By Dana Milbank @ the Washington Post
Tuesday, September 28, 2004; Page A25
It's a political whodunit: Since Ayad Allawi delivered his address to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, foreign policy devotees have been searching for the ghostwriter of the speech, which sounded curiously familiar to American ears.
The White House denies that anybody in the administration did it. Several of the usual suspects outside the administration, including former White House officials Karen Hughes, Dan Senor and David Frum, have also denied culpability.
But those searching for a ghostwriter of the Allawi speech may be overthinking things. Maybe the prime minister simply went to the White House Web site and combed through some of President Bush's speeches. Consider the similarities:
"The world is better off without Saddam Hussein." -- Allawi
"The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power." -- Bush
"There are terrorists . . . who seek to make our country the main battleground against freedom, democracy and civilization." -- Allawi
"The killers know that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror." -- Bush
"It's a tough struggle with setbacks, but we are succeeding." -- Allawi
"It's tough at times . . . but there is steady progress." -- Bush
"I have seen some of the images that are being shown here on television. They are disturbing." -- Allawi
"The American people have seen horrible scenes on our TV screens." -- Bush
Iraq is "emerging finally from dark ages of violence." -- Allawi
"Iraq will never return to the dark ages of tyranny." -- Bush
"Your decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy one, but it was the right one." -- Allawi
"We made a tough decision when it came to Iraq. . . . And we made the right decision when it came to Iraq." -- Bush
Iraqi forces "are striking their enemies wherever they hide." -- Allawi
"We're fighting these enemies wherever they hide." -- Bush
"I have come here to . . . promise you that your sacrifices are not in vain." -- Allawi
"We will complete the mission so that their child or their husband or wife has not died in vain." -- Bush
"I have many friends who were murdered, tortured or raped by the regime of Saddam Hussein. . . . We estimate at least 300,000 in mass graves." -- Allawi
"Because we acted, torture rooms are closed, rape rooms no longer exist, mass graves are no longer a possibility in Iraq." -- Bush
"Creating a democratic, prosperous and stable nation . . . which lives in peace with itself and its neighbors is our highest priority." -- Allawi
"A stable, democratic and prosperous Iraq will no longer be a breeding ground for terror, tyranny and aggression." -- Bush
In the real world, Kristen Breitweiser wouldn't have to speak up as loudly as she has. When her husband was murdered on September 11th, along with several thousand fellow Americans, the response of our government, of our leaders, should have been instant action. Not just a military response, but a look into what went wrong. Instead, the Bush administration wanted no part of an independent commission to look into the attacks. Folks like Dick Cheney made the ludicrous assertion that looking into the intelligence breakdowns that contributed to the worst incident of mass murder in American history would somehow weaken our resolve. For whatever reason embarrassment, shame, Saudi connectionns the Bush team just didn't want the issue to be broached. Some off the 9/11 families accepted things as they were. Others got active. Kristen Bretiweiser got active.
Robert claims that Breitweiser's involvement "politicized" the 9/11 hearings but even after the comission had been creaated Bush made it clear he was pushing for sham proceedings, appointing architects of mass killing like Henry Kissinger as the supposedly independent chairman of the proceedings. It was only thanks to the outspoken nature of people like Mrs. Breitweiser that Kissinger stepped down. The man was working with the Saudi government! Might as well send Hannibal Lecter to cooking school. Yes, Breitweiser was speaking out against the Bush administration because the Bush admin was in total cover your aass mode. They were hobbling the commission imposing arbitrary deaddlines, not giving enough money for the commission to do their job, refusing to have administration officials like Condaleeza Rice testify, and worst of all putting limits on the time and scope of how much George Bush, the man at whose desk the buck for 9/11 must stop, could be questioned and interviewed. They were doing everything in their power to put the brakes on an inquiry they never wanted in the first place, and thats when partisan hacks like Rush Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal jumped into the fray, choosing the side of an obstructionist administration over women who had had their loved ones murdered by an enemy of our nation.
Is it any wonder now that this woman would support the Democratic candidate? She voted for George Bush in 2000, and he responded to the murder of her husband with indifference and political opportunism. Simply by virtue of him not being Bush, I would think Breitweiser would lean in his direction, much less the idea that Kerry was instrumental in bringing political pressure on the Bush administration to testify, and Bush himself to personally meet with the commission. Even then, Bush had to bring Dick Cheney along with him osstensibly to keep their stories straight, something Bill Clinton and Al Gore did not feel the need to do (President Clinton and Vice President Gore, along with Clinton cabinet members did not fight being interviewed by the 9/11 commission). Think about who the opposition is here. The head Republican in the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, characterized aid to families affected by the attack in New York as an "unseemly scramble". In that kind of environment, any observer can see that for the Bush team, 9/11 represented political opportunity and a blank check to pass a series of extremist political policies onto a stunned population the Republlicans proposed retroactive tax cuts for corporations at the same time our country went on a war footing.
Every chance the Bush administration has been given to prove that they are serious about stopping the people who killed Kristen Breitweiser's husband, and looking into why her husband and thousands of other fellow Americans were killed, they have responded with ignore, hobble, delay, deny. Their response to her concerns has been to label her a partisan, question her loyalty to the nation, and to smear her and the memory of all the others who lost family on that day.
One of Robert Cox's readers says "If I saw Breitweiser in the street, I think I'd punch her in the face! ", and that about sums up the morality of the other side.