Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Democratic Legislation Would Force Bush To Hunt For Osama

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the entire Republican administration don’t seem to care about capturing Osama bin Laden but Democrats, led by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), continue to demand answers on the whereabouts of the man who claimed responsibility for the 2001 attacks on our country.

Dorgan has offered as an amendment to the 9/11 Commission recommendations, a simple bill that demands accountability from the Bush administration on bin Laden and mandates "a report to Congress on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the leadership of al Qaeda."

The North Dakota Senator pointed out that we just passed the 2,000-day mark since September 11, 2001 with Osama still at large, while listening to repeated assertions from the White House that they do not care about capturing the terrorist leader.

"The perpetrators who boasted that they committed the terrorist acts against our country that murdered so many thousands of Americans remain, apparently, in a secure hideout in Pakistan and still taunt us. They send the television and the radio stations their videos and their voice tracks telling us their views of world events," said Dorgan. "I don't understand when the President says he is not concerned about him. The top intelligence chief said this is the greatest threat to our country. We better be concerned about him -- the President and the Congress and the American people. We ought to be concerned enough to decide this is a priority; it is a priority for us to bring to justice those who are the greatest threat to our country, the greatest terrorist threat."

The Dorgan amendment, which is cosponsored by Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), is so simple and easy to read, I'm going to print the key requirements verbatim:
(1) A statement whether or not the January 11, 2007, assessment provided by Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte to the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate that the top leadership of al Qaeda has a ``secure hideout in Pakistan'' was applicable during the reporting period and, if not, a description of the current whereabouts of that leadership.

(2) A statement identifying each country where Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the leadership of al Qaeda are or may be hiding, including an assessment whether or not the government of each country so identified has fully cooperated in the efforts to capture them, and, if not, a description of the actions, if any, being taken or to be taken to obtain the full cooperation of each country so identified in the efforts to capture them.

(3) A description of the additional resources required to promptly capture Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the leadership of al Qaeda.
Isn't it amazing that the Congress even has to ask for this? What's even more extraordinary is that Dorgan offered the same bill before the Republican, do-nothing Congress and it was dead on arrival.

In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Dorgan cited statements from Former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte that are at complete odds with how little Bush and Cheney care about bin Laden's whereabouts.
Mr. Negroponte was the Director of National Intelligence until about two weeks ago. He and the current leader of the intelligence service have said the same thing in open testimony before the Congress:

"Al-Qaida is the terrorist organization that poses the greatest threat to U.S. interests, including to the homeland."

He also said this:

"Al-Qaida continues to plot attacks against our homeland and other targets with the objective of inflicting mass casualties. And they continue to maintain active connections and relationships that radiate outward from their leaders from a secure hideout in Pakistan."

Again, it says from their secure hideout in Pakistan. On September 15, 2001, 4 days after 9/11, recognizing it was al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida leadership that attacked this country and boasted about it, the President said this:

"We will not only deal with those who dare attack Americans; we will deal with those who harbor them and feed them and house them."

Two months later he said:

"As a part of our offensive against terror, we are also confronting the regimes that harbor and support terrorists."

Two months following that he said:

"Osama bin Laden has no place to train his al-Qaida killers anymore. And if we find a training camp, we will take care of it."

Well, the head of intelligence for this country says he knows where the al-Qaida leadership is. We saw last week film clips on television of al-Qaida training camps. Yet somehow there is a giant yawn about all of this. In fact, the President later said, in 2003:

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It is not important, and it is not our priority."

He also said:

"I am not truly that concerned about him."
Dorgan blasted Bush on his lack of concern that bin Laden is still roaming free and podcasting threats against America.

"If the head of intelligence for this country says the greatest threat posed to this country by a terrorist organization is a threat that comes from al-Qaida, a threat to our homeland to inflict mass casualties, and they are in a secure hideout in Pakistan, and if, in fact, the President previously said as a part of our offensive against terror we are also confronting the regimes that harbor and support terrorists, and if Pakistan is our ally and al-Qaida is located there to train new terrorists, why on Earth are we not going after the leadership of al-Qaida?" asked Dorgan. "What explains that? It, frankly, escapes me."

Dorgan also made clear that the Bush-McCain Doctrine of escalating the pointless war in Iraq continues the trend of the United States being sucked further into that quagmire while ignoring the real and potential threats to our country.

"I have said before on the floor of the Senate in recent weeks, if we have 21,000 soldiers to surge somewhere, I would much prefer those 21,000 soldiers be surged to find the leadership and eliminate the leadership of al-Qaida," said Dorgan. "I don't understand why this administration says: We don't know where he is. I have no idea and really don't care. It is not that important. It is not our priority."

"What on Earth is that? I don't understand it."

Join the club, Senator Dorgan. Join the club.