A Perfectly Good Train Wreck

by William Rivers Pitt
April 12, 2004
First Published in Truthout

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"FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York. The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the U.S. that it considers bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the U.A.E. in May saying that a group of bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives."

-- President's Daily Brief, August 6 2001

Michael Speer, 24, of Iowa. Elias Torrez III, 21, of Texas. Matthew Matula, 20, of Texas. Felix Delgreco, 22, of Connecticut. Levi Angell, 20, of Minnesota. Joshua Palmer, 25, of California. Michael Wafford, 20, of Texas. Nicholas Dieruf, 21, of Kentucky. Christopher Wasser, 21, of Kansas. William Harrell, 30, of California. Christopher Mabry, 19, of Mississippi. Jonathan Kephart, 21, of Pennsylvania. Isaac Michael Nieves, 20, of New York. Lee Todacheene, 29, of New Mexico. Fernando Mendezaceves, 27, of Puerto Rico. William Labadie Jr., 45, of Arkansas. Marvin Miller, 38, of North Carolina. Brent Morel, 27, of Tennessee. John Wroblewski, 25, of New Jersey. Scott Larson Jr., 22, of Texas. George Rentschler, 31, of Kentucky. Shane Goldman, 20, Texas. Tyanna Felder, 22, of Connecticut. Marcus Cherry, 18, of California. Benjamin Carman, 20, of Iowa. Kyle Crowley, 18, of California. Allan Walker, 28, of California. Christopher Cobb, 19, of Florida. Ryan Jerabek, 18, of Wisconsin. Moises Langhorst, 19, of Minnesota. Travis Layfield, 19, of California. Anthony Roberts, 18, of Delaware. Deryk Hallal, 24, of Indiana. Christopher Ramos, 26, of New Mexico. Jesse Thiry, 23, of Wisconsin. Michael Mitchell, 25, of California. Yihjyh Chen, 31, of Marianas Protectorate. Robert Arsiaga, 25, of Texas. Stephen Hiller, 25, of Alabama. Ahmed Cason, 24, of Alabama. Israel Garza, 25, of Texas. Forest Jostes, 22, of Illinois. Casey Sheehan, 24, of California. Gerardo Moreno, 23, of Texas. David McKeever, 25, of New York. Matthew Serio, 21, of Rhode Island. Tyler Fey, 22, of Minnesota. Emad Mikha, 44, of Michigan. Aric Barr, 22, of Pennsylvania. Geoffery Morris, 19, of Illinois. Philip Rogers, 23, of Oregon. John Amos, II, 22, of Indiana. William Strange, 19, of Georgia. Doyle Hufstedler, 25, of Texas. Sean Mitchell, 24, of Pennsylvania. Michael Karr Jr., 23, of Texas. Cleston Raney, 20, of Idaho. Brandon Davis, 20, of Maryland. Dustin Sekula, 18, of Texas.

These are the American soldiers who have been identified as having been killed in Iraq in the first twelve days of April, 2004, one year after our tanks rolled into Baghdad and knocked down the statue of a man who had no weapons of mass destruction, no connections to al Qaeda, no connection to the attacks of September 11, and no ability to threaten the United States.

The man who had that statue of himself erected was a bastard, a wretch, a blight on the skin of this world. Was he worth the loss of these American soldiers, and the others who have died in April but whose names have not yet been released by Central Command? Was he worth the 667 American soldiers who have died in Iraq? Was he worth the 18,000 American soldiers who have been medically evacuated from Iraq, many for wounds so grievous that their lives will never be the same? Was he worth the lives of more than ten thousand Iraqi civilians? Was he worth the hundreds of billions of dollars we spent to remove him?

Was he worth even one grieving mother, father, wife, husband, brother, sister, son, or daughter?

The family of Marvin Miller, slain in Balad, Iraq on Wednesday, doesn't think so. "It stinks," said Miller's aunt, Annie. "The president got us into something he doesn't know how to get out of. It seems like the more killing that goes on over there, the more troops he's sending." Miller's eldest son, Marvin Lee Miller Jr., was planning to join the Army after he finished high school. "I was going into the military, but not no more," he said. "Not after this."

According to a variety of unimpeachable White House insiders, among them former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and former Counter-Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke, the focus of the Bush administration was on invading Iraq from the first day George settled into the Oval Office. Of course, they were also fully occupied with a national missile shield, a few massive tax cuts, and the breaking of the wall separating church and state.

Yet with Clarke and his cadre of terror-fighters sounding alarms from one side of the White House to the other, even with FBI agents in Minnesota and Arizona sounding alarms about suspicious men trying to learn to fly, but not land, commercial aircraft, even with foreign intelligence agencies all across the planet sounding alarms about plots to hijack airplanes and crash them into American buildings, and even with George W. Bush getting told on August 6, 2001 that "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings" were happening while "surveillance of federal buildings in New York" was being done by suspicious individuals, even with Bush being told in the same briefing that "Al Qaeda members - including some who are U.S. citizens - have resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks," the White House crew couldn't seem to summon enough interest to consider al Qaeda terrorism a priority until the towers came down.

Now, the Shi'ites and Sunnis have become allies in Iraq against American forces, a coming-together that has left many long-time observers of Iraqi cultural dynamics in awe. Now, American forces are required to sue for cease-fire agreements with Iraqi forces that have taken several cities and appear able to kill America troops at will. Now, the American people themselves are coming to see the 'leadership' of the Bush administration for what it really is, a bleak realization that could send American politics careening into complete chaos.

George W. Bush has given Osama bin Laden everything he could ever have wished for. Bush invaded a Muslim country without just cause and in defiance of practically the entire world, and delivered to bin Laden a terrorist recruitment poster for the ages. The Middle East is coming together in unprecedented ways to fight the United States, a crucial step along the path towards bin Laden's desire to create a pure Islamic Caliphate. The bloodshed spurred by the Shi'ite uprising, aided by the unlikely alliance with the Sunnis, have left Iraq in utterly unsolvable turmoil. American soldiers, and Iraqi civilians, continue to die. There is absolutely, positively no good side to this situation.

Osama bin Laden need only sit back and watch everything go his way. He is almost certainly aware of the old military rule which states, "Never interfere with an enemy who is in the process of destroying himself." It is unclear how that statement translates into Arabic, but the old-school Chicago politics version is equally succinct: "Never get in the way of a perfectly good train wreck." However you phrase it, George W. Bush is proving these old sayings to be axiomatic, and Osama bin Laden is smiling.

William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of Truthout.org, where this article first appeared (www.truthout.org).  He is a New York Times and international best-selling author of three books: War On Iraq, available from Context Books, The Greatest Sedition is Silence, available from Pluto Press, and Our Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism, available from Context Books. Email: william.pitt@mail.truthout.org

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