George W. Bush's Mistaken Speech
Bush Granted Moral Equivalence of 9/11 Perpetrators To the Wrong "Domestic Terrorists." It Should Go To "May 19" and Their Successors, Not January 6th.
Many of us, I suspect, are relieved that the 20th Anniversary of September 11, 2001, is over. Most have moved on, back to work, to the continuing crisis in Afghanistan, all things COVID, elections in California (now over) and Virginia, and other issues at home. It was not fun to relive the horror of that day, the loss of life, and the anger it rekindled. But it was necessary. We really must not forget.
For the most part, the remembrances and events of the day were well suited to the occasion. Many of us chose to highlight “silver linings,” from acts of heroism to the kindness of strangers in places like Gander, New Foundland.
Sadly, the remembrances did not rekindle the national unity we experienced after that terrorist attack.
And former President George W. Bush didn’t help matters with an ill-advised reference in an otherwise fine speech in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at the sight where 33 courageous passengers of United Flight 93 helped force down an airplane that most believe was headed towards the US Capitol.
The reference was this (emphasis added):
“The security measures incorporated into our lives are both sources of comfort and reminders of our vulnerability. And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within.
There's little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.”
Two problems here. First, not everyone finds “comfort” in the “security measures” incorporated into our lives, including “sneak and peek” warrants. Some believe those measures instigated a “surveillance state” that is trading freedom for security. While our freedom to speak and live is much more threatened by wokeist cancel culture and tech censorship, some post 9/11 measures, such as the Patriot Act, have been abused. Many of the original Patriot Act provisions have expired or been changed.
Second, Bush appeared to place the January 6th Capitol rioters and “paraders” on the same fetid moral grounds as the 9/11 attackers. Not expressly, but that’s how many interpreted it, including mind-mannered journalist Byron York of the Washington Examiner and Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch. Bush hasn’t denied it. “Children of the same foul spirit,” Bush said.
That’s an equivalence the first person sentenced from the January 6th Capitol incursion, 49-year-old grandmother Anna Morgan-Lloyd of Bloomington, Indiana, might take exception to.
Somehow, I don’t acquaint Anna Morgan-Lloyd’s parading inside the Capitol - which is illegal - with what Mohammed Atta did - which was criminal and of course suicidal - on 9/11. Or any of the other foreign nationals who hijacked 4 commercial aircraft, killed pilots, crew, and passengers, and flew them into the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon, and into the ground near Shanksville.
Anna Morgan-Lloyd, a 49-year-old from Bloomfield, Indiana, was sentenced to three years of probation, 120 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $500 in restitution.
Prosecutors say that she did not engage in any violence or vandalism, and had no premeditated plan to enter the Capitol that day. She did post a photo with friends inside the Capitol and wrote on Facebook that it was the “best day ever.”
“Legally, I could give you the six months,” Judge Royce Lamberth told Lloyd. “But is that what really we want our judiciary to do?”
I’m sorry that I have to repeat this. As someone who has spent most of my 44-year professional career in and around the Capitol, I was horrified by the terrible events of January 6, 2020. You do the crime, and you do the time.
But let’s also be honest. There’s much we don’t know about the events of that day, still, especially since some 1,400 hours of surveillance video has yet to be released to the public that might help tell the story. And in a Rasmussen survey published September 14th, 49% of Americans polled believe those charged from January 6th incursion are “political prisoners.” Forty-two percent disagree.
And I need to say this, too. George W. Bush is arguably the most decent human being ever to have served as President, at least in modern times. His decency is a hallmark of his remarkable family. I worked in his father’s Administration. I supported every single one of Bush 41’s and 43’s presidential campaigns, including 1980. Bush’s support for wounded veterans, his presidential comportment, and his compassion for immigrants is legendary, some say to a fault. We disagree on some things. But being a good and decent person doesn’t prevent you from being wrong, sometimes spectacularly so.
Bush could have easily have found a more relevant group of domestic “terrorists” to equate with 9/11 terrorists. For example, May 19th, or M19 for short - a female-led home-grown terrorist network that was active in the late 1970s and early 1980s that broke into FBI offices, including one in Media, Pennsylvania in 1973 and bombed several federal offices and buildings, including Roosevelt Hall at Fort Lesley J. McNair, home of the National War College, on April 26, 1983. They also bombed the Computer Center at the Washington Navy Yard and the Navy Yard Officers Club around the same time. Author William Rosenau, writing for Politico in May 2020, describes their background:
By the late 1970s, most of the terrorist formations that had operated during the previous 10 years were seriously weakened, thanks to arrests, prosecutions and imprisonment—and sheer exhaustion from life on the run.
But a small group of women, some of whom had belonged to the Weather Underground, vowed to continue the armed struggle. They had spent their entire adult lives engaged in intense left-wing political activism and had progressed steadily from protest to violent extremism. And like many other members of the so-called Generation of 1968—a worldwide youthful cohort that embraced revolution, drugs, rock music and rebellion with equal enthusiasm—they were well-educated products of the middle classes. With the purported science of Marxism-Leninism as their guide, they believed they could bend the arc of history and usher in a new world free from injustice and oppression.
So, in 1978, a handful of women formed May 19th, naming the group after the birthday shared by two of their revolutionary heroes, Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh. They were long-time comrades who had moved in far-left circles since the 1960s.
Three central figures in May 19th illustrate this generational political trajectory: Judy Clark, Marilyn Buck and Susan Rosenberg. . . Rosenberg, the daughter of a retired theatrical producer and a kindly dentist who treated poor patients in Spanish Harlem, attended a progressive private school on the Upper West Side. Political activism came early—at age 11 she began attending civil rights and anti-war demonstrations with her parents. By 14 she was a member of the High School Student Union, the youth wing of SDS. A solid student, she enrolled at Barnard College in 1972. Moving increasingly leftward, she came to admire the women of Vietnam who were on the front lines in the struggle against U.S. imperialism.
They also bombed the U. S. Capitol on November 7, 1983. Rosenau in early 2020 published a fascinating book. I highly recommend it.
Rosenberg’s name may ring a bell. She nor the others finally charged for that bombing in 1988 were ever convicted or sentenced because they were also serving time for previous terror attacks. From William Rosenau’s book, chapter 12:
“At 10:48 p.m. on the seventh (November, 1983), a call came in to the Capitol switchboard. “Listen carefully, I’m only going to tell you one time,” a male caller told the operator. “There is a bomb in the Capitol Building. It will go off in five minutes. Evacuate the building.” Then he hung up.
At 10:58 p.m., a blast went off on the second floor of the structure’s north wing. The explosive load blew doors off their hinges, shattered chandeliers, ripped into a stately portrait of Daniel Webster, and sent a show of pulverized glass, brick, and plaster into the Republican cloakroom. Security guards gagged on the dust and smoke. The shock wave from the bomb was reported to have sounded like a sonic boom. A jogger outside on the Capitol grounds heard the blast: “It was loud enough to make my ears hurt,” she said. “It kept echoing and echoing — boom, boom.”
The blast left a fifteen-foot-wide crater in a wall. . . National Public Radio received a message from the Armed Resistance Unit: “Tonight we bombed the US Capitol.”
May 19 and its various other names usually timed their bombs to destroy property but not harm people - to “send a message.”
And Rosenberg is connected with organizations and activists behind last summer’s violent riots.
During President Bill Clinton’s last hours in office on January 19, 2001, he commuted the remainder of Rosenberg’s 58-year sentence (reportedly at the request of now House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-NY. She served a total of 16 years). She now does speeches and raises money for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization among others under the auspices of an organization called “Thousand Currents.” Elements of BLM, along with Antifa and anarchists, were busy last year doing M19 kinds of things under the guise of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. You remember the 570 violent events in 140 US cities over much of last summer, as detailed by RealClearInvestigations.
Just curious. What kind of person takes a call from a convicted terrorist who blew up part of the US Capitol and agrees to contribute to her “cause?” Children of the same foul spirit, indeed.
While the January 6th rioters assaulted 140 police officers, 2,037 were injured during the BLM/Antifa riots. Twelve were shot. One died, St. Louis Police Captain David Dorn. Say his name.
Democrats cheered Bush’s speech, even though I don’t recall many kind words from them about him or his presidency. It’s not hard to figure out why. Bush played into the narrative Democrats are pushing - that January 6th’s incursion was an “insurrection” and, as Biden told a joint session of Congress, “The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War,” because of Donald Trump. Biden inherited 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan when he took office, while Nancy Pelosi and others demanded 25,000 National Guard troops at the US Capitol for at least four months. Some are still there.
We continue to be told that “a national threat priority” comes from “extremists (who) may seek to exploit the emergence of COVID-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks.” You, anti-maskers! You, anti-vaxxers! Terrorists! I don’t know what’s been politicized more: the COVID pandemic or the January 6th incursion. It’s a close call.
Yes, we have a history of domestic terrorism and violent acts in the US Capitol and around the country going back to the Civil War, if not before. Since 2001, there have been 541 terrorist attacks on US soil. Some of the ones we know most about include Oklahoma City’s Murrah Building bombing from 1995; the 2009 Fort Hood shooting; and Orlando Pulse Nightclub’s shooting in 2016. We will see more, even though the global trend has been down over the past several years. But thanks in no small measure to Biden’s horrific and shameful withdrawal in Afghanistan, it is returning as a haven for terrorists. And that’s one reminder of 9/11 we must prepare for.