By MARC MCDONALD
If you stop and think about it, Bush's claim that the U.S. and its allies foiled 10 plots by Al-Qaeda in the past four years, doesn't make sense.
First of all, there's the question of why the American people are only now hearing about all this. The timing is suspicious, to say the least. The fact is, the embattled Bush White House is at its lowest ebb ever. Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet. And most Americans now say the disastrous Iraq war wasn't worth it.
Details about the alleged terror plots have been pretty skimpy, to say the least. But the White House has referred to a murky series of alleged attacks that were set to occur from 2002 to 2004.
Here's what doesn't make any sense to me. If the U.S. did indeed foil terror plots during that time frame, don't you think we might have heard about it during the bitterly-fought, take-no-prisoners 2004 election campaign?
After all, Bush was desperately trying to convince the American people that his war on terror was a big success and that he could protect America better than John Kerry could. It seems to me that the Bush team would have been shouting from the highest rooftops that the U.S. had already foiled numerous Al-Qaeda attacks.
I've heard Republicans argue that Bush was unable to mention the foiled attacks previously, out of concerns for national security.
Of course, this makes no sense either.
I could see the need to maintain secrecy before a terror attack is foiled. But there is no reason to keep news of a foiled attack secret AFTER the fact.
And bear in mind, that although the Bush team has mentioned the foiled attacks now, the White House hasn't exactly offered many details about the alleged plots. Indeed, details about the "foiled plots" are extremely vague.
However, from what few details are known about the "foiled plots," it seem that Bush is once again misleading the nation. In only two of the cases are any details known---and the evidence in both cases is mighty thin:
In first case, involving Jose Padilla, it's important to note that Padilla has not yet even been charged with a crime.
As Britain's The Telegraph newspaper pointed out, Paul Wolfowitz "stressed that 'there was not an actual plan' to set off a radioactive device in America and Padilla had not begun trying to acquire materials. Intelligence officials said his research had not gone beyond surfing the internet."
The second case, involving Ohio truck driver Iyman Faris, is unlikely to be dramatized in a Tom Clancy-style thriller appearing at your local cinema any time soon. As Think Progress pointed out:
"(Iyman Faris) ... pleaded guilty in June 2003 to two felony charges of supporting a foreign terrorist organization. He was charged with plotting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, but U.S. officials admitted that Faris had abandoned the plot because he deemed it unlikely to succeed. "After scouting the bridge and deciding its security and structure meant the plot was unlikely to succeed, he passed along a message to al Qaeda in early 2003 that said ‘the weather is too hot.’" [CNN, 6/19/03]"
Of course, outside of the meager details known about the aforementioned two cases, next to nothing is known about the other eight alleged foiled terror plots.
It's commendable that Bush avoided any mention of these "foiled plots" during the 2004 election campaign. Otherwise, he might have been accused of politicizing the "war on terror" to his own benefit. Yeah, right.
In any case, for Bush to trot out this tale of foiled plots now, when his political fortunes are at their lowest ebb, is only the latest contemptible attempt by the White House to shamelessly use 9/11 to bolster its political fortunes.