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2003-06-10 - 4:43 p.m.

Update: As suggested, all links on my site will now open in a new window starting with today's entry. Thanks to LifeQuest for making that wonderful suggestion. Always happy to do what I can to make the experience here nicer for my readers.



Accountability

I am no fan of Lieberman, and I have a feeling that this is just a political ploy to keep his name in the lime-light since he is running for the Democratic ticket, but I am at least glad to see someone working towards accountability where the Bush Administration is concerned. Take Lieberman's latest cause: The Dems' Texas walkout in May. Their reasoning was that pressure was coming from the Federal government to act on the redistricting of Texas ASAP. Why would this upset the Dems so much to make them walkout? Because if the redistricting went through as laid-out, the Dems would have lost 5 seats in Congress. They wanted more time to work on this deal. So the Dems decided to do a walkout and went to OK to prevent a vote on the subject.

So why is Lieberman all up in airs over this? According to this CNN report, there is a controversy over the improper use of Homeland Security to search for those Dems missing-in-action. Lieberman wrote a letter to Andrew Card stating that he wants to know whether "any White House officer or employee contacted anyone seeking information about or federal assistance in Texas' search for Democratic legislators." The article goes on to say that [t]he walkout prompted accusations that the federal Department of Homeland Security had helped Texas authorities searching for the Democrats. Lieberman wrote in his letter to Card, "If any White House official or employee contacted other federal agencies or employees on this issue, please provide the same information about those contacts."

Here is the rest of the article:

    Lieberman said Card called him June 3 to say U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay had spoken with President Bush and White House adviser Karl Rove about the Texas dispute. Card also said he asked others at the White House about the matter "and found no inappropriate action had been taken."

    Card apparently told Lieberman he did not intend to respond to his letter in writing, which Lieberman said would be inappropriate.

    "In a matter of this significance, where questions have been raised about whether scarce homeland security resources were misused for political purposes, the public should not be forced to rely on private reassurances," the senator wrote.





The Duping of America

by Maureen Farrell

"Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA," former CIA counter-intelligence head Vincent Cannistraro told the Guardian last October. [LINK]. This was a month after the Pentagon's intelligence agency reported it lacked credible evidence that Iraq had chemical weapons, despite the Bush administration's many assurances otherwise. Yet here we are, nine months later, and these allegations are just making their way into America's mainstream. [LINK]

There is a sense of deja vu in all of this, of course. Well before George Bush delivered his ultimatum to the United Nations, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed the president's true intentions. "Even if Baghdad readmits United Nations arms inspectors, the United States will still pursue a 'regime change' policy, with or without the support of its allies," Colin Powell asserted, eight months before UN inspectors returned to Iraq. [LINK] And, true to form, nine months before the American media reported on John Poindexter's new role at the Pentagon, [LINK], the Guardian had it covered. [LINK]

And so, as people across the globe invariably wonder why US citizens are so naive and malleable, reporters and pundits are either stunned to learn that the Bush administration hyped the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, or even worse, assure Americans it doesn't matter, because in this particular version of democracy, the ends justify the means. The implied assertion is: You don't need to know the truth because quite frankly, you can't handle the truth.

Or perhaps it's something deeper? More than forty years ago, John F. Kennedy addressed this phenomenon at a commencement address at Yale University. "For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic," he said. "Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." [LINK]

With the latest Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll showing that 79 percent of Americans believe that "the war would be justified even 'if the U.S. does not find conclusive evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction'" [LINK], it seems, for the moment at least, that we don't mind being lied to -- as long as we continue to feel good about ourselves and our role in the world. Truth isn't nearly as important as is the oft-staged and contrived mythology of America saving the day. Why wouldn't we give the president the benefit of the doubt -- particularly when pundits tell us it's the all-American thing to do? The mantra is readily memorized: the foreign press habitually out-scoops the US media because they are "anti-American" and Americans aren't easily and readily duped, but merely enthusiastic and optimistic. Until one looks deeper, that is.

**********

To read the rest of this report, go here.



Republican Ron Paul Asks the Tough Question

Iraq: What Are We Getting Into?

Recently fired Army Secretary Thomas White said last week that senior defense officials "are unwilling to come to grips" with the scale of the postwar US obligation in Iraq. Similarly, in February, Army chief of staff General Eric Shinseki brought the same message to Congress: occupation of Iraq would take "several hundred thousand" troops. Both men have been publicly admonished.

But as our commitment in Iraq continues to expand, how far off are these statements?

A recent Washington Post editorial suggests that, "The reality is that tens of thousands of U.S. troops will likely be in Iraq for years to come, and (that) country will not recover without extensive investment by the United States and other international donors." Of course, what this means is that American taxpayers are to be squeezed in every direction to pay to "fix" Iraq. And it is becoming increasingly obvious that the open-ended American military presence in Iraq is not welcome: in the past two weeks eight American soldiers have, tragically, been killed in Iraq.

This is not what the attack on Iraq was supposed to be about. It wasn't supposed to be about nation-building. It wasn't supposed to be about an indefinite US military occupation. "Regime change" was supposed to mean that once Saddam Hussein was overthrown the Iraqi people would run their own affairs. "Liberation" was supposed to mean that the Iraqi people would be free to form their own government and rebuild their own economy.

Yet the United States is spending tens of billions of dollars and more rebuilding Iraq. The US Army's 3rd Infantry Division, scheduled to return home after its success in Iraq, will remain "indefinitely" because securing Iraq is proving more difficult than defense planners envisioned. The US civilian authority controlling Iraq has cancelled plans to allow the Iraqis to form their own provisional government. American bureaucrats are even running the Iraqi media.

What are we getting ourselves into?

I see the real possibility of our government getting into an expensive, long-term entanglement in Iraq at exactly the time we are beginning to see financial troubles on the horizon. As our nation slinks further into debt and back into deficit, we are making decisions that will literally put our children and grandchildren on the line to pay interest payments for our current policy toward Iraq.

This policy threatens the long-term health not just of our economy but domestic spending on items like education and social security. While some of us in Congress raised these concerns prior to the beginning of the war with Iraq, our questions went unanswered. Instead of focusing on how this commitment would almost certainly drain our resources for years to come, the policy debate wrongly focused almost exclusively on whether we would have the "moral support" of our "allies" and international organizations such as NATO and the UN.

When American policymakers consider the wisdom of foreign entanglements it would be best that they first understand the long-term implications for the people we are elected to represent. We failed to do that with Iraq and the length, difficulty, and seriousness of the long-term commitment is only now coming to be realized by those who advocated this entanglement. Unfortunately, once a project such as this has begun it becomes extremely difficult to set the ship aright and change the course of policy to better reflect the interests of our nation and its citizens. One thing is clear: winning the military battle against Saddam Hussein may well prove the easiest and perhaps least costly part.



Another Step Towards Censorship?

In post-war Iraq, where democracy is supposed to be taking root, one of the basic freedoms of a democratic nation is under threat again: Freedom of the Press. The first attack came when coalition forces took over the television media soon after the major fighting stopped in Iraq. Now they are working on the newspapers. Coalition forces are working on a code of conduct that many in Iraq fear is a step towards state-controlled reporting like the forced conduct under Saddam's rule. Alan Block (the author of Ambush at Ruby Ridge) says that the coalition forces and the US Government have missed an opportunity to teach responsibility in journalism. You can read his full commentary, entitled Democracy Through Censorship here.



$100 Million For New Jobs!

Apparently there is $100 million sitting around somewhere to help create jobs. Sounds great huh? especially with a lot of Americans out of work. Well don't go celebrating just yet. That money, according to this CNN report, isn't to help Americans, it is to help the Iraqis.

Now don't get me wrong, I am all for Iraqis earning a living and raising their families without living hand-to-mouth; however, what I want to know is where is that money coming from? If they take it from the already frozen assets of Saddam Hussein or from the Oil for Food Program or even from the sell of Iraqi oil now, then I have no problems with it. What struck my attention is that this article doesn't say where the money will come from. All it says is an "investment fund". I sure hope the Bush Administration isn't planning on using OUR tax dollars. Personally I would rather see my tax dollars going to help out other people in my country who are sitting on the unemployment line.



No Where Left to Look

Since no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq and the military units assigned to look for them are running out of places to look, guess what is happening now? According to this report from Kanasascity.com, those units are getting time off or reassigned to other duties.

    "It doesn't appear there are any more targets at this time," said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington, whose team has been cut by more than 30 percent. "We're hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future."

    Over the past week, his and several other teams have been taken off assignment completely. Rather than visit suspected weapons sites, they are brushing up on target practice and catching up on letters home.

Well good for the troops! I am sure they are exhausted in all that hot desert heat and need some time off. I still cannot help but wonder how many of our service men and women are frustrated at this point and are asking themselves if this whole rush to war with Iraq was a mistake. I know I would be asking myself that by now.

Oh, that's right. This wasn't a war about WMD or the imminent threat we faced from Saddam if he were to use those WMD against us. It was to free the Iraqis. Or was it for a "regime change"? ummm oh yeah, it was to stabilize the Middle East and make way for the Roadmap Peace Plan between Israel and the Palestinians. Or was it revenge? Oil? damn, there have been so many "reasons" I cannot keep up with them all now.



Oh, We Weren't Lied To, They Were "Misstatements"!

Oh silly me! for thinking that the Bush Administration lied to me about WMD in Iraq. No, my fellow Americans, they weren't lies at all, they were "misstatements"! or so Bill Kristol said on FOX News Sunday, according to this article on NewsMax.com.

    "We shouldn't deny, those of us who were hawks, that there could have been misstatements made, I think in good faith," Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol told "Fox News Sunday."

    Asked, by whom, the leading Iraq war backer explained, "By the president and the secretary of state, [statements] that will turn out to be erroneous."

    Kristol stressed that he didn't believe charges from Bush administration critics that the president had deliberately distorted WMD intelligence.

    But the leading neoconservative writer and former chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle added, "I hope [the WMDs] are found but I'm very skeptical.

    "We have interrogated a lot of people and we haven't found a single person who said he participated in disposing, destroying the stock of weapons of mass destruction. Or in hiding them."

    Kristol said that Saddam probably "did bluff a little bit" when it came to acknowledging he possessed WMDs in 1998, saying that "[U.S.] intelligence estimates were wrong, too."

    "I don't think we need to be apologetic about the war," Kristol insisted. But he said the U.S.'s inability to uncover significant quantities of Iraqi WMDs means that the war may not have been as necessary and urgent as previously believed.

    "People like me, who were hawks, said the war was both just, prudent and urgent," he said. "I think just and prudent - fine. But it is fair to say that if we don't find serious weapons of mass destruction capabilities, the case for urgency, which Bush and Blair certainly articulated, is going to be undercut to some degree."

    Kristol, who made his comments just minutes after Secretary of State Colin Powell said on the same broadcast that there was no doubt Saddam had WMDs when the U.S. attacked, did acknowledge, however, "There has been evidence that they had an ongoing weapons of mass destruction program, I think, even if they did not have as large a stock of the weapons as we thought."





Killing Poppies or Deliberate Genocide?

In this reportfrom a major news source in Pakistan, five people have died from poppy plants being sprayed in Afghanistan. The plane that did the spraying is unidentifable, however, whoever is behind these sprayings is bound to know that anything that will kill those poppy plants is bound to kill or poison other food sources.

    Poppy farmer Abdul Qadeer told the Pakistan-based news service that unidentified low-flying planes sprayed Khogiani district in the border province of Nangarhar, one of the country's biggest centres of poppy cultivation, earlier this week.

    "I was working in my poppy fields when suddenly a black aircraft appeared," Qadeer told AIP. "The plane circled very low over our poppy fields. We could not see what it sprayed, but after it disappeared we smelt a very pungent odour."

    A few days later, he noticed his poppy plants decaying. Fruit and vegetables also began rotting, he said. The farmer said that a woman in neighbouring Manogi village died soon after eating a plum. Four children died in Markikhel village after eating fruit, he claimed.

    "I am a farmer and I know it is not a crop disease. It is all due to spray of some poisonous material," Qadeer claimed. The news agency said that it had received reports of similar aerial spraying of poppy crops in five other Nangarhar districts. The AIP said that the spray would slash harvests by 50 per cent.

Was this an attack on the poppy plants or a deliberate attempt at genocide?



Yes They Were! No They Weren't!

Bush is standing behind his claim that there are links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. It doesn't seem to matter to him that captured Al Qaeda operatives have insisted that there was no link to Iraq as the CIA intelligence has pointed out in this article.



It's About Time!

Two Senators, John McCain and Jay Rockefeller, are urging Congress to hold hearings about Iraq as reported in this article by Reuters.

    Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said on NBC's "Today" show that a "certain problem" existed with U.S. credibility in Europe and that hearings should be held, though he added he was "confident we will be able to make the case for conflict in Iraq."

    Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, also said on NBC that a "very thorough investigation" was needed into why the United States went to war against Iraq, given that weapons of mass destruction have yet to be uncovered.

    "We need to have a very thorough investigation into what happened that caused the president to go ahead and proceed with the war," he said, adding that a joint hearing by the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees would be best.

    McCain backed the suggestion. It is entirely appropriate for the Congress to hold oversight hearings," he said, adding any delay would not be in the interests of the American people.

    Rockefeller, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was negotiating with the committee's Republican chairman, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, who said last week he would review intelligence documents provided by the administration before deciding to proceed with hearings.

    Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner, a Virginia Republican, said last week he planned hearings on the continuing search for weapons but would work with Roberts on intelligence issues.

Here is another excellent commentary about the missing WMD and its importance: Was the intelligence cooked? The last paragraph sums it all up nicely

    The issue goes to the heart of American leadership. Bush's belief that the United States has the right to use force against nations that it believes may threaten American security is based on the assumption that Washington can make accurate judgments about how serious such a danger is. If the intelligence is wrong, or the government distorts it, the United States will squander its credibility. Even worse, it will lose the ability to rally the world, and the American people, to the defense of the country when real threats materialize.




Other Articles of Interest

Here are a few more articles you may find interesting:

Next on 'axis of evil' hit list?

U.S. Sees Likely Al Qaeda WMD Attack Within 2 Years
Yes, our boogie men may strike again!

Pyongyang spells out need for nuclear arms

Iran Says U.S. Pressure Over Nukes Will Backfire

American Conservatives Reject Neocon 'Empire-Building'

Conservative Conundrum: Sheldon Richman

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