Michael Reagan’s recent column on the Boston Marathon bombings was both amusing and pathetic.
Reagan relates how on Jan. 26, 1981, his newly elected father, Ronald Reagan, called the leaders of the various intelligence agencies into his office to find better ways to share information to prevent future terrorist attacks. Michael Reagan then nimbly skips over the failures of this intelligence during the next eight years. He leaves the impression that his father was successful in protecting us against terrorist attacks while President Obama has somehow failed in this. Nothing could be further from the truth.
On April 18, 1983, the U.S. embassy in Beirut was bombed by terrorists. Sixty three people were killed, including 17 Americans, one of whom was the American station chief. What did Reagan do in response? Nothing.
On Oct. 23, 1983, 241 U.S. servicemen were killed and more than 100 wounded by a suicide bomber who drove into the Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport. Reagan’s response? Cut and run.
On Dec. 12, 1983, the American embassy in Kuwait was bombed. On Sept. 20, 1984, the U.S. embassy annex near Beirut was bombed by a truck bomber, killing two Americans and 22 other people. There was no American military response.
On Dec. 21, 1988, Pan American Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 passengers, including many Americans. In all, 466 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks during Reagan’s administration. If his intelligence agencies were sharing information, they were doing a lousy job.
Under President Clinton, six people were killed in the first bombing of the World Trade Center on Feb. 26, 1993. Law enforcement captured four men, who were convicted and are now in prison. On Aug. 7, 1998, the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed. Clinton launched retaliatory strikes against Sudan and Afghanistan, believed to be behind the bombings.
On Oct. 12, 2000, the USS Cole was bombed by suicide bombers; 17 sailors were killed. Plans were drawn up to go after al Qaeda, the perpetrators of the bombing. The Bush administration did not follow through. In all, fewer than 60 Americans were killed by Islamic terrorist attacks during the Clinton administration. Several terrorist plots were stopped due to good intelligence.
How did GW Bush do, protecting us? On Sept. 11, 2001, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil killed 2,996 people, 2,379 of them American citizens. In response, Bush launched a war against Afghanistan, and then diverted resources to Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attack. Was this the last terrorist attack under Bush? Not quite.
Beginning on Sept. 18, 2001, letters containing anthrax were mailed to various people, including elected officials. Five people were killed and 17 others infected. Attorney General John Ashcroft called these “terrorist acts.”
On July 4, 2002, an Egyptian immigrant shot six people at the L.A. International Airport, killing two of them. In March 2006, a man named Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar drove an SUV onto the campus of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, hitting nine pedestrians. His motive was to “avenge the deaths or murders of Muslims around the world.” His hero? Mohammad Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers.
On July 28, 2006, Naveed Afzal Haq, an American of Pakistani descent, shot six people, killing one, at the Jewish Federation building in Seattle. His motive? Anger at American foreign policy in the Middle East.
That leaves the American death toll under Bush at 2,418, plus nine embassy/consulate attacks. Not a record to be proud of.
Now, President Obama is being criticized for not keeping us safe. If we count the deaths in Benghazi (4), the Fort Hood shooting (13), the Little Rock recruiting station (1), and the Boston deaths (4, including the MIT officer), that’s a total of 22 American deaths from terrorist attacks, in over four years. Every perpetrator except those at Benghazi has been caught and prosecuted, or is in process of prosecution. In addition, the 2009 “shoe bomber,” the “underwear bomber,” and the Times Square plots were all stopped before anyone was hurt. When we look at the records of Reagan and GW Bush, Obama is doing a spectacular job.
I have repeatedly said that facts seem to mean very little to Republicans/conservatives. This latest pathetic attempt by Michael Reagan is just more proof of that. If we as a country can’t even agree on provable facts, I’m afraid there is very little hope of solving our problems, and that is not good for anyone.
Jeanette Strong’s column appears every other Wednesday.