T Nation

What if Bush prevented 9-11?

by Gregg Easterbrook


washington, april 9, 2004.

A hush fell over the city as George W. Bush today became the first president of the United States ever to be removed from office by impeachment. Meeting late into the night, the Senate unanimously voted to convict Bush following a trial on his bill of impeachment from the House.

Moments after being sworn in as the 44th president, Dick Cheney said that disgraced former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice would be turned over to the Hague for trial in the International Court of Justice as a war criminal. Cheney said Washington would “firmly resist” international demands that Bush be extradited for prosecution as well.

On August 7, 2001, Bush had ordered the United States military to stage an all-out attack on alleged terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Thousands of U.S. special forces units parachuted into this neutral country, while air strikes targeted the Afghan government and its supporting military. Pentagon units seized abandoned Soviet air bases throughout Afghanistan, while establishing support bases in nearby nations such as Uzbekistan. Simultaneously, FBI agents throughout the United States staged raids in which dozens of men accused of terrorism were taken prisoner.

Reaction was swift and furious. Florida Senator Bob Graham said Bush had “brought shame to the United States with his paranoid delusions about so-called terror networks.” British Prime Minister Tony Blair accused the United States of “an inexcusable act of conquest in plain violation of international law.” White House chief counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke immediately resigned in protest of “a disgusting exercise in over-kill.”

When dozens of U.S. soldiers were slain in gun battles with fighters in the Afghan mountains, public opinion polls showed the nation overwhelmingly opposed to Bush’s action. Political leaders of both parties called on Bush to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan immediately. “We are supposed to believe that attacking people in caves in some place called Tora Bora is worth the life of even one single U.S. soldier?” former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey asked.

When an off-target U.S. bomb killed scores of Afghan civilians who had taken refuge in a mosque, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Aznar announced a global boycott of American products. The United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn the United States, and Washington was forced into the humiliating position of vetoing a Security Council resolution declaring America guilty of “criminal acts of aggression.”

Bush justified his attack on Afghanistan, and the detention of 19 men of Arab descent who had entered the country legally, on grounds of intelligence reports suggesting an imminent, devastating attack on the United States. But no such attack ever occurred, leading to widespread ridicule of Bush’s claims. Speaking before a special commission created by Congress to investigate Bush’s anti-terrorism actions, former national security adviser Rice shocked and horrified listeners when she admitted, “We had no actionable warnings of any specific threat, just good reason to believe something really bad was about to happen.”

The president fired Rice immediately after her admission, but this did little to quell public anger regarding the war in Afghanistan. When it was revealed that U.S. special forces were also carrying out attacks against suspected terrorist bases in Indonesia and Pakistan, fury against the United States became universal, with even Israel condemning American action as “totally unjustified.”

Speaking briefly to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before a helicopter carried him out of Washington as the first-ever president removed by impeachment, Bush seemed bitter. “I was given bad advice,” he insisted. “My advisers told me that unless we took decisive action, thousands of innocent Americans might die. Obviously I should not have listened.”

Announcing his candidacy for the 2004 Republican presidential nomination, Senator John McCain said today that “George W. Bush was very foolish and naive; he didn’t realize he was being pushed into this needless conflict by oil interests that wanted to seize Afghanistan to run a pipeline across it.” McCain spoke at a campaign rally at the World Trade Center in New York City.

I love the way Easterbrook writes. Consider exactly what the reaction would be if Bush had tried to pass the Patriot Act BEFORE 9/11 – just look at the reactions to what has actually been done since. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess who would be calling for Bush to be impeached or worse had action been taken then.

I don’t know whether I can call Bush a “divider,” but sadly, there are people out there who think he needs to be blamed for everything, even when the best from among the Democrats would have done the same thing.

Is this scenario what Bush’s critics really wanted, even though it would have saved 3000 lives and got the War on Terror well underway “at the source,” without laying a finger on Iraq? Obviously not. Someone made a remark–aping Franken, I think-- about the Bush administration displaying a “childish” kind of love for America. I don’t know. However, if there is a childishness in the American political consciousness, it has to be in “Bushophobia” or “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

On C-Span, I saw Eric Alterman tell a story about how his daughter used “George Bush” as a curse word. And Alterman was actually proud!!! When a smart guy like Alterman can’t even see the irony, you know you have to wait a couple of more election cycles before we normalize the two-party debate.

www.factcheck.org is a website that exposes the distortions and fictions in BOTH parties’ political ads. Very informative for honestly contrasting Bush’s policies against Kerry’s.

I guess the problem with this article is that we didn’t need to invade Afghanistan to prevent 9/11. All we needed to do really is arrest some of the hijackers and piece together what they were trying to do, and in hindsight it seems like we missed some opportunities to do that. We didn’t need a Patriot Act or pre-emptive attack to do it… so, I’m not convinced that everyone would have condemned Bush for “doing what it takes” to prevent 9/11.

The point I suppose is that pre-emptively invading Iraq prevented another 9/11? We’ll never know, that’s why pre-emption is risky.

Pre-emptive attacks in Afghanistan on 7/1/01 may have prevented 9-11 and certainly would have prevented future terrorist attacks (without Europe having to witness the devestation of 9-11).

Regarding Afghanistan, the article questions what boat we’d be in if we followed the moderate Left’s (and Europe’s) mantra of fighting terrorism “at the source” instead of in Iraq. There would be much of the same criticisms at home and abroad.

Dealing with terrorism is NOT a law enforcement issue. Just arresting some terrorists would only delay an attack.

What is this whole thing about not being able to question more than two Arabs at once?

cool article! the liberal democrats have NEVER been interested in the safety of this country and the actions it takes to secure safety and freedom. all they want is their power back and they are sooooo incensed with hatred and mean spiritedness twords Bush.

Since all they have to offer are some washed up political losers…they have become rabidly desperate…

Let’s get real everyone. The terrorists were bound and determined to destroy some part of America. The fact is we are the most powerful country in the world, yet the most vulnerable to attack. It doesnt matter who was president, something would have occurred.

Brian, I don’t see how attacking Afghanistan at that stage could have prevented anything. The terrorists were all here, geared up and waiting for that symbolic number 9/11 to roll around.

I support the war on terror and the invasion of Afghanistan, and I even buy into the Bush theory that establishing democracy in Iraq is a valid part of the war on terror, but not on the grounds of pre-emption. I don’t think we pre-empted anything in Iraq, which I think the original post was implying we did.

It’s a great fantasy, for sure. Just think: 9/11 never happened, and Bushleague gets impeached and booted out of office. What’s not to like here? Everybody wins!

Protecting our borders and protecting the rights of its citizens was/is Bush’s job, why couldn’t he get either of them right?

I hate to say but has any president ever protected the floodgates, i mean our countries bourders? Not in my 25 years of being alive and living in our great country.

It never ceases to amaze me that the right gets upset by the inherent Bush bashing of the left. Do they not remember the Clinton years? I’ve never seen as much outright hatred for a president as the right showed toward Clinton.

I don’t care which side you’re on, but don’t cry about the other side bashing your guy, because whatever side you’re on, you’ve done the same thing!

Man, I cant believe the BS you guys take from your government. Americans are some of the hardest working people on the planet; you guys spend the most (by several times over on national defense). You have one of the most sophisticated intelligence networks in the world. Only after the fact are they saying that airplane hijacking is bad and that the lax security was a factor. Do you guys really buy that?
IMO, worst case scenario analysis should have been done long ago…

Why are they stuck on arguing over a specific threat from a specific group? Regardless of the threat demographic, be it a muslim extremist, an IRA member, or even a depressed Lakers’ fan, IMO measures should have been implemented long ago: a blast resistant cockpit door that stays locked, sky marshall(s) on every flight, properly paid/trained airport security, and a ‘no negotiating with terrorists’ policy. Given these there would not have been a 911. Maybe there would have been a different terrorist act but it would not have involved commercial airliners.

I don’t usually defend the Bush administration but in all fairness it should not be blamed for 911. Bush was just into office and was merely carrying on established policies.

It never ceases to amaze me that the right gets upset by the inherent Bush bashing of the left. Do they not remember the Clinton years? I’ve never seen as much outright hatred for a president as the right showed toward Clinton.

I don’t think Clinton was ever compared to Hitler. I don’t recall the media bashing him, either. He seemed to get away with a lot, while Bush gets in trouble for accidentally saying 50 tons of mustard gas instead of 23.6 or whatever it was.

You know what is THE most practical way 9-11 could have been prevented?

If the airlines were allowed to racially profile.

But liberals would have had an aneurism if the only practical solution were implemented before 9-11.

Yeah those silly liberals! If only they’d get a grip and let airlines racially profile! they should be strip-searching all those damn camel-jockeys!

Back to reality: WTF???


Racial profiling doesn’t work. Would you suspect a Mexican/American? A white British guy? Australian?


These things are done by Arab males between the ages of 18 and 40 or so.

Racially profiling in that case is common sense. Do you not have common sense?

Do you think it’s “unfair” to target Arabs?? Yeah, cause there are tons of white grandmas from Minnesota that blow themselves up or hijack planes.

This is like saying if a cop gets a report of a suspect that is a black male around 30 years old that he should question a bunch of white teenage girls and some Asian grandmas so that he isn’t being “racist”.