel better about that than what I think is the real reason — sheer fucking incompetence and stupidity. At least in the manipulation scenario, there’s a plan, a sense that something is being done for a reason.

    I think it really was about WMD at first, because the people running the show (especially in the Defense Intelligence Agency) were convinced before 9/11 than Hussein had WMD but had no pretext to go and attack him. 9/11 was the pretext. But, true believers that they are, they ignored evidence and followed their faith. It fits the pattern with everything else they do — evolution, global warming, abstinence education, the deficit. Their ideas are all square pegs and they will shove them in any hole even if they break the block in the process.

    Once the WMD angle fizzled, they scrambled and went with the “freedom” angle, because it is an excellent sound byte argument. How can you argue against speading freedom, especially when it’s to undo the monstrous prick you supported when he was conveniently killing Iranians? They stalled long enough to get boot-deep in the self-perpetuating “we can’t waver or we’ll empower our enemies” reason. Now even that is wearing out.

  10. blue girl Says:

    Brando, I’m not sure the architects of this war really thought Saddam had WMDs. Wolfowitz was quoted in Vanity Fair saying they *decided* on WMD to *sell* the war because they knew the American people would back it.

    I tend to think there was a plan on the shelf that these guys had been working on since the Clinton days and they just pulled it off the shelf. And I really think that the idea behind it was to spread *freedom* – the whole re-building of the Middle East. I think they are simple minded enough to have thought that we can *force* people to want freedom and democracy. Because that’s what *we* want. The problem is we can’t want it for them more than they want it for themselves.

    Then thinking about that — questions arise: Why did they secure the oil fields immediately but not the museums? Why didn’t they have enough troops to at least *try* to secure the borders? Rumsfeld — total incompetence. Or, *he* wasn’t into the spreading of freedom thing — but had his own agenda.

    When I read books about it and they write how “Bush decided this” — “Bush decided that” — I still have a hard time believing Bush truly decided anything. I think it was the machine behind him who did the deciding.

    This may be a silly comparison, but I’ve thought about it for years now. I compare it to busing. The liberals who wanted the blacks and whites to live in harmony together and thought if they “forced” it on the American people through busing, that it would work. What a joke that was. And of course, only effected the poor people.

    Can’t force anyone to do anything. They have to want it bad enough to make the change for themselves.

  11. Pinko Punko Says:

    I think that the perpetual war thing is being used to their political advantage, but that’s what these guys are about, how to spin what will go down as one of the largest miscalcualtions in American history as some sort of war of the worlds. I mean, isn’t it funny how the embrace of the terrorist world view creates more terrorists?

    *********, all of ’em.

  12. Res Publica Says:

    You can say ********* here, Pinko. No need for all the extra punctuation.

    Maybe I should clarify what I said above. I think the actions of this Republican government have been the result of several competing factions and agendas within the GOP. But they have long had plans in the works to create what they call a “permanent republican majority”. Since there isn’t really any such thing as a permanent partisan majority in a democracy (which by definition has an open political future), they can only mean something other than democracy. I think the shape of that “something other” has become quite clear over the past 5 years.

    September 11th was a political windfall for several of the factions within the GOP establishment. I remember very clearly that on the evening of that day in 2001, I though for a brief second – “they will use this to take our freedom.” This thought was followed by a serious bout of self-scolding for being paranoid and fringy and watching too much X-Files. Coup-by-national-emergency is the sort of thing that tin-pot dictators pull of in banana republics. It’s been a frightening day, I told myself. You’re tripping.

    In retrospect, I can only wish I were crazier. What seems clear to me now is that there were fascist elements developing in the larger culture for several decades before Bush II, so that on the eve of September 11, 2001, America was already slipping into a kind of Just Say No, Zero Tolerance, At Risk, Three Strikes You’re Out sort of cultural retrenchment. In a decade of peace, prosperity and declining crime, we already seemed to be scared witless. Then the attacks happen, and gave us something to really be afraid of. And I think more than a few people of our fellow citizens began to openly seek a Fromm-style “escape from freedom”.

    This flag-festooned mass freak-out played directly into the hands of several flavors of Republican freedom-haters: the kulturkamphers who are still seeking to return women and queers to their place in the Lord’s social order; the hawks who believe that Viet Nam neutered American, and all we need to grow our balls back is a good little war; the anti-government radicals like Norquist, who wouldn’t much care how repressive the government became so long as it stops taxing large businesses and the economic elite. A frightened populace clamoring for a large, powerful and militaristic government plays into the hands of each group.

    And Blue, I’m 100% in agreement with “can’t force anyone to do anything”. Anyone who’s had even a basic undergraduate (or maybe just high school) exposure to the history of the western world ought to be able to understand (clearly and with great ease) the folly in imagining that political democracy (and the culture of pursuasive and rhetorical decision-making that sustains it) could ever be imposed by force.

    Nations are democratic because they want to be, and they want it so bad that their people are willing to write and speak and argue and struggle and revolt and protest and rise up and – sometimes – die fighting. Because they want it. All of the first great democracies were born in revolution. Jefferson was right about the tree of liberty needing to be refreshed on occasion with the blood of patriots and tyrants. I would add that it needs that refreshing because its very seed germinated with nourishment from such blood. Dangerous revolt is the nursery of democracy. No people ever learned how to govern themselves and make their own way by being conquered and occupied by the most powerful military force the world has ever seen.

    In summary: it was all retarded and evil from the start. Like Deena.

  13. almostinfamous Says:

    as someone once remarked, fighting a war for peace is like fucking for virginity.

  14. blue girl Says:

    I try to take the whole thing down about forcing people to do stuff — I try to make it even simpler (is that a word?)

    In *any* relationship — you cannot *make* someone else do anything. They have to want it for themselves. You want your friend to quit smoking….etc. Life just doesn’t work that way. What I want for you — you have to want for you. I can’t do it for you.

    Also — like blue guy and I were talking last night about the insurgents and the attacks. If my neighbor across the street doesn’t like us for whatever reason and decides to launch a missle at our house and only kills our son — there will be retaliation. You know what I mean? Nothing but revenge back and forth.

    To stop this kind of war you have to kill the insurgent and of the insurgent’s family and all of their friends…you have to completely wipe them out in order for the cycle to stop.

    That’s why some people say we’re not showing the *overwhelming* force we need to be showing — and that’s pretty Saddam Hussein-ish — don’t you think?

    We’re stuck. And what gets me is these guys didn’t think of this before hand — or heard it from the people around them and simply didn’t care. And these are the guys who lived through Vietnam! It doesn’t seem too rocket sciency to me!

    But Pat Buchanan was on Hardball last night re-fighting the Vietnam war all over again — blaming the liberals for the loss. (Even though he has always been against this war.)

    Again. We’re stuck.

  15. Res Publica Says:

    How often I have fantasized about shooting a missle at my neighbors, and then wallowing in the sweet, beautiful silence that would follow the death of their loud asshole selves.

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