Like any president, George Bush leaves office with pluses and minuses.
I count as a plus Bush's taking down a man who killed 300,000 people, a man who convinced his own generals that he had weapons of mass destruction that they were supposed to use. But despite warnings from some quarters, Bush did not ensure that the war was prosecuted correctly after the invasion. He then had the courage to turn things around with the surge in Iraq.
Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act helped to reintroduce the successful program of phonics — sounding out letters — to reading instruction. Now tests are reporting significant improvement in reading scores throughout the nation. In some areas, the achievement gap between black and white students has been cut in half.
Granted, the economy has taken a tremendous dive, and the stock market is scary, but the truth is, Bush did not have a lot to do with the combination of factors that came together to make the economy implode.
Almost since taking office, Bush did warn about the need to bring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under control. He introduced legislation to do so. Each time, Democrats and Republicans in Congress rejected the measures. Ultimately, he took bold action to help fix the financial meltdown.
While the deficit ballooned to a record level under Bush, as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), the deficit is not out of line with fluctuations over the past 40 years. Over time, the cost of most of the bailout packages is expected to be recovered.
Important as the economy is, our survival is more important.
As FBI Director Robert Mueller has told me, al-Qaida’s goal is to wipe us out with nuclear weapons. The media and liberal politicians will tell you it’s an accident or a matter of luck that we have not experienced a terrorist attack since 9/11.
They are dead wrong.
On Thanksgiving, we can enjoy our turkey and cranberry sauce in safety thanks to the sweeping changes Bush instigated in the intelligence community and the work of the FBI, the CIA, and our military under Bush’s direction.
Bush made the FBI become more prevention-oriented. In 2005, he established the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Va., where 200 analysts from the CIA and FBI sit side by side analyzing threats 24 hours a day.
Secure video conferences three times a day include representatives from all parts of the intelligence community and the White House analyzing threats and parceling out leads.
Bush’s Patriot Act tore down the so-called wall that Attorney General Janet Reno imposed, a wall that prevented FBI agents from sharing information with each other and with the CIA.
The act, much-maligned in the media, allowed the FBI to wiretap terrorists, regardless of what phones they happen to use, as the FBI already did in organized crime cases.
The National Security Agency (NSA) intercepts that Bush ordered opened a window for the FBI on terrorist activity within the U.S.
Since 9/11, the FBI, the CIA, and the military have rolled up about 5,000 terrorists worldwide. Every few months, the FBI announces new arrests of terrorists. Thus, many plots are never hatched because terrorists have been killed, arrested, or sent back to their own countries and imprisoned.
For all the talk about Bush excesses, the fact is that no abuse — meaning an illegal act for political or improper purposes — has been found.
Instead of hailing the efforts to connect the dots, the media demonize those who are trying to protect us, portraying the tools that uncover clues to plots as “spying on innocent Americans.” When a plot is quashed, the media minimize it, relegating arrests to newspapers’ back pages.
The media have even managed to portray Saddam Hussein as benign. But as revealed in my book, "The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack," during seven months of secret debriefings, Hussein admitted to FBI agent George Piro that when he was deposed, he was planning to resume his weapons of mass destruction program, including developing nuclear weapons, within a year.
Many in the mainstream media could not bear to admit that Bush had done something right, and few newspapers ran the story.
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When the media and politicians run out of ways to deny Bush credit for making us safer, they will claim that al-Qaida has chosen to space out its attacks. But al-Qaida’s attempt to blow up nine American airliners crossing the Atlantic in 2006 is a reminder that al-Qaida is constantly on the attack.
As outlined in the Nov. 24 Newsmax story "Obama Faces High Risk of Terrorist Attack," from now through Barack Obama’s first year in office, we face the strong possibility of another attempted attack.
In my view, Bush’s tight press policy, especially early on, was one of his greatest mistakes. It contributed to the media’s hostility toward him, helping to propagate myths about him and the war on terror and ultimately undermining his agenda.
Yet in the sweep of history, Bush will be remembered for one thing: For more than seven years after 9/11, he prevented another terrorist attack.
Just as Ronald Reagan was portrayed in the media as a fool and is now recognized for having been instrumental in ending the Cold War, I believe Bush one day will be seen as a great president.
On Thanksgiving, he deserves our appreciation.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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