Tag Archive: President George W. Bush


http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110504/us_time/08599206932700

By TIM PADGETT Tim Padgett Wed May 4, 12:15 pm ET

There has rarely been a starker juxtaposition of evil and innocence than the moment President George W. Bush received the news about 9/11 while reading The Pet Goat with second-graders in Sarasota, Fla.

Seven-year-olds can’t understand what Islamic terrorism is all about. But they know when an adult’s face is telling them something is wrong – and none of the students sitting in Sandra Kay Daniels’ class at Emma E. Booker Elementary School that morning can forget the devastating change in Bush’s expression when White House chief of staff Andrew Card whispered the terrible news of the al-Qaeda attack. Lazaro Dubrocq’s heart started racing because he assumed they were all in trouble – with no less than the Commander in Chief – but he wasn’t sure why. “In a heartbeat, he leaned back and he looked flabbergasted, shocked, horrified,” recalls Dubrocq, now 17. “I was baffled. I mean, did we read something wrong? Was he mad or disappointed in us?” (See pictures of people celebrating Osama bin Laden’s death.)

Similar fears started running through Mariah Williams’ head. “I don’t remember the story we were reading – was it about pigs?” says Williams, 16. “But I’ll always remember watching his face turn red. He got really serious all of a sudden. But I was clueless. I was just 7. I’m just glad he didn’t get up and leave, because then I would have been more scared and confused.” Chantal Guerrero, 16, agrees. Even today, she’s grateful that Bush regained his composure and stayed with the students until The Pet Goat was finished. “I think the President was trying to keep us from finding out,” says Guerrero, “so we all wouldn’t freak out.”

Even if that didn’t happen, it’s apparent that the sharing of that terrifying Tuesday with Bush has affected those students in the decade since – and, they say, it made the news of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s killing by U.S. commandos on May 1 all the more meaningful. Dubrocq, now a junior at Riverview High School in Sarasota, doubts that he would be a student in the rigorous international-baccalaureate program if he hadn’t been with the President as one of history’s most infamous global events unfolded. “Because of that,” he says, “I came to realize as I grew up that the world is a much bigger place and that there are differing opinions about us out there, not all of them good.”(See pictures of the evolution of Ground Zero.)

Guerrero, today a junior at the Sarasota Military Academy, believes the experience “has since given us all a better understanding of the situation, sort of made us take it all more seriously. At that age, I couldn’t understand how anyone could take innocent lives that way. And I still of course can’t. But today I can problem-solve it all a lot better, maybe better than other kids because I was kind of part of it.” Williams, also a junior at the military academy, says those moments spent with Bush conferred on the kids a sort of historical authority as they grew up. “Today, when we talk about 9/11 in class and you hear kids make mistakes about what happened with the President that day, I can tell them they’re wrong,” she says, “because I was there.” (Watch TIME’s video of the celebration at Ground Zero after Osama bin Laden’s death.)

One thing the students would like to tell Bush’s critics – like liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, whose 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 911 disparaged Bush for lingering almost 10 minutes with the students after getting word that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center – is that they think the President did the right thing. “I think he was trying to keep everybody calm, starting with us,” says Guerrero. Dubrocq agrees: “I think he was trying to protect us.” Booker Principal Gwendolyn Tose-Rigell, who died in 2007, later insisted, “I don’t think anyone could have handled it better. What would it have served if [Bush] had jumped out of his chair and ran out of the room?”

See TIME’s 2001 cover story on the 9/11 attacks.

See pictures of the devastation on Sept. 11, 2001.

See TIME’s full coverage of Osama bin Laden’s death.

When the children’s story was done, Bush left for the school’s library, where he discussed the New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania nightmare with aides, reporters and another group of students waiting for him. Back in the classroom, Daniels brought in a television and turned on the first bewildering images of the Twin Towers in flames and smoke. At that point the kids started connecting the dots. “It was pretty scary,” says Williams, “and I remember thinking, So that’s why the President looked so mad.” (See pictures of the evolution of Ground Zero.)

Dubrocq got mad himself. “But I had to wait a few years before I could digest what had really happened and why they attacked us,” he says. “I of course grew up to have nothing but contempt for Osama bin Laden.” Yet he adds the episode “motivated me to get a better handle on the world and to want to help improve the world.” It also made Dubrocq, who wants to study international business, more aware of his own multinational roots – he’s French and Cuban on his father’s side and Spanish and Mexican on his mother’s. Not surprisingly, he also wants to learn other languages, like Chinese and, in an echo of his 9/11 memories, perhaps even Arabic.

Williams says she also hated Bin Laden more as she grew up and gained a better appreciation of how fanatics had changed her world on 9/11. “All that just because he wanted to control everybody in the world, control how we think and what we do,” she says. Williams doesn’t plan to pursue a military career – she wants to be a veterinarian – but the military academy student was impressed by the Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed Bin Laden: “I was shocked – I thought after 10 years they’d never find him. But what the SEALs did, it, like, gives me even more respect for that kind of training.” (See “The Accused 9/11 Plotters: What Happened to Them?”)

Guerrero, in fact, may as well be part of that training. She also plans a civilian life – she hopes to study art and musical theater – but she’s a Junior ROTC member and part of her school’s state champion Raiders team, which competes against other academies in contests like rope bridge races, map navigation and marksmanship. In other words, the same sort of skills the SEAL commandos have to master. She admits to feeling an added rush when she woke up to Monday morning’s news: the SEALs operation, she says, “was very, very cool.”

More than cool, Guerrero says, it was also “so reassuring, after a whole decade of being scared about these things.” Most of all, it “brought back a flood of memories” of their tragic morning with a President – memories that prove kids can carry a lot heavier stuff in those plastic backpacks than adults often realize.

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Bin Ladin

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_theticket/20110502/ts_yblog_theticket/bin-ladens-death-is-a-pivotal-victory-for-obama-but-will-it-make-his-2012-re-election-bid-any-easier

President Obama’s declaration late Sunday night that U.S. forces in Pakistan had killed Osama bin Laden will likely prove one of the most significant moments in his presidency.

Speaking from the White House’s East Room shortly before midnight EST, the president offered the nation a long-desired moment of closure nearly a decade after the horrors of the 9/11 attacks.

“Tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed,” Obama declared in announcing bin Laden’s death. “Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people… We are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to.”

Obama was careful not to gloat about the breakthrough for the struggle against Islamist terrorism–indeed, he went so far as to praise to his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, who Obama had frequently assailed for bungling that struggle on the 2008 campaign trail. At the same time, though, as the smoke begins to clear from this pivotal moment, a no-less significant question lingers: How will the al Qaeda leader’s death alter the nation’s political landscape, especially ahead of next year’s 2012 presidential campaign?

The short answer, of course, is that it’s far too early to say for sure. To be sure, as news cameras capture footage of cheering crowds across party lines gathering to celebrate bin Laden’s demise, Obama seems almost certain to experience a bump in national approval for his handling of the situation. And the country’s mood–usually measured in so-called “right track/wrong track” numbers–will likewise trend upward with a major shot of good news after weeks of angst over issues such as rising gas prices and the struggling economy.

And as the president gears up for his 2012 re-election bid, he can take assurance in his ability to brandish a significant foreign policy achievement: He personally signed off on a mission to capture the world’s most wanted terrorist, and it was successful. Obama will be certain to remind voters about that milestone at every opportunity–knowing that it’s bound to loom larger in the public mind than the last several months’ worth of hand-wringing among candidates and pundits over this administration’s approach to Libya and the tumultuous war in Afghanistan.

Many of Obama’s likely GOP rivals in 2012 have lambasted him in recent weeks as a president with a weak foreign-policy dossier. But last night, some of his potential opponents–including Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney–carefully offered Obama praise for his handling of the bin Laden operation.

“In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice–and we did,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “I want to congratulate America’s armed forces and President Obama for a job well done. Let history show that the perseverance of the US military and the American people never wavered.”

In a message posted on Facebook, Romney called bin Laden’s death a “great victory great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere.” “Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president,” he wrote.

But not all GOP candidates were as gracious. In separate messages on Twitter and Facebook, Sarah Palin made no mention of Obama, instead praising the military. “Thank you, American men and women in uniform. You are America’s finest and we are all so proud,” she wrote. “Thank you for fighting against terrorism.”

However, political history also offers some important cautions about how short-lived such victories can be in the heat of a re-election effort. Take, for example, former President George H.W. Bush’s sky-high poll numbers in the aftermath of the successful 1991 Gulf War, which made him seem virtually unbeatable against his likely Democratic opponents.

But as the 1992 campaign drew closer, Bush 41’s numbers steadily dropped, and lost his bid for a second term, thanks mostly to public anxiety over the struggling economy–an issue that also seems likely to dominate the upcoming 2012 campaign, at least for now.

In policy terms, too, the administration seem averse to gloating over the legacy of his historic moment. Last night, Obama made clear in his remarks that the war in terror is far from over–and that bin Laden’s death doesn’t mean an end to threats to the nation. “His death does not mark the end of our effort,” the president warned. “There’s no doubt that Al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. . . . The cause of securing our country is not complete.”

(Photo of Obama: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110502/ts_nm/us_binladen_compound

By Patricia Zengerle and Alister Bull Patricia Zengerle And Alister Bull Mon May 2, 5:57 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. forces finally found al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden not in a mountain cave on Afghanistan’s border, but with his youngest wife in a million-dollar compound in a summer resort just over an hour’s drive from Pakistan’s capital, U.S. officials said.

A small U.S. team conducted a night-time helicopter raid on the compound early on Monday. After 40 minutes of fighting, bin Laden and an adult son, one unidentified woman and two men were dead, the officials said.

U.S. forces were led to the fortress-like three-story building after more than four years tracking one of bin Laden’s most trusted couriers, whom U.S. officials said was identified by men captured after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with or protected by bin Laden,” a senior administration official said in a briefing for reporters.

Bin Laden was finally found — more than 9-1/2 years after the 2001 attacks on the United States — after authorities discovered in August 2010 that the courier lived with his brother and their families in an unusual and extremely high-security building, officials said.

They said the courier and his brother were among those killed in the raid.

“When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw: an extraordinarily unique compound,” a senior administration official said.

“The bottom line of our collection and our analysis was that we had high confidence that the compound harbored a high-value terrorist target. The experts who worked this issue for years assessed that there was a strong probability that the terrorist who was hiding there was Osama bin Laden,” another administration official said.

The home is in Abbottabad, a town about 35 miles north of Islamabad, that is relatively affluent and home to many retired members of Pakistan’s military.

It was a far cry from the popular notion of bin Laden hiding in some mountain cave on the rugged and inaccessible Afghan-Pakistan border — an image often evoked by officials up to and including former President George W. Bush.

The building, about eight times the size of other nearby houses, sat on a large plot of land that was relatively secluded when it was built in 2005. When it was constructed, it was on the outskirts of Abbottabad’s center, at the end of a dirt road, but some other homes have been built nearby in the six years since it went up, officials said.

WALLS TOPPED WITH BARBED WIRE

Intense security measures included 12- to 18-foot outer walls topped with barbed wire and internal walls that sectioned off different parts of the compound, officials said. Two security gates restricted access, and residents burned their trash, rather than leaving it for collection as did their neighbors, officials said.

Few windows of the three-story home faced the outside of the compound, and a terrace had a seven-foot (2.1 meter) privacy wall, officials said.

“It is also noteworthy that the property is valued at approximately $1 million but has no telephone or Internet service connected to it,” an administration official said. “The brothers had no explainable source of wealth.”

U.S. analysts realized that a third family lived there in addition to the two brothers, and the age and makeup of the third family matched those of the relatives — including his youngest wife — they believed would be living with bin Laden.

“Everything we saw, the extremely elaborate operational security, the brothers’ background and their behavior and the location of the compound itself was perfectly consistent with what our experts expected bin Laden’s hide-out to look like,” another Obama administration official said.

Abbottabad is a popular summer resort, located in a valley surrounded by green hills near Pakistani Kashmir. Islamist militants, particularly those fighting in Indian-controlled Kashmir, used to have training camps near the town.

(Editing by Mary Milliken, Will Dunham and Mark Trevelyan)

Gates: Some US troops may stay if Iraq wants

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_gates_iraq

By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer Robert Burns, Ap National Security Writer Thu Apr 7, 6:33 am ET

BAGHDAD – The Obama administration would keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the agreed final withdrawal date of Dec. 31, 2011, if the Iraqi government wanted them, but the Iraqis need to decide “pretty quickly” in order for the Pentagon to accommodate the extension, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday during what he said probably is his final visit to this war-torn country.

Whether to negotiate an extended U.S. military presence is up to the Iraqis, he said, adding that he thought an extension might make sense.

“We are willing to have a presence beyond (2011), but we’ve got a lot of commitments,” he said, not only in Afghanistan and Libya but also in Japan, where he said 19 U.S. Navy ships and about 18,000 U.S. military personnel are assisting in earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor relief efforts.

“So if folks here are going to want us to have a presence, we’re going to need to get on with it pretty quickly in terms of our planning,” he added. “I think there is interest in having a continuing presence. The politics are such that we’ll just have to wait and see because the initiative ultimately has to come from the Iraqis.”

Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top American commander in Iraq, said the country is lacking important security capabilities. Those include the defense of its air space and the wherewithal to supply and maintain its own forces, he said.

Asked in an interview whether all Iraqi government officials are aware of these gaps, he replied, “Some more than others.”

He said the government’s inability thus far to appoint a defense minister and an interior minister has hampered its ability to make informed decisions about whether to ask the Americans to stay longer.

Speaking to a group of reporters traveling with Gates, Austin gave the strong impression that he thinks Iraq needs a U.S. military presence beyond December, but he said he had not yet been asked to provide a recommendation to Washington.

He said Iraq faced the possibility of a “more violent environment” next year, given the absence of U.S. military force and the failure to resolve key political problems, like the Kurd-Arab tensions in Kirkuk and elsewhere in the north.

The U.S. now has about 47,000 troops in Iraq, and they will begin leaving in large numbers in late summer or early fall. The U.S. led an invasion in March 2003 that toppled the government of President Saddam Hussein a month later, but an insurgency soon set in and the U.S. got mired in a conflict that has lasted far longer — and cost far more American and Iraqi lives — than Washington had anticipated.

Gates also said civil unrest in the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, with majority Shiite Muslims pushing for an end to rule by the minority Sunnis, has created tensions in Iraq, whose Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is concerned about Bahrain’s crackdown on Shiites.

Gates said he expected to discuss this subject with al-Maliki in private meetings later Thursday.

Meghan O’Sullivan, a top Iraq adviser to President George W. Bush from 2005-07, said in an email exchange that al-Maliki faces enormous domestic political pressures on several fronts, including a small but vocal number of Iraqis demanding better government, and a security situation that is improved but still tense.

Together, these pressures make it unlikely that al-Maliki feels he can publicly invite the U.S. military to stay beyond this year.

“Understandably, the Obama administration was hoping for this sort of invitation, and likely feels struck, given that it is not forthcoming,” O’Sullivan said. “They can’t be seen wanting to keep more troops in Iraq than the Iraqis do.” O’Sullivan is now a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School.

Under blue skies and a bright sun at a U.S. base just outside the Iraqi capital, Gates told a group of soldiers that he worries that a potential shutdown of the U.S. federal government will delay issuance of their paychecks. He assured them that they eventually would get full pay, but there could be a delay if Democrats and Republicans in Washington are unable to reach a budget deal this week.

“When I start to think of the inconvenience that it’s going to cause these kids (soldiers) and a lot of their families, even a half paycheck delayed can be a problem for them,” Gates told reporters after fielding several questions from the assembled soldiers. The first question posed to him was by a soldier asking about the ramifications for military members and their families of the budget crisis back home.

Gates assured them, “You will be paid,” then added that it might take a while, depending on the length of the political impasse in Washington.

In a brief exchange with reporters during a photo session with Gates earlier Thursday, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, James Jeffrey, said U.S. ground forces are “the glue” that is holding the country together. He said this leaves a mixed picture of the situation in Iraq because making arrangements to keep U.S. troops here beyond December is going to be difficult.

In his troop talk, Gates raised the matter of his impending retirement, recalling for soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, that his first visit to Iraq was in September 2006, three months before he replaced Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary. He recalled that on a visit to Baghdad in December 2006 he conducted a press conference while a gun battle was echoing in the distance.

In all, he estimated he has made 14 visits to Iraq.

“`This will probably be my last one,” he said.

Gates previously has said he intends to retire this year, but he has not been more specific about the timing. It is widely anticipated that he is planning to quit this summer.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110306/ap_on_re_us/us_muslim_hearings

By EILEEN SULLIVAN and LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Eileen Sullivan And Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press Sun Mar 6, 6:54 pm ET

STERLING, Va. – Muslim Americans are not part of the terrorism problem facing the U.S. — they are part of the solution, a top White House official said Sunday at a Washington-area mosque.

Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough set the Obama administration’s tone for discussions as tensions escalate before the first in a series of congressional hearings on Islamic radicalization. The hearings, chaired by New York Republican Peter King, will focus on the level of cooperation from the Muslim community to help law enforcement combat radicalization.

The majority of the recent terror plots and attempts against the U.S. have involved people espousing a radical and violent view of Islam. Just a few weeks ago a college student from Saudi Arabia who studied chemical engineering in Texas was arrested after he bought explosive chemicals online. It was part of a plan to hide bomb materials inside dolls and baby carriages and blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.

King said the Muslim community could and should do more to work with law enforcement to stop its members from radicalizing and recruiting others to commit violence.

“I don’t believe there is sufficient cooperation” by American Muslims with law enforcement, King said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Certainly my dealings with the police in New York and FBI and others say they do not believe they get the same — they do not give the level of cooperation that they need.”

In New York City on Sunday, about 300 protestors gathered in Times Square to speak out against King’s hearing, criticizing it as xenophobic and saying that singling out Muslims, rather than extremists, is unfair.

McDonough said that instead of condemning whole communities, the U.S. needs to protect them from intimidation.

McDonough spoke to an interfaith forum at a Northern Virginia mosque known for its longtime relationship and cooperation with the FBI. The executive director of the center, Imam Mohamed Magid, also spoke, as did speakers from a local synagogue and a Presbyterian church.

The administration has tried to strike a balance on the thorny issue, working to go after homegrown Islamic extremists without appearing to be at war with the Muslim world. There has been an effort to build stronger relationships with Muslims — internationally and in the United States.

During his remarks Sunday, McDonough called the mosque a “typically American place” and said it reminded him of his Catholic parish where he grew up in Minnesota.

“Being religious is never un-American. Being religious is quintessentially American,” he said.

He commended the mosque’s members for taking “an unequivocal stand against terrorism.”

“You’ve sent a message that those who perpetrate such horrific attacks do not represent you or your faith, and that they will not succeed in pitting believers of different faiths against one another,” McDonough said.

The White House is close to finalizing a strategy for countering violent extremism. McDonough leads a working group of 13 federal agencies and offices — including the National Counterterrorism Center and the departments of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice and State — focused on finding ways to confront the problem.

“No community can be expected to meet a challenge as complex as this alone,” McDonough said. “No one community can be expected to become experts in terrorist organizations, how they are evolving, how they are using new tools and technology to reach our young people.”

___

Baldor reported from Washington.

So, I was looking on Yahoo and found this. Now, I think that we, not just Muslims, should work with law enforcement to try to stop all this voilence from happening. I want to know what ya’ll think so please comment and tell me.

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