President Bush has yet another supposed "emergency" on his hands. This time it's illegal immigration. His response is to deploy thousands of National Guard troops along the Mexican border. The tactic is eerily familiar: send soldiers on a murky mission under the pretense of promoting homeland security and the war on terror.
In the "initial guidance" Pentagon memo that The Associated Press recently acquired, Bush provided no clear estimates of operational strategies, costs, or timelines. That's just how he made the Iraq war a military, monetary, and moral failure.
More than 2,500 U.S. soldiers have died. In the first three months of this year, more than 3,800 innocent civilians were killed in Baghdad alone. That's the real emergency. But Bush is deaf to the screaming sirens.
Sad to say, neither of the two major disasters that the Bush administration (eventually) categorized as emergencies was unforeseen.
Pre-9/11 intelligence reports specifically warned about the possibility of a major, imminent, terrorist attack in the United States. Various FBI personnel and flight school instructors repeatedly raised concerns about potential or suspected terrorists getting aviation training but skipping sessions about how to land a plane. Mossad officials traveled to Washington from Israel to warn government agencies that a cell of terrorists was setting up a major operation.
Two weeks before the attacks, a CIA cable received over a classified government computer network warned that two "bin Laden-related individuals" had come into the United States and that two other suspected terrorists should be banned from entering, according to the Los Angeles Times. Ignoring those warnings contributed to the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans.
The administration's failure to heed the National Weather Service's predictions about the severity of Hurricane Katrina, coupled with a yearslong pattern of sabotaging FEMA and gutting the Guard for the Iraq war, contributed to the deaths of at least 2,140 people along the Gulf Coast. Far fewer would have died had the Bush administration not delayed declaring a state of emergency.
The Bushies, however, are rushing to frame the immigration issue as Code Red and militarize the border with Mexico (but not with Canada). People have fled their homelands to come to this country in the hope of a better life for themselves and their children for centuries. Suddenly, it's a "national emergency"? Please. With Bush's low approval rating and the Republicans deeply divided, perhaps he's just worried about an electoral emergency.
The real crisis is the result of more than three years of a war based on false information that Bush persists in repeating. While discussing immigration reform at an Orange County Business Council event at the Hyatt Regency Irvine on April 24, Bush stated, "Iraq has -- had weapons of mass destruction." He went on to say, "I base a lot of my foreign policy decisions on ... things I think are true." This suggests some of his decisions are based on lies.
The real emergency is that this administration and Congress have cut funds for education and social services while pouring $320 billion into the Iraq war.
The true menace before us is that a nation that once was a beacon welcoming millions would douse the light and bar the door.
Stacy Bannerman of Kent contributes to Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) and is on the advisory board of Military Families Speak Out; www.mfso.org She wrote "When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists and the Families They Leave Behind." Her husband served in Iraq with the Army National Guard 81st Brigade.
© 2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer