Who Is to Blame for the Next Attack?

Republicans in Congress have no plausible economic, health care or energy policies to counter the president’s. The only card left to play is 9/11.

Comments: 125

  1. You’re absolutely correct about Cheney. He’s a vile, inhumane figure who, in our name, shamed us every day he spent as an elected official in the Bush administration. But he has a right to be heard, just as you have a right to respond to his recriminations of the Obama’s policies.

    You’re screaming at the very media that you’re part of. Would you rather see more stories about Octo Mom? Britney Spears? Bush/Clinton love fest? Maybe Susan Boyle? C’mon Frank, it’s entirely right that we hear Cheney’s side. We don’t have to agree, but the media has a responsibility to report the facts and the issues.

    You can’t blame him or his acolytes for the coverage he receives. We are America, and all of us can promulgate our beliefs and attempt to have our views accepted. The press, however, has the responsibility to be accurate and that is where your reporting becomes important.

    It is your research, excellent writing and the cogent arguments you present that allows us to make our own decisions, informed by those we choose to believe.

    Frankly, though, I couldn’t feel worse than I already do that Cheney, Bush, Limbaugh and all the other bigots, war mongers and torturers can still get an audience to listen to their sick and twisted views.

  2. There is a fearmonger named Dick,
    Whose torture views made the World sick,
    Hid in a deep hole,
    Oil wars to extol,
    For Halliburton, made moves slick.

    And blinking, emerged into Light,
    From sultry, stark stygian Night,
    Doomsday chatter, non-stop,
    Plays the ultra-bad Cop,
    And won't go to Jail 'thout a Fight!

  3. What's the American media still doing, as you note so many of its most corporate celebrities giving the fear-mongers and liars a free, sensationalist ride?

    Your best answer to this comes in your penultimate paragraph today, where you quote Suskind on our real need: for much better, much more extensive sources of human intelligence.

    It unfortunately seems America is never going to get that, so long as mainly mega-expensive military gizmos are what this pitiful helpless giant yet relies on to throw at all problems, big and small, and so long as most of its corporate media yet thrive on most inane yet effectively scare-mongering sensationalism.

  4. No joke. Imagine unintentionally dozing off on a beautiful Spring afternoon awakening startled for doing so & this is on TV. Between the startle & this mess who caused my fear, not one person I tried to relate this to, actually everyone who populates my life, showed the least concern in my awakening to the Mr. Cheney experience. Just polite pause. One person very seriousy asked if I thought I had "Swine Flu" while noticeably distancing. Why was this desparate human bing allowed to do this?

  5. Please reprint this DAILY !!

  6. David Gregory is a poor excuse for a journalist. Whatever were the gods at NBC thinking when they gave him MTP? He must be blackmailing them. There is no other reason.

  7. "Journalists" (the media) in desperate "search" of a story will twist facts, inflate statistics, and hype drama. Yellow journalism has been a staple since William Randolph Hearst's attempt to sell newspapers by blaming Spain for restricting independence in Cuba.

    Buddha (reportedly) said, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it,unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

    The only people who believe anything that comes out of Dick Cheney's mouth are the very ones who still approve of his sanction of torture and his linking of Al-Queda and Saddam Hussein.

    He needs to save his twisting of the facts and his outright lies for his day in court. Think of the field day the media will have will that!

    Keep speaking Frank...it not only sounds reasonable, it makes a lot of common sense. (Which also makes it really unpopular among those who refuse to think for themselves).

  8. The facts now show that the dots were purposely and systematically deconstructed by the Bush Cheney administration. The advances of the Clinton commission on terrorism including satellite surveillance and communications investigations were trashed as insignificant by the new government leaders. Immediate warnings of highjacking of passenger airliners were deemed barely negligible. Yet ,in secret meetings airline executives were warned and FBI special agents trained for hostage situations on airliners. The public and the airports were never alerted and all ongoing investigations by special agents of potential Arab highjackers operating in the US were shelved into the closet. by the Bush administration.In event they knew as a positive fact we were going to have a highjacking and that they would somehow connect it to Iraq ,only if they could disconnect enough of the dots to confuse and uninform the public at large long enough to allow Bin Ladens plan to be successful.In all honesty Bush and
    Cheney in particular were intensely desperate for the highjacking to go on without a hitch though they were unaware of the extent of the entire formidability of the plan and its equivalent of disaster. By then it was too late but would they have alerted the flying public or airports as even the most basic security implementation would have prevented the highjackings . Even Bin Laden ,always one step ahead knew of the significant government knowledge of his plan but he knew also that Bush would allow the plan to go ahead unhindered . the benefits are that after 9 /11 we have learned that basic security implements as were refused by the Bush administration before the attacks even with factual knowledge of the immediate danger will stop highjackers. The ACLU will stand down when issues of national security is at stake and arrests of Arab nationals under investigation will continue .
    Obama has simply picked up the Bush playbook and ran with it making things easy for congress ,yet to continue to ignore the deeds of a small group of privately financed criminals and in turn to wage disasterous attacks on foriegn nations where death and destruction are the major outcomes is not making US safer in any respect.

  9. Oh, Frank, what a tangled web you weave. You've bitten off so much and introduced so many variables that we can be sure comments will pour in on every point and from every direction.

    I think you're saying that there may well be a next attack, that it probably will be a nuke, that some minor horror like a hydrogen cyanide attack in NYC's subway system would not be enough to satisfy Al Qaeda, that the Bush-Cheney failure to deal with Pakistan's nukes is why we're in jeopardy, that they should have tried to win hearts and minds, and that Mr. Obama is making the right moves to protect us. Yes, there were other points, including: 9/11 was a seminal event, some media writers got it right regarding Saddam, Iraq, and Bush's march to war (and I read and listened to them); Ron Suskind wrote a book with a provocative theory; torture is/was a bad idea; suspected terrorists could be safely contained in the U.S.; the Dems and The Times went along with bogus information; and there are some very bad people leading Al Qaeda.

    Trying to unpack this a little, I cannot help but notice it's all premised on 9/11 being an attack orchestrated solely by Osama bin Laden and what we now call Al Qaeda. Presumably you know that there are millions of us who subscribe to a version of LIHOP – let it happen on purpose. Given enough space we can defend this position well. PNAC -- the Project for a New American Century -- spelled out that at a New Pearl Harbor would be needed to awaken America to the dangers of terrorism, and this was several years before we got just that. We must also consider that the Cold War was over and America lacked an enemy to justify our empire-building and securing of oil and other natural resources across the planet. There are now millions or billions of words written on every nuance of the build-up of Al Qaeda starting in the 1980s, including our supposed stupidity in developing the forerunner of Al Qaeda to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Perhaps most telling, by the time of the actual day 9/11/01 there were numerous warnings, which the Bush team stonewalled. One was read aloud by Condi Rice at the 9/11 Commission hearings. And since them more millions of words have been written either questioning or debunking the official 9/11 story.

    Obviously Al Qaeda was very interested in striking the U.S. Whether they were playing us or we them is not too important. They wanted to have The Great Satan as an enemy and mired in an endless war. They read their Vietnam War history and understood that if they were willing to sacrifice enough people -- fighters and civilians -- over time, we'd eventually tire of the war and be drained financially, not to mention the blood of our citizens. They applaud martyrs, and have time and geography on their side. They're religious fanatics and dream of a pan-Muslim movement -- whether in 10 years or 50 is almost immaterial.

    Our bloody-fool Bush era leaders of the PNAC stripe were happy to oblige them. And still are.

    You cite Suskind as if he's writing gospel. Perhaps so, or perhaps tricked by the C.I.A.'s Mighty Wurlitzer just like The Times was. If my theory is right, Al Qaeda would be delighted by killing hundreds or thousands in NYC's subways. It'd be a way to keep us fighting the endless war and creating more martyrs for them. But it was not in the Bush administration's interest. Too many would have asked how they let it happen again. OTOH, this level of attack would be more than enough for Cheney to crow about, and keep Mr. Obama on the ropes in the Middle East. Perhaps this worry is why our president backtracked on pledges to exit Iraq quickly (leaving 50,000 troops and the largest embassy in the world) and has failed to use an effective "hearts and minds" strategy in Afghanistan.

    Why am I bothering to bring all this up and expose myself to ridicule? Because as a nation we better do two things: (1) Not take any official 9/11 story too seriously, and realize that 9/11 is truly the still point of the turning world. What we think is factually correct about 9/11 determines all that follows, including today's column. (2) Turn to something that will work, your winning hearts and minds. War will not work, and it leaves too many open doors for further attacks -- whatever their source and reason.

  10. The people responsible for the next attack are the same responsible for the first attack. A recent scientific paper "Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe" provides conclusive evidence of highly advanced explosives used to bring down the three WTC buildings. This nano-thermite material is made only in sophisticated military labs. It is not made in caves in Afghanistan. Note that the CIA had offices in WTC7. How could terrorists bring in large qualities of this explosive without the CIA being aware of it?


  11. Well said.

    I am only a little reassured that the situation is actually in the hands of Obama, Gates, and Petraeus, and not in the hands of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, or the Congress--republican or democrat.

    I am certainly glad that not too many people seem to be really listening to the talking heads on cable news, with their insipid cowtowing and failing to challenge the far right's lies and half-truths.

    If, as we hope, there is no new attack, it will be because of Obama's obvious respect for the peoples of the world, not because of Cheney's torture tactics, for which he (and maybe he alone) should stand trial.

    If there is an attack, I agree with your conclusion, Mr. Rich, that it was because the situation was too far gone on January 20th for any human being to remedy.

    I am cautiously optimistic there will not be an attack big enough to supercede 9-11. We can't afford a nuclear war now or in the future any more than we could have survived it at the height of the Cold War.

  12. Why are we even giving Cheney the time of day anymore?

  13. The main reason Cheney is getting so much unopposed air time for his lies is that Obama has failed to make transparent and prosecute the horrors of the Bush-Cheney years. Cheney's arguments are going to fall flat in a court of law. Only prosecution and the threat of jailtime will stop these charades. Justice will purify, not divide this country. Obama swore to protect the Constitution. To do that he must stop protecting Cheney.

  14. I have stopped using my indoor voice and I have begun screaming: GUANTANAMO IS IN CUBA.
    Our government has maligned Fidel's record on human rights for half a century, but the bearded one has won in the end. If this phantom in the red track suit is indeed El Jefe, all he needs to do is point to the east where the sun is rising on the Cuban province the US has been occupying for more than 100 years. Did we build a school, a hospital or a university where Americans and Cubans could conduct research together? We built a prison surrounded by barbed wire. We held teenagers for 5 or 6 years without a trial.
    The province which inspired the beautiful Guantanamera will now be forever known by the coarsened term Gitmo, and identified forever with waterboarding and torture.

  15. The underpinning of too much of the mess we were left by "the bums" is the media that turned a willful blind eye to facts, cosied up to fearmongers and enabled their drumbeat to War in Iraq and torture.

    The McClatchy reporters are best example of a dying breed: journalists who dig out the truth and refuse to pass along spin as fact...they are to be saluted, and cherished, for their like in mainstream media is rarely seen.

    Instead we are treated to tabloidized everything--from the singing Scotswoman to the new Supreme Court Justice. All coverage dumbed down and manipulated for "Mortal Combat" controversy.

    No wonder people are turning away from traditional media. You are "the bums," too.

  16. THE ACTUAL 'harrowing truth' is that while americans like to tell the world they're square jawed, steely eyed individualists they're generally scared to death to be portrayed as unamerican or unpatriotic no matter how silly the charges or faux issues raised are.....the republicans are experts at vomiting forth this sort of stuff. apparently it works because the 'folks' are like sheep.....

  17. It seems to me the Democrats are too cowardly and senile to arrest and punish those Americans who misused our Government's powers. Start with the immediate transfer out of the country by Bush/Cheney of the bin laden family with any interrogation or holding. In time of war this giving aid and comfort to an enemy is an act of treason.

  18. A rather incoherent column but with the usual anti-Repub themes. If you really wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the debate about enhanced interrogation and its success or failure, you should be calling for President Obama to release the memos requested by Cheney. Then we can all evaluate the truth of the debate between Cheney and Obama without your selective media filter.

  19. Cheney/Bush should learn from the former Korean President.

  20. Apparently the saying that one can't be fooled all the time is not as true as we would like. I like you am disgusted that the press and the Democrats are once again be played by Cheney and the far right.

    The Democrats who won majorities in both houses for finally opposing these policies are now back to sqare one in being cowered by them.
    The press by giving space and unquestioning coverage to the likes of Cheney and Rush Limbaugh fairness in coverage a joke.

  21. To mention Cheney and 911 in the same sentence belies the reality that 911 Truthers in America, and around the world, will forever remember Transportation Secretary Mineta's 911 Commission testimony.

    For those not familiar, there are questions about Cheney's location, his schedule, and the orders he issued that morning.

    Sec Mineta alleged that Cheney was aware of the flight approaching the Pentagon but had ordered Anti-Aircraft battery's defending the Pentagon to not fire.

    Cheney has many questions to answer.

  22. Richard Cheney is a traitor. He ordered the outing of a very important CIA agent who happened to be trying to learn intelligence on the Iranian nuclear weapons program. How many Iranians and others lost their lives because of the outing of this CIA agent? Bush/Cheney are the worst President and Vice-President in the history of the United States!

  23. As usual, a simply brilliant column.

  24. There are millions of reasons to simply not believe Cheney (among others the nagging suspicion it was incompetence, and not unawareness, that allowed 9/11); I personally am disbelieving: how can the man who sold us on Iraq have any weight whatsoever??

    And why is it that Democrats are still weak and cowed: does it mean nothing to have Congress and House majority? The problem is this: if Democrats let Republicans dictate the national agenda when Democrats are the majority, then Democrats will get blame when this agenda (unfailingly at this point: not because Republicans are incapable of having ideas, but because right now, they are not looking to have any, they are looking to make as much noise as they can) brings the country to ruins.

  25. Bravo, Mr. Rich! Bravo!
    Unfortunately, Obama doesn't have the support of the ever-cowering Democrats, afraid of the next news cycle. They seem to have absorbed the Bush "Fear, fear, be very afraid" message perfectly.
    We must close Guantanamo because of what it says about America (and equally we must prosecute those who provided legal cover for torture: War Crimes!), not because we're afraid of a few prisoners (many of them innocent of anything against America).

  26. True, it is fear mongering; but why the American people are so easily scared. Could it be that by eating fast food and watching TV, we are made both physically and mentally weak intentionally. It is not them; it is us.

  27. Mr. Cheney willingly took the passenger seat in the Bush administration. He willingly signed on to being the silent partner. That's what vice presidents do. He also willingly chose not to run for president and represent his party post Bush. That's not what vice presidents do. He had positioned himself so out of the public eye, that there was nothing left for the public to like; as such, he let his party down years ago. Now as they flail in the wind (and justly so), he stages a pathetic attempt to ressurect the philosophies and doctrine. but time moves quickly and he is already very, very old news...
    Now it's back to Jackson Hole, or off to Dubai with him to work for Haliburton. The public no longer has a tolerance for his cynical ways. We have 3 wars to manage and a floundering economy.

  28. I'm afraid that American news reportage hasn't improved at all since the build-up to the Iraq war. Your comments are so obviously correct that one can only be flabbergasted that the disposition of Guantanamo prisoners has become a major issue and that Cheney has been given any credibility whatsoever. Congress is likewise no source for optimism. It seems that the only things we have going for us at the moment are truthful columnists like you and a president who has defied the odds by choosing to live in the real world.

  29. The question I have is why the media paid any attention Mr. Cheney? We all know who he is, what he believes and what damage he has done to the American psyche. Why give him more sunshine when he needs to be ignored? Your column adds nothing but more unnecessary attention.

  30. With something like 10 million illegal immigrants in the US, borders that have seen tons of drugs pour thru it every year for decades, we’re supposed to believe that the administration that chose not follow up on the USS Cole and Al Qaeda connection until after 9/11 kept us safe from another terrorist attack? The administration that let Bin Laden get away at Tora Bora, under circumstances that have fueled rumors and stories of a deal? No, Al Qaeda could have easily carried out other attacks, just as anyone could now if they wished to do so. We’ve seen a variety of weapons, nerve agents, anthrax, conventional explosives, used by terrorists here and around the world, year after year, and unfortunately we will continue to see such acts.
    If a deal was made, make another one.

  31. Frank, I am nobody special and have no influence on anyone, but I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this column. My husband and I have been going crazy, listening to the media coverage of Cheney's performance, watching so-called journalists -- including Gregory on Meet the Press -- fall into every one of Cheney's traps, just as they fell in to the Bush/Cheney traps in 2002. We were among the millions of Americans who recognized that Bush had not made a case for invading Iraq and that "weapons of mass destruction" was merely a veil for the real agenda in Iraq; namely, to implement the neo-cons delusional plan to transform the Mideast by taking out Saddam Hussein. We asked then, and asked now, "What is going on in the media? What is wrong with the New York Times? Are they stupid? How can we, a middle-class couple from a NYC suburb, be shrewder and more perceptive than the world's best journalists?"

    Cheney was lying last week, trying to steal Obama's spotlight and knock the wind out of the sails of a new Administration. Nobody caught him at it. If there is another terrorist attack, that attack will, as you have stated, be the fault of Cheney and Bush. Yet Cheney is clearly attempting to manipulate the media into blaming Obama for such an attack. Meanwhile, Pakistan melts down; and Pakistan is where the nuclear bombs are hidden.

    I believe that Bush and Cheney did more damage to our country than any enemy we have ever faced, and that damage was facilitated and continues to be facilitated by the cowardice of the Democrats in Congress and the ignorance and gullibility of the media. The rest of us just watch in amazement and despair as the supposedly best journalists in the world are played for rubes by the biggest liars in American history.

    And the Taliban is within marching distance of the nukes.

  32. If Bush, Cheney, and their fat-cat friends were not too busy looting the American economy prior to 9/11 to heed the warnings of front-line FBI agents and CIA analysts, 9/11 never would have occurred.

    So here's my question for you, Dick Cheney: Why did 9/11 happen on your watch? Why didn't you prevent 9/11? Why did you let 9/11 happen?

    All your bombing, all your torture, all your illegal spying on the American public, all your fear mongering and all your war mongering will never, ever erase the fact that because of your larceny and your ineptitude 9/11 occurred when it was you who were responsible for preventing precisely incidents like that from happening.

  33. Yet another great article by Frank Rich. Since Cheney crawled out from his undisclosed location, what he has been successful at is changing the topic of conversation from "is torture wrong" to debate the "usefulness" of torture. The net result was that the conversation is now about "was it worth it in the intelligence we gained", which as an "Ends justify the Means" argument.

    In my view the ends never justify the means, since the means is the reason for the journey and presents the greatest opportunity to progress and mature in our lives. I'm aware that it is this attitude that marks me as a 'Liberal' which is used on the right as an epithet. The epithet is used to de-humanify the person who disagrees with them.

    Always remember, the ends do not ever justify the means and that the means are the reason for the journey.

  34. So, by this logic, we blame Clinton entirely for 9/11. Got it.

    Lets try this...don't childishly - and pre-emptively - heap blame on any one person for what hasn't happened yet. Should the next 9/11 style commission just type "Bush" on a single page and release it to much fanfare? Grow up.

  35. I am confused. Is **former** Vice President Cheney paranoid?

    Why is he **awfulizing** the most terrible outcomes?

    Frankin Delano Roosevelt said "the only thing we have to fear itself". Why is Mr. Cheny trotting out these old stories and old fears?? Why these old fears just before the trip to Egypt by Pres. Obama?

    Mr. Cheney is sadly in poor health, and it is quite possible that his heart medications have made him paranoid?

    Regrettably, his paranoia seems to "wind up" too many people who forget that America has much international support and good protection now. The Bush-Cheney years left America with few firnds and not a lot of international support.

    Also, do we want to go back to the fear of 2002 when we bought duct tape by the cartload and expected to have a war of the worlds instantly?

    Can Mr. Cheney give any consdieration to enjoying his retirement and not being such an angry fearful senior citizen?

  36. My favorite line about terrorism comes from the pundits at FOX News primarily, but the rest of the networks are also guilty of using it. The line goes something like this: "Bush and Cheney kept us safe after 9-11." What about up to and including 9-11. They sure didn't keep the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 safe, did they? It's like we are supposed to allow them a free pass on the 9-11 debacle. Not a chance Mr. Cheney. You guys blew it, but good. I will always remind people of who was in charge on September 11, 2001.

  37. There's no time to even dignify Cheney's attacks on the Obama administration. The top four-fifths of this country is moving forward. We're no longer frightened by the mere mentioning of 9/11, nor the vivid imagery we all witnessed as the events occurred. We get it, 3000+ people died. We've lost thousands more in an optional war under far more horrific circumstances. No need to live in the past any longer. Your scare tactics resonate no further.

    The United States from 2001-2008 began to embody fascist Italy at many levels, and it's comforting to believe the worst is over. "Speeches" such as Cheney's latest remind us of just how ugly the mud slinging and fear mongering became. Getting through the kidney stone that was The Bush Administration leaves the progressive tier of this country rightfully demanding an overhaul of economic, health care and energy policies. As stated in this column, key policies the GOP has nothing to contribute to.

  38. Thank you Frank. When will the journalism profession in this country reawaken to their greatest responsibility? Vet Vet and Vet again. Leave no statement unexamined. Parroting falsehoods murders us. The Bush administration lived on it.

  39. Q: who is to blame for the next attack?

    A: the terrorists

  40. "as if the GOP is rooting for another attack"??? OF COURSE they are.

    Nothing less can absolve them (in their minds) of the horrendous job they did on the American ideals they profess to hold more dearly than anyone else, Democrats in particularly.

    Nothing would engage that sneering look on Cheney's face more than his snarling "I told you so."

    Sneer and fear - that's heir game.

    Is it so far-fetched to think that they wouldn't help promote such an attack? Would that be any more un-American that anything else these scofflaws have already done during their years in power?

  41. I have for some time been convinced that the details that we think we know about the attack on 9/11 are not true. I have also been concerned about how quickly our nation was dragged into an oil war. It all seems very efficiently designed and probably took years and a window of opportunity to be manifest.

    In the first place, if the American Enterprise Institute is the forum for a speech by Dick Cheney, then we already know it’s bogus. The American Enterprise Institute is home base for a legion of failed neocons.

    I read yesterday that Cheney was paranoid, alone and fearful. If true he should be because he is one of the world’s most efficient war criminals and now without a sanctuary. Since he has no real power he has to play the talk show circuitry to try and keep himself from being brought up on charges of crimes against humanity. It’s a PR gambit, and relatively useless. He’s already admitted that he’s a war criminal. Now George Bush has joined the cacophony.

    Frank Rich says: “The speech itself, with 20 mentions of 9/11, struck the same cynical note as the ads, as if the G.O.P. was almost rooting for a terrorist attack on Obama’s watch.” I say they are. It’s their only hope to keep from being the buried bones of dinosaurs.

    I for one am tired of this cynical game. The nation has a lot of problems, most of which have been generated by people like Bush and Cheney and a GOP that has been in power for too many years. It’s time to clean house (and senate). It’s time for a day of reckoning. Time for a Truth Commission. A Special Prosecutor. Time for the truth.

  42. I don't understand why Cheney is so fixated on the fact that no terrorist attack has occurred since 9/11, allegedly because the Bush Administration's (i.e. Cheney's) policies were so effective. Didn't 9/11 occur "on their watch" because they disregarded warnings about the threat?

  43. This column sets the standard for excellence in analysis. What is more stunning than the clarity of Frank's exposition is the chicken-little reactions of prominent politicians and pundits whom he so effectively excoriates. One is left mouth agape wondering, "How can they be so stupid?"

    While Dick Cheney was blasting the airwaves with untruths designed to save his own sorry skin, the punditocracy was recruiting reliable wingnuts from Tom Delay on down to applaud his performance and elevate him as an equal of President Obama's. At the same time, the "liberal" media and the wingers were engaged in a mock crucifixion and sexist slander of Nancy Pelosi.

    Meanwhile, somebody (probably a Cheney gopher) leaked to the Times that 14% of released Gitmo detainees (released, BTW, by Cheney & company) had returned to the battlefied. (Somehow, this was perceived as "evidence" that torture was great & we couldn't let detainees onto U.S. soil.) It turns out that experts have estimated this percentage was exaggerated by about 350%; that is, only about 4% of the Gitmo prisoners may have returned to actively fighting or plotting against the U.S. No doubt some of those were innocent of active anti-American activity before we gave them cause to despise us.

    The suits who run the mainstream media must try to find some actual journlists with backbone who will report this stuff instead of knocking themselves out to feature milquetoast men palatable to some imagined Midwestern ethic. (Sorry, Brokaw, Midwesterners are not the pablum-sucking idiots you pretend they are.) Until the media comply, we in the public can help them by tuning out their credulous "news" shows.

    And for Pete's sake, Democratic politicians must develop some backbone and stop serving as facilitators to Rush, Newt & Cheney, a/k/a the RNC. In a time of national & international crisis, the very best thing to do with the rump of the right is to completely ignore it.

    The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

  44. Thank goodness SOMEONE is criticizing the press and the Democrats for just taking this nonsense and not firing back strongly enough. And it certainly is creepy; I was thinking the same thing, that Cheney was wishing we would be attacked again. (Weren't we attacked on his watch? - not that I would use the same arguments.)

    On another subject - Mr. Rich, grab a train and go to NY to watch a play about the Lincoln/Douglas debates at the Irish Rep Theater on 22nd Street. The acting is not as good as it could be, but it almost doesn't matter when Douglas and Lincoln start speaking. You'll know why you should go when you see it.

  45. The press is part of the problem. Sensationalism sells. If they can whip something up, everybody has a job in the morning. The press is just as corrupt and impotent as Washington. We get this two-sides-to-everything crap, as if the act of murdering innocent people has two sides. The term 'collateral damage' is crap-speak for those don't mind doing evil. No wonder why our men and women come back from Iraq in psychological pieces. Right and wrong exists, and when a person is asked to do wrong in the name of right, it hurts and it doesn't go away. The press has got to stop brown-nosing the government and tell the truth.

  46. Sadly this is yet another ineffectual column trying -- and failing -- to stop the Cheney juggernaut.

    It may be strident, irritating, and downright frightening to call a lie a lie -- but that's what we must do. Cheney's "facts" are not "falsifications" -- nor are they "whoppers" or "bogus". They are lies, plain and simple, told by a liar whose gotten more than his share of free-passes by a litany of ineffectual journalists now in fear of losing their jobs.

    If you cannot call a lie a lie, then you are hiding the truth.

    Cheney's interest has been, and always will be, governed by his personal philosophy: "Repeat a lie often enough and it will become the truth".

    Having failed at repeating it often enough during his term, he is continuing to do it now for only one reason: to protect his own personal legacy of years-long governmental corruption and incompetency.

    Until you can hammer that home, no amount of articles based upon innuendos about "half-truths" is going to make any difference at all, and we'll read about it in the history books.

  47. Two coworkers recently told me in separate conversations that they thought Jimmy Carter had done more damage to the country than any president in living memory. This after the smoke has not yet cleared from the ruins and rubble of the Bush disaster, after the economic collapse engineered by the deregulated banking sector, and with no thought to the Reaganite orgy of regressive taxation and its attendant bankrupting of the government; nor any thought about the failed national health policy, engineered by the big drug companies and their allies. They go back to the reviled Carter, a failed voice of reason sundered by the political hurricane that ripped the solar panels off the White House when Reagan arrived in his tuxedo. How can anyone doubt that the lunatic right will be ready with a blame scenario as soon as the terrorists strike? You can't remember, or forget for that matter, what you never saw in your alternate universe.

  48. Bravo, Frank! You said it all. And the number of Arabic speakers who have been booted out of the U.S. military over the counterproductive "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy certainly doesn't help U.S. intellegence efforts.

  49. "What happens if Al Qaeda attacks the U.S., or if Afghanistan or Pakistan falls while we're at war in Iraq?"
    This is Mr. Rich's quote from his Sept 14, 2002
    op-ed "Never Forget What?" where he lays the blame for the terror attacks of 9-11 squarely at the door of the oval office of George W. Bush.
    Now Al Qaeda had attacked the U.S. during the 1990's with no effective deterrent to their operational capabilities taken by the U.S.; in fact this newspaper even published the classified information that U.S. intelligence agencies tracked the satelitte phones of Osama Bin Laden before the terror attacks of 9-11.
    So here we are in 2009 with no attacks to date on U.S. soil since September 2001, is it possible that by invading Iraq we drew Muslim terrorists fighters into the open & fought them in Iraq; in a country that is more defensable than Afghanistan.
    I believe that a case could be made that we are safer specifically because of the invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration.
    Last time I checked the President is named Obama; if Mr. Rich successfully blamed Bush for the terror attacks of 9-11 maybe what happens on President Obama's watch will be President Obama's responsibility.

  50. I hate to say this but i agree with the Columnist- The Republicans having been Lieing for eight years with the Media posting its Lie's as fact. I knew that for years-why does it take so long for people to figure that out?

  51. Wow! I think Dick Cheney is under your skin! What about North Korea Frank? They just declared war on the peacenik Obama! Barack will be calling Dick for advice soon! HaHa!

  52. from the caves of tora bora to the prisons of abu ghraib and gitmo, the cheney administration failed to kill or capture bin laden and instead created the propaganda to encourage more terrorist to harm us. from the 8/2001 nie memo entitled, "bin laden determined to strike in the u.s." to richard clarke and others desperately trying to gain the attention of the prior administration.

    cheney's month-long media tour, as usual enabled by the msm and the spineless democrats was nothing more than the good ol' pea in the shell game con they are all so adept at playing on the gullible.

  53. What is the answer then? If the media won't cover the real problems and the house and senate does nothing substantial, what is the answer? Writing to my senators is like writing to a wall. The average American feels helpless.

  54. The truth is nobody can "keep us safe." Not Bush, Cheney, Obama or the cops. Live your life the right way and enjoy it.

  55. I disagree with you about one important thing, Frank! If we have another terrorist attack while Obama is in office, it will be because we have TORTURED our way into the permanent enmity of the Islamic world! I know you know how may terrorists America has encouraged by our completely dishonorable and illegal behaviors at Abu Gharib, Guantanamo and all of those "secret" prisions!

    "What are the lessons of this period," you asked Ron Susskind, and he responded “If you draw the wrong lessons, you end up embracing the wrong answers.” They are certainly not the lessons cited by Cheney. Waterboarding hasn’t and isn’t going to save us from anything...."

    Please, President Obama, pay attention to our Constitution and "allow" Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate what seem clearly to be war crimes! And, if necessary, to imprison those responsible! Dick Cheney, though he is paranoid and obviously in ill health, seems to be volunteering himself for the courtroom showdown! LET'S DO IT!!!! NOW!!!! Our country's reputation for truthfulness and humanity is at stake!

  56. The continuing lies and deceit spewed by the Republican Party as evinced by Messrs. Cheney, Limbaugh and Gingrich are nothing short of treasonous acts and should be dealt with as such - quickly and with surgical precision. It is far past the time for quasi-academic arguments and media frenzies to continue to stir the pot of venomous conservative tripe and instead rejoin together as a country in a collective, inclusive process of truth, fairness and justice. We owe at least this to ourselves and our children.

  57. Mr. Rich ; I don't know if you are correct in your accusations . If President Obama would simply release the memos that Vice - President challenged him to release, we would know who is telling the truth, The fact that President Obama is afraid to release the memos suggests an answer that might be wrong.

    But , you need to look in the mirror before you start blaming everything wrong in the world on " white men " . That attitude helps no one.

    My challenge to President Obama and our current Congress is to give us back our Civil rights we lost with the Patriot Act. So far, President Obama seems just as prone as President Bush to track, surveil, record, chip, spy, id, and in all other ways possible , expand the governmental abuse of citizen's privacy and right to go and do as we please.

    I have no way to know if we are more or less safe. But, Obama is President; the Democrats are in complete control of the Congress and everything else. If there is another attack, no-one can blame it on the Republicans; the Republicans have no power.

    In the mean-time , Obama and the Democrats are making us One Nation Under Surveillance while well regarded columnists , like you , waste your soapbox on comparison of past officials to Madison Avenue created characters.

    I don't find Obama any more worrisome than Bush as far as external attacks. But, he could be worse, and is certainly as bad as Bush, when it comes to privacy-oriented civil rights.

  58. The Republicans themselves would have branded the Cheney type of ill-tempered, imprudent, misguided, and inaccurate tirades as unpatriotic - that is prior to 2008. How ironic that those who waved the flag and called free speech unpatriotic are now spewing all that is destructive, confrontational, anti-American... and sour grapes. Mr. Cheney,it's time you realized that your irresponsible party lost the election, and you are no longer the phantom president. Your true colors are not red, white, and blue.... They're green!

  59. I watched a news program this morning during which a number of pundits agreed that the Republicans had to be very careful about opposing Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination because they really need the Hispanic vote. Is this what government has become in this country—a never-ending battle to gain votes, fighting over issue after issue even when an agreement might be reached, because a winning a fight yields more political advantage? Political parties have become no better than street gangs, who when they spy a bandana of the wrong color, pull out their weapons immediately—the weapons of politics being half-truths that masquerade as facts.

    Do Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh really believe that President Obama wishes to see our country destroyed by terrorists? Can they really think that those “liberals” who voted for him are a bunch of drug-crazed hippies who want to bring down the system, make nice with our enemies, get in bed with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez , destroy the institution of marriage, and saddle our children with debt because we want to live high on the hog right now? Can’t they see that we are proud Americans who want a strong democracy, not a plutocracy, who want health care for all, and are frankly sick when we think about children going to bed hungry and families disintegrating because both parents are working too many hours, when others are flying private jets between their multiple homes?

    So, Dick Cheney wants to keep America safe. There’s no argument there. The vast majority of us do—no matter what our party affiliation. What I’d like for him to do is to define the America he wants to save. What is it to him—a place of enormous opportunity where if you cut corners, meet the right people, and turn a blind eye to questionable dealings you can amass a fortune that you can pass on to your children, while forgetting about the children of your neighbors? I’ve heard some Republicans say that even elementary education shouldn’t be publicly supported—that if parents want educated children, they should find a way to pay for it themselves. What America means to others of us is a place where we can raise our children with the knowledge that we are working together to form an equitable society, where we are free to realize our goals, and where we don’t have to fear being grabbed at an airport and being imprisoned without any knowledge of what we are being charged with.

    Let’s not allow the hate -mongers and the fear-mongers to turn the names of our political parties into enemy camps--like the Jets or Sharks, or the Crips and Bloods. Let’s demand that they step back and explain their motives, their values, their philosophies. What are Dick Cheney’s motives? What does he value, except for some vague notion of what America is—not what it isn’t, but what it is. A lot of us are getting really tired of this senseless, idiotic war on the home front. Can the media please give us a little more help in exposing it for what it is?

  60. and the democratic plan IS plausible?

  61. Mr. Rich has this exactly right. I said the same thing to my wife about a week ago. The Bush administration prioritized deposing a relatively moderate Islamic ruler over addressing the real threat of radical jihadist Islamists. By getting us bogged down in Iraq, the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz strategy paved the way for militant Islam's march eastwards into nuclear Pakistan (and remember, it was Pakistan's A. Q. Khan who provided nuclear technology to North Korea) . This will very likely prove to be the most short-sighted blunder ever committed by a U.S. administration. President Obama is doing what he can to try to remedy this situation, but it might very well be too late to be able to contain this problem.

  62. ...and we won't build HUMAN intelligence without an Executive Order revoking "don't ask, don't tell." Our armed forces lost critical Arabic translators because they were outed under this policy--and discharged. Human intelligence often involves the people ideologues marginalize.

    I should add that a similarly pernicious policy--institutionalized anti-Semitism--ended up costing Germany World War II through the waste of decent and otherwise loyal citizenry, and the waste of scarce manpower, transport, and materiels to kill these "former" citizens.

    Our increasingly lunatic GOP--and those otherwise decent Americans on whom this "fear" policy works--are ensuring that we waste the talents and loyalty of populations demonized to gain political power.

  63. Mr. Rich gives thoughtful rebuttal. However, the essential item is missed.

    Do what we will, we can't a (and never will) be able to 1) know what all around the world are planning and 2) control all actions.

    Someone could plan to nuke the US. A terrorist group. A rogue state. Someone. And they could line up the resources, whether we torture or not.

    What we need to do then, is accept the limit of our power. How do we keep someone from nuking us?

    The focus these days is on Islamic terrorists. Reasonble enough; they've been behind most big anti-western bombings in past 25 years.

    How to stop them? They need to know that if one of our cities is nuked, all their cherished lands will cease to exist.

    This is what held the Soviets in check. This is what would hold bin Laden in check.

    The Republicans aren't responsible; they are silly. They Democrats aren't morally superior; they are over optimistic.

    Our country won a cold war. And our leaders didn't learn it's hard won lessons.

    A shame for America.

    Have we gone from the greatest generation, to the weakest?

  64. Rich, as almost always, is warning us about our own Congress and its inability to evaluate facts correctly, i.e. to distinguish them from lies.

    There is no point to argue with Cheney but it is essential to publicize his new lies. All reasonable people will draw their conclusions. The approach of the media that gives the same exposure to Cheney as the representatives of Obama's administration is inexcusable. Are the media scared to be called 'biased in favor of liberals'? They will be no matter what by O'Reilly, Hannity and others no matter what they do. Red blooded Americans watch Fox News exclusively, aren't they?

    As I mentioned in these places many times, the real threat is in Pakistan. I went even as far as to argue that a 'victory' in Afghanistan is quite irrelevant - the worse that can happen there is a rebirth of Al Qaeda training camps - enough of them already exist in Pakistan.

    No American troops are allowed in Pakistan and I wonder how Obama's administration is going to deal with the proximity of Taliban/Al Qaeda to the nuclear arsenal there. All this spurious stuff about weakening our defenses by abolishing torture and/or closing of Gitmo is, as Rich accurately writes, a dangerous distraction.

    Osama and/or his staff is undoubtedly working on a nuclear attack against our country. Nothing short of it will surpass 9/11 that, despite the thousands of American victims, was, first of all, a public relations exercise. Nobody can now dismiss the power and competence of the militant Islam.

    Osama (and/or his surrogates) cannot get nuclear weapons anywhere but in Pakistan. It is an accepted fact that only a small number of top Pakistani generals actually know where the weapons (or fissionable material) are and there is absolutely no guarantee that just one of them will not pass this information to Taliban/Al Qaeda. Fiction writers can develop some 100 scenarios how a nuclear weapon can be passed to the militant Muslims, delivered to New York/San Francisco/Los Angeles and exploded.

    So, while it is somewhat important to see what the desperate Republicans are trying to do, it is much more important to deal with the almost impossible to answer questions about Pakistan.

    Can we take a radical action and simply confiscate their weapons? I do not think so. It has to be, however, one of the options if we really want to defend our country.

  65. MR RICH you have it right. the Republicans are now officially obnoxious and an absolute failure. Some of the Democrats have to grow a set and the sooner the better. Stand up for what you believe in which is not too difficult especially when you have right on your side. President obama was brought into power by a landslide which indicates that the majority of Americans know what a travesty the Bush years were to our nation. Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh will soon share a small tent that we can expect the next pandemic to ooze from. America is strong and not even the Republican clowns who have had the con of late can destroy our fiber. Change we can believe in is here now lets go execute and get some health care for starters. Sonia will be an excellent Supreme Court Justice and Barack Obama proves once again he has all the backbone needed. OBAMANOS!

  66. Cheney and his ilk have always believed that strength is the only thing that matters, and any type of reasoned approach to security (or any other issue) is simply a sign of weakness. They will never acknowledge their failures because they were always "tough", and that is all that counts.

  67. Amazing, the GOP find it easier to defend the disaster of Iraq, rather than the disaster they created with the world economy. What a sad day for American democracy and great disappointment to genuine conservative voters. The GOP is on life support until a new conservative leadership emerges.

  68. Mr. Rich, I consider you the best columnist in the country, and the smartest. So it is nothing but presumptuous of a poor country boy like me to correct you at all, but your words "the GOP almost rooting for a terrorist attack" are not quite correct. They are actively rooting for an attack on America. I'm guessing the ad is in the can blaming Obama, and excusing their crimes.
    And Cheney's "facts, as usual, were wrong", no sir, they were lies. Damned lies.
    The Pillsbury doughboys line was worth it all though. I will never see Cheney again without looking for a light flour dusting at his feet.

  69. As always, Frank Rich cuts through the "bias and bull" of the networks and major news organizations (including his own NYT) and analyzes the terrifying reality of Washington DC. The fact that all but 6 of the Democrats voted against closing Guantanamo - cowing in fear to the bellicose Cheney - is all you need to know about the dysfunctionality of our government, even led by an intellectual powerhouse like Obama. Let's hope that our President's Sunday ritual includes reading Frank Rich's column.

  70. Thank you for summarizing, one more time, the facts surrounding 9/11. Nine eleven, nine eleven, nine eleven. Just as The Alamo massacre became a rallying cry after 1836, so our 9/ll disaster becomes a mantra -- not a rallying cry but a drumbeat reminder of a failed defense. Why is evocation of 9/11 supposed to be a bright star on the Bush presidential sash, since it should, by all historical measures, evoke the mournful sound of bells tolling and a reminder of the Bush-Cheney failure to heed those terrorist warnings?

    The Republican propaganda apparatus is still working night and day, not just braying negativism but constantly baiting the media to report their assinine charges from those Pillsbury doughboys, bobbing heads. They know the media feeds on outrageous ranting, especially when the real news volume is slow. I think each time the media bites on the latest goofy charges by the loonies, the Far Right chorus sings halluluya, thank you, Lord. Every distraction from serious debate is a ringer for those who wish Obama no good will.

  71. Fear reduction is the first and foremost function of the States. Thus, when in need of legitimity, States sometimes tend to create or import fears. The sad thing with fear is that it appeals to our irrationality: it pushes us to extremes, violence included.

    We should fight back those who create fears among us in order to gain political advantages and legitimity. There is enough potential threats out there, we don't need anyone to create some new ones in order to push some personnal agenda.

  72. 11;18pm
    Well since the last administration was given information about Al Queda from their previous administration in the first 7 months of 2001, and Harriet Myers personally handed to gwbush his August 6th 2001 PDB stating that Bin Laden was determined to attack in US, A MONTH BEFORE Sept 11, 2001, It really doesn't matter much who is to blame for the next. The damage has been done, and those in power who DID NOTHING TO STOP THE FIRST ONE are still scott free

  73. Thanks for the great points, they could go further.

    1. Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice and their cronies made US profoundly less safe and less respected for decades to come, unless they are fully investigated and prosecuted.

    2. Cowing of the Democrats is opportunistic reflexes, totally not surprising, giving their spineless nature. The remedy are public campaign finance, and term limits.

    3. You are too hard on journalists, few like yourself, really care about right and wrong. They are careerists making a good living in public by making controversy so the news they cook sells. Besides, we have to be a bit sympathetic that the whole industry is now going down the drain, actually for the exact reasons you listed.

    Finally, to conclude on a war mentality is unfortunate since that is what got US here and will keep US here... If one wants enemy, one will finds enemy. What has lost in the last 8 years, if not much longer is this country has squandered the opportunities to be a positive force more in a fast changing world, instead, we may have become the opposite from time to time.

    Hope the new President will not cave on too many of his shining campaign promises, and lead boldly with vision.

  74. History shows us that the transition of governments is at the root of our problems... Politics


  75. While it is the Supreme Court that must shoulder the blame for Bush/Cheney ever taking (and I do mean "taking") office in the first place, the American electorate is fully to blame for perpetuating the fiasco in 2004.

    Yes, it's true that the mainstream media was largely in the business of disseminating Bush propaganda, but anyone who cared to dig deeper than the sound bites on the nightly network news would have easily found the truth. I personally posted much of it right here on the Times' now-defunct forums.

    And as long as I'm tooting my own horn, I called it straight down the line as far as the fiasco in Iraq before we ever even reached Baghdad, to wit:

    "This thing has 'quagmire' written all over it. Even if we succeed militarily, we will be seen as an occupying force, a la Israel v. the Palestinians. Better buckle up for a very long occupation -- and plenty of suicide bombers."


    This was back when it was all going to be a "cakewalk" and our troops were going to be pelted with flowers.

    Cheney and Bush were/are abominations; puny men who through methods honed by thugs and tyrants down through the ages seized the reigns of our government and brought us to the sad state in which we now find ourselves.

    The real question that must be asked is this: Why aren't these criminals and all of those who aided and abetted them standing before the bar of justice?

  76. 11:22 pm
    The myth that the last administration kept us safe is bogus.

  77. Frank, I'm not much a fan of hyper-partisan propaganda of the Carville/Brazile/Begale variety. Not to defend the GOP. I just think there can be a real debate and we don't need straw men and cheap shots. With Tom and Mo "off" you're holding down the Sunday edition. Can we have just a little more heft?

  78. First of all, Obama should get back in the campaign mode just one more time and remind the nation from the bully pulpit that he now owns that 9/11 happened on Bush-Cheney administration's watch and despite the warning 'Bin Laden determined to fly planes into buildings'. Secondly, the terrorists work on their own schedule and do not strike with predictable periodicity. Inspite of the so-called war on terrorism in which Britain, Australia, and Spain were coerced into participating, all three nations were attacked badly; we sacrificed close to 5000 of our own men and women to avenge the deat of 3000 or so of American residents on that fateful day.

    Lest the neo-con-artistes forget, let us remind them that there was a huge gap of nearly 8 years since 1993 WTC attack. Let us remind them that the perpertrators of 9/11 attack are still on the loose and producing laugh echos in the Afghan/Pak mountains. Let us proceed to indict Cheney and Bush of war crimes and watch them talk at their own peril.

    Will this administration muster the testicular fortitude to bring forth war crime charges against those who committed war crimes or be dumb enough to wait for another attack to see 'we told you so' spots on the telly? Something that Obama should ponder as he heads back to DC from his surprise trip to NYC tonight.

  79. I am not surprised that David Gregory would give Cheney such credence. Wasn't he one of Karl Rove's back up "home-journalboys" at Rove's spastic painful to watch rap impersonation at a recent Congressional Correspondents Dinner. No Tim Russert is he!

    There are any number of politicians and/or journalists who could shut Cheney up if they would only have the spine and patriotism to call him on his lies, and tell him to just plain shut up.

    One is John McCain, who knows torture first hand and was broken by it. His public comments that Cheney's remarks about torture was "not helpful" was as tepid and easily forgotten as a baseball manager on a last place team, losing 12-1, complaining about the umpiring.
    McCain knows how to attack when he wants to, and it is time for him to put his patriotism and military service first and his party loyalty second. The same is true of Colin Powell, whose reserved critique of Limbaugh was so blase and bland as to make it almost irrelevant.
    It amazes me how military men like Powell and McCain doesn't explode at people like Cheney, Limbaugh and Gingrich who would ran and hid from service when they were young and supported wars as long as others do the fighting and dying.

    There are plenty of Democrats in both houses of congress who could call out the pudgy trio as well as chicken hawk right wing pundits, notably Sen Allen, Sen. Kerry and Sen Reed as well as numerous others. Maybe Obama has to stay above the fray, but others don't. I am not sure one has the luxury to be a "gentleman" when the stakes are so high.

    It is pathetic to have to rely on people like Mr. Rich, Keith Oberman, Rachel Maddow. and Chris Matthews and progressive publication to factually counter Cheney's arguments while Democratic politicians are concerned with style and civility. Cheney and Limbaugh are bullies, and Gingrich will say anything to get himself back in the running for 2012. You don't deal with a bully by being polite.

    I also think that Obama made a huge blunder by taking prosecutions for torture off the table. I think Cheney sensed weakness and a opening to charge full steam ahead because he knew his words would not potentially be held against him in a court of law. It is more often than not wise to be cool in the face of confrontation and personal attack/ However, Obama's and the Democrats response to Cheney was not one of them. They are allowing themselves to be "Kerried" and in the event that we are attacked again, they have allowed Cheney to set the foundation for Obama being blamed. I fail to see how this is a wise strategy. You don't confront lies with polite silence and reasoned explanations.

  80. Trio of Pillsbury Doughboys?

    Seems to me that you are besmirching someone who has served this country well.

    If I were the CEO of Pillsbury, I'd sue for slander.

  81. Frank, another well-written masterpiece. I wonder why none of the leading democratic lawmakers came out forcefully to debunk the myth of imminent danger of housing terrorists in continental US. This is such a childish logic, but the talking heads seem to have elevated it to a legitimate concern. You are so right... the only parallel in recent memory was the build up to Iraq war.

  82. Mr. Rich, you are mostly dead-on until the end: " If there’s another terrorist attack, it will be because the mess the Bush administration ignored in Pakistan and Afghanistan spun beyond anyone’s control well before Americans could throw the bums out."

    The truth is that in 2004 American voters (and those who didn't vote) threw the bums BACK IN. Please reserve some the spotlight for those Americans who voted for Bush/Cheney in 2004. Many of us knew better before the Iraq War, but everybody knew (unless they chose not too) before November 2004 what kind of lying, vicious and (I don't use this word lightly) murderous leaders they were voting for. They let their greed (more tax cuts!), their fear, or their meanness prevail to our nation's shame. We're slowly undoing the damage (although I wish we would do more), but we can't just throw this all on Bush/Cheney.

    We have a long way to go to bring our country back to the promise of its ideals, and daylight like you're shining on the past is essential. Keep it up.

  83. Great, great column and I hope the right people are reading it. Winning by huge margins last fall does not seem to have helped strengthen the spine of Congressional Democrats.

    Years ago, the Bush Adminstration told us that another terrorist attack was "inevitable." I hope this is not so. But it is beyond the pale to even hint at hoping for such a disaster in order to win back political power. Cheney should be ashamed.

  84. I'm not quite sure why we listen to former VP Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, or Rush Limbaugh when it comes to matters of national security and national defense.

    These are four people who feel perfectly sending everyone else's sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters into harm's way by serving in the Armed Forces but who have never seen fit to serve themselves.

    Former VP Cheney requested and received five separate deferments that successfully kept him out of the Army while millions of Americans went to Vietnam, Korea, and other dangerous locales around the world.

    Messrs. Gingrich, Rove, and Limbaugh similarly speak highly of the honor of (someone else) serving in the Armed Forces.

    However, when any current or former high ranking members of the Armed Forces, such as Colin Powell, that disagrees with the positions of the Four Horsemen of the Right are summarily dismissed as being out of touch.

  85. Frank,

    The US is paying dearly for not heeding Ike's warnings on not allowing itself to become the victim of the success of the "Military Industrial Complex" in WW II by glorifying wars and pseudo heroism at the expense of the taxpayers/treasury and the innocent youth being sent to battles that in most cases are not warranted....

    The GOP has become the propaganda arm of the Military Industrial Complex with the support of the "Fear and Danger Industries" cheered relentlessly by FOX News and Rupert Murdoch's media empire!

  86. I would suggest you understated the GOP position on a potential terrorist attack. I truly believe the Right Wing of the party 'is' rooting for an attack.
    As the leading indicators of the economy, and a large percentage of economists, are predicting the worst is over, and that things should begin to improve by late ’09 or early ’10, the GOP’s ephemeral hope that Obama’s stimulus plan will fail is sinking into the sunset over the Washington Monument. (I noted in Mr. Krugman’s last column even he had dropped the word fear from his assessment of the future of the recession). With that Republican hope of failure evaporating, they are putting all their nuts (e.g. Moe Limbaugh, Curly Cheney and Larry Gingrich), in one basket and betting on a national security issue to bail them out. We need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that they would never stoop that low, when Steele, McConnell, Boehner et al have already debased the concept of placing the people above the party. To date, with the leadership being ceded by default to the Three Stooges, attack is filling the void left by the lack of a cogent program. The “listening tour” closed in Peoria, most likely in diffidence to the Louse that roared, who scolded the participants for listening when they should be talking. One has to wonder how long it will tale for Snowe & Collins to realize that the chill wind blowing across their status in the GOP ain’t coming from the northern Maine but from the Southern Red States.
    clem healy

  87. Guys, I'm so scared about terrorism that I'm willing to flush all my values and ideals down the toilet for false security.

    Cheney needs to read up on the Buddhist "Middle Way" and how he is allowing the false dichotomy of good vs. evil to abandon principles.

  88. Thank you for a column even better than your usual high standard. It is well past time that a _Times_ columnist explains to the press that it is enabling lies to seem to be truth.

  89. It's shocking to have the voices of Cheney, Limbaugh, Gingrich, Rove, Tancredo, Hannity, etc...the bottom of the moral barrel, be allowed to pollute our political, and policy dialogue. These, dead men walking, are failed in every sense of the word, yet the corporate media, addicted to circus acts and fakers, can't get enough. It's repugnant that the corporate media cares not a whit of the damage these idiots are causing. Just as with the mendacious Bush/Cheney run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq, the corporate media coddles and encourages these charlatans. George W Bush's lawlessness has left the country with some difficult choices, and the idiocy from the rogue senseless GOP faction makes it much worse.

  90. I think it's important to consider that Cheney's use of lies and fear to gain political advantage is only part of the story and, I suspect, not his most important motivation. He is not merely rewriting history to escape accountability for the failed Bush presidency. Cheney is rewriting the law and trying to make it stick by dint of endless repetition in order to escape criminal prosecution for war crimes. It's a purely defensive play. And yes, "once again Democrats in Congress were cowed."

  91. Ah, Mr. Rich, you're quite right. Cheney simply lies lies lies (and he's a war criminal, and a traitor to our Constitution). He has many fellow liars, including some in the Democratic Party. And he has many enablers in the media, who just repeat Cheney's statements without showing them to be lies. We shouldn't need good thinkers like you to do that work in these cases where the lies are so obvious to anyone who's been paying attention for some years.

    A media example: A NYTimes story yesterday said "conservatives" were attacking the SCOTUS pick on "temperament" and "demeanor." But no one identified as a conservative was quoted in the story. So, obviously, the story was a case of a "reporter" spouting what was spoonfed by a member of the Cheney crime family.

    I used to be a journalist. I quit in part because of the bad journalism I saw day after day. What little respect I have left for what newspapers and tv schmucks do is embodied in people like you, sir. Thanks to you and some others, I keep reading.

  92. Cheney is not dumb, nor his daughter Liz. They see this for what it is -- a chance to alter the real debate as well as facts. And, as Frank Rich so eloquently says, they are having some success. The Sunday morning talking heads are in on the deal by taking th easiest unthinking route. I read Frank Rich and watch Rachel Maddow almost religiously on Mondays and Fridays to fill the the almost totally void weekend gap in truth, wisdom, knowledge, and thinking.

  93. Every incompetent and corrupt step Bush has taken since 911 has been aided and supported by a majority of congressional Democrats. The Democrats are spineless in the face of Republican aggression. Obama, who promised hope and change, is little different. He continues, with small tweaks and new labels, Bush's disastrous "war on terror.' He works to prevent investigation and prosecution of the last administration for war crimes.

    This country needs courageous and competent leadership. And I don't know where we will find it. The Democrats, as you, Mr. Rich, alluded to twice, are too easily cowed and spineless to lead. And the Republicans are too incompetent and corrupt to lead.

    This country is in serious trouble. Very, very, serious trouble.

  94. Amen

  95. Rich wrote: "What we need to be doing instead, as Suskind put it, is to “build the thing we don’t have — human intelligence."

    In Cheney's case, it's much too late to start doing this.

  96. There will not be a next attack, Frank Rich. The first one was sufficient to insure the downfall of the US. It was David vs. Goliath all over again. This country has been unravelling ever since. As a result of the pushing over of two buildings we became irrational, engaged in torture, betrayed our professed values, and went on an irrational killing spree across the world, destroyed our economy, wondered aloud about who could keep us safe ( how cowardly), destroyed our reputation, and you are worried about the minutia of Cheney vs. Obama speeches . Any further attacks here would be anticlimactic and superfluous . Strange how such a small attack could have such devastating consequences.

  97. Is it possible that all of this posturing on Cheney's part is simply to save his own butt from being tried for war crimes? In other words, if he can persuade enough people that his fear-mongering is realistic, then he has more people who are complicit with him. It becomes the norm, and therefore he escapes from standing out as the one responsible for these heinous crimes.

  98. If, God forbid, there is a terrorist attack on American soil during the Obama presidency, you can be sure that Republicans will gather together in one huge, screaming mass and point the finger of blame at Obama...for their political gain. As a matter of fact, Cheney and his gang of lizards are probably praying for this terrible event...what import is the death of hundreds or thousands of Americans when the opportunity to regain power is there for the taking?

  99. "The trio of Pillsbury doughboys now leading the party — Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Cheney — have variously cemented the G.O.P.’s brand as a whites-only men’s club by revoking Colin Powell’s membership and smearing the first Latina Supreme Court nominee as a “reverse racist.”

    So we're going to call our opponents names now? This is supposed to make us take your other arguments more seriously? How old are you Frank? (more than 12 I'm guessing)

    Frank, Colin Powell revoked HIS OWN membership by endorsing the DEMOCRATIC candidate at a pivotal time in the campaign. Do Democrats typically revere and hold in high esteem the members of their party who pull similar stunts? Even more to the point, Mr. Powell did so at the expense of a MODERATE candidate! Mr. McCain should have been everything Mr. Powell claims he wants in a Republican. On that note, have you or any other members of the media asked Mr. Powell what issues he stands for? Have you asked him which issue should be on the Republican party platform? (no to both)

    As to Cheney's arguments and the broader debate on enhanced interrogation techniques, let me just say this: many people--Democrat and Republican--made decisions in the afteermath of September 11th that they would not make today. The country was in shock. They did what they thought best at the time. They are not doing those things now, and we have had a national discussion about our values with regards to that behavior. It's time to move on now. Please forgive people on both sides of the aisle for what they did in a dark time of uncertainty and tumult and pray that we do not have to face these tough decisions in the future. If you can't do that then this is truly all about politics and your stated concerns are merely canards serving to obfuscate your true political goal which is destroy the opposition at all cost, even the cost of comity in times where we need it most.

    Grow up, Frank.

  100. For God and country's sake, please form a committee to waterboard Bush, Cheney and the Congress that got us into our current nightmare! Maybe we'll get some truth out of Washington for a change (change you can trust!) and better yet, hold those accountable for the damage done to this nation the past 8 years.

  101. “No one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do,” Cheney said...

    "Did you stop beating your wife yet, Mr. Cheney?," good Americans "innocently" inquired of the big-mouthed ex-VP.

    "No attacks since 9/11." Forget about the anthrax attacks, because even though they happened after 9/11, the GOP leadership has concluded that their supporters are too dumb to understand dates, or the passage of time.

  102. Although this is an excellent column and very informative, Rich is singing to the choir here. Readers of this column are well educated and pretty much already aware of the Bush's evils and lies perpetuarted by Cheney.

    The scarily helpless aspect of this whole situation is the fact that most Americans don't read Frank Rich. They are susepitable to the onslaught of lies by the main stream news media ( Fox, etc) who makes more money by espousing Cheney's dramatic scare tactics using lies and creations of false history. Fear and drama sells and makes money and due to the economic stress that the media is under, the bottom line and scary lies rule.

    There is a war between the truth and lies and a lot more energy must be put into the spread of the truth matching the money and energy that is being put into the lies to make more money. The challenge for President Obama is how to very activley take the truth out to the people; passivity will not suffice.

    It will be a lot more feasible for Pres. Obama to do the right things with Pakistan and Afganistan if he has the people behind him which will happen if they are properly informed of the truth such as Rich's column here espouses. An all out truth education effort must be made or evil will prevail. The media must be patriotic and not greedy and broadcast the truth.

  103. If Cheney is looking for a ticking time bomb, he should check his own heart pacemaker.

  104. This is just what we need to read. Especially the last part of the piece that confronts what we are up against: people that hate us and are recruiting desperate young men to fight us. It would be a mistake not to take the likes of Al-Zahwari seriously. If a Pakistan-made nuclear weapon explodes on the U.S., it's not clear whom we would respond against.

    The Taliban in Pakistan is now organizing on the principle of land reform: something that is long overdue there. President Obama is travelling to Egypt to talk over the heads of a sullen population who is oppressed by an American-financed dictator. We need somehow to get on the other side of the democracy vs.dictatorship divide in the Middle East. In this difficult task, we must first of all be scrupulously honest. Thank you Mr. Rich for these links exposing Cheney's lies.

  105. I think the most galling part of it was Cheney's daughter, their latest spin-doctor. None of the other shibboleths have even the slightest credibility, but like her father, she was strong, determined and dishonest. A liar whose gaze never wavered, whose resolve never weakened. She used the word "conflate" to trump the empty-headed Anderson Cooper just as her father had done to so many other unsuspecting interviewers, with lines written for him by the Heritage Foundation. (Ah, the Heritage Foundation, Ronald Regan's legacy. I sometimes wonder what kind of mince meat they'd have made of his hair-brained policies). But where was Ms. Cheney during the Iraq war? Some cushy job at the State Department, perhaps? Why didn't she enlist and fight the imminent threat to America? Why wasn't she forced to stay for tour after tour of futility and death? Come to think of it, where was Dick Cheney during the Vietnam War? Where was the big war-monger when it really counted? Funny how those who serve in war are the last ones to recommend it. Dick Cheney never met a war he didn't like, provided he didn't have to fight in it. I frankly don't care what his motives were. I'm willing to accept them as honorable. Yes, the country had lost its bearings at the time. Okay, fine. But now is the time to set things right, to plant our feet on the firm ground of American values. Obama has barely wavered from the unalterable path dug out by misjudgment and hysteria. So why all the chatter now, if not to cover up for yourself. Every problem we now face was the direct by-product of bad governance, bad policy and dishonesty, most of which was crafted by Dick Cheney. How far over the line did he really go? Frankly, I don't care. But no matter how far it was, I won't be surprised.

  106. The current blame game is nauseating. Bush is used as a whipping boy - he who had feet of clay up to his hips. The current regime can't wait to play the "Bush/Cheney" get-out-of-jail free card at any and every opportunity. BHO and the congressional Democrats have committed us to deficit spending greater than that which was done by the sum of ALL PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS.

    And all this before Universal Health Care.

    When will we learn that the government can no more take the rough edges off of life for all. They might as well repeal the law of gravity. The logic is the same.

    We as a culture have severed our roots and wonder why we cannot flourish.

    Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. And reap we will, rest assured. God is not mocked.

  107. Yes, democratic party senators are cowed by dick cheney. The reason is obvious. When the one characteristic they respect and admire above all others is the craft of being a blowhard, cheney wins even over limbaugh. If democratic senators had any imagination, they would introduce a new dialogue. The fact that they don't combines with their cowering before dick cheney to speak volumes for their deepest held devotion.

  108. Absolutely correct Mr Rich. It amazes me that anyone believes anything coming from the mouth of a proven liar who was a major reason for the deaths of thousands on Americans and hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq.

    Even more incredible is that he is defending torture and the media treats him with respect. In a civilized country, you cannot debate that war crimes are acceptable without being condemned. This is especially true if the debater was a likely actor in the war crime.

    Rather than parroting his fear mongering, reporters need to question him on his role in creating policies that lead us into a quagmire in Iraq, like what was discussed in his secret energy policy meetings with oil executives and why Iraq was more urgent than Al Qaida. Or they could ask if torture was used to create false confessions as it was intended to do throughout history.

  109. Mr. Rich was somewhat negligent in not pointing out that there are other motives for Fox, CNN, NBC, MSNBC and certain editorial pages to echo and to extrapolate Cheney's lunacy. Needless to say, these motives have nothing to do with "real" American security. There are hidden agendas at work, but I'll leave it to the reader to decipher for himself why the nation is NOW being subjected to another "enhanced propaganda campaign."

  110. Mr. Rich you always hit the nail right at the head. Unfortunately, "the three dough boys" speak what Lil'Abner and the rest of Dry Creek want to hear. The Great Spirit have mercy of us all!

  111. Dick Cheney wants an attack on this country in the worst way to help him clear his conscience, and maybe help absolve his criminal activity for the history books. Keep as close an eye on him as Al-Qaeda.

  112. I just hope that the current bunch of spineless Democratic politicians and their leaders do not let the Bush/ Cheney regime get away with murder?
    This means you (Ms.) Reid, and you too, grandma Pelosi.
    Both of you haven't accomplished squat. Your "strong" leadership abilities only rivals the strength of week old Jello!
    Where is the special investigation Mr President?
    So Cheney and Bush thought that after 9/11 they would get to work, after 8 months on the job doing nothing?
    This is complete failure!
    American politicians, you bunch of unethical, greedy, brown nosing, self serving crooks with your lack of leadership you alone have brought to bare the almost total collapse of the USA!

  113. If the whole "war on terrorism" was not so tragic, it would be hilariously ridiculous. The 9/11 event should have been handled for what it was: a criminal act by a bunch of thugs, not a reason for going to "war".

    Be that as it may, this latest chapter initiated by Mr. Cheney contributes nothing constructive toward a solution for the mess.

  114. Mr. Rich, you are missing the issue. It is North Korea, get with it.

  115. We need to break this 24 hour headline news nonsense and get serious in thie country. Break the cycle. Info-tainers like David Gregory and Lou Dobbs are doing more severe damage on a daily basis than 14 boatfuls of Gitmo detainess ever could. I would rather be waterboarded than spend 2 minutes of my life listening to a word they say. Still, it is encouraging to see that during the last week Cheney has finally seemed to put a cork in it. Interestingly so has Michael Steele. Will Limbaugh and Gingrich follow suit. Answer: yes. There is a Republican playbook out there, .... and sadly you are correct, it does include a hoped for attack on American soil. The republicans need and expect this to happen, if not, subversively encouraging it. Who said this Frank, 'in order to save our country we had to destroy it.' If you don't think this is being murmored in wood paneled backrooms, you haven't been paying attention.

  116. If the only message the Republicans are peddling is: Be afraid, be very afraid.... They are are going to have a slower comeback than even the wobbly economy.

    As for predicting the next major strike by extremists...there's no leadership in constantly saying it will happen...even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

  117. Mr. Rich,
    Dick Cheney's speech and its analysis by the media were indeed chilling and demonstrate as you suggest that neither the Democrats, the public, or the media has learned much from the fiasco of being rushed into war with Iraq.

    The scariest truth may be that we do not really have a press that can protect us. It is impossible for me to think of David Gregory or John King or Anderson Cooper or even the brighter Rachel Meddow as "journalists." They do not report; they merely read glib entertaining copy and when they "interview" figures like Cheney they
    never use any facts to counter the lies Cheney spouts.

  118. Frank, you are right about the mainstream media. Enthralled with the idea of creating balance where none exists, most journalists have chosen not to adequately expose the lies of Dick Cheney or connect the dots about how the Bush administration's negligence led to 9/11 and the blunders that followed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Bush and Cheney virtually admit that they panicked after 9/11. Not surprisingly, good leadership doesn't come from panic, as the disastrous policies that followed show. Sadly, only a few journalists like you and Keith Olbermann have had the guts to tell the whole truth about the Bush/Cheney debacle that still imperils us.

  119. Hey guess what! Clinton could've taken out Bin Laden but he didn't. The CIA had him in their sights and let him go because Clinton said so. So if you're going to be pointing fingers back at Bush, you have to go back further and point them at Clinton.
    As a republican, Cheney and Rush dont speak for me either. The republican party isn't a "whites only" party. that is simply absurd to ascert that. AWESOME journalism!!! *Sarcasm*

  120. Reading Frank Rich's description of the flag draped attempts by the former vice president to intimidate the media and the new administration into continuing the anti-democratic policies of the Bush administration, I am reminded of Ambrose Bierce's revision of Samuel Johnson's familiar dictum:

    Patriotism is the FIRST refuge of a scoundrel.

  121. You're right, Frank, it's not enough to understand that Bush et. al. ran from the real war into Iraq, but that history yet unwritten may well be what they left undone with Al-Quada and nuclear weapons. That cancer continues to metastasize in spite of the failed remedies applied so far. Any future attacks would arise from that same source.
    $100 million or $500 million for Bush's library can't rewrite such a history.

  122. If the Democrats and the press allow the Republicans to control the debate with fear tactics again, we are going to be going back into the nightmare of the previous 8 years of destruction of our whole country?

    If maximum security prisons aren't safe enough for terrorists, why do we keep our most violent criminals there?

    With obama, we have a chance of making somethingg of our current situation but the democrats and the press owes it to Americans not to whimp out. The democrats and the press has let America down before(the Iraq war etc..) Im just not sure how many more mistakes our country can survive.

  123. Frank, this so called torture debate is a debate which should never occur in a nation under the rule of law. To engage in such a debate is concede the argument to the criminals who planned, authorized, ordered and engaged in the crime. The Republicans argue that torture was just a policy of government in an emergency. If things did not go as planned, it was just a policy error, not at crime. This argument would not work for murderers and is cannot work for torturers. Torture is illegal, under international treaty and domestic law. It is a crime -- a felony, no different than murder or treason.

    Hypothetically, if it were discovered that the CIA murdered hundreds and put them in mass graves, these same people would argue that it was necessary to save American lives. No crime or atrocity committed by the Bush-Cheney administration would not be given the same defense of lies and outrageous justifications and denials we are seeing now from what passes for today’s Republican party. They are always right. Those who disagree are always wrong, their motives always suspect, probably un-American possibly treasonous.

    There is clear and convincing evidence that crimes were committed by Republican government office holders. Dick Cheney for one, has admitted on TY to being an accomplice. Calling murder liquidation, as Stalin did, does not mean that liquidation was not murder and Cheney calling torture enhanced interrogation methods does not make torture anything but torture. This is a matter of criminal law, not politics. It is not up to the president to make a policy decision not to prosecute Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales, Bybee, Yoo and many more, for torture, as accomplices or members of a conspiracy to commit torture, any more than the president could give them a free pass for murder. In a democracy governed by the rule of law whether we are one of those shall be decided on this issue), major federal felonies, murder, treason, counterfeiting, torture, kidnaping, etc., are investigated by the Justice Department with the assistance of a grand jury which determines whether crimes have been committed and whether there is sufficient evidence to indict one or more persons for those crimes. This torture debate has only one way to end without permanently damaging our democracy. It could and should happen next week with the announcement from the Attorney General that a grand jury has been impaneled and tha tbefore Labor Day the first six indictments shall be served on Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Rice, Bybee and Yoo. For them and the others, they are innocent until proven guilty in a fair trial. If they were not guilty the need not worry.

  124. The US will never be safe until, Bush, Cheney and a bevy of their closest political operatives go to the gallows for their crimes.

  125. As you write, Mr. Rich, "... with a push from Cheney, abetted by too many Democrats and too many compliant journalists, we have been distracted into drawing the wrong lessons, embracing the wrong answers".

    Let's consider the implications of that absolutely true statement. Our problems stem from the CONFLUENCE of demagogic politicians, political cowardice, and inadequate mass-media journalism. Oh, and don't forget a public a substantial portion of which is woefully uninterested in the truth, and whose memory is barely better than an Alzheimer's patient. One or perhaps even two of those factors alone probably would not be sufficient for idiocy to triumph. We are where we are because all these factors have been at work.

    That actually leaves some room for optimism, as there are multiple places at which this cycle of fear can be broken. Keep raising these issues, Mr. Rich --- but be careful, you seem to be on the verge of falling into the trap of declaring Pakistan our biggest problem, when it clearly is not. During a week in which a once-mighty GM is set to plunge over a cliff, it should be clear that economic injustice and the decline of our economic infrastructure stand as the greatest threats to this nation's future.