culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Friday, April 16, 2004
Remembering John O'Neill. Kudos to PBS Frontline for its timely rebroadcast o'neillof
John O'Neill: The Man Who Knew. As one of the few people who took the Al Qaeda threat seriously in advance of 9-11-01, John's been on our minds a lot recently because of the heightened attention paid to his friend Richard Clarke and his arch-nemeses Tom Pickard and Barbara Bodine.

Someone on NPR was saying this morning that our intelligence problems aren't structural; they're cultural. Probably they're founded on the shifting sands of the Peter Principle: that everyone rises to his level of incompetence. Although it's a general principle that applies to all administrations, the Bush administration seems to have brought it to a shiny new state of perfection, a Platonic ideal of the Peter Principle, the ne plus ultra of pious incompetence, with examples as far as the eye can see of an insular Dilbert-like universe rewritten as tragedy: Rice, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Cheney, and, of course, the lifelong exemplar of the Peter Principle, George W. Bush.

There was plenty to dislike about O'Neill. Like Clarke, he's accused of "arrogance," the standard code word used by the incompetent against anyone who makes them look bad. What the street-smart (even in Yemen!) O'Neill managed never to be, as opposed to Bodine or Pickard or any of Bush's cronies, was inert or leisure-oriented or obsessively focused on politics over actual threats.

O'Neill had investigated Al Qaeda to the point where two of the Flight 77 hijackers' names were on his desk when he was forced out of Yemen by Barbara Bodine in 2000 and out of the FBI by acting weasel Tom Pickard in August 2001.

Pickard, Ashcroft, and Rice were all responsible for national security in August 2001. The fact that they live in a frenzy of bureaucratic cowardice, pointing fingers at anyone else in their testimony to the 9-11 Commission, while O'Neill died in the World Trade Center is the purest demonstration that they do not deserve their positions.

If John O'Neill were alive to go before the 9-11 Commission, no one would be holding his hand. In that, he is more of a man than the cowardly president of the United States, who will cling behind closed doors to his security blanket Dick Cheney.

A clarification: This is not about State vs. Defense, or FBI vs. CIA, or Democrat vs. Republican. National security is like engineering: either the building stands or it doesn't. The World Trade Center fell.

It's about competent vs. incompetent.

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

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