On her MSNBC program, Rachel Maddow took on the hypocrisy of a Republican congressional leadership that talks tough on national security but is risking giving al-Qaeda nuclear weapons with their budget cuts. Maddow said, “Republicans really have proposed making it $500 million easier for terrorists to get nuclear material.”
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Maddow began, “There is a long, dirty history in American politics of using terrifying threats about terrorism to pursue some other totally unrelated political goal. She cited Rush Limbaugh claiming that a “Ground Zero Mosque” is a victory for the terrorists, Jim DeMint claiming that unionized TSA screeners is a victory for terrorists, and George W. Bush saying in 2006 that a vote for Democrats is victory for the terrorists. She then discussed how Republicans upped the ante by using the threat of a mushroom cloud to justify and scare the nation into supporting the Iraq invasion.
She pointed out that there is a small US agency that is charge of locking down loose nuclear material, “America’s fear mongering history about the nuclear end of the world is kind of too bad because it is not fear mongering to talk about the nuclear end of the world if you are actually working directly to stop the nuclear end of the world. That is the job of one part of the United States government. It’s an obscure office in the Department of Energy called the National Nuclear Security Administration. They lock down unprotected loose nuclear material around the world to keep it off the black market and out of terrorist hands, which without being hysterical about it, does seem like an important job when you consider that groups like al Qaeda have said over and over again they want to buy nuclear material so they could use it in a terrorist attack and there is evidence they have tried to buy it on the black market.”
Rachel Maddow continued, “There is part of the US government that finds the most vulnerable nuclear material in the world and secures it, so if you’re worried about this sort of thing the appropriate response is, good I’m glad we’re doing that. After that agency locked down 111 pounds of nuclear material in Ukraine around Christmas time we hosted the head of the nuclear administration here on this show and christened him the undersecretary for saving the world.”
The MSNBC host highlighted the GOP’s proposed budget that would jeopardize national security, “Now the Republicans in Congress want to strip the funding for that agency. Even though they said they wouldn’t make any national security cuts, they want to cut $550 million from the agency that locks down unprotected loose nuclear material to keep it off the black market around the world which means that for what may be the first time in US history an ad that starts this way is actually true and is not fear mongering. ‘What I am about to tell you sounds crazy but it’s true. Speaker John Boehner is making it easier for terrorists to get nuclear weapons.’”
Rachel Maddow continued, “Sounds crazy? Also true. It sounds like a generic be afraid ad from the Bush administration era. In this case, Republicans really have proposed making it $500 million easier for terrorists to get nuclear material. That was the first line of a new ad voiced by retired Lieutenant General Robert Gard part of a counter proliferation group running these ads against the nuke terrorism cuts in key congressional districts.”
After playing the ad, Maddow said, “The ads are targeting not just John Boehner, but Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Hal Rogers and Thad Cochran, all elected Republicans who are supporting this big cut. This big cut to the part of the US government that actually works on that whole smoking mushroom cloud problem instead of just freaking you out about it to accomplish some other unrelated political thing. We do not have a word in the English language that means the opposite of fear mongering but if we ever do have that word, this will be the example next to that word in the political science dictionary.”
In this case it is appropriate to use the past decade of Republican rhetoric against them. Republican congressional leaders are literally jeopardizing the nation’s security in order to shave $500 million off of the budget, in an ideological attack on what they consider to be big government. This is more evidence that the Republican Party has now moved so far to the right side of the political spectrum that they view all federal government as big government, even when that agency is performing a function that is vital to national security.
Unlike the GOP claims of mushroom clouds over America that were used to justify invading Iraq, the threat of al-Qaeda getting nuclear material/weapons and deploying them somewhere in the world is very real. It is one of their stated goals. The hypocrisy is that these same Republicans who puff out their chests and talk tough about keeping America safe are the same individuals who stand poised to sacrifice national security on the alter right wing ideological purity.
The same John Boehner who once said, “During the 1990s, world leaders looked at the mounting threat of terrorism, looked up, looked away, and hoped the problem would go away,” is now poised to look the threat of a nuclear enabled al-Qaeda in the eye, and aid in furthering their goal of carrying out a catastrophic nuclear attack.
Of course, we shouldn’t really be surprised, because Mitch McConnell took the same not my job attitude towards capturing Bin Laden during the Clinton administration, “Domestic terrorism is not a cause we have to fight or a project we need to fund. We are not interested in capturing bin Laden. Even though he has been offered to us. We are not the world’s policemen. It’s not our job to clean up other countries messes or arrest its bad guys.”
The conclusion to be drawn here is that Republican views on national security are malleable and wholly contingent on whether not they control the White House. It is this kind of valueless shape shifting that leads many Americans especially those on the left to speculate that Republicans are intentionally trying to make America less safe in order to undermine the Obama administration.
It isn’t like they haven’t used national security as a political weapon before, or must we be reminded of the elevated terror alert levels before the elections of 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008?By their own actions, Republicans have given credibility to the perception that they treat national security as a means to an electoral end.
The consequences of allowing Republican neglect and nonchalance about national security to go unchecked could be, to use the language of the GOP, a mushroom cloud over New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. or some city in between.
This is why Republican incompetence must be stopped before it enables the realization of al-Qaeda’s nuclear ambitions and dreams.