Former President George W. Bush has been popping up a lot in the news lately, thanks mostly to a random and cheerful appearance on The Tonight Show and the slow reveal of his late-in-life hobby of creating so-bad-they're-charming paintings of domesticated animals. Awwww, it's all so cute coming from the same politician who falsified information and coerced us into a war that claimed the lives of 4,489 U.S. soldiers and upward of half a million Iraqi civilians.
Oh, man. Sorry if the second half of that sentence rained on the George W. Bush Puppy and Kitten parade (which has resulted in some conflicting emotions) that's been happening lately, but it's important to remember this very important fact: At his worst, George W. Bush is the war criminal who — in addition to his war crimes — shat on abortion and gay rights, botched hurricane relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and drove the U.S. economy into the ground.
At his best? He is an noted asshole who made a bunch of fucked up cat paintings.
Just in case he's somehow managed to win you over with this bullshit, let's go back in time and remember all of the reasons George Bush was one of the most terrible things to ever happen to the United States and to the entire world. Don't look so sad! It'll be like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, only instead of visiting 15th century England to flirt with mega babes, we'll be revisiting 2001 to examine the epic fuck-ups that led to 9/11.
Speaking of 9/11...
By now, the August 6, 2001 presidential daily brief headlined "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." is infamous. Ignored by the people in charge, the brief contained information that warned of an attack much like the one that happened just over a month later on September 11.
In response to probing by the 9/11 Commission in 2004, the Bush administration released the brief, defending that it contained merely an assessment of Al Qaeda's history and no information that could have prevented the attack that was to come. For years, the Bush administration's response was deemed acceptable. Then, in 2012, a different previously-withheld brief was released to a select few that proved the administration's knowledge of the threat of Al Qaeda actually went much deeper than previously thought.
From Kurt Eichenwald at the New York Times:
While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration's reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that "a group presently in the United States" was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be "imminent," although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives' suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.
In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.
That revelation puts his cutesy interview with Leno in a whole new light.
Talking to the host about his favorite features of the new George W. Bush Presidential Library, Bush remarked, "We've got a museum there. I think the cornerstone of the museum is the 9/11 exhibit — really important to remind our country that evil does exist and that the human condition elsewhere matters to our national security."
It must be nice to be able to rewrite history like that. Really, George Bush's ability to deny his own responsibility in 9/11 with a straight face is more impressive than any skill he showed off during his 8-year presidency. (Side note for Mr. Bush: We don't really need a reminder that evil exists when we're looking at you.)
Now, about that whole "human condition elsewhere" thing...
Let's talk about Iraq and George Bush's war crimes.
Here's a thorough timeline of all the lies told by the Bush administration to con us into the war in Iraq, perhaps the most blatant of which involved bullying Hans Blix and the United Nations out of the country before they could determine whether or not it housed weapons of mass destruction. As we all knew (then and now), there were no WMDs in Iraq, but that didn't stop Bush's war campaign and hundreds of thousands have paid with their lives.
In 2013, an Iraqi woman made waves when she filed a lawsuit charging the Bush administration with war crimes and with violating the terms set by the Nuremberg Trials. The Department of Justice ended up pursuing immunity for the administration by citing the Westfall Act, a law that protects government employees from being sued for any criminal activity that happens "within the scope of their employment," and the woman's lawsuit, while far from over, will be an uphill struggle. Still, hers was not the first of its kind. Bush was forced to cancel a 2011 trip to Switzerland when activists planned to file a criminal complaint against the former president for his continued endorsement of torture (specifically at Abu Ghraib) during war time.
(By the way, President Obama has received his share of war crime accusations as well. Welcome to the game of life! Everybody's a loser!)
Still, Bush's worst offense in the wake of Hurricane Katrina wasn't simply complimenting the skills of FEMA Director Michael Brown, who — by the way — was not doing a heck of a job. The federal government also failed to wave the Stafford Act (which requires cities and towns to pay for 10% of any clean-up in the wake of a natural disaster) for localities effected by the storm, unfairly shifted blame for the extent of damage to local governments and repeatedly got in the way of rescue workers attempting to help. Read all about it.
Honestly, there is so much other proof that George Bush is a terrible, nightmare person, but cataloging it would take ages and I would like to get back to writing about dumb-yet-innocuous celebrities. The point is this: Whatever kind of crafting he's getting up to, George Bush is not a harmless and adorable, sweet old man. On the contrary — he is incredibly harmful and a collection of bad paintings doesn't change anything.
Fuck George Bush and fuck his piece of shit cat paintings. My 10-month-old sister makes better art than that.