It’s the 10th anniversary of the day the United States took its eye off the ball, allowing the architect of the 9/11 attacks to live in relative peace and obscurity for eight more years.
It is the 10th anniversary of the moment an administration misled (or lied, as many believe) its way into a war that would cost nearly 4,500 American and countless Iraqi lives, abetted by a media that, with few exceptions, was cowed into submission by the intensely jingoistic atmosphere that prevailed in the months after Osama bin Laden attacked us.
The rationale for war, that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, turned out to be a fiction with biblical consequences.
How should we even think about that today?
I worry less about intelligence failures than I do about media failures. And what I am mulling over today is how our government has used its immense bully pulpit to steamroll the watchdogs.
Ten years ago, to question the legitimacy of the war was to risk being denounced as a coward or a traitor. It was a confusing and emotional time for Americans. I remember assigning a story about how older baby boomers, who had cut their political teeth protesting the Vietnam War and mistrusting the government, suddenly felt a bloom of patriotism, and were moved to display American flags.
But there was a darker side to all that country love.
And that was the credulous way the media establishment allowed the Bush administration to gin up the case for Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.