Saturday, July 05, 2003
An Interesting Day: President Bush's Movements and Actions on 9/11 by Allan Wood and Paul Thompson
Bush's actions on September 11 have been the subject of lively debate, mostly on the internet. Details reported that day and in the week after the attacks - both the media reports and accounts given by Bush himself - have changed radically over the past 18 months. Culling hundreds of reports from newspapers, magazines, and the internet has only made finding the "truth" of what happened and when it happened more confusing. In the changed political climate after 9/11, few have dared raise challenging questions about Bush's actions. A journalist who said Bush was "flying around the country like a scared child, seeking refuge in his mother's bed after having a nightmare" and another who said Bush "skedaddled" were fired. [Washington Post, 9/29/01] We should have a concise record of where President Bush was throughout the day the US was attacked, but we do not.
What follows is an attempt to give the most complete account of Bush's actions - from Florida to Louisiana to Nebraska to Washington, DC.
This is a must-read article!
Bush's Look to Big Pharma for AIDS Czar Evokes Concern by Jim Lobe
U.S. President George W. Bush's surprise pick of a former top executive of a major U.S. pharmaceutical company and major Republican contributor as his global AIDS co-ordinator has drawn expressions of concern and even outrage among Africa and AIDS activists here.
"This decision is another deeply disturbing sign that the president may not be prepared to fulfill his pledge to take emergency action on AIDS," noted Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance. "It raises serious questions of conflict of interest and the priorities of the White House."
"Both the people of Africa and the people of the United States will lose if the president's AIDS initiative fails to use the lowest-cost, generic medications," Zeitz said, noting that the pharmaceutical companies have successfully pressed the Bush administration to go back on an earlier pledge to carve out an exception in international patent laws that would enable needy countries to import generic anti-AIDS drugs. "Africans will be left with less medicine, and more will die," he said.
Others were openly scornful about the appointment. "We know he has little experience with AIDS, but lots as a major Republican donor," said Salih Booker, director of Africa Action, a Washington-based fusion of several long-standing anti-apartheid groups. "This is where U.S. policy on AIDS is; it's with Big Pharma."
Underestimating the Capacity of Americans to Detect a Fraud by Pierre Tristam
On Bush's watch domestic insecurities have never been so expedient, foreign threats never so imaginary, patriotism never such a "grotesque and laughable word," as Mark Twain once put it. Bush has made brandishing a flag (or a cruise missile) a self-evident virtue, absolving its bearer of reflection or responsibility. But that's the way of the fanatic. And on this July 4, that is what we are, mostly, because we still believe in this president, mostly.
It isn't a flaw to be naturally trusting. But Bush is underestimating Americans' capacity to adjust, to detect a fraud, even when it is their own king. King George found out. The reigning King George will, too, if we are to raise the banner of critical independence again.
It may be a very rough ride if we go all the way with Bush by Hugh Mackay
But this week has brought even more disturbing news than all that. The dark moral questions still hanging over Iraq are as nothing compared with those raised by the Bush Administration's determination to push on with its "space-bomb" program.
Frustrated by the difficulty of getting international support for its invasion of Iraq, Washington is now intent on developing weapons capable of being dropped from space, and from "reusable hypersonic cruise vehicles" controlled from its own territory, thus removing the need for bases to be established near enemy targets.
This will bring armchair warfare a step closer: such weapons may finally break the already fragile moral nexus between warring nations.
Somehow, Bush manages to balance his reputation as the most belligerent president the US has ever produced with his claim to be a born-again Christian. Such a cocktail of military might and religious fundamentalism is potentially lethal, so what will be our response to this latest phase in Washington's relentless development of weapons of mass destruction?
US relied on outdated Iraq WMD data, says CIA report
A CIA internal review panel has concluded that US intelligence analysts lacked new, hard information about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction after UN inspectors left Iraq in 1998 and relied on data from the early and mid-1990s in the run-up to the Iraq war, The Washington Post reported yesterday.
The newspaper said the Central Intelligence Agency’s findings that the biological, chemical and nuclear programmes were still being pursued by the government of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in 2003 were based primarily on this old information.
Is There a Road Map Out of Iraq? by Colbert I. King
The Bush administration talks about liberating, not occupying, Iraq. But Iraq is being administered by a U.S. czar backed by more than 100,000 troops. The United States is organizing basic services and substituting itself for Iraqi government ministries. If there is, in reality, a planned transitional phase in which responsibility is to be transferred to Iraqis and a new government is to be established, the plan should be detailed so that both Americans and Iraqis know what is coming and when. Likewise with respect to cost. What is the price of providing humanitarian relief, rebuilding core services and establishing security in war-torn Iraq? True, the Bush administration doesn't like to get pinned down on such matters. But the money is not coming out of the president's pocket.
Americans who aren't exactly receiving the services and security that they would like from their own government are the ones who'll be forced to shell out for the Iraqi people. At least the administration could let us in on how many of our tax dollars will be traveling to Baghdad and for how long. That's not asking too much.
Apparently that is asking too much.
During his last visit to Europe, President Bush promised new U.S. allies in the eastern half of the continent that they would not be forced to choose between their allegiances to the United States and to the European Union. Yet now the White House is insisting on just such a choice -- in pursuit of a gratuitous ideological point. This week U.S. military aid to nine European countries, including six incoming members of NATO, was suspended because of their failure to conclude agreements exempting Americans from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The court has yet to hear its first case, much less indict an American. The European governments have all positioned themselves as strong U.S. allies at a time of severe transatlantic tension, and most have contributed materially to the war in Iraq. That they have not met Washington's demand for a court exemption is due only to their status as incoming members of the EU, which has adopted a policy against such accords. Yet Mr. Bush insists on punishing states such as Bulgaria, Lithuania, Slovakia and Croatia by cutting off the aid they are using to modernize their military forces so they can support NATO missions. He persists even though European countries that actually oppose U.S. policy, such as France and Belgium, will suffer no such sanction -- and will no doubt welcome any discord between the United States and the "new" Europe.
[New York Times editorial, 7/5/03]
Poof ... Park Threat's Gone
When science runs afoul of politics, it's usually the science that gets hurt. The Bush administration is raising such collisions to a new level. One recent example was deletion of a section on global warming in a broad study of the state of the U.S. environment. Another was the brushoff given scientific findings in repealing a ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. Now comes the cheerful scrubbing of a report to the United Nations on environmental dangers to Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872 as the world's first national park.
"Yellowstone is no longer in danger," Paul Hoffman, an Interior Department official, said in a letter submitted to a meeting of the Heritage Committee in Paris on Monday and Tuesday. The original Park Service draft listed all the remaining problems, many of which are worse now than they were in 1995. They were scrubbed from the final version.
[Los Angeles Times editorial, 7/5/03]
Thursday's disappointing jump in the unemployment rate to its highest level in more than nine years is a reality check for those who have pinned hopes of a strong recovery on President Bush's two rounds of tax cuts and the Federal Reserve Bank's lowering of interest rates. Tax cuts that offer little money to all but the rich do little to spur consumer spending, and without greater consumer demand, businesses will not be tempted -- even by the lowest interest rates since 1958 -- to expand productive capacity.
With the report that unemployment climbed in June from 6.1 to 6.4 percent came news that the economy shed an additional 30,000 jobs in the month. This is on top of the 2.37 million jobs lost since Bush became president. Unless the economy turns around quickly, he stands a good chance of becoming the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a net loss of jobs during his term. The two presidents since Hoover who came closest to matching him with job growth of fewer than 3 million -- Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush -- were both thrown out by the voters.
Friday, July 04, 2003
"Bring 'Em On?" by Stan Goff
This de facto president is finally seeing his poll numbers fall. Even chauvinist paranoia has a half-life, it seems. His legitimacy is being eroded as even the mainstream press has discovered now that the pretext for the war was a lie. It may have been control over the oil, after all. Anti-war forces are regrouping as an anti-occupation movement. Now, exercising his one true talent--blundering--George W. Bush has begun the improbable process of alienating the very troops upon whom he depends to carry out the neo-con ambition of restructuring the world by arms.
Fear Factory by Jim McDermott
The deputies of the Bush Terror Posse -- Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft -- are conducting a deliberate campaign to frighten us. One facet of the campaign has, over the last 18 months, persuaded large portions of the population to rush to the stores for water, food, plastic sheeting and, of course, duct tape. The threats of impending danger are on record for the future, the administration seems to be saying. When something happens, you won't be able to say we didn't warn you.
This is just the latest and most egregious step in a fear campaign designed to prepare Americans to do whatever the administration wants us to do.
Here's how it works: Throw a hundred claims against the wall and poll every night to see what sticks. Leak stories that are later discredited. Get a graduate student's dissertation and plagiarize it. Lift paragraphs from a war-industry magazine. Every so often, raise the danger level to code "yellow" or "orange." Give the people a rest. Then start all over again. Mix it all up and put an official seal on it. Now it seems true, despite the skepticism of intelligence professionals.
We have been inundated with fables, lies and half-truths.
Anger Rises for Families of Troops in Iraq by Jeffrey Gettleman
Military families, so often the ones to put a cheery face on war, are growing vocal. Since major combat for the 150,000 troops in Iraq was declared over on May 1, more than 60 Americans, including 25 killed in hostile encounters, have died in Iraq, about half the number of deaths in the two months of the initial campaign.
Frustrations became so bad recently at Fort Stewart, Ga., that a colonel, meeting with 800 seething spouses, most of them wives, had to be escorted from the session.
"They were crying, cussing, yelling and screaming for their men to come back," said Lucia Braxton, director of community services at Fort Stewart.
The signs of discomfort seem to be growing beyond the military bases. According to a Gallup poll published on Tuesday, the percentage of the public who think the war is going badly has risen to 42 percent, from 13 percent in May. Likewise, the number of respondents who think the war is going well has dropped, from 86 percent in May to 70 percent a month ago to 56 percent.
Democrats See Opening for Attack on Economy by Richard W. Stevenson
The jump in the unemployment rate gave Democrats a new opening today to attack President Bush's management of the economy and question the effectiveness of his signature tax cuts.
In strikingly similar terms, many of the Democratic presidential candidates attacked Mr. Bush's policies as misdirected and unfair. The continuing loss of jobs from the economy allowed them to call into question Mr. Bush's vow that his latest tax cut, the third in three years, would create a million new jobs.
"This president has a failed economic policy on his hands, and he has no inclination to be flexible and change it," Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, one of the nine Democratic presidential candidates, said in an interview. "He keeps doing more of the same thing he's been doing, which is more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. It's a repeat of the Reagan program times three. It didn't work then, and it isn't working now."
President Bush is considering dispatching U.S. troops to Liberia to help end the conflicts that have raged there for decades. But a hurried, ill-considered deployment to the West African nation would be a bad idea. The mission is unclear and seems driven more by the timing of Bush's Africa trip next week and a desire to pacify European nations upset by the administration's go-it-alone policies, especially in Iraq.
Though it's true the United Sates has 1.45 million troops on active duty and could spare a few thousand, what's the compelling reason to do so? The U.S. has its hands full in Iraq, where troops are under daily attack, and Afghanistan, where remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda remain active.
There is a fragile cease-fire in Liberia, where rebels hope to topple Charles Taylor, the thuggish president. But it is uncertain whether U.S. forces could maintain the peace and whether they would become targets for warring factions. It is also unclear how long troops might have to stay and who would succeed them — an all-African force or United Nations peacekeepers? Would the goal be to prolong the cease-fire, disarm rebel armies or hold elections?
Besides, I thought Syria was next.
Mugging Frederick Douglass by Derrick Z. Jackson
[Clarence] Thomas figures if he can get people to believe that unassailable black heroes would smile upon his assault on black people, he will not be arrested as the cowardly black hitman for organized racism. Organized racism, led by conservative think tanks and right-wing politicians, has been trying this for over a decade, trying to kill affirmative action by quoting Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 line about not judging people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. They always dump the King that said near the end of his life, ''America is deeply racist, and its democracy is flawed both economically and socially ... White America must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.''
Despite what King really thought, organized racism has often succeeded in getting white Americans to view affirmative action as reverse discrimination, even though white Americans retain a vast, disproportionate grip on valued jobs and college admissions. Their task has been made all the easier by a battle-shy Democratic Party and a nation whose attention span is so short that less than two years after 3,000 Americans were killed by terrorists, the people have already stopped asking the White House, ''Where's Osama?''
Remember, Thomas and Scalia are Bush's favorite Supreme Court Justices.
Thursday, July 03, 2003
July 4th Protest Drives President Bush Out of Philadelphia
President George W. Bush dropped plans to come to Philadelphia on July 4th. He was invited to dedicate the new and controversial National Constitution Center in Philadelphia during its scheduled July 4th opening celebration, and expectation was high he would come. The Constitution Center has been mired in controversy for being built on the graves of slaves. Plans are in place for a national protest against US policies at home and abroad to coincide with Bush's visit. Instead of facing thousands of protesters, Bush has chosen to spend the July 4th holiday speaking to uniformed troops at a US military base.
[Justice in July press release]
Wouldn't want to encounter any ordinary Americans.
Bush Utters Taunt About Militants: 'Bring 'Em On' by Dana Milbank and Vernon Loeb
President Bush yesterday delivered a colloquial taunt to militants who have been attacking U.S. troops in Iraq, saying "bring 'em on" and asserting that the forces in Iraq are "plenty tough" to deal with the threat. The colorful challenge by Bush provoked indignation from some congressional Democrats, who said the president's bravado was inviting attacks on U.S. soldiers. It came as the president continued to face questions about the chaotic postwar scene in Iraq.
Though Congress is in recess, some Democrats criticized Bush's "bring 'em on" statement. "I am shaking my head in disbelief," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). "When I served in the Army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military commander -- let alone the commander in chief -- invite enemies to attack U.S. troops." Lautenberg's statement said Bush's words were "tantamount to inciting and inviting more attacks against U.S. forces."
In addition, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), a presidential candidate, said he had heard "enough of the phony, macho rhetoric" from Bush. Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor also mounting a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Bush "showed tremendous insensitivity to the dangers" troops face.
Picking Workers' Pockets by Bob Herbert
But then comes the bad news. Nearly 80 percent of all workers are in jobs that qualify them for overtime pay, which is time-and-a-half for each hour that is worked beyond the normal 40-hour week. The administration wants to make it easier for employers to exempt many of those workers from overtime protection by classifying them as administrative, professional or executive personnel.
The quickest way to determine who is getting the better of this deal is to note that business groups are applauding the proposed changes while the A.F.L.-C.I.O. held a protest rally outside the Labor Department on Monday.
But this is an administration that could figure out a way to sell sunblock to a night crawler. So the rules changes are being spun as a boon to working people.
"By recognizing the professional status of skilled employees, the proposed regulation will provide them a guaranteed salary and flexible hours," said Tammy McCutchen, the Labor Department's wage and hour administrator.
All spinning aside, I wonder how many Americans really think that working longer hours for less money is a good thing.
Unrest in Iraq Poses Political Threat to Bush by Ronald Brownstein
Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq in a speech he gave aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on May 1. Since then, 66 American soldiers have died in Iraq, either in combat or accidents, according to the Pentagon. The war claimed 138 U.S. lives.
Richard Betts, director of Columbia University's Institute of War and Peace Studies, said the American public is likely to tolerate current casualty levels as long as the occupation is seen to be making progress.
But he added: "If we reach a point where more people die since Bush landed on the aircraft carrier than had died before, there will be more of an inclination to say, 'Quagmire.' "
A poll released Tuesday by Kull's group at the University of Maryland found that a majority of Americans — 53% — believed the rebuilding process was not going well.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
Did Bush Mislead US Into War? by David Corn
George W. Bush misled the nation into war.
Representative Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee.
On the basis of what?
On the basis of information preliminarily reviewed by the intelligence committee as part of its ongoing investigation into the prewar intelligence on Iraq.
On June 25, during the House debate on the intelligence authorization bill, Harman delivered an informal progress report on her committee's inquiry. Her remarks received, as far as I can tell, little media attention. But they are dramatic in that these comments are the first quasi-findings from an official outlet confirming that Bush deployed dishonest rhetoric in guiding the United States to invasion and occupation in Iraq. This is not an op-ed judgment; this is an evaluation from a member of the intelligence committee who claims to be basing her statements on the investigative work of the committee.
Read the whole debate on the intelligence authorization bill here.
Critics Ask Africa-Bound Bush to Back Up AIDS Plan by Lisa Richwine
President Bush heads to Africa next week armed with a $15 billion plan to fight the AIDS crisis, but some activists say it is premature to credit him for an effort they fear will move too slowly.
While many praised Bush for pledging bold steps to battle the disease that is killing more than 8,000 people per day, they said the president needs to ensure the United States fulfills its promises quickly.
"We're concerned the president is designing his trip to be a victory lap around the continent with photo-ops and empty rhetoric," said Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance.
Atrocities in Africa Not on Bush's Radar by Arianna Huffington
With Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction as difficult to find as Hussein himself, President Bush's Iraq talking points now center on the humanitarian upside of having ousted the Butcher of Baghdad. His speeches are liberally peppered with mentions of "mass graves" and "torture chambers" and encomiums to "freeing the people of Iraq." He has all but doused himself in the sweet-smelling scent of human rights and put on an Amnesty International T-shirt.
If we buy his new argument that ending humanitarian crises through military force is good foreign policy, then how can he justify embarking on his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa next week without including on his itinerary Congo and Liberia? His five-day visit will include Senegal, Botswana, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa — but not the absurdly named Democratic Republic of Congo, site of what one African expert has labeled "the worst humanitarian situation on the entire face of the Earth."
I would think that a president who was willing to send 200,000 U.S. troops to Iraq because of Hussein's mass graves might want to check out firsthand the 20 mass graves recently unearthed in Congo, freshly filled with close to 1,000 victims of genocidal massacres. There's your casus belli right there. That is, if there is any substance to this new Bush doctrine that evil dictators who abuse their own people must be deposed, by force if necessary, even if they pose no imminent threat to the U.S.
They Act Like Guerrillas
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's attempt to blame looters, criminals and Saddam Hussein loyalists — rather than "guerrillas" — for attacks in Iraq on U.S. soldiers just won't wash. Instead, the killings of nearly two dozen U.S. troops since May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over, bear the marks of classic guerrilla operations: small-scale, limited attacks by irregulars against orthodox civil and military forces.
U.S. soldiers in the field — confronting increasingly angry Iraqis and with casualties mounting — don't shy away from calling the killers guerrillas. Two Baghdad ambushes wounded six U.S. soldiers Tuesday. In Fallouja, a stronghold of pro-Hussein sentiment, an explosion in a mosque compound that killed 10 Iraqis was blamed on Americans, not on the more likely culprit: weapons or bombs stored there.
In February, weeks before combat began, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told the Senate that postwar Iraqi peacekeeping and humanitarian operations probably would require about 200,000 troops. Rumsfeld disputed the figure, and his deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, called it "wildly inaccurate." Today, the Pentagon has about 150,000 troops deployed in Iraq; Britain has about 12,000. Shinseki, who retired in June and was often at loggerheads with Rumsfeld, appears prescient.
The anti-war protesters appear prescient as well.
Bush's 'blind' justice in Texas executions by Derrick Z. Jackson
An article in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly should further inform and inflame the debate over the honesty of President Bush. When Bush was governor of Texas he routinely denied last-ditch pleas for clemency on execution day by systematically hearing no evidence, seeing no evidence, and sealing himself away from any tragic possibility that any evil was done at all.
The ''system'' was Bush and his legal counsel from 1995 to 1997, Alberto Gonzales. In 1997, Bush appointed Gonzales as Texas secretary of state. In 1998, Bush elevated Gonzales to the Texas Supreme Court. Gonzales followed Bush to Washington to be White House counsel. Gonzales is widely speculated to be high on Bush's list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court. Gonzales would be the first Latino justice.
On execution day in Texas, it was the job of Gonzales to give Bush a summary of the case. The summary was the last information standing between an inmate and lethal injection. Gonzales provided 57 summaries to Bush. Gonzales intended for the memos to be confidential, but author Alan Berlow obtained them under Texas public information law.
Berlow found that Gonzales routinely provided scant summaries to Bush. The summaries, according to Berlow, ''repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence.''
This comes as no surprise to me. It's the Bush way.
The Bush formula for policy-making by Robert Kuttner
First, the far-right calls the tune for this administration except where Karl Rove calculates that Bush needs to be credible with moderates.
Second, even the moderate legislation that survives, like the House Medicare drug bill, is just window dressing or worse.
Third, ultraconservatives like DeLay have immense power to block even bipartisan bills approved overwhelmingly by the Senate. Bush needs DeLay's help on Medicare, so DeLay is free to block the child tax credit.
But - the punch line - these are ultimately Bush's priorities. He, not DeLay, is president. Despite Ari Fleisher's pretty words, helping children in working families is not an issue on which Bush is willing to spend political capital.
Until the press and the opposition Democrats keep critical attention focused on the Bush formula - posture moderate, govern far-right - and until voters start noticing, this machine will keep rolling over policies that most Americans want.
Iraq Attacks Wound U.S. Troops; Imam Dead in Blast by Nadim Ladki
A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll found the percentage of Americans who said things were going well for U.S. forces in Iraq dropped to 56 percent from 70 percent a month ago. That was down from 86 percent during the week of May 7. Bush said, on May 1 that major combat was over.
The poll found 37 percent believed the Bush administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq had serious weapons of mass destruction, up from 31 percent a month ago.
U.S. forces have so far found only conventional weapons, but Bush insisted on Tuesday that Iraq had had weapons of mass destruction.
Despite the growing skepticism at home, Bush reiterated Washington had no intention of having its 150,000 troops chased out of Iraq.
How's your war going, George?
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Former general issues Iraq warning
A former four-star U.S. army general who led a major and controversial attack during the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, has warned that U.S. troops could be locked into Iraq for the next decade.
"I think we are there for 10 years," General Barry McCaffrey told BBC television's Newsnight programme, stressing that the next 12 months would be very tough.
"I think there has been some unhelpful language. We have got to be straight with the American people and we have got to be straight with the U.S. armed forces," McCaffrey said.
There has been some very unhelpful language.
Energy Facts Contradict Bush Global Warming Plan
A new study of data released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) indicates that President Bush's global warming plan will allow more greenhouse gas pollution to occur at a faster rate than if the nation maintained the pollution trends of the past five years.
The National Wildlife Federation analysis, "Beneath the Hot Air 2003," says that the administration’s goals are stated in terms of emissions intensity – measured as the amount of U.S. greenhouse gases emitted per dollar of economic output – and not in terms of actual emissions levels.
"This 'intensity' goal actually hides an emissions increase that is likely to be larger and faster than what we experienced in the past five years," the report says. "Based on the White House’s predictions of economic growth, the President’s target translates into an emissions increase of 13 percent over the next decade."
EPA Withholds Air Pollution Analysis by Guy Gugliotta and Eric Pianin
The Environmental Protection Agency for months has withheld key findings of its analysis showing that a Senate plan to combat air pollution would be more effective in reducing harmful pollutants -- and only marginally more expensive -- than would President Bush's Clear Skies initiative for power plant emissions.
The Clear Skies proposal is designed to reduce power plant emissions over the next 20 years. A centerpiece of Bush's environmental policy, its passage could burnish his 2004 reelection credentials. But the president's plan does not address carbon dioxide emissions, which many scientists consider an important greenhouse gas that may contribute to the Earth's warming.
Bush's stand has drawn sharp criticism on several fronts, and a bipartisan group of senators has proposed an alternative bill that would limit carbon dioxide emissions. Unreleased information from an EPA internal analysis concludes that the competing bill would provide health benefits substantially superior to those envisioned under Clear Skies.
Poll Says Most Believe Saddam-9/11 Link
Seven in 10 people in a poll say the Bush administration implied that Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States.
And a majority, 52 percent, say they believe the United States has found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam was working closely with the al-Qaida terrorist organization.
The number that believes this country has found weapons of mass destruction is 23 percent, down from 34 percent in May, according to a poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.
Prewar assertions by the Bush administration about al-Qaida's ties to the Iraqi government have not been proven, and weapons of mass destruction have not been found since the invasion of Iraq.
Some people will believe anything.
As 2004 Nears, Bush Pins Slump on Clinton by Dana Milbank
With the start of his reelection campaign in the past two weeks, President Bush has revived his pastime of blaming his predecessor, Bill Clinton, for the economic recession.
"Two-and-a-half years ago, we inherited an economy in recession," he told donors at a Bush-Cheney '04 reception yesterday in Miami. He has raised the same accusation in fundraising appearances since mid-June in Washington, Georgia, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
It's a good applause line for a crowd of red-meat political supporters. The trouble is it's a case of what the president has called, in another context, revisionist history. The recession officially began in March of 2001 -- two months after Bush was sworn in -- according to the universally acknowledged arbiter of such things, the National Bureau of Economic Research. And the president, at other times, has said so himself.
Wouldn't want to ruin a good applause line with the truth.
The Attack Has Been Spectacular by Maureen Farrell
Amazingly, the American public, who expected the government to investigate everything from the Titanic disaster to Pearl Harbor, doesn't seem to mind -- and the cascade of events that would have rocked our more scrupulous ancestors are met with disinterest. Never mind the manner in which our president was selected (or the questionable help he received along the way), in the past two years, the government and media have habitually deceived us; our fears and emotions have been manipulated; investigations into Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force and 9/11 have been stonewalled; bunker governments and secret arrests have barely raised eyebrows; the country is "dangerously unprepared" to handle another terrorist attack; and future elections may, like the last one, be rigged. Yet public outcry is reserved for whether Ruben or Clay won "American Idol."
This apathy is baffling, given that U.S. citizens have never been comfortable with deceit, war profiteering or blatant political posturing. In this topsy-turvy world, Truth has gone AWOL, Justice is secretly detained and the American Way has lost its way. The entire country appears to be in the throes of cognitive dissonance, with long-held beliefs about our national character challenged by facts we'd rather ignore. "The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war," John F. Kennedy promised in a galaxy far, far away. And though we just waged our first full-scale preemptive war on "cooked intelligence" and assorted lies, Americans are already poised for the next preemptive war -- Sept. 11 families and U.S. soldiers be damned.
Blame Bush in State Fiscal Crisis by Robert Scheer
When the younger Bush ran for president, he turned to Lay, who became the single biggest contributor to Bush's campaign. George W. returned the favor big-time by appointing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members who looked the other way when Enron and its fellow swindler companies were fleecing California. These appointees insisted that California's problems were of its own making and would have to be solved without the imposition of the wholesale energy price caps that would have saved taxpayers from a crushing burden.
Vice President Dick Cheney emerged from secret meetings with Enron executives and stated that the administration considered wholesale price caps a "mistake" because "there isn't anything that can be done short-term to produce more kilowatts this summer." Either Cheney was lying or his Enron buddies were lying to him because, at the time, Enron was routing electricity from California to sell at a higher price in Oregon. Federal price controls would have prevented Enron and the other companies from playing one state against another.
It is disingenuous for California Republicans to now blame Davis rather than their man Bush for the state's economic problems. Only last week, the Republican-dominated FERC banned Enron from selling electricity as punishment for having severely distorted Western energy markets. Enron and 60 other companies were ordered to show why they should not be forced to return their illegally gained profits.
Monday, June 30, 2003
Britain stirs, America sleeps by William Pfaff
The only member of the United States Senate who voted against granting war powers to President George W. Bush, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, holds that lies were told by the president to justify the Iraq war, and that eventually truth will out.
One would like to believe it true. But while Senator Byrd will be vindicated in the long run, the culture of lies that prevails in the Bush administration is an integral part of a larger culture of expedience and systematic dishonesty that dominates the present leadership of American political society and business. There is little reason to expect this soon to change.
Expedient lies have always been part of politics; and American business, at its higher levels, has often been crooked, but uneasily so, in conflict with the residual puritanism of the American establishment.
This puritanism was contemptuously discarded by the profit-driven business ethic that took over in the 1980s. Thus no effort is deemed necessary today to mask the connections of members of this administration with corporate profit-taking from defeated Iraq.
Iraq: Who lied? by Karen J. Alter
If Saddam Hussein had choked on a pretzel, been assassinated by his closest advisers or slain by his own people rising in revolt, the U.S. and the world would have cheered.
Instead, he was overthrown by a U.S. military invasion, after a worldwide campaign of half-truths, misleading insinuations and outright lies. How the world rid itself of Hussein matters as much as the fact that Hussein no longer runs Iraq.
The world cares that this war was justified by lies, and Americans should care too.
Because this is their guy.
Nothing but lip service
In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap — and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.
For example, the White House griped that various pay-and-benefits incentives added to the 2004 defense budget by Congress are wasteful and unnecessary — including a modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty. This comes at a time when Americans continue to die in Iraq at a rate of about one a day.
Similarly, the administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.
Then there’s military tax relief — or the lack thereof. As Bush and Republican leaders in Congress preach the mantra of tax cuts, they can’t seem to find time to make progress on minor tax provisions that would be a boon to military homeowners, reservists who travel long distances for training and parents deployed to combat zones, among others.
U.S. As Hunter & Hunted In Iraq
At least 63 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq since major combat was declared over on May 1.
U.S. officials in Washington have said repeatedly that no centralized Iraqi resistance to American rule remains. But commanders on the ground painted a different picture.
Lt. Col. Mark Young, commander of the Fourth Infantry Division's 3-67th Armored Battalion, called the resistance in the areas northeast of Baghdad "an organized effort." And Capt. John Wrann, also involved in Sidewinder, said: "It's got to be a coordinated thing."
Soldiers fear they're acting illegally by Trevor Royle and Neil Mackay
British soldiers fear they could be acting illegally while serving in Iraq and could face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court. Their fears are exacerbated by the row in Britain over whether or not the government exaggerated the threat from Saddam Hussein to persuade the nation to support military action.
Soldiers believe that if the government did lie, or misrepresent the case for war, then the occupation and any actions taken by serving soldiers in the Gulf would be illegal and could leave them open to prosecution.
British officers and squaddies are concerned that there are no clear rules of engagement for dealing with civilians and that firing on civilian rioters could see them charged with war crimes.
I wonder if any of our soldiers are worried about this.
Never Mind the World by Jackson Diehl
From some perspectives it looks as if 9/11 has prompted the Bush administration to shift from conservative detachment to radical engagement in international affairs. Instead of trying to bring home U.S. troops from abroad it has poured them into Central and Southeast Asia and the Middle East; instead of disengaging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it is trying to micromanage it.
But the transformation has turned out to be partial, and deceptive. In theaters deemed part of the war on terrorism, President Bush indeed looks like the most activist U.S. president in a generation. But in most of the rest of the world -- including regions where Washington has been an indispensable power broker for a half-century or more -- this administration has executed a major retreat.
Oblivious in D.C. by Bob Herbert
Those who still believe that the policies of the Bush administration will set in motion some kind of renaissance in Iraq should take a look at what's happening to the quality of life for ordinary Americans here at home.
The president, buoyed by the bountiful patronage of the upper classes, seems indifferent to the increasingly harsh struggles of the working classes and the poor.
As Mr. Bush moves from fund-raiser to fund-raiser, building the mother of all campaign stockpiles, states from coast to coast are reaching depths of budget desperation unseen since the Great Depression. The disconnect here is becoming surreal. On Thursday the National Governors Association let it be known that the fiscal crisis that has crippled one state after another is worsening, not getting better.
There's a reason those campaign millions keep coming and coming and coming.
Not convinced? Check out the California situation here.
The Heat's On, No Matter What the Censors Say by Alex Bäcker
History repeats itself. White House officials this month struck scientific findings supporting global warming from an Environmental Protection Agency "comprehensive" report, replacing them with ambiguous phrases of dubious interest. In response, Christie Whitman, the EPA head, deleted the report's entire chapter on climate change.
Such maneuvers hardly seem a wise course of action for the administration of a nation whose global preeminence owes a good deal to its emphasis on science. Of more immediate concern to the current administration, it was hardly an effective way to suppress the findings. On the contrary, just as Galileo's trial made his previously published book even more prized than it was before, the White House's action catapulted the omitted findings into national headlines: The scientific consensus is that the Earth is heating up, and it's probably because of human activities.
Perhaps the administration will learn, if not from history, from its own mistakes. For, as intimidating as President Bush may seem to the EPA's Whitman, the Earth's temperature does not respect authority.
Skewed Picture of America
By nominating William H. Pryor Jr. to the federal appeals court, George Bush has declared that the Alabama attorney general is not only qualified to sit on the nation's second-highest court but is the kind of judge most Americans want. Senators should reject this implausible assessment.
Even though the Senate has already confirmed 132 judges, pushing court vacancies to a 13-year low, the White House still complains about delays. Go-along-to-get-along Republicans may want to approve Pryor rather than buck their president.
But the appointment of Pryor, 41, to a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals would be an endorsement of an ominous view of American law. At this month's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he defended — even amplified on — his disturbing views. His candor is refreshing but it leaves squirming senators no cover.
Why are we still here? by Pat Buchanan
"What are we getting into here?" asked the sergeant from the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, stationed north of Baghdad. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"
The questions that sergeant put to a Washington Post reporter are ones our commander in chief had better begin to address.
For less than three months after the fall of Baghdad, we have lost almost as many men in Iraq as we did in three weeks of war. One U.S. soldier is now dying there every day.
"Mission Accomplished," read the banner behind President Bush as he spoke from the carrier deck of the Lincoln. But if the original mission – to oust Saddam and end the mortal threat of his weapons of mass destruction – is "accomplished," why are we still there?
Sunday, June 29, 2003
Letters / Bush's rating on the scale of presidential deceptions
Re: "Truth is, presidents have often bent facts," June 22:
I don't know if there's a record for most verbal acrobatics in a single article, but if there is, it belongs to Dick Polman for the many somersaults he turned in attempting to avoid coming out and saying what a growing number of people already know: President Bush lied. And not just about Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons.
Bush's statements linking Iraq to al-Quaeda, his warnings of deadly drones poised to fly to the United States, and his horrific inventories of the quantities of chemical and biological agents stockpiled in Iraq, were all based on intelligence that was dubious at best, and nonexistent or fabricated at worst.
Nor is this pattern of deception confined to the Iraq war. In virtually everything it does, from changing scientific reports on global warming to Bush's assertion that he hardly knew Enron's Ken Lay, this administration makes it clear that its guiding principle, stunning in its amoral clarity, is best expressed as "It's not a lie if it works."
This is an interesting set of letters to the editor.
Bush and Blair promised justice in Iraq. Another lie by Mark Seddon
In this postwar reality of claim, counter-claim and corruption, "justice" is arbitrary - and made more so by the chaos in Iraq itself. The country smoulders into guerrilla warfare, and Baghdad remains a looted, threatening place where the new "provisional coalition authority" can't even get the lights to work. And yet "coalition" leaders show little sign of acknowledging the occupation's spectacular failures or the scale of opposition to it in Iraq and around the world. In a interview yesterday the head of the US administration in Iraq, Paul Bremer, asserted that: "We dominate the scene and we will ... impose our will on this country."
[The Guardian (UK), 6/30/03]
Scandal lurks in shadow of Iraq evidence by Diane Carman
Several members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including Democrats Bob Graham, D-Fla., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., told The New Republic that they knew that evidence contradicting the Bush administration's claims had been concealed, but they were unable to reveal it because it was classified.
Still, Congress, which spent $80 million to prove that, yes, Bill Clinton did have sexual relations with that woman, has yet to order an investigation.
Rep. Diana DeGette claims to know why.
"It's obvious. It's because the Republicans control Congress and the White House," the Colorado Democrat said.
When do we just call Iraq a quagmire? by Derrick Jackson
Oil is to die for. More to the point, oil is precious enough for the government to send off your children, your husbands, your wives, your partners, your brothers, and your sisters to die for. That is a rapidly escalating conclusion as American soldiers continue to die at the rate of one a day in Iraq without any major perturbation in Congress or disturbance from the American people.
No weapons of mass destruction have been found. What we do have are sniper shootings, grenade attacks, and the deaths of nearly 50 U.S. soldiers 48 days after Bush said major combat operations were over in Iraq.
On May 1, Bush said, "We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated.'' Seven weeks later and with no vile vials in hand, Bush gave a speech Monday in Elizabeth, N.J., where he did not make a single reference to weapons of mass destruction.
Instead, Bush chose to distract Americans from his Nixonian erasing of his justification for war by criticizing his critics as "revisionist historians.''
Meanwhile, Bush's fellow Republicans in Congress were suppressing history by fighting any formal investigation into the possible cooking of intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
These people are completely out of control.
U.S. Credibility Under Fire
Commanders in chief can't always offer unequivocal candor about military affairs. In 1940, Franklin Roosevelt quietly shipped destroyers to England; that act, history has decided, proved to be a blessing. But disaster followed when Lyndon Johnson exploited the Gulf of Tonkin incident to escalate the U.S. role in Vietnam.
Now President Bush and his administration march perilously close to crossing the line in giving Americans — and the world — questionable information on the U.S. involvement in Iraq.
It's becoming a pattern: The administration acts on what it declares to be good intelligence. Then, reality gets shrouded in uncertainty.
The U.S. assault on a six-vehicle convoy earlier this month near the Iraqi city of Qaim illustrates the problem. U.S. officials relied on what they first said was sound intelligence indicating that Saddam Hussein and his sons were part of the convoy. Now they concede there's no evidence they were. Instead, the world learned that U.S. troops wiped out a tiny village of Bedouins. U.S. military vehicles then sealed the area to prevent journalists from entering.
And we're the good guys.
Bush's war on poverty
As a presidential candidate in 1999, George W. Bush shocked and angered House Republicans by saying he didn't ''think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor'' by delaying tax credits to low-income families. As president he has done far worse: The more than $1.6 trillion in tax cuts he has pushed through Congress in his first 30 months in office are fundamentally a declaration of war against the poor.
Federal tax revenues this year will be at their lowest level as a share of the economy since 1959 - and that was before Medicare, Medicaid, and most of the assistance programs like food stamps and Head Start for low-income people. The revenue drop comes just as baby boomers are beginning to retire, causing surges in Social Security and Medicare enrollments.
Say one thing, do another.
Bush's duck and cover strategy by Thomas Oliphant
For someone who prides himself on his self-image of strong leadership, President Bush has taken two revealing swan dives on the issues of race and privacy.
In each case, he lacked the courage of his alleged convictions and chose to cower behind the canned statements of White House pols that explicitly contradicted his past positions.