The Bush Administration Skeleton Key
There is always the need, when one is looking at something complex and sprawling, to have a skeleton key, a filter that brings the overall arch of the story into focus whenever you get lost in the myriad details. For the last 8 years we have not had enough information about the actions of the Bush administration to develop such a skeleton key, this, however, has now changed. It turns out there is a single unifying factor which runs from August 2001 to January 20th 2009; fear.
One of the pillars of the Dog’s personal philosophy is summed up in the sentence: If you live in fear, the worst thing that can happen to you already has happened. There are times when fear can be a useful emotion, fear of being burned keeps us cautious when we are using fire, but when it becomes the driving force in your life, fear is only destructive. It separates you from your fellow man; it eats up your ability to think things through, by simply pushing other thoughts aside, until there is only the fear and the reaction to the fear. When people live in fear, they are less than rational. They will react without thinking and do anything, everything to try to push the things they fear further away from them. This is what happened to the top levels of the Bush Administration.
We can know this from the recent statements of Dr. Rice who was perhaps more candid with the 4th Graders she was addressing than she intended. Dr. Rice said “You have to understand we were terrified of another attack” when she was justifying the ordering of torture. In Richard Hass’s new book War of Necessity War of Choice we find out the former VP was convinced he was poisoned by a biological agent in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks. These tidbits have crystallized the arch of the Bush Administration for the Dog. Follow along and the Dog will explain how this provides our filter for the entire criminal enterprise of the Bush 43 years.
We know the Bush administration was warned in August 2001 of Al Qaeda’s intention of attacking here in the United States. It was during on of the Presidents first vacations when he received the briefing with the title “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US”, to which he reportedly responded “Okay you have covered your ass”. Just weeks later as the 9/11 attacks were occurring President Bush sat stone still for 7 minutes when he was told of the attacks while reading to children in Florida. We have been told he did this because he did not want to scare the children, but for anyone who has seen the video of that day it is pretty clear he is frozen in fear.
Now think about VP Cheney’s day. He was in the White House that morning, with the president out of position to make calls about what to do, it all fell on Mr. Cheney’s shoulders. This is man who did everything he humanly could to avoid being drafted into service in Vietnam. That he feared going into combat is not uncommon many young men at that time did and tried to stay out of the war. But it does tell us something about what drives the former VP, a visceral fear of physical danger to him. He was in the Situation Room, the nerve center for White House military response as it became clear there were more planes in the air, as it became clear there were more targets than just the Twin Towers, targets in fact inside Washington DC itself.
The fear must have been palpable, this is exactly what Mr. Cheney had gone to extreme lengths to avoid and even with all the success in his youth, now when he was one of the very most powerful men in the world, the danger showed itself to be unavoidable. This is the formative experience for both the VP and President as far as the Dog is concerned.
Then in the weeks that followed we had the Anthrax attacks. Not only had known terrorist been able to strike in a massively public way in the United States, some unknown individual or group was now mailing a deadly disease to politicians and public figures. There was no claim of responsibility and no clear evidence pointing to a perpetrator. Fear of the unknown is one of the strongest fears humans experience, so on top of the 9/11 attacks this must have driven Bush and Cheney to the very edge. This seems clear as it was during this period the Vice President started to stay at “an undisclosed location” on a regular basis. What looked like an abundance of caution for mainlining the Command Authority chain was really a retreat from a suddenly terrifying world.
All their actions after this can be seen as a reaction to the fear of a repeat of these attacks. We know VP Cheney famously started the 1% doctrine; if there is even a 1% chance of a country having WMD then we must take action to stop them before it becomes a greater threat. This is spun as being a scrupulous effort to protect the American people, but it seems more likely the complete overreaction of a man consumed by fear. Most of us live with considerably higher chances of serious mishap than 1% everyday of our lives, but now the Vice President was unwilling to take even that much of a chance.
Many on the Left decried the Bush Administrations use of fear as a political tactic. It seems now it was not just a cynical ploy to win bigger majorities and reelection, but was also a direct expression of the thoughts in the White House. The Bush administration told us to be afraid, because they were. They said they would do everything to protect us, because it gave them license to do everything to protect themselves.
This meant they felt fully justified in hovering up all the communications that pass through the United State in any fashion. After all they needed to know where an possible attack might come from. This allowed the justification to spy on peace groups, they could not take the chance it was not a cover. This allowed them to capture and torture anyone who might vaguely be associated with any Islamic Extremist group. Their fear drove them to stove pipe intelligence, to out a CIA agent when her husband was critical of their war justification.
Like fear always does it fed on itself. When reality did not conform to what their fear told them, they ignored it. Clearly it was a ruse by master plotters and only VP Cheney and President Bush understood how deadly the threat was, after all they dreaded and feared that very threat every single day. Even the arrogant swagger of President Bush and his administration can no be seen as a little boy whistling as he goes past the grave yard, hoping his happy sounds will trick the ghosts into staying away.
Now, clearly, not every single action the criminal Bush administration took was based on this fear, but it seems to the Dog the fear colored and informed many of their actions. There is a certain amount of pity to be felt for these men. Not for their actions, these were and are illegal and cannot be excused. Rather for them as people, no one should live in fear; it is a horrible way to live. What is truly sad about this is these men had the power to act on their fear and they did, in ways this nation will be paying for long after they have finally been shown to be cowards who lashed out in fear.
They say the brave man dies but once, while a coward dies a thousand times. Sometimes these old sayings are informative, this is one of them. We were lead not by macho bad asses, but by fearful little men who would do anything, everything to push what they feared away from themselves. As we find more of their actions, the Dog thinks it will be easier and easier to understand how we got to this place if we use the skeleton key of living in fear.
The floor is yours.
Cross Posted At Square State