In my opinion, all you need to know to decide to vote against George Bush is that his administration has presided over a destruction of the rule of law unimagined since the Alien and Sedition Acts. I speak not of the Patriot Act, most and perhaps all of whose provisions (if not necessarily their uses) reasonable people might disagree about. Rather I mean the disregard for due process, basic human rights, and our treaty obligations. These actions are most visible in the torture memo scandal, the almost certainly related practice of torture in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, and the administration’s practice of ‘extraordinary rendition’. Recall also that Bush’s team recently lobbied Congress to change the law to allow the outsourcing of torture.
But perhaps you think this concern with fundamental legality and minimal human decency is some bleeding-heart luxury this nation can no longer afford now that 9/11 ‘changed everything’. So let’s agree to disagree as to the extent that the nation should pervert itself in its drive to teach others that we lack the guts to uphold our fundamental values when challenged. Instead, let’s work with that claim that all that matters in this election is which candidate will better preserve our physical safety.
If all that matters is our safety and security, then today’s news makes it clear beyond peradventure that the Bush administration is horribly dangerous to our national security.
Josh Marshall’s blog today runs an extensive quote from the Nelson Report regarding a staggering disaster which occurred in the early days of the US occupation of Iraq: someone stole 350 tons of RDX and HDX, highly specialized explosives. These materials are so powerful that only a few pounds suffices for a roadside bomb; do the math (2000 lbs to the ton) and that means the ‘insurgents’ in Iraq have got enough bomb power to carry them on basically forever.
But that’s not the really bad news. The really bad news is that these specialized explosives are what countries use to make nuclear bombs. It’s well known that there are three basic obstacles to making a small nuclear weapon: getting the fissionable material, getting the specialized explosives needed to implode it in order to compress the fissionable material to criticality, and calculating the right amount of explosives to use. The number of people who know how to solve the last problem is increasingly large, and it’s increasingly easy to work it out from published material. Getting the fissionable material still takes some apparatus…unless you are a rogue state or unless those guys in the former Soviet Union are really selling fissionable materials on the black market like the rumors say.
Perhaps you are thinking that it’s wrong to blame the Bush administration for letting 350 tons of material vanish in the fog of war. Yes, that’s a lot of stuff, but Iraq is a big place, and perhaps you think we can’t expect them to keep track of everything. But this wasn’t a secret stash: it was under IAEA seal, they would or should have known about it, and one would expect any competent planner to make securing it a priority. But they didn’t.
And that’s not all. What was the administration’s reaction to this debacle? It only gets worse. Having loosed this enormous stash of high explosive on the world, this enormous enabler of WMD-fueled terrorism, what did the administration do? It covered up. It didn’t even report the problem to the International Atomic Energy Association. And it pressured the Iraqi authorities to keep quiet, forestalling any disclosure by them until very recently, which means presumably that other countries were not on notice about this new threat any more than the American voter (unless, of course, word was slipped to our allies, but kept from the American voter).
Major-league disaster all around. And you have to wonder what else is lurking under the carpet.
Feeling safer with GW Bush yet?