Political Animal


September 09, 2011 11:25 AM Bush’s misguided appeal for credit

By Steve Benen

With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks coming up this weekend, it’s not surprising that former President George W. Bush would be back in the news a bit, reflecting on his memories of the tragic day. But that’s no excuse for falsely claiming credit he doesn’t deserve.

Bush said the events that led to the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May began during his administration.

“The work that was done by intelligence communities during my presidency was part of putting together the puzzle that enabled us to see the full picture of how bin Laden was communicating and eventually where he was hiding,” he said. “It began the day after 9/11.”

I can understand why Bush would push the argument, but it’s misleading. Sure, there were important post-9/11 reforms that improved U.S. officials’ capacity to acquire and act on intelligence, but when it comes to getting bin Laden, this is generally a subject the former president should try to avoid.

After all, in March 2002, just six months after 9/11, Bush said of bin Laden, “I truly am not that concerned about him…. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you.”

In July 2006, we learned that the Bush administration closed its unit that had been hunting bin Laden.

In September 2006, Bush told Fred Barnes, one of his most sycophantic media allies, that an “emphasis on bin Laden doesn’t fit with the administration’s strategy for combating terrorism.”

And don’t even get me started on Bush’s failed strategy that allowed bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora.

I’m happy to extend plenty of credit to all kinds of officials throughout the government; the successful raid on the bin Laden compound was a team effort. But that doesn’t mean Bush should come around now, looking for a pat on the back.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Danp on September 09, 2011 11:29 AM:

    Heckuva job, Dubya.

  • Josef K on September 09, 2011 11:30 AM:

    But thatís no excuse for falsely claiming credit he doesnít deserve.

    Like that's ever stopped him. Keep in mind this is the guy who lost the election in 2000, and whose entire adult life has been a litany of professional failure and siftless privilage. If his blood got a fraction shade bluer, he could change his name to "Windsor" and take up residence in Buckingham Palace.

  • montana on September 09, 2011 11:31 AM:

    I think Bush was much more interested in turning the country into a quasi-police state, and killing dissent -- not to mention killing the economy with his economic policies.

    For those here who haven't seen it, I highly recommend the recent PBS POV documentary, Better this World. Available to watch online here:


  • Anonymous on September 09, 2011 11:34 AM:

    Depraved men often attempt to regain their honor, when none existed in the first place!

    George Bush was our nation's worst president, hands down! His pollitical hedonism has lead to the economic maladies we are experiencing, the partisanship we suffer, and the crazy who are now at the gates of political power!

    Hey George Bush - STFU! -Kevo

  • stormskies on September 09, 2011 11:40 AM:

    It's all summed up relative to the report on his desk that said "Bin Laden determined to attack the U.S.".... and his unconcerned reaction to the person who brought it to him: 'you have covered your ass now' .. and then he goes on vacation ......

    Sums up the whole fucking deal with this piece of pig shit called Bush ...

  • Blue Girl on September 09, 2011 11:42 AM:

    Let me get this straight -- he wants credit for killing the guy he didn't "spend much time thinking about"?

    All righty, then...

    "curranc resolution" sounds about right to me...he is something of a resolute cur.

  • Rick Massimo on September 09, 2011 11:45 AM:

    Pathetic mewling from a drunken failure.

  • c u n d gulag on September 09, 2011 11:45 AM:

    What's next, W?

    You want credit for the Union victory at Little Round Top and Gettysburg?

    What an asshole!

    STFU, and crawl back in Cheney's man-sized safe where you belong.

  • hells littlest angel on September 09, 2011 11:46 AM:

    He will be a stupid and arrogant man until the day he dies.

  • T2 on September 09, 2011 11:46 AM:

    sadly, Bush paid no attention to his intelligence community BEFORE 9/11, when he was pointedly told of BinLaden's intent to attack, and that airlines were the potential weapons. Or when the FBI knew men listed as possible terrorists were taking lessons to fly airlines. To Bush, they were "covering their asses". He had cedar to chop.

  • Republican on September 09, 2011 11:47 AM:

    Bush deserves credit for this:


    I bet you liberals won't bother to publicize that!!!

  • stormskies on September 09, 2011 11:49 AM:

    And let's remember this too after Obama and his team killed Bin Laden: he graciously invited Bush to attend that reef laying ceremony at where the Twin Towers were. And what did pig shit Bush do ? He declined ...........

  • Holmes on September 09, 2011 11:51 AM:

    The shamelessness of Bush and Cheney is astounding.

    That administration was rife with incompetence, and no amount of revisionist history will ever change that fact.

    Dubya's presidency was a complete failure, and it will take years to overcome the damage they inflicted on this country.

  • antiquelt on September 09, 2011 11:54 AM:

    We should never forget 9/11...but it is time for us to move on!

  • Just Guessing on September 09, 2011 11:54 AM:

    George W. Bush? Who?

  • berttheclock on September 09, 2011 11:56 AM:

    And, here, I thought little Eli Shrub was still crooning, "From the tables Up at Tora Bora, to the place where bin Laden dwells, Yawn, Yawn, Yawn"

  • jjm on September 09, 2011 11:58 AM:

    Showing once again what tragically poor character this man has. Pathetic.

  • Gandalf on September 09, 2011 11:58 AM:

    It's astounding that republicans still don't realize that the internet exists and you can do instant fact checking.

  • berttheclock on September 09, 2011 12:08 PM:

    @cundgulag, how apt you mention Bush and Little Round Top, as the 4th and 5th Texans were part of that Hood assault on LRT. BTW, Hood was known for his often reckless, but, fruitless charges. His tactics caused the loss of many a Confederate.

  • Josef K on September 09, 2011 12:09 PM:

    From Republican at 11:47am:

    Bush deserves credit for this:

    Did you read the entire thing, Republican? 'Cause the former President comes out smelling like a mountain of dung.

  • Kane on September 09, 2011 12:14 PM:

    It's interesting that an administration who often rejected questions and responsibility with their mantra of "let history decide," are now so concerned about what history is deciding.

  • Grumpy on September 09, 2011 12:21 PM:

    "It began the day after 9/11."

    As T2 indicated, that was at least a day too late.

    But, as I said when at the time of bin Laden's death, we really should thank George W. Bush, without whom none of this would have been necessary.

  • SYSPROG on September 09, 2011 12:40 PM:

    This is the same crowd that spent the 'surplus', instituted Homeland Security and grew the government, put out several failed stimulus', had no net job growth and STILL claim that 'it's all OBAMA'S fault'...are you SHOCKED, Steve?

  • Califlander on September 09, 2011 12:42 PM:

    When was the last time you saw a bunch of white Southerners so determined to make sure a black guy wasn't blamed for a killing?

  • Not Anonymous on September 09, 2011 12:51 PM:

    This message has been pre-approved by the moderators


  • Lance on September 09, 2011 1:29 PM:

    Kane on September 09, 2011 12:14 PM:

    "It's interesting that an administration who often rejected questions and responsibility with their mantra of "let history decide," are now so concerned about what history is deciding."

    Oh, snap.

    Best quote all day.

  • Cha on September 09, 2011 2:21 PM:

    Hey Republicon.. bush deserves credit for being a fookin' liar and an idiot.

    That's all the credit he gets.

  • Skip on September 09, 2011 6:41 PM:

    If regrets are the food of the aging, Bush has a lot of swallowing to do in his last years...

  • Texas Aggie on September 09, 2011 11:09 PM:

    There is an excellent reason that Bush wasn't concerned about bin Laden and why bin Laden would have laid down his life to protect Bush and Cheney. Both sides needed the other in order to scare people into supporting them. If bin Laden had been killed during the beginning of the Afghanistan war, then all the rest would have been inexcusable, and Bush wouldn't have been able to hoodwink the public into his wonderful wars that made him a "War President."

    If some terrorist had managed to assassinate Bush and Cheney, then the Iraq war and all the rest of their provocations wouldn't have happened, and al Qaeda would have been largely irrelevant to the Muslim world. Bin Laden couldn't allow that to happen since he had two such "useful idiots" in positions to do whatever he wanted to entice them into doing.

  • Jim Treacher on September 09, 2011 11:18 PM:

    He's giving credit to the intelligence community. You know, the guys Obama wanted to prosecute.