When asked about George W. Bush’s greatest achievement, Bush hagiographers are quick to claim that “He kept us safe.” And when we ponder that sentiment, we can only wonder at the human capacity for self-delusion, especially when it was on Bush’s watch that the U.S. suffered the worst attack on its soil since Pearl Harbor.
It’s true that the U.S. was not attacked on its soil AGAIN (by foreign terrorists) since September 11, 2001 (and December 22, 2001 when British-born terrorist Richard Reid attempted to detonate a shoe bomb on AA flight 63 from Paris to Miami), but if you want to give Bush credit for that you must give Bill Clinton even more credit. It was just over a month after Clinton’s inauguration when terrorists bombed the subterranean garage of the World Trade Center, killing six and injuring more than 1,000. Yet not only did Clinton’s Justice Department capture, try, and convict the culprits, Clinton kept the U.S. safe from foreign terrorists (on U.S. soil) for the remainder of his two terms.
Over the eight years under President Clinton approximately 101 Americans (military and/or civilian) were killed and 1,219 wounded by foreign terrorists or fighters either on U.S. soil or “in theater” during a military deployment.
Contrast that with President Bush. Under his leadership, more than 7,077 Americans (military and/or civilian) were killed and 40,030 wounded by foreign terrorists or fighters either on U.S. soil or “in theater” during military operations. These 47,107 casualties don’t include non-hostile deaths of deployed troops (another 1,050), nor do they include the thousands of cases of PTSD and other long-term after-effects of multiple deployments.
So when you hear “at least Bush kept us safe,” keep in mind that you can’t be considered safe… if you’re maimed or dead.
Sources and Related
Note: The numbers of killed and wounded used for this BushToll nugget are assembled mainly from official reports and news sources. I welcome corrections and additions.
Casualties by Military Service Component, October 7, 2001 Through January 24, 2009, Defense Manpower Data Center Data, Analysis and Programs Division www.dmdc.osd.mil/dcas/pages/casualties.xhtml Now links to new data portal instead of individual document
Opposing view: Bush kept U.S. safe, guided nation through turbulent sea WARNING: This article is NOT satirical. Alternate link
Updated: 2/4/2009 to clarify: After 9/11 the U.S. was not attacked on its soil AGAIN (by foreign terrorists). I apologize if that was not clear in the original version. Ed.
Updated: 1/8/2010 to clarify: On December 22, 2001, the so-called “shoe-bomber” Richard Reid attempted but failed to bring down AA flight 63 from Paris to Miami in an attack strongly paralleled by the Christmas 2010 attempt by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to detonate chemicals allegedly hidden in his underwear.
Updated 1/6/2013: Unfortunately, several PDF sources on government sites have been reported as infected with malware. To keep Bushtoll from being blacklisted, I’ve had to delist some documents on very short notice. Ed.