Thursday, March 30, 2006

Is the Bush Administration Too Incompetent to Have Carried Out 9/11?

When faced with evidence that elements of our own government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, millions of Americans smugly respond that the Bush administration was too incompetent to have done it. A common statement is "They're too incompetent to even win a war against a bunch of poorly-armed people; how could they have pulled off 9/11?"

Bush certainly acts like a bumbler and a good old boy. Cheney accidentally shot his hunting buddy. And Rumsfeld -- Secretary of Defense when 9/11 occurred -- apparently mangled the planning of the war in Iraq. Right?

Big Fish or Little Fish?

Before we get to whether or not Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were incompetent on 9/11, we need to distinguish between big fish and little fish. The way government actually works is that many government positions are filled by career civil servants, who stay through multiple administrations, both Democratic and Republican. In other words, there are some very powerful people within government who have been there for years, even if their face is never on television.

Therefore, even if Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld knew nothing about 9/11, a rogue network of government employees could have carried out the attacks.

In fact, I have consistently argued that rogue elements of the government were involved in 9/11, not the whole government (there are many, many good people in government). Those people could have been highly competent, even if, for example, Mr. Bush himself is incompetent.

Indeed, very few people would argue that America's military leaders -- our generals, admirals and other top commanders -- are incompetent. We like to think that these military men are patriots. But the treason of even one of those leaders on 9/11 -- for example, the head of NORAD -- could have permitted the 9/11 attacks to succeed.

Are Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld Themselves Incompetent?

In addition, it is clear that Cheney has unprecedented power within the White House, and Bush would not even have had to have been on it for Cheney to have been able to pull it off. If you doubt that, take a look at this list to see how Cheney has coordinated illegal activities through his own office.

Moreover, as noted social historian and author Michael Parenti writes:
"Generally, US foreign policy is remarkably consistent and cohesive, a deadly success, given the interests it represents. Those who see it as repeatedly befuddled are themselves revealing their own befuddlement.

Sometimes the policymakers themselves seize upon incompetence as a cover. [For example, when the Iran-Contra affair was discovered, President Reagan plead incompetence.] His admission of incompetence was eagerly embraced by various analysts and pundits who prefer to see their leaders as suffering from innocent ignorance rather than deliberate deception. Subsequent testimony by his subordinates, however, revealed that Reagan was not as dumb as he was pretending to be, and that he had played an active and deciding role in the entire Iran-contra affair.


No less a political personage than Henry Kissinger repeatedly pretended to innocent ignorance and incompetence when confronted with the dirty role he and his cohorts played . . . ."
This strategy of "playing dumb" and acting incompetent has, in fact, long been employed by leaders on both the left and the right. Many liberals and old fashioned conservatives have been suckered by this dumb and dumber act.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Let's take a look at the actual history of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld for insight into whether they are incompetent leaders.

After Bush lost his bid for congress because he was perceived as an over-educated, "spoiled rich kid from back East", he cultivated a bumbling, "good old boy" image, and then started winning his political elections. That's right: Bush actually cultivated a bumbling, misspeaking mannerism.

Moreover, President Bush proposed painting a U.S. surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire from Iraqi military, as a way to justify war against Iraq. Is this the kind of proposal that someone who is incompetent would make, or is it the kind of thing a conscious deceiver would suggest?

Rumsfeld and Cheney are also long-time experts at using deception to justify their military and political goals. They were, in fact, the folks who intentionally hyped the Soviet threat during the Cold War so that the defense contractors would make a killing and the U.S. would have a suitably scary "bad guy" to rally against (see this article). These guys, like other neocons, are students of Machiavelli.

Remember how the TV character Detective Columbo pretended he was bumbling and dumb, so that people would underestimate him? Or remember the TV show Matlock, where Andy Griffith pretended to be a slow-witted country lawyer in order to put people off their guard?

I would argue that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have also used this same trick: playing dumb.

Prominent liberal figures and 0ld-fashioned conservatives have tried to warn others of the ploy. For example, liberal guru George Lakoff wrote an article in 2006 called "Bush Is Not Incompetent" which demonstrates that the Bush administration has been incredibly successful in implementing its agenda (the article is well worth reading for its evidence that Bush is not incompetent; however, I believe Lakoff confuses neoconservatism with true conservatism).

Similarly, in an article entitled "Bush Didn’t Bungle Iraq, You Fools", veteran investigative reporter Greg Palast says that the administration got exactly what it wanted from the Iraqi war. And popular liberal writer William Pitt says "the 'incompetence' thing is nonsense . . . Can anyone still think this was all by accident?". Pitt recognizes that the White House, rather than being incompetent, has gotten exactly what they wanted all along -- to invade Iraq, get a foothold in the Middle East and to get control of the oil.

Indeed, the neocons have openly advocated civil war and instability in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries as a long-range strategic plan.

Palast, Pitt and the neocons are speaking about Iraq and the Middle East. But their reasoning applies equally well to 9/11. See this article also.

I'm Smarter Than You

The problem is that those who are out of power -- Democrats and "paleo-conservatives" -- when faced with destructive policy decisions by the Neocons, grasp for an easy explanation. And incompetence fits the bill perfectly.

Indeed, I would argue that most Democrats -- when faced with the inconceivable harm which the neocons and their allies are doing to America and the world -- react with the comforting thought "at least I'm alot smarter than those bozos". Its human nature: putting the other guy down makes us feel better.

But this very human reaction causes us to ignore the actual situation: these folks are very dangerous, and they will do anything to consolidate and protect their power. Take a look at this list for example.


Given these facts, will you suspend -- long enough to actually look at the evidence -- the incorrect assumption that the current leaders are too incompetent to have facilitated the 9/11 attacks?

One place to start is by looking at the statements of highly-credible people who have said that the attacks could not have been the result of mere incompetence, such as:
See also this essay on "intelligence failures", this BBC film on intentionally exaggerating the threat of terrorists to manipulate people, and this essay on the use of false flag attacks by countries worldwide throughout history.