If it weren't for the fact that the past week's headlines have been toying with the emotions of millions of people and disrespecting the memory of thousands of victims, they'd be awfully funny. First we got the steady trickle of revelations that seemingly every piece of the federal security apparatus (up to and apparently including President Clueless) was given or possessed at least some inkling that Al Qaeda wanted to hijack airplanes and crash them into someplace with a lot of Americans in it. (Like, say, a building. In America.)
Now -- well, golly, what a coincidence! -- we're being flooded with a succession of dire warnings, carefully spread over each news cycle, that a new and incredibly horrifying terrorist attack is "certain," "imminent," "unavoidable" or whatever the White House Word of the Day might be, as faithfully relayed by the CJWTs (Court Jesters with Teleprompters).
Because this sort of scandal triggers Republicans' obsessions with this fall's elections, every day for the last five we've been assaulted with new and dire warnings of attack. Something, anything to get that scandal off the front page and the evening news.
It's working, of course.
All these pointing and wagging fingers are missing the most obvious and critical issue of all.
September 11 didn't happen because someone didn't read a report. None of the "warnings" reported in the last week, and almost certainly none of the additional ones we're likely to find out about, would have changed our "defence" structure enough to fashion a response that would have prevented 9/11.
The steps taken since then won't prevent the next one either. The only things we know for sure about the next major attack are that thousands more people every day aspire to carrying one out and that it won't involve either jet planes or box cutters.
That's why these dire warnings can safely (and accurately) be trotted out whenever a day's uncomfortable news stories warrant some White House damage control.
Instead of asking why the deadliest military and most invasive intelligence apparati in the history of the world failed so catastrophically to protect us, both the Democrats and the Republicans have spent the last eight months shovelling even more money into the same failed structure -- the same programs, the same paradigms, the same mindset.
No super-duper, gazillion-dollar, space-based gizmo will knock a box cutter (or whatever) out of a terrorist's hand. No moonscaping of some far-away country's villages by our daisy cutters will lessen the pathological hatred millions feel for America.
No arming and training of a new generation of dictators' secret police forces will disarm the world.
No scoffing at the notion of international arms control treaties will discourage production of weapons of mass destruction.
By those and all other relevant measures, we're at much greater risk now than we were last September.
If the actual mission of our military and political establishment were to protect us, September 11 would have been much less likely to happen, and ditto for the next attack and the ones after that. Asking those questions -- how our government brought us and the world to this sorry point, and how we can make it better -- should be the preoccupation of every waking moment of every political leader in both parties.
It's not. And that's the real scandal.