In May 7 IssueBy Kathy Foley, Columnist
Sunday night and Monday found all Americans heralding the good news that Osama bin Laden was dead. It reminded me of The Wizard of Oz when everyone was celebrating, "Ding Dong, the witch is dead…"
It seemed that once again, if only for a moment, we all came together in unity as Americans. But then, all too quickly, the Republicans and their followers seemed to realize mid-celebration, "Uh oh, this could be construed as a success for President Obama. We must stop this immediately and start doing some spin control."
Thus began their ridiculous pats-on-the-back of former President Bush and extolling the benefits of torture, claiming that an incident of water boarding over 7 years ago was the primary thing that led directly to the discovery and destruction of bin Laden.
Let me remind everyone of Bush's words at a press conference 6 months after 9/11 in answer to a question about Osama bin Laden:
"I don't know where he is. I, uh, [chuckle] I repeat what I said, I truly am not that concerned about him…"
He later, in fact, dismantled the CIA's bin Laden Unit and then took us to war in Iraq, a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
It was President Obama, then candidate Obama, who vowed in a debate with John McCain, "If the United States has al-Qaida, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out." He also made the pledge: "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaida. ... That has to be our biggest national security priority." He has now made good on that pledge. That is a fact and there is nothing the Obama-haters can do or say that is going to change it.
Unlike the Bush administration, Leon Panetta, the CIA Director did not lie to us and say unequivocally that we didn't get ANY information from those un-American intelligence gathering methods, but rather, that there were many sources from which the information was gathered.
Intelligence experts have said that information gathered from prisoners is generally only useful within the first 15 or 20 minutes-on occasion as much as 2-3 days. But now, Republicans like Congressman Pete King, want us to believe that Cheney's torture tactics of 7 years ago resulted in this victory.
Okay, so Osama bin Laden is dead. That's wonderful. We can all agree that the world is a better place without him. But what was his goal that fateful September day? Was it to kill thousands of Americans?
Well, yes, but not in and of itself. If you will recall the interview he did with Al Jazeera a month later when he was gloating over the 9/11 attacks, what he focused on was the economic impact to America. His goal was to force us into being so scared that it would cripple our economy and bring us to bankrupt ourselves. This was still his main message when we last saw him deliver a video taped message in October before the 2004 election.
"We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy … as for the economic deficit, it has reached astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars…the real loser is you. It's the American people and their economy."
In the Washington Post, Ezra Klein wrote about "Bin Laden's War against the U.S. Economy." He wrote, "For bin Laden…success was not to be measured in body counts. It was to be measured in deficits, in borrowing costs, in investments we weren't able to make in our country's continued economic strength."
The Washington Post chronicled how much money we have put into defense, intelligence and security in the last decade in an investigation entitled "Top Secret America." Since 9/11 the Pentagon Defense Intelligence Agency has gone from 7,500 employees to 16,500.
The National Security Agency's budget has doubled. The 35 FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces went from 35 to 106. The largest government complex since the Pentagon is being built for the Headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security at an estimated cost of $3.4 billion.
By the end of 2001, 24 new government organizations were created; in 2002 an additional 34 were created to track weapons of mass destruction, collect threat tips and coordinate the new focus on counter-terrorism followed by 36 more in 2003; 31 more in 2004; 32 more in 2005 and 20 or more each in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
On 9/11/01, the U.S. national debt was approximately $6 Trillion. Ten years later it is over $14 Trillion. The U.S. defense budget, already massive, has doubled. The U.S. intelligence budget-well, there was no Department of Homeland Defense then and last year their budget alone was $42 Billion.
Also, over the last decade or so:
U.S. Median Income:
1999 - $52,377
2009 - $49,777
Health Care Costs/Average Annual Insurance Premium per family:
2000 - $6,438
2010 - $13,770
Home Heating Oil:
2000 - $1.35/gal
2010 - $3.88/gal
U.S. Education/U.S. Rankings in Math & Science:
2000 - 14th and 18th
2009 - 17th and 25th
The result: The middle class in this country is disintegrating. According to the Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development, "The U.S. is the country with the highest inequality level [between rich & poor] and poverty rate…" and it is getting worse.
I ask, has bin Laden's goal died with him? Or, is it in full swing?
Maybe there is little that you and I can do about all this, but we can do something here locally.
The Russell County Fiscal Court is meeting Monday evening, May 9th at 6:00 pm. That will be the 39th day since they declared war on the average working Joe and Jane here in Russell County by passing the Occupational Tax Ordinance which penalizes the working poor and middle-income citizens of this county, while giving a huge break to the wealthy. Once again, I urge everyone to come to the meeting and let our magistrates know that we are watching and listening. At the end of every meeting, they are presented with a list of expenditures -- bills to be voted on & paid.
At every meeting they vote to pay those bills while those of us in the audience have no idea what those bills are. I have requested that we be shown these bills so we can at least see what they are.
I don't know if my request will be granted, but we will soon know. Please come out and participate in your local government.