9/11 was and is a monument to American failure. Osama bin Laden--still a free man--murdered 3,000 Americans, on American soil, and no one lost their jobs, or was reprimanded, for failing. The only thing that happened as a consequence was some bureaucratic handwaving, and the Bushies were handed an ironclad excuse to do anything they pleased, up to and including launching a bullshit war with a country that hadn't attacked us. As Rumsfeld said, there aren't any targets in Afghanistan.
I'm feeling very cynical watching newscasters revel in the misery. Lots of pretend-serious chinstroking and navelgazing. Plenty of masturbatory fake solemnity, but very little honesty, very little clarity. The only people who seem to have a clue are the military families I saw interviewed reacting to Petraeus' "testimony", and the 9/11 survivors & victims' families.*
Why the fuck do we have a half-trillion dollar military if we can't stop 19 guys with knives from destroying our landmarks? Does anybody seriously think the situation has improved since then?
Rather than stuff this post with links (it's depressing enough), how about I just leave you with a Bush press conf. transcript (from whitehouse.gov) which says all that needs to be said about the state America finds itself in--that it can't deal with this petty tyrant properly.
Q Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part -- deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really eliminate the threat of --
THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.
Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.
So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied; that the strategy is clear; that the coalition is strong; that when we find enemy bunched up like we did in Shahikot Mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did.
And there will be other battles in Afghanistan. There's going to be other struggles like Shahikot, and I'm just as confident about the outcome of those future battles as I was about Shahikot, where our soldiers are performing brilliantly. We're tough, we're strong, they're well-equipped. We have a good strategy. We are showing the world we know how to fight a guerrilla war with conventional means.
Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.
But once we set out the policy and started executing the plan, he became -- we shoved him out more and more on the margins. He has no place to train his al Qaeda killers anymore. And if we -- excuse me for a minute -- and if we find a training camp, we'll take care of it. Either we will or our friends will. That's one of the things -- part of the new phase that's becoming apparent to the American people is that we're working closely with other governments to deny sanctuary, or training, or a place to hide, or a place to raise money.
And we've got more work to do. See, that's the thing the American people have got to understand, that we've only been at this six months. This is going to be a long struggle. I keep saying that; I don't know whether you all believe me or not. But time will show you that it's going to take a long time to achieve this objective. And I can assure you, I am not going to blink. And I'm not going to get tired. Because I know what is at stake. And history has called us to action, and I am going to seize this moment for the good of the world, for peace in the world and for freedom.
That press conference is dated March 13, 2002.
*The one bright spot has been that non-New Yorkers are getting some New Yorkers' unvarnished opinion of Giuliani, which if you don't know the source of the bad blood between the NY firefighters and Giuliani, see here. The man will never be President because of his feud with the IAFF. The reason that's been getting airtime is because RG will not be speaking at the memorial service this year for the first time, and that's why.