Hangin' in the Hamptons? Krugman, Herbert Hum Same Terror-Exploitation Tune

Were New York Times columnists Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert hangin' in the Hamptons this weekend? Exchanging ideas at a chic cocktail party with ocean views? You might think so, judging by their columns this morning in which they sound such similar themes.

Compare Krugman: "The Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited."

With Herbert: "Will [Americans] continue to fall for the political exploitation of their fears of terrorism?"

Other annotated excerpts, first from Herbert's column, Aiding Our Enemies [subscription required. Note to readers: despite my reluctance to patronize the NY Times, I broke down and subscribed over the weekends. I subscribe, read and report back, so you don't have to!]

"The catastrophic war in Iraq, which has caused the deaths of tens of thousands, was a strategic mistake of the highest magnitude. It diverted our focus, energy and resources from the real enemy, Al Qaeda and its offshoots."

No wonder then that Al-Qaeda has successfully attacked the US on a number of occasions since the Iraq war began. Wait: no they haven't. There are no guarantees in this game, of course. But if Hebert is going to excoriate the Bush administration for making us more vulnerable at home, shouldn't he praise it for having protected us so far?

"The debacle in Iraq, and inhumane policies like torture, rendition and the incarceration of Muslims without trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, serve only to strengthen the appeal of militants who are single-mindedly dedicated to the destruction of American lives."

Given all those American misdeeds in Iraq and Guantanamo, it's no wonder that Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11. . . except for the fact that 9/11 came two years before we went into Iraq. So what was it that the Clinton administration did over the eight years preceding 9/11 that so provoked Al-Qaeda? Could it have been Clinton's fecklessness in the face of multiple Al-Qaeda attacks on US interests, from the Cole to the first WTC bombing at the very beginning of the Clinton administration?

Herbert approvingly cites Jessica Stern, author of “Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill” who has said:

“We’re in a world where Islamist terrorist leaders are teaching their followers that they have been humiliated . . . Terrorist leaders teach their followers that not only is this humiliating, but somebody else is to blame — and that’s us. They say that we have deliberately set out to destroy the Islamic world and humiliate Muslims.”

So which is it, Mr. Herbert? Do you want us, as your column urges, to focus "like a laser on the fight against Al Qaeda-type terrorism"? Or do we need to give Al-Qaeda a hug so they won't feel humiliated?

Turning now to Krugman, who in his column, Hoping for Fear [subscription required], accuses the Bush administration of "cynicism" and "political motives" in pushing for the arrests of the latest terror plot suspects earlier than our British counterparts did.

For a New York Times representative, this is the height of chutzpah. We can all imagine the headlines had we heeded the Brits: "Bush Administration Let Terrorists Conduct 'Dry Run'".

But weighing even heavier on the Bush administration's mind might well have been the concern that had it not acted sooner-rather-than-later, the Times or another sterling member of the MSM would have alerted the terrorists by divulging the story. There were reports that so concerned was Homeland Security Chief Chertoff about leaks that he typed his own reports on the matter on his personal, secure computer. And given the Times deplorable track record in the area, just who can we imagine was the object of Chertoff's concern?

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.