"REAL ID" AND THE LEGACY OF GEORGE W. BUSH
Updated: Apr 10, 2021
(Right center and tallest, the 9/11 Monument in Lower Manhattan)
Yesterday I applied to renew my driver’s license with the requisite “Real ID” created by the Bush administration after the attacks on the World Trade Center. The state of Massachusetts has taken twenty years to comply. There are people applying for Real ID who were born years after the events of 9/11 and think such requirements are normal.
The application required that I submit my passport or birth certificate, proof of Social Security (my laminated SS card would not do); and for local verification of “presence” I was to submit my drivers license, two pieces of mail and or bank statement, credit card statement or other document that proved that I lived where I said I lived. This was complicated by my two addresses, a PO box and a street address. I can’t imagine what this process is like for immigrants or people without credit or bank accounts, or who had not been recently employed.
Since Donald Trump was such a nightmare even former president W. Bush spoke against him. But let’s not forget that we have two wars begun by Bush, still going since 2001, one of which was completely unconnected with the World Trade Center attacks, and was based on alleged weapons of mass destruction possessed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. There were no such weapons; the nerve gas we and the Germans gave Hussein the ingredients for to be used against Iran was depleted in the genocide of the Kurds and the Druse ethnicities in Iraq.
9/11 was a tragedy, but for Republicans it was a pretext for a swing to the right and the creation of entire new bureaucracies that deal in domestic surveillance and law enforcement. "Homeland Security" is the most famous, and those born after 9/11 often do not know this organization didn't exist beforehand. It is an entirely unnecessary bureaucracy that costs US taxpayers and has put their First Amendment rights in danger. Homeland Security became so popular that the University of Connecticut began an undergraduate major in it the semester following the 9/11 attacks.
The other bureaucracy that came out of the Bush years is ICE. We already had the INS, and the creation of ICE was unnecessary and disastrous. Neither of these bureaucracies would exist without the xenophobia that rose up in the wake of 9/11, an opportunity the GOP took up with great enthusiasm, and which has powered much of their electoral success.
Here are the agencies that were already in place before 9/11:
The Central Intelligence Agency
The Office of Naval Intelligence
The Bureau of Intelligence and Research
The Sixteenth Air Force
The National Security Agency
The National Reconnaissance Office
The Defense Intelligence Agency
The Military Intelligence Corps
The Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence
Marine Corps Intelligence
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
The Intelligence Branch
And, of Course, the FBI, and the intelligence agencies of our allies
There were SEVEN intelligence warnings, including one briefing with Bush Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, about an imminent attack on the US. It would seem to me that all these agencies would have been able to respond strategically prior to the attack. Why they didn't remains a mystery.
All but one of the hijackers were Saudi Nationals and all but one of them came in on either a tourist or business visa—the exception was the one that came in on student visa. Since Saudi Arabia is an ally I am consternated that intelligence from them was not available.
Why did we need a new bureaucracy, one that has been principally used to surveil American citizens and limit First Amendment rights? Also, during the Bush administration, millions of dollars of military equipment, including armed personnel carriers, was given to police departments throughout the country, the ugly manifestations of which were seen in the post Minneapolis George Floyd protests.
ICE was also created during W. Bush’s administration and exists now as one of the most vicious and inhuman anti-immigration enforcement agencies in the world. Under Donald Trump, goon squads from this organization were deployed against BLM protesters.
I hope that president Biden will dismantle both Homeland Security and ICE: they are unnecessary and the enablers of the Orwellian suppression of American Citizens.