Six years ago three thousand Americans lost their lives. They need not have. Their deaths could have been prevented. Their lives could have been saved.

The Bush administration was warned months before 9/11 that terrorists were going to attack America. They did nothing. They have yet to be held accountable for the preventable loss of American lives. Yet the administration blames its critics for not understanding the terrorist threat.

The perpetrator of those American deaths is still at large and the war to eliminate those who harbored him threatens to drag on inconclusively for many years. Instead, administration operatives, with the approval of their masters, find it convenient to use him to create fear, and therefore justify their positions of power.

The United States has suffered more than 30,000 casualties in another war that had nothing to do with those attacks. This folly is producing more haters of America than it can ever possibly eliminate.

The backbone of domestic security, the National Guard, is deployed in that war and is thus not at home being trained, equipped, and deployed to protect America.

The consolidation of federal border protection and attack response in a single agency did not begin until at least 18 months after it was proposed and, six years later, it has proved to be woefully inadequate, in large part because those responsible for its administration possess a political philosophy that does not believe government can or should be effective. And they use every occasion to prove it.

The U.S. is currently pursuing a foreign policy in the Middle East and throughout the Arab world that is dementedly designed to promote a clash of civilizations. When this policy produces further attacks, our current policy makers will respond that this is what to expect from those who hate America and only tough-minded conservatives know how to deal with them.

Those who claim to understand terrorism and the use of force, meanwhile, have so exhausted our combat forces that our true national security is greatly at risk and our nation is weakened.

This administration stands indicted for incompetence and mendacity. That it still commands the loyalty of even a quarter of our fellow citizens is testament to the persistence of willful ignorance. Against all the facts assembled in this indictment, that the administration's operatives can still make claims on strength, security, and determination is chutzpah on stilts.

That the media still treat these operatives and spokespersons, and indeed the president himself, seriously is witness to their desire for "access" and "sources" rather than their commitment to the truth.

America is today under the steady gaze of billions of the world's citizens and even more under the examining lens of history. Nothing is more difficult than to admit that we made a tragic mistake in selecting our leaders. But that is the first step toward redemption. Absolute rejection of those who lay claim to ownership of security is the next.

We are too old to behave as adolescents any longer. That includes particularly our president. America must grow up. We must redeem ourselves in the name of those who lost their lives unnecessarily six years ago. We must reclaim our dignity and our honor from those who have neither.