In the months after the tragic attacks of 9/11, President Bush told the American people that he had “no ambition whatsoever to use [the War on Terror] as a political issue.”1 But according to a new report, the Bush Administration is now demanding that international allies coordinate the arrest of al Qaeda terrorists to coincide with key U.S. political events, so as to maximize political benefits for the President.
According to the New Republic, top Pakistani intelligence officials have confirmed that the Bush Administration is demanding the Pakistani government find as many “high value” terrorist targets specifically before Americans go to the polls in November. By contrast, no similar urgent push or “timetable” was discussed in 2002 or 2003. Even more troubling, Pakistani sources admit White House aides told the Pakistani Director of Intelligence that “it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any high value terrorist target] were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July” – the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.2
The report calls into question whether key military decisions were affected by similar political motivations during the last three years. For instance, during 2002 and 2003 when al Qaeda was regrouping along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the Bush administration refused calls to seriously increase operations there. Only in March of 2004 – once the Presidential election campaign had begun — did the President finally announce “stepped up efforts” in Afghanistan to find bin Laden.3
- “Republicans, Democrats seek political returns on 9/11, terror war,” TwinCities.com, 4/01/04.
- “Pakistan for Bush. July Surprise?,” New Republic, 7/07/2004.
- “U.S. military announces new operation in Afghanistan,” USA Today, 3/13/04.