Remember when Bush-Cheney decided to bomb Afghanistan to smithereens in response to bin-Laden's attack (not Afghanistan's attack) on the World Trade Center? I do. What I didn't know, until yesterday was that Bush-Cheney had already decided-- just 3 days after the World Trade Center-- to attack Iraq, which had nothing to do with it at all. Bruce Riedel, a Bush former Special Assistant on 9/11 attack, broke the news at a Brookings Institute forum: "On September 14, just 3 days after 9/11 attack, President Bush told a stunned British PM Tony Blair: 'We are also going to attack Iraq.'" That took a while to come out. Riedel saws he stumbled across it in his diary.
Bush was talking to the media yesterday and Reuters reporters Steve Holland Jeff Mason wrote that Bush, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania warned about another kind of terrorism: domestic, a taste of which we got on January 6th when a mob of screaming Trumpists tried overthrowing the government.
"We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come, not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within," Bush said on Saturday at the 9/11 memorial site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania during a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks. "There is little cultural overlaps between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home ... they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them."
I think he read that last sentence wrong. There is a great deal of cultural overlay between violent extremists abroad and violent domestic extremists and the last part of the sentence seems to contradict the firsts part, showing he thinks so as well.
Referring to the right-wing of his old party-- and to Trump and his followers in particular-- he noted that "Malign force seems at work in our common life ... so much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment."He could have pointed out the venn diagram in Noah's Sunday Thought's post today.
I guess I'd feel better iff the over-paid bums in the Senate started taking less days, weeks and months off and started confirming Biden's security nominees. The NY Times blew the whistle on an incompetent majority leader, Chuck Schumer-- whose fault this primarily is). "Before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, nearly half of the federal government’s Senate-confirmed top national security jobs sat empty," wrote Elizabeth Williamson, "making the United States more vulnerable, the 9/11 Commission found. Two decades later, the situation-- by at least one measure-- is worse. Only 26 percent of President Biden’s choices for critical Senate-confirmed national security posts have been filled, according to a new analysis by the Partnership for Public Service, which aids presidential transitions and tracks appointments. Immediately before the 2001 attacks, 57 percent of key national security positions were occupied. 'What appalled the 9/11 Commission has gotten dramatically worse,' said Max Stier, the organization’s chief executive. 'The Senate confirmation system is not working. It’s designed for an era of simplicity and bipartisan cooperation, which we don’t have.'" That isn't true. There are enough Republicans voting to confirm all but Biden's most odious and unqualified nominees this year.
Democrats haven't needed to call Kamala Harris in to break any ties because they have Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and a handful of others voting to confirm the security nominees or, in other cases, enough Republicans to just conveniently not show up so that the nominees can be conformed without GOP votes. The last one Schumer brought up was Ur Mendoza Jaddou to be Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security. It passed 47-34 (19 not voting), 16 of whom were Republicans). Before that it was Todd Sunhwae Kim to be an Assistant Attorney General, and that passed 58-41. Republicans Capito, Collins, Cornyn, Graham, Grassley, Murkowski and Tillis all voted with the Democrats.
Williamson did note, however that "Empty seats dot the federal government’s top tier. Of 1,200 Senate-confirmed jobs across the government tracked by the group, 144 of 442 nominations submitted had been filled by the August congressional recess. Within those 1,200 Senate-confirmed positions are 170 national security-related posts in the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State, and Justice. Of those, only 44, or 26 percent, have been filled."
Not only has that not happened, Senate logjams and partisan battles over nominees have gotten worse. It now takes nearly four months for a presidential nominee to be confirmed, compared with half that time in the Reagan era. More than 200 Biden nominees are languishing in “confirmation purgatory,” some of them for months, Mr. Stier said.
The problems started in January, when, amid a surge in domestic terrorism, Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri [and a notorious supporter of far right domestic terrorists], slowed confirmation of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, saying he had questions about his stance on immigration. At the time, Michael Chertoff, a homeland security secretary during the George W. Bush administration, called the slow-walking “irresponsible and unconscionable,” saying it could “put the lives of Americans in jeopardy.”
This spring, Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, slowed the confirmation of three Department of Homeland Security nominees-- the deputy secretary, the under secretary for strategy, policy and plans and the general counsel-- seeking greater administration attention on the U.S. border with Mexico. The deputy secretary, John K. Tien, has been on the job for less than two months, and Robert Silvers, the under secretary for strategy, for less than a month.
In August, the Senate left for its monthlong summer break with nearly 30 State Department nominees in limbo. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, is blocking their confirmation votes while demanding that Mr. Biden impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany. Among the nominees that Mr. Cruz has bottled up is Brett M. Holmgren, who was nominated in March as assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research.
But it is not only Republicans slowing the process.
...On Thursday, Mr. Biden withdrew his nomination of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after Senator Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with the Democrats, and Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, joined Republicans in objecting to Mr. Chipman’s past statements supporting some gun control.
...Currently more than half of the 17 top Senate-confirmed jobs at the Department of Homeland Security remain vacant. The department was abysmally understaffed during the Trump administration, complicating the pandemic response. Some top jobs have sat vacant for years because Mr. Trump failed to appoint anyone.
“The absence of confirmed positions has made it very difficult for the agency to carry out its mission,” Mr. Chertoff said.
Government watchdogs have for years recommended trimming the number of positions subject to Senate confirmation. The Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 converted 163 Senate-confirmed positions to direct presidential appointments. But the numbers have been creeping upward since, from 1,212 in 2012 to 1,237 in 2016.
Elsewhere in the government, according to the Partnership for Public Service’s appointments tracker, an array of other nerve-center agencies function with acting leaders, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Communications Commission and the Office of Management and Budget.
“Every department has some significant missing individuals,” Mr. Stier said. “There’s no agency where you could say ‘we’re all fine and good.’”