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Feeling any safer now? I didn't think so

By Leonard Pitts Jr.
Knight Ridder Newspapers

Tell me again how the Iraq war has made us safer from terrorism. Spin for me once more the theory of how, by drawing the terrorists' attention there, we've made ourselves more secure here. Point out for me again how we've suffered no terrorist attack since the day George Bush took the fight to the enemy.

You'll have to speak up, though. It's going to be hard to hear you over the explosions and sirens and wails of the maimed in London.

Yes, you're right. Thursday's coordinated bomb attacks on the Underground and a double-decker bus happened there, not here. But it is close enough to home -- our staunchest ally in the Iraq war -- that maybe you'll agree the technicality doesn't matter. Or if you don't agree, don't worry. Sooner or later, one awful morning yet to come, it will be us again, for real.

So maybe it's time we called a halt to this absurd game of claiming the war President Bush chose to fight in Iraq was ever about terrorism. Or that it has done anything to protect us from another 9/11-type attack on our soil.

This is how Bush put it last year: "We are staying on the offensive -- striking terrorists abroad -- so we do not have to face them here at home."

It was a formulation echoed by members of his administration and by countless writers of letters to the editor. Just last month, in a speech designed to counter growing doubts about the misadventure in Iraq, Bush was at it again, implying a link between his invasion of that nation and the Sept. 11 attacks.

As if repeating an untruth loudly and forcefully will make it any less untrue. Or grind down the growing mountain of evidence that Bush was planning to invade Iraq even as he took the oath of office, eight months before that awful day in September.

In some sense, I recognize that I'm just moaning over spilled cow juice here, something I find myself doing frequently these days whenever the subject is Iraq. After all, we cannot un-invade that country. Cannot un-topple Saddam Hussein, cannot un-delude ourselves about weapons of mass destruction, cannot un-ignore the will of the world, cannot un-surrender the moral high ground.

Something else we cannot do, though it pains me to say it, is pack up our soldiers and go home. The president is uncharacteristically correct when he says a timetable for withdrawal would only validate and embolden the Iraqi insurgency. (I would argue, though, that it's not too much to ask that the president provide a checklist of specific benchmarks which, when met, would trigger a pullout.)

In other words, we're stuck. In less elegant words, we're screwed -- American lives and American treasure committed to pacifying and rebuilding Iraq for the duration, a period which, we are now told, may last another dozen years or more.

But if the milk is spilled, let's at least figure out how we did it so that we don't spill again.

Here's my take: Staggered and made to feel helpless by the Sept. 11 attacks, the nation needed something to hit. So we hit those that needed hitting -- the Taliban, which had sheltered Osama bin Laden -- but we didn't stop there. Apparently, we bought into the xenophobic notion that taking down a Muslim tyrant who wasn't threatening us was the same as taking down the Muslim extremists who had hurt us so badly.

Hopping mad and led by a president spoiling for a fight, we attacked the wrong guy. And many of us didn't care because it gave us the sense that we were doing something. It gave us false comfort.

It is past time we faced that fact.

At this writing, roughly 50 people are said to be dead in the London attack and 700 injured. Meantime, the U.S. casualty count in Iraq -- dead and injured -- stands at 15,088 and rising.

It occurs to me that false comfort has come at a very high price.


Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers can write to him via e-mail at


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Because Bush has so inflamed the world he has opened America up to another attack.
I am not very happy sitting back watching my president make us more volnerable to attack's by his arogant,self serving-OIL interests,and wrong decisions.

OH CONGRESS if you think Americans are going to sit back and let the president make us more volnerable to attack--think again!
I just wonder how much more National Security Info they have leaked out that has put us at risk!

You don't get it do you? Bush and Blair are the ones doing the terror attacks on our soil. Just look at all the evidence:

You seem to cover more hard hitting news,the truths of what's happening in our country.

Thank You!

Alleged "Islamist terror groups" are an extremely well controlled intelligence asset of the United States; therefore it's baffling to me that "we" (that ignorant gang of negroes and wetbacks on the ground, right?) can ever defeat "them", when this insane brutality is all choreographed from a conference room in the Pentagon or Iraq's ministry of the interior. Former British Foreign Secratay Robin Cook just "broke" the story the other day that Al Qaeda is the name of the computer database that has the names of all of the mujahdeen fighters the cia funded in the 1980's to bleed the Russians dry in Afghanistan and send them spiraling into economic devastation (hmm sounds alot like a quagmire thats happening today...) Name me one war in American history that wasn't started on an illegal pretext of a danger abroad when in the end it was nothing more than a thinly veiled lunge into bloodlust in order to keep manifest destiny steaming along. Without expansion, capitalism implodes, and without deception/psychological warfare of the highest degree, we wouldn't be zipping down the streets in our gas guzzlers as our soldiers are being permanently scarred psychologically each day and an entire country being irreversibly maimed for no good reason other than a final desperate lunge for the table scraps of the 20th century - our once mammoth energy reserves. (Robin Cook Story)

Thanks Leonard for your right on target remarks. I have always looked forward to your excellent reporting on any issue. Please consider writing about and supporting a Resolution of Inquiry in the House. This administration either needs to admit it was wrong and change ( maybe Canada should invade us and force a regime change?) or they need to be thrown out. Yeh sure we could vote them out in 2006 and 2008 but at what cost? We can not afford to wait. That's why the founding fathers set up the Impeachment process. We need to get rid of them NOW!

The thing I find most disconcerting about Rummies's offhanded remark that "the duration...might be another 12 years" is the almost deafening silence in response to it.

Mr. Pitts: Why can't we pack up our soldiers and bring them home now? As I remember it, that's what we ended up doing in Vietnam after adminintration after administration telling us that's what we couldn't do. It's our occupation that's fueling the insurgency, and it's getting stronger the longer we stay. If a Pol Pot kind of thing happens in Iraq after we leave, it's going to happen no matter how much longer we stay, so lets get out now and save whatever bloodshed we can.

Pitts got a lot right until the end where he says, "Hopping mad and led by a president spoiling for a fight, we attacked the wrong guy. And many of us didn't care because it gave us the sense that we were doing something. It gave us false comfort."

I think a lot of us have enough sense not to start a war just because we're hopping mad...we were lied to and DUPED into believing that Iraq was on the verge of attacking us with nukes. Attacking US, not Israel, not someone else; US here in America. That is the big big really big lie that many of us believed, so often was it repeated, byh Condie, Rummy, Dicky, and the Smirkmaster convincing generals and other punditspew every minute of every day on every station.

And that's what's got us so flaming PISSED OFF NOW:

We were LIED into a war. Deliberately, purposefully, premeditatively.
They ought to be shot, except that would be too good for them.

Help wanted. Do you think the Bush gang of thugs should be ridiculed and insulted at every opportunity. Are you gifted in the art of verbal destruction? See comments posted by "Roadster" at:

I would feel a lot safer if Saddam was in our White House! I AM NOT KIDDING EITHER! Saddam has not even come close to committing the crimes that Bush/Cheny have. And Bush has murdered FAR MORE innocent people!

I don't think the US will be attacked again soon for the following reasons; They don't need to attack us, we are allowing our own solders to be killed everyday, our Country is becoming devided by this War in Iraq, it is costing us an incredible amount of money, Attacking us would only bring our Country together again as it did after 9/11, we would again have an increase of support from people Worldwide, not as much as after 9/11 but some, there is no question with the swinging door border in Mexico and thousands of containers coming into our ports everyday, if they wanted to attack us they could.

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