Two recent polls, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll and a New York
Times/CBS News poll, indicate why Bush is getting away with impeachable offenses.
Half of the US population is incapable of acquiring, processing and understanding
Much of the problem is the media itself, which serves as a disinformation
agency for the Bush administration. Fox "News" and right-wing talk
radio are the worst, but with propagandistic outlets setting the standard for
truth and patriotism, all of the media is affected to some degree.
Despite the media's failure, about half the population has managed to discern
that the US invasion of Iraq has not made them safer and that the Bush administration's
assault on civil liberties is not a necessary component of the war on terror.
The problem, thus, lies with the absence of due diligence on the part of the
other half of the population.
Consider the New York Times/CBS poll. Sixty-four percent of the respondents
have concerns about losing civil liberties as a result of anti-terrorism measures
put in place by President Bush. Yet, 53
percent approve of spying without obtaining court warrants "in order to
reduce the threat of terrorism."
Why does any American think that spying without a warrant has any more effect
in reducing the threat of terrorism than spying with a warrant? The Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Bush is disobeying, requires the executive
to obtain from a secret panel of federal judges a warrant for spying on Americans.
The purpose of the law is to prevent a president from spying for partisan political
reasons. The law permits the president to spy first (for 72 hours) and then
come to the court for permission. As the court meets in secret, spying without
a warrant is no more effective in reducing the threat of terrorism than spying
with a warrant.
Instead of explaining this basic truth, the media has played along with the
Bush administration and formulated the question as a trade-off between civil
liberties and protection from terrorists. This formulation is false and nonsensical.
Why does the media enable the Bush administration to escape accountability for
illegal behavior by putting false and misleading choices before the people?
The LA Times/Bloomberg poll has equally striking anomalies. Only 43 percent
said they approved of Bush's performance as president. But a majority believe
Bush's policies have made the US more secure.
It is extraordinary that anyone would think Americans are safer as a result
of Bush invading two Muslim countries and constantly threatening two more with
military attack. The invasions and threats have caused a dramatic swing in Muslim
sentiment away from the US.
Prior to Bush's invasion of Iraq, a large majority of Muslims had a favorable
opinion of America. Now only about 5 percent do.
A number of US commanders in Iraq and many Middle East experts have told the
American public that the three year-old war in Iraq is serving both to recruit
and to train terrorists for al Qaeda, which has grown many times its former
size. Moreover, the US military has concluded that al Qaeda has succeeded in
having its members elected to the new Iraqi government.
We have seen similar developments both in Egypt and in Pakistan. In the recent
Egyptian elections, the radical Muslim Brotherhood, despite being suppressed
by the Egyptian government, won a large number of seats. In Pakistan elements
friendly or neutral toward al Qaeda control about half of the government. In
Iraq, Bush's invasion has replaced secular Sunnis with Islamist Shia allied
And now with the triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian election, we see the total
failure of Bush's Middle Eastern policy. Bush has succeeded in displacing secular
moderates from Middle Eastern governments and replacing them with Islamic extremists.
It boggles the mind that this disastrous result makes Americans feel safer!
What does it say for democracy that half of the American population is unable
to draw a rational conclusion from unambiguous facts?
Americans share this disability with the Bush administration.
According to news reports, the Bush administration is stunned by the election
victory of the radical Islamist Hamas Party, which swept the US-financed Fatah
Party from office. Why is the Bush administration astonished?
The Bush administration is astonished because it stupidly believes that hundreds
of millions of Muslims should be grateful that the US has interfered in their
internal affairs for 60 years, setting up colonies and puppet rulers to suppress
their aspirations and to achieve, instead, purposes of the US government.
Americans need desperately to understand that 95 percent of all Muslim terrorists
in the world were created in the past three years by Bush's invasion of Iraq.
Americans need desperately to comprehend that if Bush attacks Iran and Syria,
as he intends, terrorism will explode, and American civil liberties will disappear
into a thirty year war that will bankrupt the United States.
The total lack of rationality and competence in the White House and the inability
of half of the US population to acquire and understand information are far larger
threats to Americans than terrorism.
America has become a rogue nation, flying blind, guided only by ignorance and
hubris. A terrible catastrophe awaits.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury
in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal
editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of
The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org