Saturday, June 28, 2003
Pinter blasts 'Nazi America' and 'deluded idiot' Blair by Angelique Chrisafis and Imogen Tilden
The playwright Harold Pinter last night likened George W Bush's administration to Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, saying the US was charging towards world domination while the American public and Britain's "mass-murdering" prime minister sat back and watched.
Pinter blamed "millions of totally deluded American people" for not staging a mass revolt.
He said that because of propaganda and control of the media, millions of Americans believed that every word Mr Bush said was "accurate and moral".
The US population could not be let off scot-free for putting the country under the control of an "illegally elected president - in other words, a fake".
He asked: "What objections have there been in the US to Guantanamo Bay? At this very moment there are 700 people chained, padlocked, handcuffed, hooded and treated like animals. It is actually a concentration camp.
"I haven't heard anything about the US population saying: 'We can't do this, we are Americans.'
Bush's lies threaten all of humanity by Ed Tant
While Bill Clinton lied about an idiotic affair with an Oval Office intern, George W. Bush has long misled the American people with years of deceit about such life or death issues as war and the environment. If Ronald Reagan was called ''the great communicator'' George W. Bush should be called ''the great prevaricator.''
While American soldiers continue to die daily on the sandy soil of Iraq, Mr. Bush struts and swaggers on the world stage, claiming victory and hoping that voters will forget that it was the administration of Ronald Reagan and George Bush the elder that propped up and encouraged Saddam Hussein in the first place during the 1980s when Iraq was fighting a bloody war against Iran. Every day another American military man or woman is killed in Iraq while both Republicans and Democrats now say that U.S. occupation of that country could go on for another five or even 10 years. Soldiers die while the Bush League lies.
Congress and the American people finally are beginning to raise serious questions about the credibility of the case the Bush administration made against Iraq in the weeks leading up to war. At the very least, the president and other top officials grossly exaggerated the immediate threat posed by Hussein's regime. Claims about Iraq's purported nuclear weapons program and links to al-Qaida were based on transparently phony documentation. And while the search for chemical and biological weapons continues, it already is clear that the White House's specific claims about the scope and location of those weapons have not been borne out.
A scrupulous investigation into charges that the Bush administration intentionally distorted intelligence to fit its political purposes in Iraq should continue. Our government's credibility depends on it. At the same time, though, Americans should be asking similar questions about the credibility of the Bush administration's ongoing postwar effort. Even on its own terms, the White House has shown little of the patience, foresight and flexibility that will be required for the long-term job of building a peaceful, stable Iraq. It is a far more complex task than the one the White House set for itself in Afghanistan, where the government of President Hamid Karzai and his U.S. protectors have made little progress in curbing the power of regional warlords, Taliban loyalists and other enemies of peace.
Experts Question Depth of Victory by Thomas E. Ricks
The wave of more sophisticated attacks on U.S. troops and civilian occupation forces in Iraq is raising new worries among military experts that the 21-day war that ended in April was an incomplete victory that defeated Saddam Hussein's military but not his Baath political party.
Neutralizing Baathist resistance is proving to be a more difficult job than the Pentagon calculated, and the continuing violence is becoming an embarrassment, one U.S. official in Baghdad said.
A Special Operations soldier was killed by hostile fire in the southwest part of Baghdad yesterday. In another ambush, a Chevrolet Suburban belonging to the U.S. civilian occupation authority was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while en route to the Baghdad airport. Army Humvees have been attacked on that road before, but this apparently was the first time a civilian vehicle had been hit, indicating a new form of targeting in anti-American attacks.
Is it possible that he really believes this?
Bush was just plain wrong on Iraq by Andrew Greeley
So the hawks ignored the weakness of the data and argued that we had to get Saddam before he got us. Preemptive war was all right because Saddam was ready, willing and able to work mass destruction on the United States. Now that most of the intelligence that confirmed their faith seems questionable, they are unable to back down and say that maybe they were wrong.
Similarly, they are unable for reasons of faith to admit that they were wrong about Iraqi reaction to our invasion. The Iraqis would dance in the streets and throw flowers at our tanks. Instead, they loot, they shoot at us, and they riot against us. The hawks can't admit that they were wrong on this subject, either.
So I do not believe that the deception was deliberate. They did not intend to lie to the American people. Rather, they wanted to prove to the American people that they were right, with little respect for the poor quality of their data.
The point is that, however sincere they were, they did deceive. They were just plain wrong. The president was just plain wrong. People who make such terrible mistakes should not be retained in office. In large corporations, officials who make similar errors in judgment are discarded (usually with a fat purse in their pocket). The whole chicken-hawk cabal should be swept out of office. In American politics, this is usually accomplished by congressional investigation. However, given the Bush administration's propensity to stonewall and cover up and the pro-administration bias of much of the media, full-scale investigation is unlikely. Despite token movements in that direction, the mantra ''national security'' will be invoked to prevent investigation. Just now the federal government can do almost anything it wants.
Now there's a comforting thought.
The Imperial Presidency Redux by Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
The weapons-of-mass-destruction issue -- where are they? -- will not subside and disappear, as the administration supposes (and hopes).
The issue will build because many Americans do not like to be manipulated and deceived.
It will build because elements in Congress and in the media will wish to regain their honor and demonstrate their liberation from Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld.
It will build because of growing interest in the parallel British inquiries by committees of the House of Commons. Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, formulated the charge with precision: "Instead of using intelligence as evidence on which to base a decision about policy, we used intelligence as the basis on which to justify a policy on which we had already settled."
And the WMD issue will build because hyped intelligence produces a credibility gap. The credibility gap is likely to undermine the Bush doctrine and block the radical transformation of U.S. strategy to which the Bush administration is dedicated.
Friday, June 27, 2003
We went to war under false circumstances by Norman Read
The Bush government's PR strategy is admirable in that it is breathtakingly bold. It depends to a high degree on adaptability, and it shows a high dependence on flexibility. These are the qualities that made the successful early armored thrusts of the German army so distinctive in World War II.
Rather than construct set-piece PR campaigns, the Bush government notion is to throw a number of tactics at the wall, see what sticks and go with that. If the facts aren't there, it doesn't matter. Shout them down. If confronted with obvious evidence that the facts don't support their assertions, throw the assertions themselves into the memory hole and attempt to change the original assertions.
Those of us with functioning memories can go all the way back to fall of 2002 and remember that the Bush government repeatedly stated that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States because of its weapons of mass destruction and only war could end its threat to these shores.
Are we up to it?
I can't put red stars by all of these items, but you should read this one too.
10 Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq by Christopher Scheer
Today, more than three months after Bush's stirring declaration of war and nearly two months since he declared victory, no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons have been found, nor any documentation of their existence, nor any sign they were deployed in the field.
The mainstream press, after an astonishing two years of cowardice, is belatedly drawing attention to the unconscionable level of administrative deception. They seem surprised to find that when it comes to Iraq, the Bush administration isn't prone to the occasional lie of expediency but, in fact, almost never told the truth.
What follows are just the most outrageous and significant of the dozens of outright lies uttered by Bush and his top officials over the past year in what amounts to a systematic campaign to scare the bejeezus out of everybody.
This article lays it all out. If only someone were interested.
Administration has a credibility problem on war
Truth is the first casualty in any war. And the war with Iraq has been no exception. From the weapons of mass destruction that were used to justify the war to Iraq's connection to al-Qaida to the capture and rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the information given to the American public about the war by the government has turned out to be less than truthful.
Some confusion stemming from the chaos of battle and murky intelligence gathered in distant, hostile places is understandable. But the Bush administration has pushed the limits of its credibility by repeatedly making statements that don't stand up over time.
The truth about some elements of the war, such as the fate of Saddam Hussein, may be a long time in coming. But in the short term, the government should come clean on what it did and didn't know about the Iraqi dictator's weaponry and his affiliation with al-Qaida before launching its preemptive war in March.
Bush’s Iraqi Albatross by Sam Parry
Now, as Bush’s pre-war assertions about weapons of mass destruction are failing to match the reality that the U.S. troops are finding on the ground, Bush and his top aides have lashed out at critics for engaging in "historical revisionism." Increasingly, Bush is looking like a politician who just won’t accept responsibility for his actions and will say or do anything to stay in office. [For details about the Iraq exaggerations, see Consortiumnews.com’s Bush & the End of Reason.]
On domestic policy, Bush has left a lengthening trail of broken campaign promises. For instance, he had vowed to pay off the national debt while still affording tax cuts and claiming to set aside $1 trillion of the surplus for unforeseen calamities.
Now, Bush’s $3 trillion in tax cuts and the struggling economy are pushing the federal government deeper and deeper into the red. This year’s budget is expected to run a record deficit of between $400 billion and $500 billion, with future deficits soaring to $600 billion. Rather than paying off the nation’s debt, Bush is passing on a vault of IOUs to future generations. In the next decade, Americans may be faced with the painful choice of savaging Social Security or accepting status as a kind of super banana republic.
Toward One-Party Rule by Paul Krugman
Lobbying jobs are a major source of patronage — a reward for the loyal. More important, however, many lobbyists now owe their primary loyalty to the party, rather than to the industries they represent. So corporate cash, once split more or less evenly between the parties, increasingly flows in only one direction.
And corporations themselves are also increasingly part of the party machine. They are rewarded with policies that increase their profits: deregulation, privatization of government services, elimination of environmental rules. In return, like G.M. and Verizon, they use their influence to support the ruling party's agenda.
As a result, campaign finance is only the tip of the iceberg. Next year, George W. Bush will spend two or three times as much money as his opponent; but he will also benefit hugely from the indirect support that corporate interests — very much including media companies — will provide for his political message.
Naturally, Republican politicians deny the existence of their burgeoning machine. "It never ceases to amaze me that people are so cynical they want to tie money to issues, money to bills, money to amendments," says Mr. DeLay. And Ari Fleischer says that "I think that the amount of money that candidates raise in our democracy is a reflection of the amount of support they have around the country." Enough said.
Evidently, the dismantling of our democracy is almost complete.
The Man With No Ear by Nicholas D. Kristof
Hawks need to wrestle with the reckless exaggerations of intelligence that were used to mislead the American public. Instead, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared Tuesday, "I don't know anybody in any government or any intelligence agency who suggested that the Iraqis had nuclear weapons."
Let me help. Mr. Rumsfeld, meet George Tenet, director of central intelligence, who immediately before the Congressional vote on Iraq last October issued a report asserting: "Most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program." Meet Vice President Dick Cheney, who said about Saddam on March 16: "We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
'Enemy Combatants' Cast Into a Constitutional Hell by Andrew P. Napolitano
The president — using standards not legislated by Congress, not approved by any court and never made known to the public — has claimed the right to incarcerate enemy combatants until the war on terrorism is over. But when will that be?
The president has also floated a plan to try enemy combatants before secret panels of American soldiers whenever he wants to — such as in Cuba, where he claims the U.S. Constitution doesn't apply.
What's going on here? An end run around the Constitution.
And where's the defense?
Bush's jive act on campus diversity by Derrick Z. Jackson
With a two-faced grin on affirmative action, President Bush turned the White House into the Apollo. He put blacks folks on the turntable and spun them into soulful senselessness. On Tuesday Bush celebrated Black Music Month. Surrounded by singers from Harlem, Bush said: ''The artistry of black musicians has conveyed the experience of black Americans throughout our history. From the earliest generations of slaves came music of sorrow and patience, of truth and righteousness, and of faith that shamed the oppressor.''
Bush was as shameless as a disc jockey taking payola to play only certain records. He is becoming a broken record. Five months ago, despite America's history of oppression, Bush took the side of the white students who sued to destroy affirmative action at the University of Michigan. It did not matter that Michigan's affirmative action undergraduate and law school programs had no quotas or that African-Americans were underrepresented at Michigan to start with. Bush reached for the most inflammatory language of affirmative action opponents to justify his position.
The truth about US intelligence by Scot Lehigh
To date there have also been enough allegations to raise serious concerns that intelligence about those weapons was exaggerated and that dissenting opinions were ignored. The most comprehensive journalistic investigation so far, a special report in the June 30 issue of The New Republic, details the disagreements between the executive branch's various intelligence agencies and experts, alleges a campaign to pressure the CIA for damning conclusions, and fleshes out the use of discredited or dubious information to press the case for war.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday The New York Times reported that an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research told federal lawmakers he had been pushed to make his analysis on Iraq (and Cuba) fit the administration's view. Unfortunately, we don't know precisely what was said because both the House and Senate intelligence committees are conducting their reviews of intelligence estimates behind closed doors.
Why? With Saddam gone, concerns about compromising Iraqi sources can easily be accommodated in a public hearing. And besides, the fundamental issue here is about what our own intelligence experts believed based on the information they had, whether those experts were pressured to slant their conclusions, and whether the administration made claims it knew to be false or dubious.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Yeah, about those weapons... by Don Michael
Democrats and folks in general with inquisitive minds are wasting their time trying to convince partisan Republicans that an investigation is in order to determine whether intelligence was hyped, manipulated or in other ways fabricated about the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction that served as America’s impetus to go to war with Iraq.
No such investigation will be warranted in the minds of most Republicans and conservatives until we can find a little sex to throw into it.
Curious about the discrepancies now surfacing between what the country was told by the administration before the war and what we know now? Not them. Curious about the prurient details about how, exactly, a president was involved in dalliances with a young woman? Now that’s important. Otherwise how can we argue over what "sexual relations" means?
Whether or not the United States had bona fide evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (I simply refuse to descend into the WMD lexicon, so get used to it) that we used to justify a war — the most serious action a collective people can make against another sovereign nation — is apparently not important. So what if many of the claims made to the American people are now turning up dubious? Bush didn’t sleep with anyone, did he? How boring.
The First Casualty by John B. Judis & Spencer Ackerman
"What we must not do in the face of a mortal threat," Cheney instructed a Nashville gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August 2002, "is give in to wishful thinking or willful blindness." Cheney's admonition is resonant, but not for the reasons he intended. The Bush administration displayed an acute case of willful blindness in making its case for war. Much of its evidence for a reconstituted nuclear program, a thriving chemical-biological development program, and an active Iraqi link with Al Qaeda was based on what intelligence analysts call "rumint." Says one former official with the National Security Council, "It was a classic case of rumint, rumor-intelligence plugged into various speeches and accepted as gospel."
In some cases, the administration may have deliberately lied. If Bush didn't know the purported uranium deal between Iraq and Niger was a hoax, plenty of people in his administration did--including, possibly, Vice President Cheney, who would have seen the president's State of the Union address before it was delivered. Rice and Rumsfeld also must have known that the aluminum tubes that they presented as proof of Iraq's nuclear ambitions were discounted by prominent intelligence experts. And, while a few administration officials may have genuinely believed that there was a strong connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, most probably knew they were constructing castles out of sand.
The Bush administration took office pledging to restore "honor and dignity" to the White House. And it's true: Bush has not gotten caught having sex with an intern or lying about it under oath. But he has engaged in a pattern of deception concerning the most fundamental decisions a government must make. The United States may have been justified in going to war in Iraq--there were, after all, other rationales for doing so--but it was not justified in doing so on the national security grounds that President Bush put forth throughout last fall and winter. He deceived Americans about what was known of the threat from Iraq and deprived Congress of its ability to make an informed decision about whether or not to take the country to war.
Presto change-o! by Molly Ivins
Well now, danged if that doesn't bring us to the subject of lying and the White House. Let us set aside the vexing case of the missing weapons of mass destruction and focus on a few items closer to home. Anyone remember President Bush's 2002 State of the Union Address? No, no, not the one where he said Iraq had a nuclear weapons program. The one where he said he was going to expand AmeriCorps by 50 percent, from 50,000 up to 75,000, because giving all those young people a chance to work their way through college by doing good for the community is so noble and effective.
"USA Freedom Corps will expand and improve the good efforts of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to recruit more than 200,000 new volunteers," he said.
Last week, Bush and Republicans in Congress cut AmeriCorps by 80 percent. According to Jonathan Alter in Newsweek, Congress, under pressure, restored some of it, but it still leaves Americorps with a 58 percent cut and tens of thousands of fewer participants out there teaching poor kids to read, helping old folks in nursing homes, setting up community gardens, and a thousand other good and useful tasks -- many of which get the young people started on careers in that kind of work.
Including this blog!
Back To Basics by Gene Lyons
Host Tim Russert asked [Gen. Wesley] Clark about his April 9 column in The Times of London. "This is the real intelligence battle and the stakes could not be higher," Clark wrote, "for failure to find the weapons could prove to be a crushing blow to the proponents of the war [in Iraq], supercharge Arab anger and set back many efforts to end the remarkable diplomatic isolation of the United States and Britain."
Outraged by 9/11, many Americans have been content to let Junior pick the targets. A fawning press corps has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect Bush from the consequences of his dishonesty. The New York Times led its "Week in Review" section with an astonishing piece of equivocation by David E. Rosenbaum arguing, among other absurdities, that if Bush didn't actually KNOW he was peddling phony "intelligence" about Iraqi nuclear weapons, its nonexistent links to al Qaeda, or even who benefited from his tax cut schemes, then it's unfair to say he lied.
Elsewhere, however, many in the national press have awakened to their responsibility. New York Times columnists Nicholas Kristoff and Paul Krugman have taken on Bush's habitual mendacity over matters of war and peace and economic justice. "Misrepresentation and deception," Krugman writes "are standard operating procedure for this administration."
Tax Cut Casualties by Bob Herbert
The juxtaposition was perfect.
On Monday, the same day that President Bush was raking in $4 million and touting his tax cuts at a Manhattan fund-raiser, the trustees of the City University of New York met to formally approve the largest tuition hike in the school's history.
This is how it is in the United States these days, massive tax cuts for the very wealthy at the same time that the poor and working classes are being clobbered by reduced services and myriad tax increases of one kind or another.
While the president has been trumpeting his federal tax cuts, 57 of the 62 counties in the state of New York have raised property taxes. Ten counties have raised sales taxes. Another 35 are trying to, but have come up against statutory limits. Some are pleading for permission to break through those limits.
An Environmental Report Card
On her way out the door, Christie Whitman has issued the Environmental Protection Agency's first statistical assessment of the nation's environment. The bottom line is that although much remains to be done, things are greatly improved from 30 years ago. The air is healthier, the water cleaner. But underneath the numbers, and of course unobserved in the report, lies an exquisite irony: what has brought us here are the landmark environmental laws of the early 1970's — laws that the industries bankrolling the Bush administration have been fighting tooth and nail ever since, laws that the administration itself has tried to amend or weaken.
The report has already acquired a certain notoriety because it omitted, on White House orders, any meaningful discussion of global warming, a problem that President Bush seems to think will go away if nobody talks about it. In a sense, this may have been the administration's final insult to Mrs. Whitman, who has been bounced around on other issues during her two-plus years as the agency's administrator. Now most people are likely to remember her report, which she had intended as an apolitical statistical portrait, for what it leaves out rather than for the useful information it contains.
Agency Disputes View of Trailers as Labs by Douglas Jehl
The State Department's intelligence division is disputing the Central Intelligence Agency's conclusion that mysterious trailers found in Iraq were for making biological weapons, United States government officials said today.
In a classified June 2 memorandum, the officials said, the department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research said it was premature to conclude that the trailers were evidence of an Iraqi biological weapons program, as President Bush has done. The disclosure of the memorandum is the clearest sign yet of disagreement between intelligence agencies over the assertion, which was produced jointly by the C.I.A. and the Defense Intelligence Agency and made public on May 28 on the C.I.A. Web site. Officials said the C.I.A. and D.I.A. did not consult with other intelligence agencies before issuing the report.
The report on the trailers was initially prepared for the White House, and Mr. Bush has cited it as proof that Iraq indeed had a biological weapons program, as the United States has repeatedly alleged, although it has yet to produce any other conclusive evidence.
An American empire built on deception by Ellen Goodman
So we don't know whether there are WMDs. But more important, we still don't know the real reasons why Bush went to war and why he thought those reasons wouldn't ''sell.''
Did we launch this war, as one pro-war e-mailer boasted, to ''flex our muscles''? To tell the post-9/11 world not to screw around with a superpower? To rid the world of Saddam Hussein and gamble that democracy will come up on the dice, not fundamentalism? Was it for oil? Revenge? All of the above?
The real lie is that the administration didn't (dare?) make its essential case for war. And the real shame is not that we were conned but that, so far, we don't mind.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
In Bush We Trust? by John Moyers
George W. Bush is a liar. There, I said it -- the "L" word. Someone in Washington had to.
Thanks to AWOL WMD, people all across America have the "L" word on their lips, but here in D.C. it's still a hard one to mouth. Few Washington-based commentators and fewer politicians have done so.
On Sunday, June 22, The New York Times had a chance to be the first big-league outfit to say it plainly. But the headline on Washington-based reporter David E. Rosenbaum's story, "Bush May Have Exaggerated, but Did He Lie?" was a tip that the story would pull up short. Rosenbaum considered a narrow question -- whether Mr. Bush has told any neat, tidy, obvious lies -- and concluded he has not (a couple of fibs and distortions, maybe, but no lies).
Presidential Brain Karl Rove must be worried. Rove knows that any president's popularity rests more on whether voters think he's a believable and admirable leader than on the substance of issues. George W. Bush has that going for him -- people might not like his policies (if they understand them at all), but they like his swagger and certitude, and they trust him to do what he says.
But that trust could crumble if questions linger about whether the White House deceived us into war. Few of the president's allies could or would defend that -- even GOP-TV (a.k.a. Fox News) would have trouble explaining away that one.
Bush's Willing Executioners by Ted Rall
Today's version of the heroic Nathan Hale would fall to his knees, beg for mercy, and swear fealty to the British crown. A 21st century Patrick Henry would no doubt argue that homeland security trumps personal liberty. Benedict Arnold would make the rounds of the TV talk shows, lauded as an "heroic pragmatist." In a land of wimps, the dimwit is king--such is the dismal state of post-9/11 America.
As George W. Bush's aristocorporate junta runs roughshod over hard-earned freedoms, as his lunatic-right Administration loots $10 trillion from the national treasury, as his armies invade sovereign nations without cause, as he threatens war against imagined enemies while allowing real ones to build nuclear weapons, those charged with standing against these perversions of American values remain appallingly, inexplicably silent.
We have become a nation of cowards, and I am ashamed.
Bush forced to defend rising US death toll by Duncan Campbell
George Bush acted at the weekend to address increasing national disquiet over the number of US servicemen being killed in Iraq. More than a quarter of American casualties in Iraq have occurred since the president declared an end to major military combat at the beginning of May. Another US soldier was killed yesterday, bringing the toll since May 1 to 56. A total of 138 American service personnel died during the war itself.
A second soldier was wounded in yesterday's grenade attack on a US military convoy in Khan Azad, south of Baghdad.
Mr Bush used his weekly radio address to the nation to answer the growing number of questions from commentators on why American troops are continuing to be killed when the country has been told that the war was over.
Bush must not be allowed to rewrite history by Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay
In recent days, George W. Bush has accused those asking awkward questions about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction of rewriting history. "We made it clear to the dictator of Iraq that he must disarm," Mr Bush said last week. "He chose not to do so, so we disarmed him. And I know there's a lot of revisionist history now going on, but one thing is certain. He is no longer a threat to the free world and the people of Iraq are free."
But if anyone is revising history, it is the US president. Iraq's WMD programme was the test case for Mr Bush's doctrine of pre-emption. The Iraqi threat was "grave and growing", Mr Bush declared. "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraqi regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," he warned on the eve of war.
"We know where they are," said Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, as US and British forces advanced into Iraq. But 90 days after the main fighting ended, US forces have yet to find a single chemical artillery shell, litre of anthrax or uranium enrichment facility. Lieutenant-General James Conway, the senior US marine in the Iraq region, has explained the failure to find any weapons by concluding that "we were simply wrong".
Well, don't expect Bush to say that.
Bush credibility gap - a slow, quiet crumble by Dante Chinni
Many voters thought that former Vice President Al Gore, a member of a troubled administration, had trouble telling the truth. Mr. Gore might have been more experienced and more knowledgeable about the workings of government, but Mr. Bush resonated with people as a down-to-earth guy they could trust.
In the past few weeks some questions have begun to arise about just how candid this White House is being in a variety of areas. The accusations aren't really of lying, per se, but rather they center on this administration's ability to give people the entire truth, the full picture of reality. Slowly and quietly, a credibility gap is opening, and this White House needs to be careful. If not, the gap may open wide enough to swallow up Bush's high poll numbers.
A Nation of Victims by Renana Brooks
Poll after poll demonstrates that Bush's political agenda is out of step with most Americans' core beliefs. Yet the public, their electoral resistance broken down by empty language and persuaded by personalization, is susceptible to Bush's most frequently used linguistic technique: negative framework. A negative framework is a pessimistic image of the world. Bush creates and maintains negative frameworks in his listeners' minds with a number of linguistic techniques borrowed from advertising and hypnosis to instill the image of a dark and evil world around us. Catastrophic words and phrases are repeatedly drilled into the listener's head until the opposition feels such a high level of anxiety that it appears pointless to do anything other than cower.
Bush's political opponents are caught in a fantasy that they can win against him simply by proving the superiority of their ideas. However, people do not support Bush for the power of his ideas, but out of the despair and desperation in their hearts. Whenever people are in the grip of a desperate dependency, they won't respond to rational criticisms of the people they are dependent on. They will respond to plausible and forceful statements and alternatives that put the American electorate back in touch with their core optimism. Bush's opponents must combat his dark imagery with hope and restore American vigor and optimism in the coming years. They should heed the example of Reagan, who used optimism against Carter and the "national malaise"; Franklin Roosevelt, who used it against Hoover and the pessimism induced by the Depression ("the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"); and Clinton (the "Man from Hope"), who used positive language against the senior Bush's lack of vision. This is the linguistic prescription for those who wish to retire Bush in 2004.
Expert Said to Tell Legislators He Was Pressed to Distort Some Evidence by James Risen and Douglas Jehl
A top State Department expert on chemical and biological weapons told Congressional committees in closed-door hearings last week that he had been pressed to tailor his analysis on Iraq and other matters to conform with the Bush administration's views, several Congressional officials said today.
The officials described what they said was a dramatic moment at a House Intelligence Committee hearing last week when the weapons expert came forward to tell Congress he had felt such pressure.
By speaking out, they said, the senior intelligence expert, identified by several officials as Christian Westermann, became the first member of the intelligence community on active service to make this sort of admission to members of Congress.
But hopefully not the last.
Protests over GM in Sacramento as Bush urges EU to drop biotech opposition
Police arrested activists outside an international conference highlighting the benefits of biotechnology as President George W. Bush urged a wary EU to drop its opposition to GM crops.
Speaking in Washington as the ministerial-level conference got underway on the opposite side of the United States in Sacramento, California -- where police had arrested 50 protesters -- Bush said it was time European nations put aside biotechnological qualms, saying they hurt Africa's bid to beat hunger.
Fortunately, Bush himself would never act on unfounded fears.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Can Bush Be Both Ignorant and a Liar? by Timothy Noah
It's often said that Bush has the virtue of self-awareness, that he knows what he doesn't know. That's probably true. But if it is true, then Bush really oughtn't to go around making sweeping statements that he hasn't made any effort to verify. When these statements turn out to be untrue, Bush's feigned certainty alone justifies calling these statements lies. They may not be the sort of lies a clever person (say, Bill Clinton) would tell. Indeed, many left-of-center commentators (Paul Krugman and Eric Alterman come to mind) refuse to admit that Bush is dumb, presumably because they fear that would make it impossible to hold him accountable for terrible things that he and his administration do. (Many felt the same way about Reagan.) But there's no reason Bush can't be thought of as both stupid and a liar. As Slate's Michael Kinsley has noted, Bush's lies are typically lies of laziness: "If telling the truth was less bother, [he'd] try that too."
Check out this followup piece by Eric Alterman.
The other unfinished war
Even as U.S. and British forces struggle to pacify Iraq, another unfinished conflict rages on in Afghanistan, evinced this week by a new offensive by thousands of U.S. and Pakistani troops along the porous Afghan-Pakistani border. Barely reported in the U.S. media, the push into the mountainous border region by U.S. special operations forces and others is only the latest sign of deepening trouble in a country President Bush has promised to rebuild.
U.S. military officers who recently returned from Afghan duty describe a deteriorating security situation in the country, which is currently patrolled by about 7,000 U.S. troops, primarily from the 82nd Airborne Division, along with a 5,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission confined to the capital, Kabul.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld last month declared that Afghanistan had shifted “from major combat activity to a period of ... stabilization and reconstruction.” Yet interviews with these officers, combined with assessments from independent experts, suggest that forces loyal to the ousted Taliban leadership may be preparing the ground for a comeback attempt.
“I would describe it as a very difficult situation,” says an officer who recently retired after a year in Afghanistan. “The trend there is not what I would call good.”
No? Check out the trend in Iraq.
Police state tactics abandon principles of justice by Cynthia Tucker
Massive roundups of suspects based on little more than religion and skin color have not proved useful. Indeed, such tactics have made Muslim immigrants fearful and resentful -- and less likely to cooperate with terror investigations.
Still, not everybody has gotten around to admitting that mistakes were made. John Ashcroft, who as U.S. attorney general supervises the FBI, concedes no errors or excess. Despite a scathing report by the U.S. Justice Department's inspector general noting the mistreatment of scores of immigrants, Ashcroft wouldn't budge.
Instead, he went to Congress to ask for yet more power to harass, to detain, to secretly pry into private lives. He would turn the United States into the sort of country Americans detest.
It's time to rein in Ashcroft and his police state tactics. Those methods don't work. Besides, they're un-American.
None of these guys will ever admit to a mistake.
The Media Politics of Impeachment by Norman Solomon
Early summer has brought a flurry of public discussion about a topic previously confined to political margins – the possibility of impeaching President George W. Bush. The idea is still far from the national media echo chamber, but some rumblings are now audible as people begin to think about the almost unthinkable.
During the Iran-Contra hearings on Capitol Hill, journalists frequently reported as though the proceedings would be inconclusive unless a Perry Mason style of ironclad proof emerged. Longtime political analyst Elizabeth Drew commented on the irony that people were "searching for a smoking gun in a room filled with smoke."
Midway through 2003, there's plenty of smoke as clear evidence emerges that President Bush and several of his top foreign policy officials lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq during the lead-up to the war. In this context, impeachment is a reasonable idea. But with Congress run by Republicans – and with news media all too deferential to entrenched power – the chances of a serious investigation in Washington are very slim.
Giving Revisionists a Bad Name by Alexander Keyssar
Last week, in a speech to business leaders in Elizabeth, N.J., President Bush dismissed as "revisionist historians" those critics who have begun to question the administration's rationale for invading Iraq. His national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, made a similar claim a few days earlier. They both seem to think there is something suspect or illegitimate about revisionist history.
If, in fact, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq this winter, and if, in fact, there were few ties between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, our interpretation of this most recent war and why we got into it must inevitably be reshaped. It is far too soon to tell how this war will look to historians in future generations, but getting as close to the truth now as we can is a matter of no small importance -- particularly as we face the prospect of a prolonged and costly occupation.
It is understandable that the president and his advisers are unhappy with criticism of their conduct of the war. But revisionist histories -- multiple, competing, conflicting accounts of important events -- ought not be treated as suspect; they are instead expressions of intellectual and political life in a democracy. The suppression of revisionist history has generally been a mark of dictatorships -- from Hitler to Stalin to Saddam Hussein himself. Or have we forgotten that?
Some of us have.
Ex-Vermont Governor Comes Out Swinging by Michael Powell
Former Vermont governor Howard Dean officially launched his campaign for president today with rhetorical punches at what he called the "narrow-minded ideologues" in the Bush administration who have foisted tax cuts for the rich and a disdainful foreign policy on the American people.
Standing on the main street of this small, lakeside city, Dean hit one populist note after another as he cast himself as a champion of the middle and working classes, a sensible man who could balance a budget and enact progressive health and social policies.
"The president pushes forward an agenda and policies which divide us," Dean said to a crowd of several thousand boisterous supporters. "He advocates economic policies which beggar the middle class and raise property taxes so that income taxes may be cut for those who ran Enron."
Denial and Deception by Paul Krugman
So why are so many people making excuses for Mr. Bush and his officials?
Part of the answer, of course, is raw partisanship. One important difference between our current scandal and the Watergate affair is that it's almost impossible now to imagine a Republican senator asking, "What did the president know, and when did he know it?"
But even people who aren't partisan Republicans shy away from confronting the administration's dishonest case for war, because they don't want to face the implications.
After all, suppose that a politician — or a journalist — admits to himself that Mr. Bush bamboozled the nation into war. Well, launching a war on false pretenses is, to say the least, a breach of trust. So if you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability — and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It's a scary prospect.
Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk — to face the truth and act on it — what will happen to our democracy?
The Fact That Hussein's Gone Doesn't Make Lying Right by Robert Scheer
Similarly, the indefensible gambit of preemptive war has seriously damaged two of this nation's most precious commodities — our democracy and the reputation of our form of government. By giving Congress distorted and incomplete intelligence on Iraq, the Bush administration mocks what is most significant in the U.S. model: the notion of separation of powers and the spirit of the Constitution's mandate that only Congress has the power to declare war.
Is this an exaggeration? Consider that on Oct. 7, 2002, four days before Congress authorized the Iraq war, President Bush asserted that intelligence data proved Iraq had trained Al Qaeda "in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases." Yet no such proof existed. Never in modern times have we beheld a Congress so easily manipulated by the executive branch. Last week, the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee caved in and dropped their opposition to closed hearings on whether Congress was lied to. How can they not be open to the public, which is expected under our system to hold the president and Congress accountable?
To be sure, many Americans were never fooled, and many more have become upset at seeing continuing casualties and chaos in Iraq after Bush's pricey aircraft carrier photo op signaled that the war was over. But much of our public has been too easily conned. For contrast, consider that in Britain the citizens, Parliament and media have been far more seriously engaged in questioning the premises of their government's participation in the invasion of Iraq.
UN Arms Inspector Blix Criticizes U.S. Over Iraq by Grant McCool
The longer the United States and Britain occupy Iraq without finding weapons of mass destruction, the more conceivable it is that Baghdad destroyed them after the first Gulf War in 1991, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said on Monday.
Blix, to retire next week after heading inspections before the U.S.-led war on Iraq began in March, also spoke critically at a think tank meeting of one of Washington's key arguments for overthrowing Iraq President Saddam Hussein.
"It is sort of fascinating that you can have 100 percent certainty about weapons of mass destruction and zero certainty about where they are," Blix said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
It is fascinating, sort of.
Monday, June 23, 2003
Why the Bush White House Should Be Prepared for Impeachment by Paul M. Weyrich
When Father Drinan said that Nixon should be impeached, the president was at the height of his popularity. Drinan was regarded even by most of his Democratic colleagues as a far-out crazy. Drinan was not taken seriously.
Well, there is a little weasel tripping around now, insisting that there might well be grounds to impeach President George W. Bush. I have heard three different interviews with him on the subject. He sounds plausible. His name is John Dean. He once was White House counsel under President Nixon. He blew the whistle on Nixon and for weeks, he was a matinee idol when Senator Sam Ervin's hearings into Watergate were televised.
Perhaps Dean misses fame and thinks he can be a star once more. Who knows? Right now, only the fringes in the media and politics are taking him seriously. But if I were the administration, I would take him seriously. I would listen to every argument he is making and I would be prepared to counter it.
You can be sure they're worried when an ultra-conservative like Paul Weyrich begins issuing impeachment warnings and dissing John Dean. Go, little weasel!
Senators hopeful U.S. 'scored' Saddam kill
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and a possible presidential challenger, said the United States should expect to keep more than 100,000 troops in Iraq for five years.
"It's time the president leveled with the American people, because no foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people," Biden said. "They have not been informed of that fact."
Nor many others.
Saddam’s Secrets by John Barry and Michael Isikoff
While Bush aides try to look calm, the search grows increasingly feverish. They predicted they would find Saddam Hussein’s arsenal of mass destruction as soon as Iraq’s experts could dare to tell the truth. Now the regime is gone, and Saddam’s best-known WMD officials are dead or in U.S. custody, shielded from the regime’s monstrous reprisals. There’s only one problem. What the survivors are saying is not what the White House wants to hear.
The detainees say Iraq destroyed all of its banned munitions years ago, and nothing more was produced. The scientists have been threatened, coaxed, offered all kinds of incentives, including safe haven outside Iraq for their families. Nothing changes their stories.
Maybe we could torture these scientists to get them to talk.
What Bush knew, when by Daniel Schorr
"What did the president know and when did he know it?" Republican Howard Baker was raising that question 30 years ago in the Senate Watergate committee, hoping to shield President Nixon from responsibility for the break-in and wiretapping of Democratic headquarters. It turned out that Nixon knew plenty - more than Senator Baker had bargained for.
The question arises again because of a bitter dispute, in part between the CIA and the White House, about how President Bush came to make a representation about an Iraqi nuclear program known in the intelligence community to be based on forged documents.
In his January State of the Union address, Mr. Bush spoke of an advanced Iraqi nuclear-weapons program in the '90s, and added, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
If true, that would have been the first solid indication of a current Iraqi nuclear-weapons program. But, apparently, it wasn't true. The New York Times reported 11 months earlier that the CIA, at the behest of Vice President Dick Cheney, had sent to Niger a knowledgeable retired ambassador (whose name was withheld) to investigate reports that Iraq was trying to buy uranium there.
The diplomat brought back word that the government of Niger denied any such dealings with Iraq, and the documents on which the allegation was based were patent forgeries. How, under the circumstances, the president could give credence to the uranium canard in a speech almost a year later is hard to imagine.
It's not that hard to imagine, Dan.
Probe into US intelligence likely to spill into presidential campaign
Intelligence committees in both the Senate and the House of Representatives began hearings last week into the brewing controversy over whether the White House hyped intelligence regarding Iraq's alleged nuclear and biological weapons program, which could prove damaging to Republicans in the 2004 election campaign.
The political sensitivity of the issue has become increasingly clear over the past several days, with leading Democratic presidential candidates becoming more vocal in criticizing the White House over the matter.
Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean on Sunday accused Bush of misleading the country about Iraq's possession of unconventional weapons.
"We were misled. The question is, did the president do that on purpose or was he misled by his own intelligence people ... Or did he in fact know what the truth was and tell us something different," former Vermont governor Howard Dean told NBC's "Meet the Press" program.
"We essentially went to war ... based on facts that turned out not to be accurate. I think that's pretty serious, and I think the American people are entitled to know why that was," he said.
The Money Magnet by Bob Herbert
But while these may be the best of times for George W., this is not such a great moment for America.
Start anywhere. Tax cuts? Mr. Bush has behaved like a profligate parent who spends every dollar the family has accumulated, mortgages everything the family owns and maxes out every credit card he can get his hands on. At some point in this scenario the children and grandchildren will be left with nothing but a mountain of debt.
Jobs? More than three million private-sector jobs have been lost on this president's watch. People are staying out of work longer and the pay gains of the late 90's are being eroded. Time Magazine recently asked, "Why are American workers dying the death of a thousand pay cuts?"
Government services? Prepare to wave goodbye to Medicare and Social Security as you've known them. Right wingers have always wanted to cripple the government's social service programs and now they are racing toward achievement of that poisonous goal. With the president's tax cuts bankrupting the government, there will be no money left for meaningful support of even the most popular social programs.
The environment? Among other things, the Bush White House does not like global warming. So it just edits out, eliminates, erases important references to it in official government documents. Gas-guzzling S.U.V.'s are good. But in the Bush II White House, global warming as most scientists know it doesn't even exist.
We've got some waking up to do.
Sunday, June 22, 2003
Hagel: Iraqi WMD Clouds Bush Credibility by Jennifer C. Kerr
The question of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction has left a cloud over the Bush administration's credibility that won't be removed until Americans know whether the administration was straightforward with them, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday.
More than two months after the fall of Baghdad, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, which has raised questions about the Bush administration's primary justification for invading.
Until recently, Bush and his aides had maintained prohibited weapons would be found. In his radio address Saturday, Bush made no such promise and said instead that documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned "in the regime's final days."
The Truth About The Lies (interview with Phyllis Bennis)
With many Americans still exulting in the military victory in Iraq, it's hard to make a case that the administration's ends don't justify its means. However, the fact the administration has not found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction goes far deeper that whether the White House can be trusted, says Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.
The lingering WMD question reveals that this administration not only lied to Americans and the world about the reasons it went to war, but did so with a continuing disregard for some of the most fundamental U.S. and international laws. Phyllis Bennis was interviewed by TomPaine.com's Steven Rosenfeld.
This page includes an audio link to the original interview.
The Bottom Line: Bogus by Anna Quindlen
Public libraries have become the new poster children for governmental impecunity. Pick a town, any town, and the library, that great nexus of egalitarian self-improvement, is currently in trouble. Oakland, Calif. Swanson, Neb. York, Maine. Richland, Pa. Closings. Layoffs. Shortened hours. Canceled programs.
Matters had gotten so bad in the outposts of borrowed books that the reference librarian in Franklin, Mass., which a sign identifies as home of the first public library, asked a reporter, perhaps only half kidding, how much the sign might fetch on eBay.
Yet at a meeting of the American Library Association, members were shown a letter from Laura Bush, a former librarian herself, assuring them that her husband’s budget would include a substantial increase for library funds. What the First Lady didn’t say was that the increase was yet another aspect of a kind of Washington legerdemain that can be summed up in a single word: bogus.
Bogus is the name of the game, and not just in libraries. The much-vaunted Bush tax cut is totally bogus, a shell game in which money is moved from one place to another with political sleight of hand. The bottom line is that for most ordinary people the benefits amount to less than zero. What the Feds give, the state and local governments will be taking away, and then some.
At this point, why be polite?
The Bush Doctrine At Risk by George F. Will
To govern is to choose, almost always on the basis of very imperfect information. But preemption presupposes the ability to know things -- to know about threats with a degree of certainty not requisite for decisions less momentous than those for waging war.
Some say the war was justified even if WMD are not found nor their destruction explained, because the world is "better off" without Saddam Hussein. Of course it is better off. But unless one is prepared to postulate a U.S. right, perhaps even a duty, to militarily dismantle any tyranny -- on to Burma? -- it is unacceptable to argue that Hussein's mass graves and torture chambers suffice as retrospective justifications for preemptive war. Americans seem sanguine about the failure -- so far -- to validate the war's premise about the threat posed by Hussein's WMD, but a long-term failure would unravel much of this president's policy and rhetoric.
But unless America's foreign policy is New Age therapy to make the public feel mellow, feeling good about the consequences of an action does not obviate the need to assess the original rationale for the action.
Until WMD are found, or their absence accounted for, there is urgent explaining to be done.
Even George Will demands answers from this president! Normally I don't even read his columns (too much humorless sniveling), but I made an exception for this one.
The $2,000 Campaign Aperitif
"There's nothing like having a few friends over for a cocktail or two," President Bush told more than 1,200 Republicans who paid $2,000 apiece last week to begin what will be a record-breaking binge of Republican money-raising. The president's gratitude went over well with the Washington crowd, who ponied up $3.5 million. Even more, it underlined the extraordinary gilded age of fat-cat politicking that has befallen the nation with the intersection of Bush tax cuts favoring the affluent — $1.7 trillion worth and counting — and the start of the president's phantom primary campaign season.
With no G.O.P. challenger in sight, Mr. Bush nevertheless will easily raise as much as $200 million in primary money for his re-election coffers, much of it from the warm-hearted supporters benefiting most from his deficit-financed tax cuts. This is revenue synergy of a high order that promises only to intensify. Party strategists boldly promise that, the nation's mounting debt notwithstanding, each year of their continuing incumbency will feature even more tax-cut pressures.
Can this trend lead to anything good?
Bush May Have Exaggerated, but Did He Lie? by David E. Rosenbaum
The hunt for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq has been fruitless. The tax cut turns out to give no break whatsoever to millions of low-income taxpayers. In the view of some Democrats, President Bush has been lying about these and other matters, the way Lyndon B. Johnson lied about Vietnam, Richard M. Nixon about Watergate and Bill Clinton about his sex life.
The question on Iraq and taxes is whether Mr. Bush stepped across the line dividing acceptable politicking from manipulation. Some critics hold that Mr. Bush twisted intelligence to conform with his policy goals. This can probably be answered conclusively only by historians when all the evidence and consequences are known.
Mr. Bush seemed "typical of somebody trying to sell somebody something," Mr. Dallek said.
"You look for what people are going to find most believable and persuasive," he continued. "In a sense you talk yourself into those ideas, and I have no doubt Bush himself was convinced they had weapons of mass destruction."
Although this article is somewhat namby-pamby, it's great to see these issues raised so prominently.
Back Up Talk on Child Tax
What's wrong with this picture? President Bush, who is fresh off raising $3.5 million at a $2,000-a-head hamburger and hot dog dinner at a Washington hotel, is heading to California this week to help meet his goal of $175 million raised between now and the GOP convention, which begins Aug. 30, 2004.
In the meantime, the House of Representatives has just passed a plan to permanently eliminate the estate tax. But although the GOP energetically finds ways to woo the wealthy, it has not been able to remedy the most embarrassing part of Bush's tax plan — the denial of a child tax credit to 6.5 million low-income working families with 11.9 million children.
Bush himself endorsed extension of the child tax credit Thursday for the first time. But the Republican-controlled House and Senate are at loggerheads. If Bush really wants to leave no child behind, he must act more forcefully to bring the House into line by meeting with House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and other GOP leaders to make it clear he wants fast action.