Bush Taking Bin Laden Threat Seriously. Yep, that’s an actual headline.

"When he says he's going to hurt the American people again, or try to, he means it," Bush told reporters after visiting the top-secret National Security Agency where the surveillance program is based. "I take it seriously, and the people of NSA take it seriously."
Well done, chief.

Of course, the reason for this little proclamation of seriousness kind of puts it into perspective.

President Bush, defending the government's secret surveillance program, said Wednesday that Americans should take Osama bin Laden seriously when he says he's going to attack again.
Don’t forget, little sheeple, there’s a boogeyman out there who wants to gitcha, and everything I do, legal or not, is all in the name of protecting you.

The thing is, bin Laden’s not just a boogeyman; he’s a real person with real designs on hurting Americans, but to think that Bush considers him anything more than, as Joe in DC (who gets the hat tip) notes, “a political weapon”—and a convenient justification for assuming the role of dictator he’s always wanted—is foolish.

Back in March 2002, when people were beginning to wonder why we hadn’t captured bin Laden “dead or alive,” Bush wasn’t taking bin Laden seriously. In fact, he was dismissing him as all but impotent and not particularly important.

Q Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part -- deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really eliminate the threat of --

THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.

Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match.
He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.

So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you…

Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.
When the heat was on about bringing bin Laden to justice, as the president had promised to do, he was reduced to being unworthy of thought. Now that the heat’s on about breaking the law in the name of national security, bin Laden’s back to being a serious threat. Terror is bigger than one person who's now been marginalized…but Americans should take Osama bin Laden seriously when he says he's going to attack again.

I don’t suppose some enterprising journalist would see fit to query the president about how bin Laden managed to regain his status—and how the administration could have dropped the ball so thoroughly as to let such a madman reconstitute his power—or if this is just more political gamesmanship designed to obfuscate the reality that all the Bush administration really cares about is an incremental coup, the success of which is dependent on Americans’ confusion, fear, and apathy.

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