Category Archives: Bush

G.W. Bush–The Foolish Rewrite

Bush-Library-3The rehabilitation of G.W. Bush this past week requires participation of very, very gullible people with bad memories. Worst-best ratings, and polls aside, G.W. Bush took the United States to war on fraudulent grounds.

To this hour, too many Americans accept the incessantly repeated phrase about Iraq — “he was acting on the best available intelligence at the time.”

That is not true, mightily disproved, for instance, in my book, The Italian Letter, which I wrote with my colleague Knut Royce. We show, quoting officials by name, that Bush’s 16 words uttered in his 2003 State of the Union message were a lie:  “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .” I later summarized the case in the Washington Post.

Bush and his former aides have been on the hustings once more during the period leading up to inauguration of the George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. They had the same talking points, praising Bush because he “made decisions…presidential decisions.”  The tautology must be a joke. Of course he made decisions,  indeed, presidential decisions, because he was president.

But the decisions were wrong. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost or changed, one trillion dollars gone, those were the results of presidential decisions. The stupidity of it all and the presidential civility of the week were well-covered  by Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

Harsh but apt words for “the decider,” including an assessment in the MSNBC story from Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff for then-secretary of state Colin Powell. The retired colonel is one of the sources for The Italian Letter. Wilkerson, along the way, casts as much blame on the American people, for succumbing to apathy. He finds that nothing has changed.

We may be doomed, thinking of George Santayana, not only failing to learn from history, but disinterested and badly informed as others produce a fake rewrite.

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Filed under 1, Bush, Journalism, Obama, Politics, Republicans, State of the Union

Torture and US

Almost lost in the news is a report  from a blue-ribbon bipartisan Constitution Project commission that states bluntly that the U.S. government has conducted torture in violation of law.

The commission found there is “indisputable” evidence that U.S. government officials bear responsibility for mistreatment of detainees. Members reached unanimous consent on their findings, although they were stonewalled in receiving some official documents and full interviews with officials of the administration of George W. Bush. The committee includes Democratic and Republican former lawmakers, jurists, academics and retired and decorated high-ranking military officials. They cannot be dismissed on political grounds.

The commission said in a 560-page report:

“U.S. Forces, in many instances, used interrogation techniques on detainees that constitute torture. American personnel conducted an even larger number of interrogations that involved ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading  treatment.’  Both categories of actions violate U.S. laws and international treaties. Such conduct was directly counter to the values of the Constitution and our nation.”

Among other things, the report debunks the notion that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” — the euphemism for torture — obtain useful information. The report concludes:

“The nation’s most senior officials … bear ultimate responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of illegal and improper interrogation techniques used by some US personnel on detainees in several theaters.”

The commission was hampered by the lack of subpoena power to get to the bottom of the systematic decision during the Bush administration to torture detainees. The commission says authorization of subpoenas should be the next step, a step that might lead to something akin to what many people have advocated for years — a Truth Commission.

Here’s what the organization Human Rights said about the commission report:

“The American people deserve a full accounting of the torture conducted in their name…The work of this private, bipartisan commission sends a clear message that full disclosure is an issue of great importance to all Americans, no matter their political leanings.”

Will Americans demand accounting or will they be complacent to the techniques of torture practiced in their name?

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Filed under Afghanistan, Bush, Intelligence, Obama, Politics

A Vision Test on Iraq and the Media. Choose A or B

Here are two competing visions of the media handling of the war in Iraq

This is the way it works at the eye doctor. He holds letters in front of your eyes and asks you to choose. The answer gets better and better, hopefully vision more and more clear.

Choose A….

This is a piece by Greg Mitchell, substantially published by The Nation, after being spiked by the Washington Post

For awhile, back in 2003, Iraq meant never having to say you’re sorry.  The spring offensive had produced a victory in less than three weeks, with a relatively low American and Iraqi civilian death toll.  Saddam fled and George W. Bush and his team drew overwhelming praise, at least here at home.

But wait.  Where were the crowds greeting us as “liberators”?  Why were the Iraqis now shooting at each other–and blowing up our soldiers?  And where were those WMDs, bio-chem labs, and nuclear materials?  Most Americans still backed the invasion, so it still too early for mea culpas–it was more “my sad” than “my bad.”

or B

A story by Paul Fahri published on the Opinion Pages

There’s no doubt that many news organizations, including this one, missed important stories, underplayed others that were skeptical of the administration’s case and acted too deferentially to those in power. A few instances — such as the New York Times’ September 2002 report hyping Iraq’s aluminum tubes as evidence of a reconstituted nuclear program — have become infamous. The Times and The Washington Post have publicly examinedand admitted their shortcomings.

But “failure” grossly oversimplifies what the media did and didn’t do before the war, and it ignores important reasons the reporting turned out the way it did. As new threats loom, from Iran to North Korea, better understanding these circumstances can help us assess what happened and whether we’re better positioned today.

Can they both be right? I don’t think so. Somebody will need new glasses.

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Filed under Bush, Journalism, Middle East, Politics

McCain and Graham: Hypocrisy Over Benghazi and Susan Rice

Humor always wins out over outrage. Case in point is the blatantly political, obnoxious campaign by Republicans to blame Susan Rice for screw-ups in Benghazi. To understand the context, once and for all, turn to Jon Stewart who makes concise points about senators McCain and Graham, along with another politician named Rice — Condoleezza Rice. More than concise, he demolishes them. (Watch Episode Here)

–In 2002, Condoleezza Rice declared that Iraq is importing aluminum tubes “that can only be used” for enriching uranium and making a bomb.

–Unlike Susan Rice, Condoleezza Rice knew that she was lying about Iraq, and like other members of the Bush administration blames bad information from the CIA. That excuse is exactly what senators McCain and Graham are using to criticize Susan Rice, who is in a far less authoritative position than Condoleezza Rice was 10 years ago.

–Jon Stewart also plays clips of McCain and Graham defending Condoleezza.

The report is so clear and crisp as to melt McCain and Graham in their own hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, let’s be serious, the wing-nut Republicans are just trying to force the president to choose Senator John Kerry as secretary of state, thereby opening a senate seat they believe that defeated senator Scott Brown might reclaim in a special election. Nobody says it as clearly or as concisely as the humorist main man, Mr. Stewart.

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Filed under Bush, Condi Rice, Journalism, Obama, Politics, Politics

A Vote Against Cynicism, despite Rove, Scott and Husted

I suspect that I am not alone among voters in the United States who tear up a bit (President Obama also was emotional at his final rally in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday night) waiting in line to vote for the President of the United States.

Voting for president is a rare memorable privilege. I have a friend in New York City whose name is Alex Imich. Alex is 109 years old. Even though Alex first voted probably in the 1960s, he has still voted for president more times than I have.

He came to the United States after World War II, having survived the Nazis and the Gulag. He voted proudly in 2008 for Barack Obama. I haven’t spoken to him for a year, but if he’s able I have no doubt that he will do the same this year.

There are people in this land who disdain the system that makes me proud.

Three, for example:
–Karl Christian Rove, friend of a former president named George Walker Bush and the handler of millions of dollars in the name of voter manipulation;

–Richard Lynn “Rick” Scott, the governor of Florida, coincidentally also friend and former business partner of same said George Walker Bush. Scott has done everything possible to block Floridians from voting in a reliable way. Once again, voting in Florida, my former home state, exists somewhere between an embarrassment and a sick laughing stock;

–Jon A. Husted (somebody help me on his middle name), the secretary of state of the State of Ohio, who appears to travel in the same circles. Husted, operating on Rove-ian principles, has fought the rights of people in Ohio to vote quickly and easily.

I have no idea what moves these men as they willfully and cynically do everything possible to manipulate, suppress and block people from voting?

Theories ? They might say that the system is flawed and they have to represent the interests they believe in; or they might say that everybody does it, and why shouldn’t they? But to me, they come across as sad miserable wretches.

I’m going out to vote.

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Filed under 1, Bush, Elections, Obama, Politics

Israel’s Show and Tell on Iran–Could be as wrong as Colin Powell’s claims on Iraq

Ten years after Colin Powell sold a war to Americans and the world on a fake premise — that Iraq was on the verge of having nuclear weapons, it just could be that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the same market. The linkage ten years apart is a campaign to wage preemptive wars — perpetrated by the same alliance of neoconservatives.

Netanyahu appeared before the UN General Assembly in late September and, armed with a cartoon-like bomb diagram, said that Iran is within months of the point of no return–having nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu at the UN

Is that true? Or are the purveyors of agitprop at work again.

A dispatch from Reuters quotes intelligence analysts and nuclear specialists as saying Iran could be years, not months from being able to produce and deliver a nuclear bomb.

(Reuters) – Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium for several atomic bombs if refined to a high degree but it may still be a few years away from being able to build a nuclear-armed missile if it decided to go down that path.

Israel’s warning last week that Iran will be on the brink of developing a nuclear weapon by mid-2013 seemed to refer to when it could have a sufficient stock of higher-grade uranium to make a quick dash to produce a bomb’s worth of weapon-grade material.

But, analysts say, Tehran would need time also for the technologically complicated task of fashioning highly refined uranium gas into a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a missile – if it opts for such weapons of mass destruction.

What if the same people who brought us the war in Iraq — some of whom actually still cling to the empty notion that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction — now are at their dangerous hi-jinks once again?

Propaganda is powerful business and so is manipulation of popular opinion. A large percentage of Americans still believe that:

–Iraq was responsible for the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon;
–Iraq was close to building a nuclear weapon in 2002;
–The United States acted in Iraq “based on the best available intelligence at the time.”

These are all lies.

Now, because Iran appears to be the enemy du jour, a sales campaign is underway to push public opinion toward the need for quick action against Iran. When will we learn? And will a new Obama administration follow through on diplomacy and neutralize the purveyors of lies?

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Filed under 1, Bush, Condi Rice, Intelligence, Middle East, Obama

Republicans and Voter Fraud: “We have met the enemy and they are us”

The Republican Party in Florida now faces a voter fraud scandal in the key error/hanging chad/fraud-prone state of Florida.

The Florida Republican Party has fired a consulting firm — run by a controversial Republican strategist — after the firm submitted more than 100 questionable voter registrations in Palm Beach County. That county was precisely where in 2000 controversial ballots and hanging chads led to George W. Bush’s election by the Supreme Court, not by popular or electoral vote.

An Associated Press story reported today:

The Republican Party of Florida used Virginia-based Strategic Allied Consulting to help register and turnout voters in Florida, one of a shrinking handful of states President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are contesting.
The Florida state party had paid the firm more than $1.3 million so far, and the Republican National Committee used the group for almost $3 million of work in Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia.
“We have zero tolerance for any threat to the integrity of elections. When we were informed of an alleged incident we immediately cut all ties to the company,” RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer said.
The state party similarly sought to distance itself from the firm and its main operative, Nathan Sproul.

Sproul, a well-known right-wing activist from Arizona, has worked with the Republican Party in other key states and has faced controversy before.

Ironically, the GOP has marshaled a series of efforts — almost always in swing states — across the country to demand voter id’s, with the claim that fraud is rampant. That is not true. The nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. The center’s analysis has reported that “Fraud by individual voters is both irrational and extremely rare.”

Interesting case — now Republicans can argue that cases of voter fraud are increasing — the 100 questioned registrations are more than the number of challenged voter fraud cases across the United States in the last 10 years. A fitting aphorism: “We have met the enemy and they are us.”

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