From the Front Office - Part Two


It's been increasingly difficult to stay grounded in reason and focus on ways to meet the real challenges facing our democratic nation.

But it can be argued that the messy spectacle on display during this United States Presidential election is, actually, a vital part of the scrappy, searching, contest for the leadership of America. Sure, it can be--and has been--part sideshow and sermon. But was it ever otherwise? In countries where dissent is stamped out and multiple candidates are "disappeared", the realities of political "elections" are much uglier and deadlier. By contrast, showing our hidden and not-so-hidden biases, our (sometimes serious) failings and flaws--voluntarily or involuntarily--are as much part of the process of vetting and review as what policies and procedures candidates have in mind for how to continue to run the country. As citizens, we want to know who a leader is, how that leader will act under pressure--the relentless pressure of the Presidency. Intentions, beliefs, credibility and behavior COUNT.

A word about behavior. It is no doubt a painful decision for someone who has suffered an assault to come forward and speak about it publicly, in order to refute a candidate's knowingly false claims of innocence. For those women who felt the burn of unwarranted shame and sudden violation, speaking out requires a special kind of bravery for which our society must be truly grateful. "Seeing" what has happened, even years later, for what it is, may help remove the unfair stigma of victims and move our nation towards a total rejection of such behavior by anyone, but especially those in positions of power. This election season has been a brutal lesson in the invisible toll on women of our nation.

Leaders in countries stifled by oppression are often braggarts, bullies and bigots. Precisely because we are a nation of diverse backgrounds, cultures, identities, interests, and dreams, we must be carefully navigate the balance of a society made of necessarily different peoples into an invested thriving body politic. Leadership is seeing clearly, working hard and long towards laudable goals, cooperating with others, listening and learning. Leaders weigh their words and choices carefully, and take responsibility.

A responsible leader also understands that an election to office is part of a continuum of governance. We want a President who respects our hard-fought voting process-- a process that has literally cost lives in our struggle for and in democracy.

Has the US election season given our body politic answers enough?

From the Front Office: Part One In Medias Res - This Way In

"Working together" -- bringing intelligence, varied resources and abilities, along with our increasing awareness of the connectivity essential to our mutual survival -- is arguably the number one lesson we human beings have learned from our busy time on earth.

When life's challenges fray us into frustration, ideally the frustration should be channeled into a cool-headed review of ways to advance change that brings all of us past the frustration and forward.

Without such vision, we splinter, we shatter. We become prey to anger, and to those who stoke it. Those strident voices then misdirect that anger into blame and attacks at certain persons, or a group or class of people. This is false fire. Those who would set us at each other's throats are sirens. They beckon us to go backwards, into a game of tribes, into a "show of strength", into darkness.

What do we do? Filling the skies (and social media) with anger because you believe you are "right" still breeds anger. And yes, that does actually lead to the dark side, as even a tiny tot knows. The answer is not to "hate" those who help misdirect us, but to see how they slash and divide. Turn aside from their cooked-up political fast food, and put our heads (and votes) together and get back to work. Each of us has the responsibility to decide, each time we make a choice, whether to work side by side with each other on a problem, or whether we fail to see the real problems and instead, waste time and lives turning on each other in misdirected anger. We choose whether to be fooled by a siren's call. Sirens scorn diplomacy and accords, and long-term thinking, so these are the best tools for us to use to get to work. Together.

This Way In

From the Front Office: "Leave It"

"Both industry and environmental groups say that the Chukchi Sea [in the Arctic] is one of the most dangerous places in the world to drill. The area is extremely remote, with no roads connecting to major cities or deepwater ports within hundreds of miles, making it difficult for cleanup and rescue workers to reach in case of an accident.

The closest Coast Guard station with equipment for responding to a spill is over 1,000 miles away. The weather is extreme, with major storms, icy waters and waves up to 50 feet high. The sea is also a major migration route and feeding area for marine mammals, including bowhead whales and walruses. --- Excerpt from the New York Times, May 11, 2015


Alien One: Well, it's a shame, really. Giving up the Arctic to oil exploration and drilling just as the Antarctic shelf is melting. Kind of a bi-polar disaster. I mean, by 2015 there was plenty of evidence that active disintegration of the earth's air, soil, and waters---

Alien Two: --What they called "climate change"--

Alien One: --Climate change. They were pretty skilled at euphemisms, weren't they? So, yeah, it was only going to get worse. Somehow, even in the US, the "all pulling together" phenomenon didn't catch on. Instead, they pushed ahead, and finally, different geographical factions battled it out economically and then militarily. It was ugly.

Alien Two: Flooded living sites, crop loss, animal loss, ecosystem loss, political upheavals which followed and intensified in a vicious domino effect--

Alien One: --one fall setting off a reaction in several directions--

Alien Two: --Exactly. Protecting the Arctic could have been the focus of a collective push to see and deal with it differently. It was a chance. Really, their last chance. And they blew it.

Alien One: (Finishes last of its tea. ) Would've been scary to meet them. From what we know of them. Though I've got to admit, the sky map looked beautiful with their planet.

(They look for a moment through the zoom of the interactive sky map, at the grey, dead planet.)

Alien Two: I should get going. I've got a team meeting to present our latest cancer cures.

Alien One: Sweet. Hey, thanks for tea time, buddy. See you later.

Alien Two: Yup. Later.

From the Front Office: "The Ends Do Not Justify the Means"

Some of us learn this axiom as children, then watch as it unravels in the world, one person, one country, one legal system, at a time.

In our view, the US judiciary has rightly exposed the NSA broad citizen data grab as unlawful, with a reminder to all of us that such draconian measures, if called for, shall be taken after prolonged debate and review, and crafted with unambiguous language. In other words, we still have a say in what and how our country does its spywork, no matter how often the National Security Cloak of Invisibility is raised.

Excerpt from the New York Times, May 7, 2015

"Section 215 of the U.S.A.Patriot Act, cannot be legitimately interpreted to allow the bulk collection of domestic calling records. – From the 97-page ruling, by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The appeals court ruling raises the question of whether Section 215, extended or not, has ever legitimately authorized the program. The statute on its face permits only the collection of records deemed “relevant” to a national security case. The government secretly decided, with the FISA court’s secret approval, that this could be interpreted to mean collection of all records, so long as only those that later turn out to be relevant are scrutinized by analysts.

However, Judge Lynch wrote: “Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans. Perhaps such a contraction is required by national security needs in the face of the dangers of contemporary domestic and international terrorism. But we would expect such a momentous decision to be preceded by substantial debate, and expressed in unmistakable language.”

The bulk phone records program traces back to October 2001. After the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush secretly authorized the N.S.A. to begin a group of surveillance and data-collection programs, without obeying statutory limits on government spying, for the purpose of hunting for hidden terrorist cells.

Over time, the legal basis for each component of that program, known as Stellarwind, evolved. In 2006, the administration persuaded a FISA court judge to issue an order approving the bulk phone records component, based on the idea that Section 215 could be interpreted as authorizing bulk collection.

Many other judges serving on the FISA court have subsequently renewed the program at roughly 90-day intervals. It came to light in June 2013 as part of the leaks by the intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden. The revelation led to a series of lawsuits challenging the program. Different district court judges reached opposing conclusions about its legality. Thursday’s ruling did not address the A.C.L.U.’s separate argument that bulk collection of records about Americans — regardless of the claimed statutory basis — is unconstitutional.

Background on Stellar Wind from The New Yorker, June 27, 2013
N.S.A. Latest: The Secret History of Domestic Surveillance

For two years of the Obama Administration—from 2009 to 2011—the N.S.A. continued a previously undisclosed Bush-era program that enabled the Agency to sweep up vast amounts of information about American citizens’ Internet use. This included whom they were e-mailing with and which computers they were using. The program, which went under the code name “Stellar Wind,” was ended in 2011, and hasn’t been restarted, a senior Administration official told the newspaper.

For those of us who are concerned about this stuff, it’s depressing to think that the Administration, in addition to allowing the N.S.A. to collect vast amounts of metadata about Americans’ personal phone calls, also preserved a program to track U.S. citizens’ Internet usage. (In the case of an e-mail, metadata includes the names of the sender and all of the recipients, plus the I.S.P. address of the device used to access the Internet. The subject line and what the e-mail says are considered “content,” and under operation Stellar Wind, at least, they weren’t collected.) On the other hand, the online metadata-collection program was ended in 2011, although exactly why that happened isn’t clear. Shawn Turner, the Obama Administration’s director of communications for national intelligence, told the Guardian that operation Stellar Wind was stopped for “operational and resource reasons,” but he didn’t specify what these were.

In a separate story, Greenwald and Ackerman reported that the new documents confirm that the N.S.A., in targeting suspects overseas and those they communicate with, still mines vast amounts of online data from American citizens. Thanks to the previous revelations about Operation Prism, we sort of knew this. But the new documents add some telling details about the scale of the online snooping. For example, by the end of last year, one particular N.S.A. Internet tracking program called ShellTrumpet (there appear to have been many others) had already processed a trillion (1,000,000,000,000) metadata records.

If you, like me, are wondering how things came to this, the documents, which include a top-secret draft of a 2009 historical review by the N.S.A.’s Inspector General, provide some of the answers. Indeed, that may well be their most lasting contribution. As you might have guessed, it all goes back to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when George W. Bush issued an internal order with this title:


According to the Inspector General’s report, the order was drafted by David Addington, the chief counsel to Vice-President Dick Cheney. General Michael Hayden, who was the director of the N.S.A. from 1999 until 2005, “suggested that the ability to collect information with one end in the United States without a court order would increase NSA’s speed and agility,” the report says. “General Hayden stated that after two additional meetings with the Vice President, the Vice President asked him to work with his counsel, David Addington.”

In retrospect, what’s most notable about the order President Bush signed are the restrictions it contained. Originally, it lasted for just thirty days, and was limited to online communications in which at least one of the communicants was located outside the United States. Moreover, it was explicitly based on “the President’s determination that after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, an extraordinary emergency existed for national defense purposes.” Over time, though, the “extraordinary emergency” was deemed a permanent state of affairs, and the scope of the authorization was broadened until, eventually, it came to include even the collection of data from communications between American citizens located inside the United States.

For a few years, the online surveillance didn’t have any court approval. “NSA determined that FISA authorization did not allow sufficient flexibility to counter the terrorist threat,” the Inspector General’s report said. In March, 2004, senior officials at the Justice Department, including James Comey, who was then the acting Attorney General, and who has recently been nominated to head the F.B.I., objected to this system, prompting the White House and the N.S.A. to bring Stellar Wind to a halt.

But things didn’t end there. As the documents show, and as a must-read piece by Spencer Ackerman explains, the N.S.A. and the White House quickly found a way to bring the online-surveillance operations under the ambit of regular intelligence laws, and barely three months later, in July, 2004, the chief judge in the FISA courts, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, granted the N.S.A. authority to once again begin collecting online metadata. “Although NSA lost access to the bulk metadata from 26 March 2004 until the order was signed, the order essentially gave NSA the same authority to collect bulk internet metadata that it had,” the Inspector General’s report says, “except that it specified the datalinks from which NSA could collect, and it limited the number of people that could access the data.”

Still, the N.S.A. chafed at the remaining legal restrictions on accessing data from American citizens communicating online with other American citizens. In a November, 2007, memorandum, which the Guardian has also posted online, a lawyer at the Justice Department, Kenneth Wainstein, told Michael Mukasey, the New York judge who had recently taken over as Attorney General, that the N.S.A. wanted a new set of procedures that would give the Agency considerably broader authorization. The memo said:

The Supplemental Procedures, attached at Tab A, would clarify that the National Security Agency (NSA) may analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United StatesÖWe conclude that the proposed Supplemental Procedures are consistent with the applicable law and we recommend that you approve them.

The memo argued that the new set of procedures, because they covered online metadata rather than actual content, didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment’s right to privacy, and neither did they need the approval of the FISA courts: “To fall within FISA’s definition of ‘electronic surveillance,’ an action must satisfy one of the four definitions of that term. None of these definitions cover the communications metadata analysis at issue here.”

Evidently, Mukasey approved the new procedures, and they formed the legal basis of operation Stellar Wind, which continued until 2011. But it also seems that the FISA courts did, eventually, approve the program. According to the Guardian’s account, a FISA judge issued a legal order every ninety days approving the collection, in bulk, of online metadata. Why the court did this, and whether it registered any objections to or demanded any changes in the N.S.A.’s actions, we don’t know. The FISA court’s deliberations, unlike a lot of other things, remain shrouded in secrecy.

From the Front Office:   Dissent

When the Supreme Court rules on Equal Protection for Same Sex Couples and their Children: Start Making Sense

DeBoer v. Snyder
Decided and Filed: November 6, 2014 Before: DAUGHTREY, SUTTON and COOK, Circuit Judges.

MARTHA CRAIG DAUGHTREY, Sixth Circuit Judge, dissenting.

[U]nder our constitutional system, the courts are assigned the responsibility of determining individual rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, regardless of popular opinion or even a plebiscite. As the Supreme Court has noted, “It is plain that the electorate as a whole, whether by referendum or otherwise, could not order [government] action violative of the Equal Protection Clause, and the [government] may not avoid the strictures of that Clause by deferring to the wishes or objections of some fraction of the body politic.” City of Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 448 (internal citation omitted).

Moreover, as it turns out, legalization of same-sex marriage in the “nineteen states and the District of Columbia” mentioned by the majority was not uniformly the result of popular vote or legislative enactment. Nine states now permit same-sex marriage because of judicial decisions, both state and federal: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Mexico, and Colorado (state supreme court decisions); New Jersey (state superior court decision not appealed by defendant); California (federal district court decision allowed to stand in ruling by United States Supreme Court); and Oregon and Pennsylvania (federal district court decisions not appealed by defendants). Despite the majority’s insistence that, as life-tenured judges, we should step aside and let the voters determine the future of the state constitutional provisions at issue here, those nine federal and state courts have seen no acceptable reason to do so. In addition, another 16 states have been or soon will be added to the list, by virtue of the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari review in Kitchen, Bostick, and Baskin, and the Court’s order dissolving the stay in Latta. The result has been the issuance of hundreds—perhaps thousands—of marriage licenses in the wake of those orders. Moreover, the 35 states that are now positioned to recognize same- sex marriage are comparable to the 34 states that permitted interracial marriage when the Supreme Court decided Loving. If the majority in this case is waiting for a tipping point, it seems to have arrived.

To my mind, the soundest description of this analysis is found in Justice Stevens’s separate opinion in City of Cleburne:

In every equal protection case, we have to ask certain basic questions. What class is harmed by the legislation, and has it been subjected to a “tradition of disfavor” by our laws? What is the public purpose that is being served by the law? What is the characteristic of the disadvantaged class that justifies the disparate treatment? In most cases the answer to these questions will tell us whether the statute has a “rational basis.” Id. at 453 (Stevens, J., concurring) (footnotes omitted).

I would apply just this analysis to the constitutional amendments and statutes at issue in these cases, confident that the result of the inquiry would be to affirm the district courts’ decisions in all six cases. I therefore dissent from the majority’s decision to overturn those judgments.

Today, my colleagues seem to have fallen prey to the misguided notion that the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution can be effectuated only by cleaving to the legislative will and ignoring and demonizing an independent judiciary. Of course, the framers presciently recognized that two of the three co-equal branches of government were representative in nature and necessarily would be guided by self-interest and the pull of popular opinion. To restrain those natural, human impulses, the framers crafted Article III to ensure that rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims.

More than 20 years ago, when I took my oath of office to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, I solemnly swore to “administer justice without respect to persons,” to “do equal right to the poor and to the rich,” and to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me . . . under the Constitution and laws of the United States.” See 28 U.S.C. § 453. If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit; No. 2:12-cv-10285—Bernard A. Friedman, District Judge.
14-3057 & 14-3464
Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Cincinnati; Nos. 1:13-cv-00501 & 1:14-cv-00129—Timothy S. Black, District Judge.
14-5291 & 14-5818
Appeals from the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky at Louisville; No. 3:13-cv-00750—John G. Heyburn II, District Judge.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville; No. 3:13-cv-01159—Aleta Arthur Trauger, District Judge.

From the Front Office:   "Short and Long-Term Effects of the BP Spill on the Ocean, the Earth, the Economy, and Oh Yes, Various Species of Life, Including Human Beings"

Oh wait, there is no link, no article, no study to tell us this.

  From the Front Office:  Frustrating Flashback - déjà vu

The Copenhagen Accord: "A Hollow Victory"

In his speech before the plenary session at the Copenhagen Climate Conference,
U.S. President Obama changed a word of the text--and instead of being able to declare
that the pieces of an agreement are clear, he stated that they should be clear.

What is clear--to us--if not to the governments and corporations of the world, is that:

Without a binding agreement on carbon emissions reduction and a commitment to shifting to
sustainable and renewable energy models, we are failing to properly provide for the future
of our children, and our planet.

More people need to get more involved, to move more governments to act more responsibly,
for a more practical, more effective, more balanced way of living.

Let's get this party started.

Bella Center, Copenhagen, Denmark
12:32 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning. It is an honor for me to join this distinguished group of leaders from nations around the world. We come here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. All of you would not be here unless you -- like me -- were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction, it is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet. This much we know.

The question, then, before us is no longer the nature of the challenge -- the question is our capacity to meet it. For while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, I have to be honest, as the world watches us today, I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt right now, and it hangs in the balance.

I believe we can act boldly, and decisively, in the face of a common threat. That's why I come here today -- not to talk, but to act.

Now, as the world's largest economy and as the world's second largest emitter, America bears our responsibility to address climate change, and we intend to meet that responsibility. That's why we've renewed our leadership within international climate change negotiations. That's why we've worked with other nations to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. That's why we've taken bold action at home -- by making historic investments in renewable energy; by putting our people to work increasing efficiency in our homes and buildings; and by pursuing comprehensive legislation to transform to a clean energy economy.

These mitigation actions are ambitious, and we are taking them not simply to meet global responsibilities. We are convinced, as some of you may be convinced, that changing the way we produce and use energy is essential to America's economic future -- that it will create millions of new jobs, power new industries, keep us competitive, and spark new innovation. We're convinced, for our own self-interest, that the way we use energy, changing it to a more efficient fashion, is essential to our national security, because it helps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and helps us deal with some of the dangers posed by climate change.

So I want this plenary session to understand, America is going to continue on this course of action to mitigate our emissions and to move towards a clean energy economy, no matter what happens here in Copenhagen. We think it is good for us, as well as good for the world. But we also believe that we will all be stronger, all be safer, all be more secure if we act together. That's why it is in our mutual interest to achieve a global accord in which we agree to certain steps, and to hold each other accountable to certain commitments.

After months of talk, after two weeks of negotiations, after innumerable side meetings, bilateral meetings, endless hours of discussion among negotiators, I believe that the pieces of that accord should now be clear.

First, all major economies must put forward decisive national actions that will reduce their emissions, and begin to turn the corner on climate change. I'm pleased that many of us have already done so. Almost all the major economies have put forward legitimate targets, significant targets, ambitious targets. And I'm confident that America will fulfill the commitments that we have made: cutting our emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020, and by more than 80 percent by 2050 in line with final legislation.

Second, we must have a mechanism to review whether we are keeping our commitments, and exchange this information in a transparent manner. These measures need not be intrusive, or infringe upon sovereignty. They must, however, ensure that an accord is credible, and that we're living up to our obligations. Without such accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page.

I don't know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information and ensuring that we are meeting our commitments. That doesn't make sense. It would be a hollow victory.

Number three, we must have financing that helps developing countries adapt, particularly the least developed and most vulnerable countries to climate change. America will be a part of fast-start funding that will ramp up to $10 billion by 2012. And yesterday, Secretary Hillary Clinton, my Secretary of State, made it clear that we will engage in a global effort to mobilize $100 billion in financing by 2020, if -- and only if -- it is part of a broader accord that I have just described.

Mitigation. Transparency. Financing. It's a clear formula -- one that embraces the principle of common but differentiated responses and respective capabilities. And it adds up to a significant accord -- one that takes us farther than we have ever gone before as an international community.

I just want to say to this plenary session that we are running short on time. And at this point, the question is whether we will move forward together or split apart, whether we prefer posturing to action. I'm sure that many consider this an imperfect framework that I just described. No country will get everything that it wants. There are those developing countries that want aid with no strings attached, and no obligations with respect to transparency. They think that the most advanced nations should pay a higher price; I understand that. There are those advanced nations who think that developing countries either cannot absorb this assistance, or that will not be held accountable effectively, and that the world's fastest-growing emitters should bear a greater share of the burden.

We know the fault lines because we've been imprisoned by them for years. These international discussions have essentially taken place now for almost two decades, and we have very little to show for it other than an increased acceleration of the climate change phenomenon. The time for talk is over. This is the bottom line: We can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, continue to refine it and build upon its foundation. We can do that, and everyone who is in this room will be part of a historic endeavor -- one that makes life better for our children and our grandchildren.

Or we can choose delay, falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year, perhaps decade after decade, all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no time to waste. America has made our choice. We have charted our course. We have made our commitments. We will do what we say. Now I believe it's the time for the nations and the people of the world to come together behind a common purpose.

We are ready to get this done today -- but there has to be movement on all sides to recognize that it is better for us to act than to talk; it’s better for us to choose action over inaction; the future over the past -- and with courage and faith, I believe that we can meet our responsibility to our people, and the future of our planet. Thank you very much.

From the Front Office:   "Short and Long-Term Effects of the BP Spill on the Ocean, the Earth, the Economy, and Oh Yes, Various Species of Life, Including Human Beings"

Oh wait, there is no link, no article, no study to tell us this.

From the Front Office: September 30, 2011. "An Unwelcome Gardener"

The Damage from the War in Iraq: Consequences are Global, Lasting and Never Collateral

The war which was never acknowledged as a war, and which US citizens were told would last “a few months”, passes into the hands of the United States Department of State on October1, 2011.

From the New York Times:
Liberated, but They Have to Live There
By Peter Van Buren
Published: September 29, 2011

On Saturday, control of the United States mission in Iraq will formally pass from the military to the State Department. But after eight years of war, Iraq is still plagued by corruption, sectarianism and violence. And after a year spent in the desert outside Baghdad as the leader of two State Department Provincial Reconstruction Teams, I don’t have much faith that the department can turn things around. We closed down our operations last September as part of normalizing relations, and I am still haunted by the Iraqis we left behind. No matter the strategic value of the war, our legacy will be written in those human lives.

There was so little we could do for people. One Iraqi I met observed that the United States had sponsored expensive art shows in his neighborhood three years in a row, but did nothing about the lack of functioning sewers, electricity and running water. “It is like I am standing naked in a room with a big hat on my head,” he told me. “Everyone comes in and puts ribbons on my hat, but no one seems to notice that I am naked.”

When my team tried to give away fruit tree seedlings to replant ruined orchards, a farmer spat on the ground and said, “You killed my son and now you are giving me a tree?”

Below is a timeline of posts from the Talking Shop/OffTopic internet forum on the Iraq War where people could share thoughtful commentary.

Iraq War Posts

As far as likening the US war in Iraq to previous US military actions, I'd like to offer some portions from "Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East", written by Rashid Khalidi, a professor at Columbia University. (He appeared on Charlie Rose a while back.) From Chapter One: In the seemingly interminable political buildup to the United States' second war on Iraq in twelve years, many reasons, some of them contradictory, were advanced for an enterprise that even its proponents admitted was a novel departure for the United States. Perhaps this was because this was explicitly intended to be a war of choice, an optional war, or in the terms preferred by the Pentagon and President George W. Bush, a preemptive or preventive war. The 2003 war on Iraq was indeed a momentous departure from what most American fancied had always been the posture of their country in the 20th century with respect to military conflict: that the nation would go to war only after being attacked. Notwithstanding invasions of Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Grenada, and numerous other smaller countries . . . Americans deeply cherished the notion that they went to war only when forced to do so. The 2003 war in Iraq clearly does not fit into this pattern, for evil and aggressive though the Iraqi Ba'thist regime of Saddam Hussein certainly was, it had never directly attacked the United States.

Far from being able to threaten the greatest superpower in world history, Iraq was apparently considered to be so little of a threat by its immediate neighbors that most of them were reluctant to support an unprovoked war on it, in spite of intense American pressure to do so. (Most of the same countries had willingly participated in the 1991 war, which Iraq when it was much stronger, had clearly provoked.) In consequence, as an acute observer noted, President Bush's much touted "coalition of the willing" was more like "a coalition of the coerced, the cowed and the co-opted." This was thus neither a war to protect the United States not one to defend its regional allies. In fact, as some of the proponents waging war on Iraq have openly stated, the 2003 campaign was meant to be the first in a new category of wars they advocated the United States should launch on its own in the 21st century. (My emphasis added-R) There were to be wars waged to assure American values prevailed--as President Bush stated in September 2002, "these values . . . are right and true for every person, in every society"--or as others perceived it, to guarantee the United States' continued hegemony. The president added that "as a matter of common sense, America will act against . . . emerging threats before they are fully formed," since "in the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action." This approach was dubbed "a distinctly American internationalism" by the Bush administration.''

The Rush to War In Iraq

The administration's revolutionary departure from previous practice with respect to military engagement was enshrined the National Security Strategy of the United States of America, released in September 2002. The new doctrine asserted that "the best defense is a good offense." It went well beyond the traditional understandings of what constitutes a preemptive or preventive war, and beyond most accepted notions of the limits imposed by international law and the sovreignty of independent states, in ominously referring to the United States hereafter "convincing or compelling states to accept their sovreign responsibilities." It went on: "We will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively" (p.6). Referring to possible attacks by terrorists or rogue states, it declared: "To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively" (p.15). In the measured words of the eminent historian Sir Michael Howard, this new doctrine constituted "one of the most important documents in the history of America, and its full implications are just beginning to sink in," for, he added, Bush "seemed to be demolishing the whole structure of international law as it had developed since the 17th century." In light of what followed, it is clear that this major doctrinal shift has still not received anything like the attention it deserves.

In their attempts to garner support for this first venture based on this new doctrine, what has been called the "War Party," the group of advisors that closely surrounds President Bush, adduced several main reasons for the unprecedented step of an unprovoked invasion of Iraq. Among them were the dangers supposedly posed to the United States and its allies of Iraq's possible (certain, according to these proponents of war) possession of a range of nonconventional weapons--"weapons of mass destruction," in the lurid and not particularly accurate term employed by the administration and parroted by the media (often then boiled down to the acronym WMD, thereby conflating banned battlefield armaments like gas with nuclear weapons, designed originally for use against civilian population centers, and so used in 1945). these dangers took on added menace in view of Iraq's aggression against two of its neighbors, Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990, and its intensive use of poison gas against Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War.

The threat posed by Iraq was at times amplified by the repeated suggestions that it might offer nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons to clandestine terrorists like those of al-Qu'ida, who less than two years earlier had attacked New York and Washington with devastating effect. Likely or not, this chilling scenario tapped into the deep well of anxiety these attacks had left behind among many Americans. And the administration was working fertile ground: polls for as long as two years after the event showed that existence of an Iraqi connection with 9/11 was accepted by a large majority of Americans, despite the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever for such a connection. The completely new element constituted by the profound popular concern about the possibility of new terrorist attacks on the US homeland was recognized and regularly exploited to drum up support for the war in Iraq by supporters of the administration. It was prominently featured in President Bush's second State of the Union message on January 28, 2003, in his speech of March 17, 2003, presenting a 48-hour ultimatum to the Iraqi regime, and in numerous other administration policy statements.

But the threats posed by the Iraqi regime to the United States, its allies, and its interests, whether they were in fact as serious as was affirmed or not (Not a threat, as there were NO weapons, we have since learned--R), were apparently not enough to convince Americans to support the war unreservedly and in massive numbers, forcing the president and his supporters to marshall other justifications. Some argued that these were in fact the truest, deepest moral justifications for such a war of choice, and were the ones that made war necessary. The most important of them was the argument that inaction was morally unacceptable in the face of what was described as the absolute, indeed Hitlerian, evil represented by the Iraqi regime and its demonic dictator, whose cruelties were detailed by supporters of war inside and outside the government. The American people were told by the Bush administration, echoed by a chorus of voices in the pliant punditocracy and the many right-wing think tanks, that it was imperative that the United States intervene militarily to overthrow the Iraqi government and impose a new one--to engage in "regime change," to use the sanitized term initially favored by the influential proponets of this apporach. This blunt (but honest) terminology was later discarded, perhaps because it was seen as insufficiently idealistic to galvanize Americans to support an unprovked war of choice, in favor of a call to "liberate" and "democratize" Iraq.

The day after the war began, however, the euphoria of their success in helping to launch the United States on the path of military adventure in Iraq may have slightly intoxicated some of the leading neoconservative luminaries. At an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) "black coffee briefing on the war in Iraq" on Friday March 21, 2003, described as "a victory celebration" by British journalist Guy Dinmore, three of the most influential non-office-holding members of this group, William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, Richard Perle, then-chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, and Michael Ledeen, a former Reagan administration official, reverted to the unvarnished language of regime change. Specifically, regime change in Syria and Iran was a central part of the post-war agenda they had laid out for what Ledeen said was part of a "longer war."

The agenda they described was global in nature: it included as well radical reform of the United Nations and "containment" of France and Germany. This should not come as a surprise, for Perle has elsewhere written scornfully of "the fantasy of the UN as the foundation of the new world order." As Kristol said to those assembled over coffee at AEI, there was "a lack of awe for the US" in the Middle East, "an absence of respect that fostered contempt" for the superpower. It was this failure of previous US disciplinary actions in the region that the war on Iraq was presumably designed to correct. (Does anyone remember "shock and awe"?-R) For those with any historical memory, the words of Kristol and other neocons echoed eerily the doctrine central to the ethos of earlier Western imperial ventures in the Middle East, that the locals understand and respect only force.

Although it was supported by an intensive bombardment of such high-flown rhetoric, the inexorable advance to war on Iraq waged virtually unilaterally by the United States occasioned persistent dissent in the United States, and far more widespread opposition representing large majorities of the population in Europe, Russia, India, the Middle East, and the Islamic world and most other regions of the globe. The dissenters questioned whether the United States had the right to intervene unilaterally in the affairs of other peoples and countries, whether or not democracy can in fact be "transplanted" as a result of such intervention, and whether implanting democracy in Iraq or anywhere else in the Middle East was in fact the true objective of US policy. Doubts were raised in particular about the sincerity of the Bush administration on the latter score, because several of its leading figures, including the president and his father former president George H. W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the secretaries of defense and state, Donald Rumsfeld and General Colin Powell, as well as a host of lesser officials, had been on the best of terms for several decades with a variety of Middle Eastern despots, Saddam Hussein himself included.

Beyond this, commentators on the right and left have noted that neither muscular nationalists like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, nor the neoconservative members of the War Party who surrounded them and held key posts throughout the bureaucracy, in right-wing Washington think tanks and in the media, had ever been advocates of democratization of the Arab world. This is not surprising since real democracy in the region would mean free expression of the popular will, including, in all likelihood, calls for the removal of US bases in the Middle East, support of the Palestinians, and opposition to the Israeli occupation and settlement of Palestinian lands, all of which are abhorrent to the neocons. . . . It was pointed out further that installing a one-man/one-woman vote democracy in Iraq was unlikely the real intention of the War Party in Washington. (Iraq's population includes a 60% Shi'ite majority, which might be expected to sympathize with the predominantly Shi'ite neighboring Islamic republic of Iran.) For many of them, the War Party's hostility to Iran was second only to their obsession with Iraq, although even among these superhawks there were differences of approach and degree in dealing with Middle Eastern regimes they uniformly abhorred. It is now clear that these troubling questions about regime change and democratization, not to speak of how to deal with the aftermath of war and military occupation, legitimate and important though they all were, were cavalierly swept under the carpet by the Bush administration in the lead-up to the war.

But another crucial question, informed by the entire modern history of the Middle east, was also insufficiently considered. This is whether by invading, occupying and imposing a new regime in Iraq, the United States may be stepping, intentionally or not, into the boots of the old Western colonial powers, and even worse, may be doing so in a region that within living memory concluded a lengthy struggle to expel those hated occupations. This question suggests other related ones: What are the peoples of the Middle East likely to think of when they see foreign troops on their soil without their consent? What memories are triggered for them by foreign invasion, and what are their reactions to it likely to be? How have they reacted to foreign occupation and control, direct and indirect, in the recent past? How have outside powers helped or hindered the countries of this region in their evolution toward democracy and constitutionalism? What has been their experience over the past century as far as control of their valuable oil resources is concerned, and what historical sensitivities do they have on this score?"

That's all I'll quote--food for thought.

Please vote with your head and your heart. , - Thursday, October 21st 2004 - 12:48:35 PM

I forced myself to watch the debates. If you listen, you can hear what Bush intends to do. And it's not about better education, more and better jobs or job security, or health care, the environment, or the Bush budget deficit of over $412 billion (BILLION!) in fiscal 2004. In the last debate, he actually said the words.

The plan is "to fight the new wars of the 21st century".

That's what his plans for America are. Bush SAID those words. Actually said them, in public.

If we choose not to hear, we are going to be in deeper trouble, in more foreign wars than we can imagine.

I wrote the editorial below back at the Daily Telegiraffe's Anti-War News Page in January 2003, just after I'd attended an anti-war demonstration and march in San Francisco with my family. It was a plea for people to speak up. At the not--very--terrible risk of sounding repetitive, I'm going to repost it here and how. it's past time to just speak up, it's time to VOTE.

~A Flood of Feet Try to Stem the Tide of War~

On January 18, 2003, over 150,000 people marched together down Market Street in San Francisco to protest against a United States war against Iraq. It's not often that the front office meets the front page. But when a country has mobilized troops and is poised to attack another country, it's time to voice an opinion. If you support initiating this war, have you thought about why you support a military attack by the United States? Will the nation, its lawmakers, its public, get the expected results? Is getting those results worth starting a war? The lives of men and women who will fight it? And what happens after the bombs fall? Who will rule in a destroyed Iraq? How long will the U.S. be a military or peace-keeping force there? Who will pay to rebuild Iraq? Who will monitor Iraq so that it doesn't fall under another dictator? Or does the U.S. just drop the bombs and hope for the best? What is the financial cost to the failing U.S. domestic economy, in a time of proposed tax cuts, with the largest Federal debt in the nation's history? Why hasn't the U.S. cabinet included the costs of this war in its Federal budget? What is the human cost?

Is it wise to begin a war without allies? Without international support? In the face of strong international opposition? Does this proposed war with Iraq violate chapter 7 of the United Nations charter? What is the real agenda of those Washington officials who are now promoting an entirely different kind of war--a "pre-emptive" war? The exporting of a country's own political doctrines and the installation of like regimes is what the United States used to fight against, isn't it? Or is it permissible for the United States because America is "right" and knows what's right for another country and its people?

If you don't support this war, isn't it worth telling someone about that? Show or tell your government what you think. It's not enough to "blame them", and step outside the circle of responsibility. Respectful but impassioned dissent is not counter to the spirit of America, it's patriotic, and necessary. We all live here, on this earth, together, in uneasy alliance. It's the best we've got. Let's not blow it. And let's not blow it up.~

Sorry for the length . . . , - Tuesday, October 19th 2004 - 11:26:29 AM

For those Americans who are undecided about whom to vote for, maybe the words of the Vice President (just realized how apt that title really is) himself say it best:

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Vice President Dick Cheney said in a speech Aug. 26, 2002, 6½ months before the invasion. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”

America has so much work to do, clearing out leaders who don't deserve to be in its highest offices.

After 16 months of search and review, the latest findings are that there were no weapons of mass destruction, and no evidence that they were under development. Development had stopped in 1991. The nuclear threat had diminished, and was further diminishing when the United States used it as an excuse to launch a "pre-emptive" war the neo-conservatives have long planned. Learn more about the The Charles Duelfer report. And watch as Bush & Co. continue, doggedly, to make a case for war instead of peace.

- Wednesday, October 6th 2004 - 02:00:53 PM

What was that time frame again--for the U.S. to be "finished" with Iraq? Not anytime soon; "engagements" and "casualties" . . . And not only that, of course the American Public can't possibly see *coffins*--why, that would show the real cost of war--lives of men and women, lost.

- Tuesday, April 27th 2004 - 10:29:06 PM

From the Independent UK:

Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter who suggested that the Government lied in compiling its Iraq weapons dossier, bowed to the inevitable and resigned from the BBC yesterday.

Mr Gilligan, 35, the third BBC casualty of the affair, apologised for errors in the May broadcast, but said the BBC had been the victim of a "grave injustice".

Mr Gilligan had said in his initial broadcast on 29 May that the Government "probably knew" its claims about Saddam Hussein being able to deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes were wrong before they appeared in the September 2002 dossier, an important plank in its case for war.

Mr Gilligan said last night: "I again apologise for it. My departure is at my own initiative. But the BBC collectively has been the victim of a grave injustice."

His decision to quit came as Mr Blair faced a growing backlash over Lord Hutton's inquiry. There were fears inside the Government that it was in danger of losing the propaganda battle over the report. Mr Dyke challenged Lord Hutton's findings and accused Alastair Campbell, No 10's former communications director, of being "ungracious" in his comments about the Government's victory over the BBC.

Government unease was also fuelled yesterday on another front - the case for war. President George Bush was forced to say that he wanted to know the facts behind the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq. His intervention came after a week in which experts had rubbished intelligence reports suggesting that Saddam represented a threat to American and British interests, as Washington and London claimed before the war. Mr Blair was challenged by Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, to admit that the intelligence was "wildly wrong".

[End snip] You remember that Robin Cook resigned from the government over this war.

Hope this works in one paste this time! , - Saturday, January 31st 2004 - 09:48:09 AM

Asking the hard questions--nope, they don't. Except maybe when they want to run for President and want to paint some new pictures. The Democratic candidates are as hypocritical as the neo-conservative leaders are single-minded. I too, don't see any U.S. politician willing to risk the wrath of the "American people"--that homogenous group (when will we stop aaaaa-acting like sheep?!) who were gulled, patriotized and fear-factored into an eerie silence, then commandeered into supporting a pre-emptive war. Those of us who opposed the war were malcontents, we just weren't tough enough to see what had to be done, to be SAFE, harped the war-supporters. The level of fear induced in this country is like nothing I've ever seen. Money WASTED on Homeland Security, and other ways and tools to keep us quaking in our Ralph Lauren boots. (The swanky oil-set though, will be in vintage Courrèges.)

Wolfowitz and others of his neo-conservative ilk have stratagems, and aren't bothered by the public's need to govern; the public is easily misled and manipulated, with a short attention span, and diversions are everywhere. (Look at Mars, everyone! Let's pass Constitutional Amendments on marriage everyone! Hey--How about funding some programs to support marriage as a sacred institution! Hey-Let's get tough on those bad words on TV! Let's fluff up those domestic towels!) They do whatever it takes, and hey--they are proud arrogant archbishops of the new religion of global power. I don't mean world domination in the mad scientist sense, but opportunistic rushes for the pockets of power. Long-term plans, baby. For as long as takes, honey, you understand that, don't you?

I did watch the President's State of the Union--but I had to turn it off, and I read the rest in text later. By the time I got to "May God continue to bless America" it was hard not to be in despair

The head of the BBC just resigned over its claim that Blair "sexed up" the document which allegedly supported the conclusion that Iraq had WMD's. Judge Lord Hutton "cleared" Tony Blair, from what I read. What do you think of how this was handled? David Kelley's suicide--I guess we won't know (surprise) what was really in play. And Blair's decision to go to war, in the very clear absence now of those WMD's which were such a threat--remains.

Who makes history and who writes history? GML, maybe, eventually, Wolfowitz's real politik war may be seen for the horrible, costly, unholy mess it truly is, and will continue to be. Or maybe, he'll be cleared of wrongdoing, because well, he has such good intentions.

- Thursday, January 29th 2004 - 10:45:56 AM

The death, suffering and destruction caused by war are NOT ennobled by the very real people who pay the price for its wages. An informed and civilized people should never HAVE to be willing to make ANY sacrifice just to win a particular war. There are many political solutions to every bid for power. Leaders, and nations, and alliances, may have to accept less than all of the pie, however. Military action is never a "solution" because it's never "the last word". Powers and economics get rearranged in its wake. And I do mean "wake".

The tragedy, is that we never seem to learn how to manage the affairs of humankind without using war as a recurring "acceptable" political tool.

And to think that war is ever a "best" solution means we have a lot to learn, indeed.

Renie (offended by war, especially the Iraqi war), - Monday, January 12th 2004 - 09:52:03 AM

We are still mired in Iraq, and people are still being killed as 2008 comes to close. Where are those who predicted a "short war"?

One year later, and a little wiser, and the US will finally see the end of the Bush years. However, he leaves a lot of trash behind in the form of "midnight regulations"--jammed through in the last days of his disaster of a Presidency.

From the Observer UK:

Bush sneaks through host of laws to undermine Obama The lame-duck Republican team is rushing through radical measures, from coal waste dumping to power stations in national parks, that will take months to overturn, reports Paul Harris in New York

Paul Harris
The Observer, Sunday 14 December 2008

After spending eight years at the helm of one of the most ideologically driven administrations in American history, George W. Bush is ending his presidency in characteristically aggressive fashion, with a swath of controversial measures designed to reward supporters and enrage opponents.

By the time he vacates the White House, he will have issued a record number of so-called 'midnight regulations' - so called because of the stealthy way they appear on the rule books - to undermine the administration of Barack Obama, many of which could take years to undo.

Dozens of new rules have already been introduced which critics say will diminish worker safety, pollute the environment, promote gun use and curtail abortion rights. Many rules promote the interests of large industries, such as coal mining or energy, which have energetically supported Bush during his two terms as president. More are expected this week.

America's attention is focused on the fate of the beleaguered car industry, still seeking backing in Washington for a multi-billion-dollar bail-out. But behind the scenes, the 'midnight' rules are being rushed through with little fanfare and minimal media attention. None of them would be likely to appeal to the incoming Obama team.

The regulations cover a vast policy area, ranging from healthcare to car safety to civil liberties. Many are focused on the environment and seek to ease regulations that limit pollution or restrict harmful industrial practices, such as dumping strip-mining waste.

The Bush moves have outraged many watchdog groups. 'The regulations we have seen so far have been pretty bad,' said Matt Madia, a regulatory policy analyst at OMB Watch. 'The effects of all this are going to be severe.'

Bush can pass the rules because of a loophole in US law allowing him to put last-minute regulations into the Code of Federal Regulations, rules that have the same force as law. He can carry out many of his political aims without needing to force new laws through Congress. Outgoing presidents often use the loophole in their last weeks in office, but Bush has done this far more than Bill Clinton or his father, George Bush sr. He is on track to issue more 'midnight regulations' than any other previous president.

Many of these are radical and appear to pay off big business allies of the Republican party. One rule will make it easier for coal companies to dump debris from strip mining into valleys and streams. The process is part of an environmentally damaging technique known as 'mountain-top removal mining'. It involves literally removing the top of a mountain to excavate a coal seam and pouring the debris into a valley, which is then filled up with rock. The new rule will make that dumping easier.

Another midnight regulation will allow power companies to build coal-fired power stations nearer to national parks. Yet another regulation will allow coal-fired stations to increase their emissions without installing new anti-pollution equipment.

The Environmental Defense Fund has called the moves a 'fire sale of epic size for coal'. Other environmental groups agree. 'The only motivation for some of these rules is to benefit the business interests that the Bush administration has served,' said Ed Hopkins, a director of environmental quality at the Sierra Club. A case in point would seem to be a rule that opens up millions of acres of land to oil shale extraction, which environmental groups say is highly pollutant.

There is a long list of other new regulations that have gone onto the books. One lengthens the number of hours that truck drivers can drive without rest. Another surrenders government control of rerouting the rail transport of hazardous materials around densely populated areas and gives it to the rail companies.

One more chips away at the protection of endangered species. Gun control is also weakened by allowing loaded and concealed guns to be carried in national parks. Abortion rights are hit by allowing healthcare workers to cite religious or moral grounds for opting out of carrying out certain medical procedures.

A common theme is shifting regulation of industry from government to the industries themselves, essentially promoting self-regulation. One rule transfers assessment of the impact of ocean-fishing away from federal inspectors to advisory groups linked to the fishing industry. Another allows factory farms to self-regulate disposal of pollutant run-off.

The White House denies it is sabotaging the new administration. It says many of the moves have been openly flagged for months. The spate of rules is going to be hard for Obama to quickly overcome. By issuing them early in the 'lame duck' period of office, the Bush administration has mostly dodged 30- or 60-day time limits that would have made undoing them relatively straightforward.

Obama's team will have to go through a more lengthy process of reversing them, as it is forced to open them to a period of public consulting. That means that undoing the damage could take months or even years, especially if corporations go to the courts to prevent changes.

At the same time, the Obama team will have a huge agenda on its plate as it inherits the economic crisis. Nevertheless, anti-midnight regulation groups are lobbying Obama's transition team to make sure Bush's new rules are changed as soon as possible. 'They are aware of this. The transition team has a list of things they want to undo,' said Madia.

Bush's midnight regulations will:

• Make it easier for coal companies to dump waste from strip-mining into valleys and streams.

• Ease the building of coal-fired power stations nearer to national parks.

• Allow people to carry loaded and concealed weapons in national parks.

• Open up millions of acres to mining for oil shale.

• Allow healthcare workers to opt out of giving treatment for religious or moral reasons, thus weakening abortion rights.

• Hurt road safety by allowing truck drivers to stay at the wheel for 11 consecutive hours.

- Monday, December 15th 2008 - 08:03:35 PM

From CNN: Study: Bush, aides made 935 false statements in run-up to war

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush and his top aides publicly made 935 false statements about the security risk posed by Iraq in the two years following September 11, 2001, according to a study released Tuesday by two nonprofit journalism groups.

"In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003," reads an overview of the examination, conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and its affiliated group, the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

According to the study, Bush and seven top officials -- including Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice -- made 935 false statements about Iraq during those two years.

The study was based on a searchable database compiled of primary sources, such as official government transcripts and speeches, and secondary sources -- mainly quotes from major media organizations.

The study says Bush made 232 false statements about Iraq and former leader Saddam Hussein's possessing weapons of mass destruction, and 28 false statements about Iraq's links to al Qaeda.

Bush has consistently asserted that at the time he and other officials made the statements, the intelligence community of the U.S. and several other nations, including Britain, believed Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

He has repeatedly said that despite the intelligence flaws, removing Hussein from power was the right thing to do.

The study, released Tuesday, says Powell had the second-highest number of false statements, with 244 about weapons and 10 about Iraq and al Qaeda.

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Press Secretary Ari Fleischer each made 109 false statements, it says. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz made 85, Rice made 56, Cheney made 48 and Scott McLellan, also a press secretary, made 14, the study says.

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al Qaeda," the report reads, citing multiple government reports, including those by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the 9/11 Commission and the multinational Iraq Survey Group, which reported that Hussein had suspended Iraq's nuclear program in 1991 and made little effort to revive it.

The overview of the study also calls the media to task, saying most media outlets didn't do enough to investigate the claims.

"Some journalists -- indeed, even some entire news organizations -- have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical," the report reads. "These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq."

The quotes in the study include an August 26, 2002, statement by Cheney to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars---"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," Cheney said. "There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

- Wednesday, January 23rd 2008 - 09:28:40 AM

From the NYTIMES:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 — In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration’s handling of the war “incompetent” and said the result was “a nightmare with no end in sight.”

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, blamed the Bush administration for a “catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan” and denounced the current addition of American forces as a “desperate” move that would not achieve long-term stability.

“After more than four years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war-torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism,”

So did we find those weapons of mass destruction? Maybe Blackwater security has them.

- Friday, October 12th 2007 - 10:44:16 PM

Another election approaches. Al Gore, the candidate elected by the popular vote, but robbed of the election, wins a Nobel Peace prize. From the Washington Post:

"It's hard to look at the disaster of the past seven years and not believe that America would be better off if he had been president," said Ron Klain, Gore's former chief of staff. "Perhaps he has done more for climate change as a private citizen than he could have done as president, but I firmly believe that if Al Gore were president, America would not be at war, our standing in the world would be higher, our economy stronger and our civil liberties more secure."

- Friday, October 12th 2007 - 10:38:35 PM

Today is Election Day in the USA. It's so eerie to read over the posts from two years ago . . . the power players who urged us to war, rushed us into such a mess, who lied and said it was necessary, said it would be quick, said it would be easy . . . it makes me wonder how long voters can delude themselves. *sigh*

We are fighting the wrong "War". In the wrong places.
I hereby declare the War on Error.

Let's go, people.

- Tuesday, November 7th 2006 - 09:37:27 AM

October 27, 2005

The US has been at war, busy looking for WMD’s—oh, no wait, I mean, we are busy answering a call from pleading country, um that’s not it, we are busy . . . busy . . . doing I don’t know what. Do you? Does anyone know what the US is DOING in Iraq? Well, at least war is good for the economy, right? We can make things. We can make weapons of . . . mass . . . delivery of liberty. And oil volatility means bigger profits. Exxon Corporation (you remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill right?) is based in Texas. Exxon is the world’s biggest oil company. Today, Exxon posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion dollars (£5.55 billion), the largest in US corporate history. What does Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, a Republican have to say about it? "Oil and gas companies are enjoying record profits. That is fine. This is America," Mr. Hastert said. However, he continued: "Our oil companies need to do more to inform the American people about what they are doing to bring down the cost of oil and natural gas. When are new refineries going to be built?" So the best thing for the American People is to . . . pump it back in?? The Republican cycle is to perpetuate US and world oil dependency and abuse, to ignore the current impacts of global warming (to even rename it—there is no such thing as climate “control”). The biggest weapon of mass destruction is our own ignorance, our own refusal to SEE that the real WMD is the SUV in our collective driveways.

This was America.

It's up to each person to do together what can't be done alone. But it starts with you. , - Thursday, October 27th 2005 - 02:17:58 PM

From the New York Times:
Editorial: September 1, 2005
Waiting for a Leader

“George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

We will, of course, endure, and the city of New Orleans must come back. But looking at the pictures on television yesterday of a place abandoned to the forces of flood, fire and looting, it was hard not to wonder exactly how that is going to come to pass. Right now, hundreds of thousands of American refugees need our national concern and care. Thousands of people still need to be rescued from imminent peril. Public health threats must be controlled in New Orleans and throughout southern Mississippi. Drivers must be given confidence that gasoline will be available, and profiteering must be brought under control at a moment when television has been showing long lines at some pumps and spot prices approaching $4 a gallon have been reported.

Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?

It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America "will be a stronger place" for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.”

Posted by Renie
- Saturday, September 3rd 2005 - 09:38:28 AM The US search for WMD in Iraq has ended.

Congress allotted hundreds of millions of dollars for the weapons hunt, and there has been no public accounting of the funds. A spokesman for the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency said the entire budget and the expenditures would remain classified.

- Wednesday, January 12th 2005 - 09:58:00 AM


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