Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Moral Authority

The Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paul Rieckhoff has written: “When an enemy fighter knows he’ll be treated well by United States forces if he is captured, he is more likely to give up.”

Rieckhoff said that many insurgents surrender to his platoon in Baghdad, when faced with the prospect of a hot meal and a pack of cigarettes. America’s moral integrity was the single most important weapon his platoon had on the streets of Iraq. It saved many lives and deterred Iraqis from joining the growing insurgency.

Since then, America’s moral standing has been eroded by the Bush regime’s flawed justification for initiating the invasion of Iraq, and scandals like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Haditha. We can not afford to leave Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions open to reinterpretation because it will undermine our moral integrity even further.

Undermining the authority of the Geneva Conventions will endanger American troops. It will serve to create another powerful recruiting tool for al Qaeda. Special Forces troops captured by Iranian forces while investigating a potential nuclear weapons program could be subjected to the same type of interrogation techniques used by Bush’s torture specialists.

Liberian President Charles Taylor adopted the Bush regime’s phrase “unlawful combatants” to describe prisoners he wished to try outside of civilian courts. Presently, Taylor is standing trial before The Hague accused of war crimes.

We are learning the hard way that democracy cannot be created at the point of a gun. The success of America’s fight against terrorism depends more on the strength of its moral integrity than on troops in Iraq or the “flexibility” of interrogation options.

Several Republican combat veterans, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Senators Lindsay Graham, John McCain and John Warner, have recognized that the president’s stance on Article 3 is a threat to our troops and to our interests.

Unfortunately, the Bush regime has not and will not recognize the value of moral authority.

Friday, September 29, 2006

You can't handle the truth!

Bush and Cheney have admitted that knowing what we know today they would have still invaded Iraq. The evidence has made it clear that they and other proponents of the Iraq war did not care whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, or whether he was involved with 9/11. They did not care about the evidence. They had made their minds up nearly a decade earlier that the invasion of Iraq would help to make a new Middle East, which would strengthen America's leverage against Iran.

Those terrible things which Saddam did to his own people were done with the full support of the Republican administration of the '80s, of which Dick Cheney was a part. The use of chemical weapons and the killing of innocent civilians were all done without a peep of criticism from some of the same people that knowingly manipulate Congress and the American people to invade Iraq.

By invading Iraq, we involved our military in a sectarian civil war between Shias and Sunnis. Furthermore, we provided al Qaeda the greatest recruitment propaganda imaginable and created a terrorist spawning ground. If democracy takes hold in Iraq, the Iranians will have won, because the Shias make up more than 60% of the population in both Iraq and Iran.

Americans claim that they want our politicians to tell us the truth and be honest. The Bush regime has not been truthful, but many Republicans keep voting for the politicians that do the best job of lying and manipulating them.

If congressional Republicans were honest they’d admit, that to win, we need to institute a draft and raise taxes to pay for the war. They won’t even consider it, because they’d be voted out of office. We have become a society that buries it’s head in the sand and avoids asking hard questions or making tough decisions. The politicians that lie and make false promises keep getting reelected. Americans claim they want politicians that are truthful, but the politicians are fully aware that, "You can't handle the truth."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Against All Enemies

In August of 1998, our military sent 62 cruise missiles into Afghanistan. They were aimed at terrorist infrastructure, the site where Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants were reportedly holding a meeting. Unfortunately, a few hours before they hit bin Laden escaped.

In an interview on the Fox News Channel with Chris Wallace, Clinton vigorously insisted: “I authorized funding the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. We got closer to killing him than anybody's gotten since. And if I were still president, we'd have more than 20,000 troops in Afghanistan trying to kill him.”

Clinton complained that he was hampered by inadequate intelligence, because the link between al Qaeda and the militants in Somalia in 1993 wasn't clear until years afterwards. After the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, Clinton says that there was no consensus among law enforcement and intelligence sources that al Qaeda was behind it until after the presidential election. This was substantiated in the 9/11 Commission report.

Former Deputy CIA Director for Intelligence John McLaughlin said that from his inside perspective: “President Clinton did aggressively pursue Osama bin Laden. I give the Clinton administration a lot of credit for the aggressiveness with which they went after al Qaeda and bin Laden.”

Clinton argues that his efforts were undercut by partisan sniping, including some critics who charged the cruise missile strike was a "wag the dog" stunt to divert attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

In “Against All Enemies” Richard Clarke outlines the Clinton’s administration's effort to stop al Qaeda. Clarke wrote that Clinton stated: “If we thought this was the best time to hit the Afghan camps, he would order it and take the heat for ‘wag the dog’ criticism, that we all knew would happen.”

Clarke saw an imminent al Qaeda threat and was disappointed by the Bush regime's inaction. He wrote: “Secretary Rice told me that the Principals Committee, which had been the first venue for terrorism policy discussions in the Clinton administration, would not address the issue until it had been ‘framed’ by the deputies. It meant months of delay.”

Clarke was a career counterterrorism expert, who served under four presidents beginning as an analyst on nuclear weapons under Reagan and established a record for continuous service in national security policy positions. His book "Against All Enemies" is a non-partisan chronology of the facts before, during and after 9/11. He was the nations crisis manager on 9/11 in the White House situation room.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Problems with Electronic Voting

On election day most Americans will vote on electronic voting machines. Watchdog groups claim the guidelines allow for an acceptable failure rate for electronic voting machines are too high. They want the federal government to be more aggressive in setting standards, because the standards for electronic voting machines breaking down are dangerously lax. Presently, standards are merely recommendations, which puts the integrity of our democracy at risk.

Federal guidelines permit one failure every 163 hours. This is not acceptable, because it allows too many machines to fail on any given election day and be down for too long during that given day. We seem to care less about our voting machines than our ATM machines, since voting machines have a higher failure rate than ATM machines. No machinery should be allowed to be purchased or used for voting that doesn’t guaranteed mean time between failures of at least several thousand hours.

Computer experts point out that e-voting machine vendors have not put in routine safeguards found in other interactive computer products. Gaming systems like Sony Playstation 3 are engineered to resist a wide variety of tampering attacks because they want to make sure that every game played is legitimate and not pirated. That level of engineering is entirely absent from voting machines.

Hacker can change the outcome of an election without even touching the voting machines. Someone with a hand-held device like a Palm Pilot or other personal digital device could simply show up at a polling station beam a command into the machine and alter votes.

A panel of computer and election experts report: "The threat analysis shows that machines with wireless components are particularly vulnerable to software attack programs and other attacks." Nevertheless, vendors continue to manufacture and sell machines with wireless components.

Paper records for each voting machine are recommended, as well as random audits to check the systems. There's all sorts of ways that electronic voting machines can be affected using infrared ports and other wireless devices. Software can be changed, or the system can be infected with a virus. Some e-voting machines use commercially available computer components that have a wireless feature included. Experts say if that feature is dormant, it could be activated by a hacker. It’s possible to be sitting in a car across the street from the polling station and change the software on a voting machine.

The Help America Vote Act sets minimum guidelines, but doesn't say what kind of technology should be used or require how it should be verified. This is a national issue, because elections will take place and voters have no assurance whatsoever that these machines work, are tamper proof or that fraud will not occur.

The federal government, through the election assistance commission, should train local officials in how to do the right kind of audits of these voting systems. Furthermore, the federal government should be doing the kind of threat analysis that private groups and computer scientists have done.

Federal guidelines for designing and testing electronic voting machines were drafted by a federal advisory board in 2005. However, those standards are voluntary and won’t be officially in effect until December 2007. Requirements for a paper trail are not even in the federal guidelines. Computer engineers say those guidelines are not enough to actually check the machine that is in place at the polling station.

There's a groundswell of action to challenge electronic voting machines. In Colorado, half of the two million voters use electronic voting machines. A nonpartisan group of activists filed suit saying, state security testing was inadequate. The Colorado secretary of state had delegated the responsibility of security testing to the vendors. All that's required was for the vendors submit their documentation and recommendations and the secretary of state claimed that's good enough and approves the security of the machine. A Colorado judge ruled that the secretary of state's office violated state law and did an abysmal job in testing those machines prior to the midterm elections.

In Maryland, after a botched primary in September, Governor Ehrlich wants to dump the electronic voting machines and go with paper ballots. The electronic voter records kept crashing. He said that in the ensuing chaos, people standing in long lines were discouraged from voting. Ehrlich believes instead of taking a risk in November, Maryland should go low-tech and err on the side of safety. That way voters get an election, which everybody can count on, and perhaps go higher-tech next time.

California was among the first states to require a voter verified paper trail in case a recount is needed. In 2004, California decertified certain Diebold machines and demanded those models be put through stricter security and reliability tests before they could be used. The state also demanded stricter federal testing.

In New Mexico, the governor said he wanted to restore confidence in elections and simply gave up on touch screen technology. Last March, Governor Richardson signed a law to require an all paper ballot.

New Jersey Democrat Russ Holt and 190 other members of the House of Representatives have signed on to legislation to ban wireless connections for all electronic voting machines. Holt says it is not too late to intervene for the November elections, but time is running out. These voting systems have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities which pose a real danger to the integrity of national and state elections.

The Federal Oversight Committee on Elections allows wireless voting technology, but not all members are convinced it’s safe. Prudently, New York and Minnesota have banned voting machines with wireless technology.

The New York State League of Women Voters support optical scans, which have already established and good track record.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The rule of law

The revolutionary idea of America was based on the belief that people can govern themselves and responsibly exercise the ultimate authority in self-government.  This insight came from philosopher John Locke: “All just power is derived from the consent of the governed.”

Our carefully balanced constitutional system is in danger and we the people must again play a role in saving our Constitution. Television seems determined to entertain rather than inform and educate. Today, our political system permits Bush to control the flow of information. Consequently, they control the outcome of important decisions, which should lie in the hands of the people.

The Bush regime forcefully asserts its power to classify information and thus maintain the secrecy of its operations. Consequently, the Judicial and Legislative branches of government can’t check an abuse of power if they don’t know it’s happening. We have a duty to defend our Constitution against the danger posed by Bush’s belief that he need not adhere to the rule of law.

Republican and Democratic members of Congress should support a bipartisan call for the appointment of a special counsel to pursue the criminal issues raised by warrantless wiretapping of Americans; sadistic torture; extraordinary renditions; arbitrary imprisonment of American citizens and fabricating the intelligence, which led to a disastrous war.

New whistleblower protections should be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing in the sensitive areas of national security.

Both houses of Congress should hold comprehensive hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of this president and they should follow the evidence wherever it leads. 

The extensive new powers requested by the Bush regime in its proposal to extend and enlarge the Patriot Act should not be granted, until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and the rights of the American people against the kinds of abuses that have been revealed.  

Any telecommunications company that has provided the government with access to private information concerning the communications of Americans without a proper warrant should immediately cease their complicity in this apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Loyalty trumps Truth and Competence

“We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.” - George Orwell 

The Bush regime has revised America’s foreign policy from one that is based on moral authority into one that is based on a misguided and self-defeating effort to establish dominance in the world. Our foreign policy seems to be based on intimidation and control.

Furthermore, the Executive Branch demands conformity from their employees by censoring dissenting views that may be inconsistent with its stated ideological goals. CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with the Bush regimes assertion that bin Laden was linked to Saddam Hussein found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions and salary increases.

Senior CIA officer Paul Pillar was our national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia. Pillar claims the Pentagon repeatedly asked the same questions, and when intelligence analysts resisted giving them the answers they wanted, Pillar and others were accused of "trying to sabotage the president's policies." In exactly the same way, intimidation was used on the FBI, and soon the untrue conclusion that al Qaeda and Iraq were linked became the unanimous view.

False beliefs have bumped up against solid reality, on the battlefield of Baghdad. In the “Imperial Life in the Emerald City”, Rajiv Chandrasekaran gives details of life in the heavily fortified green zone. He reports that it’s the Michael Brown situation a 100 times over, in terms of consistently selecting a person, who wasn’t right for the job. We should have hired our best and brightest, but the Pentagon looked for loyalty to the Republican Party.

Chandrasekaran says Arabic language skills, a background in the Middle East, and expertise in post war reconstruction were needed. Unfortunately, the Bush regime only wanted true believers, people who voted for Bush and supported their vision for Iraq. In their pre-deployment interviews some people were asked their views on Roe versus Wade and were subjected to discussions about capital punishment. 

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Habeas Corpus

Recently, a Canadian commission ruled that Maher Arar, who was born in Syria, was not a terrorist. Arar a Canadian citizen was snatched by a C.I.A. “rendition” team while waiting for a connecting flight at Kennedy Airport in 2002.

Extraordinary rendition is a practice, which allows people to be kidnapped and sent off to countries that specialize in torture. They put Arar on a government jet to Jordan, and then drove him to Syria, where he was tortured. Most of the time Arar was confined in a tiny underground cell, about the size of a grave. The torturing in Syria was unable to connect him to terrorism and after 13 months the Canadian government managed to secure his release.

Congress is about to ensure that many more individuals who are falsely accused are deprived of the single most fundamental tool they need to establish their innocence. Congress is about to enact legislation dealing with the interrogation and prosecution of terror suspects. The Bush regime and congressional Republicans intend to strip away the safeguard of habeas corpus for noncitizens held in custody outside our country.

Habeas corpus means “produce the body”. It’s a legal proceeding, which allows a suspect to challenge their detention in a court of law and is the most significant safeguard against arbitrary imprisonment. This right is guaranteed in the our Bill of Rights, but has been recognized all the way back to the Middle Ages in the Magna Carta. It’s the authority to demand that a nation’s highest official, president or king, justify the detention of a human being in a free society. Without this legal proceeding a person can be locked up, whether innocent or guilty, and never heard from again.

A person has a right to know what crime he’s being charged with, and a court can demand that the government produce evidence indicating that there is a reason to hold that person. The right to file for a writ of habeas corpus is a crucial check on injustice.

"They that would give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Ben Franklin

Friday, September 22, 2006

Torture, a tool of Sadism

Last fall, ABC News reported that procedures used by C.I.A. interrogators included forcing prisoners to stand, handcuffed with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours and water boarding, which induces a terrifying fear of drowning.

In civilized countries, evidence obtained by torture is inadmissible in a court of law. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Geneva Convention applies to prisoners seized by the Bush regime.

Jack Rice a former C.I.A. operations officer claims that torture is a tool of sadism. It will get information, but not the truthful information that we need. The reason the C.I.A. had interrogation standards was that they wanted reliable evidence, which was admissible in a court of law.

Torture make matters worse, because it encourages detainees, who may be on the fence to hate us and those that already hate us will hate us more. Torture also produces misinformation, because its victims are desperate to end the pain and will tell interrogators whatever they want to hear. Often our government ends up doing the terrorists’ work for them, by spreading inaccurate threat information that scares Americans. This has happened many times. The worst part is that when there’s a real threat, we’re apt to ignore it.

The reason Bush is trying to get Congress to pass his plan to interrogate terror suspects is that he needs it to keep important cases from falling apart and provide a cover for higher-ups who have condoned torture.

The claim that changes in the law are needed in order to protect soldiers and ordinary interrogators in the field against war crimes accusations is humbug. Clear guidelines currently exist for dealing with military and civilian interrogators who abuse prisoners. The Abu Ghraib prosecutions are a good example.

The people who would have to worry about war crimes having been committed are those at the top of the command structure, including Clinton, who ordered illegal procedures to be carried out and turned a blind eye to atrocities.

The fundamental goal of the Bush regime is to eliminate all limits on his power. Torture appeals to the Bush and Cheney because it violates the law. By making an illegal and immoral practice a policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.

House Republicans continue to be a rubber stamp and will vote in favor of any plan Bush wants. They want voters to believe that the difference between them and Democrats are that Republicans are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect America.

For political gain, they will allow the Bush regime to pick up foreign citizens; torture them and prosecute them with secret evidence. They will deny terror suspects, even those facing the death penalty, the right to see all the evidence against them.

The term “illegal enemy combatant” is so broadly defined that the Bush regime could apply it to almost any foreigner. Judicial review will not be allowed and those acquitted by a military tribunal can be held indefinitely.

"They that would give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Ben Franklin

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fraud and Corruption

Iraq has been a cash cow for government contractors like Cheney’s Halliburton. They are collecting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, but aren't doing the work.

The Bush regime contracted to have a prison built for 4,400 prisoners, at a of cost of $45 million. The taxpayers ended up paying $48 million for a prison a third of the size. In another case, the our government paid the contractor $200 million to complete 142 health clinics, but only six were completed.

Half of the $18 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds are unaccounted for. The special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction has opened up 40 new investigations of alleged fraud and corruption. The money wasted on government contracts comes directly out of our pockets. Nevertheless, our Justice Department has not brought a single civil or criminal case to recover taxpayers money for contracting fraud in Iraq.

North Dakota Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan said: “it's almost unbelievable that the oversight and the accountability is not there, and no one seems to give a damn.” The Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing, which accused congressional Republicans of not investigating rampant waste and abuse.

A former Halliburton worker Julie McBride testified that Halliburton employees obtain luxuries that are not afforded the troops. One example of this was a Super Bowl party for Halliburton employees at taxpayer expense, in which Halliburton requisitioned a big screen TV and lots of food for the private use of their employees.

Iraq and Afghanistan army veteran Patrick Campbell says troop morale is suffering. He complains: “Soldiers don't have a whole lot when they're sitting in a 20-man tent, and see Halliburton employees driving around in their personal vehicles, and eating better food than them, it just totally drives you down.”

Halliburton says that it is allowed to provide for the morale of its employees, but there clearly is a significant discrepancy in the way Halliburton has been treating its employees versus some of the services that our troops have been receiving.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

God Bless America? by John Ryan

John Ryan writes a column every month for the Walton Reporter. I consider his September 20th. column entitled God Bless America? to be outstanding and should be shared with readers throughout America.

God Bless America? by John Ryan

The fifth anniversary of September 11 has come and gone and it brought back to me an image from five years ago when members of Congress - Republicans and Democrats - standing on the steps of the Capital holding hands, together raised their voices in singing God Bless America, a rare and remarkable demonstration of bi-partisan solidarity. The words have been part of our national consciousness throughout the five years since that terrible event, invoked in song and speech, with decals and stickers. I don’t think any modern nation makes as great a public display of its dependence on and support of the deity. When you think about it, however, it’s not surprising, for many Americans feel that our country has a special relationship with the Divinity. Our currency tells us "In God We Trust," our national anthem refers to this "heaven-rescued land." In America we invoke God to "protect us by Thy might, Great God our King," and America the Beautiful asks the Almighty to shed His grace on us. And what politician or clergyman at a political event hasn’t called upon the deity to grant special consideration to our national efforts?

This imagined congruence of our national interest and the divine will was taken to its zenith by Senator Albert Beveridge in a speech given in 1898 in Boston, justifying our declaration of war on Spain, when he said, "American law, American order, American civilization, and the American flag will plant themselves on shores hitherto bloody and benighted, but, by those agencies of God, henceforth to be made beautiful and bright." For Beveridge and many others, our mission was to wield a righteous sword for the world and the Lord and we hear strong echos of this from our present president. In the eyes of some, opposition to our national policy not only tastes of treason but also seeks to frustrate the divine will for which the dissident should pay a terrible price.

One of the verses of America the Beautiful says, "America, America, God mend thy every flaw." Therefore, I would suggest that if we are truly desirous of gaining the benediction of the Almighty, we consider the old saw, "God helps those who help themselves" (I won’t vouch for the theological accuracy of this proposition but it does make a good working principal.). Therefore, we should look closely to see if our nation is in accord with the Holy One and, where there are flaws, correct them in order that we might be worthy of His blessing.

Christianity, Judaism, and Islam agree that God is wise, loving, kind, merciful, just, compassionate, and the source of peace. Therefore, any nation seeking His blessing should also show these qualities. Can we say that they apply to the national policies of America in 2006? Without going into great detail, I think that we have to say, "No," for we see the anguish and bloodshed brought about by two American-initiated wars, indifference to poverty along with favoritism toward great wealth, a lack of concern for all but a particular class, as well as total neglect of the social and economic inequality that exists in our land. We speak of the way of God but we follow the way of the world, working our will by power and might.

If our nation were truly a follower of the Lord, the deserts would bloom, the hungry would be fed, the naked clothed and, as in western Europe when we initiated the Marshall Plan, around the world the name of the United States would bring joy into the hearts of millions and all would exclaim, "God Bless America." All this could come to pass but it requires wisdom, a thirst for justice, and feelings of compassion and mercy, all of which are absent from our present government.

In eleven days, Jews will be observing Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, asking forgiveness and declaring their repentance, vowing to change a wayward heart. In forty-eight days, the voters of America will have the opportunity to amend the course of a wayward nation, to begin to restore ourselves in the eyes of God and of the world. The current government has failed both God and Man. There must be a change or God Bless America will be but an empty and self-righteous phrase, indicating that, although we say that we wish to do God’s will, what we really want is for God to do ours.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Official History

Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were among 18 signatures on a letter to then President Clinton in 1998, which urged a preemptive war against Saddam Hussein. Of the eighteen signers of the letter; eleven held post in the Bush regime, when Iraq was invaded.

In Ron Suskin's "The Price of Loyalty" former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill confirms that ten days after Bush's inauguration the focus at the first National Security Council meeting was war with Iraq. The Bush regime was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq long before Bush even took office.

It was not erroneous intelligence by the CIA, which resulted in the Bush regime being wrong about weapons of mass destruction and a link between Saddam and al Qaeda. Former senior member of the U. S. intelligence community, Michael Scheuer has two decades of experience in national security issues. Scheuer pointed out: "We must recognize that our invasion of Iraq was not preemptive; it was an avarice, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantages."

“Economic advantages” or our “national interests” in the region is a deceptive way of saying “steal their oil” The reason Muslim fundamentalist hate us is because this has been going on for decades.

Last year, Bush acknowledged that he'd have gone to war knowing the intelligence was wrong. His reason was that Saddam Hussein was a "bad man". The Bush regime would not have been able to secure public support for the invasion based on Saddam being a "bad man". Americans would not have been willing to risk the lives of thousands of their sons and daughters to remove a "bad man". Bush's propagandist convince many Americans and Congress with the threat of a mushroom cloud. Some in Congress wouldn't risk being labeled obstructionist or weak on defense. Others foolishly trusted Bush to explore all options, before invading, but he was determined to invade Iraq long before 9/11.

The invasion of Iraq was not a mistake, it was a pack of calculated lies, which resulted in the murder of nearly 2,700 of our troops and far more than a hundred thousand innocent Iraqis.

“Official history consists in believing murderers at their word” - Simone Weil

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Big Question

Two moderate Republicans enabled the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller to finally release the Senate report on intelligence leading to the invasion of Iraq. Rockefeller said: "The administration, in its zeal to promote public opinion in the United States for toppling Saddam Hussein, pursued a deceptive strategy prior to the war of using intelligence reporting that the intelligence community warned was uncorroborated, unreliable, and in critical instances, fabricated."

Iraq is one of the great foreign policy disasters in our history, because the Bush regime didn't do the planning. They didn't send in enough troops. They didn't keep the Iraqi army intact. They didn't keep a civil structure. They made every mistake possible and there's been no accountability .

General Casey and Secretary of State Rice have said you can't resolve the differences in Iraq militarily and that they have to be resolved diplomatically and politically. Every time Bush says we're there for as long as it takes and that the next president is going to make the decision about withdrawal of our troops. He's telling the Shia death squads and Sunni insurgents that they have plenty of time to jockey for power, because our military is going to be their crutch for many years.

The way to pressure these warring factions to come together and assume responsibility for the future of Iraq is to have a major diplomatic summit to resolve the differences between Shia and Sunni. By setting a firm withdrawal date, we can accelerate the pressure on them and bring our troops home.

My question to congressional Republicans that continue to unequivocally support Bush's quagmire is: "How do you ask a man to die for a mistake?" Most members of Congress made a mistake. However, the Bush regime knowingly lied to the United Nations, Congress and the American people.

"He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truth without the world's believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good disposition." ~Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Terrorist Motivated

Five years after 9/11, Bush claims: “we are safer and America is winning the war on terror”. By preemptively invading an oil rich Muslim country the Bush regime fueled the fires of hatred in the Muslim world. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the use of torture have hurt our moral authority throughout the world. Consequently, there are more terrorists in the world today, who want to kill Americans than at any time.

It took eight years for terrorist to prepare between the first bombing of the World Trade Center and the 9/11 attack. We should all be grateful that we haven't been hit again, because the next time could be much more devastating. Nobody in law enforcement will tell you that we are as safe as we ought to be. We are very fortunate that law enforcement officials and intelligence officials, cooperating with other countries, have succeeded in interrupting some terrorist cells.

It's incomprehensible how much money has been spent in Iraq as opposed to homeland security. The 9-11 Commission has given failing grades to this administration in almost every sector. Law enforcement can't even talk to each other across channels in certain cities. We remain unprepared with respect to chemical plants, nuclear plants, and our port facilities. We still can't screen the cargo that goes onto airplanes or container ships coming into our ports. We may be safer on a plane, but we’re not as safe as we ought to be 5 years after 9/11.

The effort to fight terrorists around the world is going to be primarily law enforcement and intelligence gathering because we’ve got to find out who they are and what they're planning in order to stop them.

In fact, homeland security has been neglected and our military is over stretched in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Republicans will seek to cast an American withdrawal from Iraq as a defeat engineered by Democrats. Bush has created a situation, whereby America will eventual be defeat in Iraq. Iraq is a failed state and already a training ground for secular terrorist. Bush claims this war as "vital" to our national security, but fails to commit the troops and increase taxes to insure a military victory.

Bush and congressional Republicans can’t admit that victory in Iraq is unattainable without a draft and a drastic increase in taxes. If a Democratic successor withdraws from Iraq, that person will be blamed by Republicans for loosing the war.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Loud and Clear

The Iraq War was initiated by misleading the public and Congress with manipulate intelligence. This preemptive, imperialistic war has resulted in our national debt growing so larger that before long we’ll be paying more on interest than our basic domestic needs. Bush regime has been totally incompetent at doing anything except stifling dissent and covering up governmental wrongdoing.

Congressional Republicans think the word oversight of the executive branch of government means "rubber stamp". They have consistently passed legislation that hurts middle-class families. This Congress has cut $13 billion in college student aid, passed free trade agreements that threaten American jobs, approved a bankruptcy bill that favors creditors and takes away consumer protections. This Republican controlled Congress continues to bicker over middle-class concerns such as illegal immigration, rising gas prices, health care costs, minimum wage hike and trade issues.

Americans are very concerned about their declining real wages and the lack of quality jobs, but Congressional Republicans continue to distract the voters with divisive wedge issues. Thirteen million children lives in poverty, which is one in every eight. A total of 37 million of our fellow Americans live in poverty and nearly 46 million live without health insurance, which is 16 percent of our population. The number of Americans without health insurance has risen by 6 million since 2000. One-quarter of people with incomes below $25,000 lack any health insurance.

According to the College Board the cost of college has skyrocketed. Adjusted for inflation there's been a 40 percent jump in tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities over the past five years.

The costs for brand-name prescription drugs have also increased twice as fast as the rate of inflation. According to the AARP over the past six years, the average increase in the price of brand-name drugs has been 40 percent.

Except on election day ordinary Americans have a difficult time being heard because corporate executives have the ear of the White House and Congress. Remember that election day is your day to be heard.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ripped Off

In Bush's State of the Union address, he said that America is addicted to oil, but he didn’t admit the role his regime and House Republicans are playing to increase the pushers' profits. Bush and House Republicans are trying to kill a one-year, $5 billion windfall profits tax for oil companies.

They would allow powerful energy companies to pump about $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas from federal territories over the next five years without paying any royalties to the taxpayers. Their own figures show that it will give up more than seven billion dollars in payments. Taxpayers are again getting ripped off and wealthy corporations again are laughing all the way to the bank.

California Democratic Representative George Miller has fought royalty concessions on oil and gas for more than a decade. Miller claims: "It's one of the greatest train robberies in the history of the world.”

Americans are struggling with high gas and home-heating costs, while the big energy companies are hitting all-time record high profits. Many of Bush’s policies put the interests of that industry before the interests of the American people. Bush and Cheney take care of their oilmen friends even when it hurts the American people.

House Republicans are unlikely to challenge Bush. Incumbents recognize that the key to continued access to the money for reelection is to stay on the good side of those who have the money to give. In the case of House Republicans the whole process is mostly controlled by Bush and his political organization.   

Republicans have provided unconscionable tax breaks for millionaires, while they cut back programs that help the most vulnerable among us. If Bush gets his way, 300,000 people will be pushed off food stamps; 19,000 fewer children will go to Head Start; and low and moderate income people will lose billions in Medicare.

Everything people need to get ahead is on the chopping block: student loans, vocational training, and child care. House Republicans are not thinking about the people who could be helped with the seven billion dollars that Bush and Cheney are handing over to the oil and gas companies.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pandora's Box

The British police foiled plans of a terrorist cell to use liquid explosives to take down passenger planes over the Atlantic. The Bush regime didn't foil anything, but they used the incident to make it look as if they are doing a great job in the war on terror. The work of the British police proves that John Kerry was correct, when he said in 2004, that the right way to fight terrorism was with policework. Unfortunately, many American still believe we can win against terrorists by using our military to invade oil rich Muslim countries.

Iraq has proven that military intervention is not going to win the war on terror. The way to defend our homeland from terrorists is with old-fashioned police work and by securing our ports, borders, airports, chemical and nuclear plants.

By invading Iraq, we opened a Pandora's box, and involved our military in a civil war, which was looming before we got there. It's a sectarian civil war between Shias and Sunnis. We are not better off with Saddam gone, because he was our shield against a terrorist spawning ground in Iraq. There were a few al Qaeda in the northern part of the country, which Saddam did not control because of a no fly zone, which we imposed. He would never have allowed al Qaeda in Iraq, because they were a threat to his authority. The aid Saddam was giving to the Palestinians was limited to giving money to the families of suicide bombers after Israel bulldozed the homes of the family to the ground.

Richard Clarke author of "Against All Enemies" wrote: "We invaded and occupied an oil rich Arab country that posted no threat to us and we delivered to al Qaeda the greatest recruitment propaganda imaginable." Clarke was counterterrorism czar for the Clinton administration, who served under four presidents beginning as an analyst on nuclear weapons under Reagan. He was in charge of the White House situation room on 9/11.

Politicians are unable to to figure out how to take advantage of the civil war. Is it possible that since, they're now fighting each other there, we don't have to fight them here or there? Our enemies are divided, and all we have to do is get out, because Iraq is not going to get better while we're there.

Some politicians are predicting, that if we leave Iraq the Iranians will take over. None of the predictions about Iraq by the Bush propagandists has come true, but they expect us to give this one credibility. Furthermore, if democracy takes hold in Iraq the Iranians will have won, because the Shias make up more than 60% of the population in both Iraq and Iran.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Stay the Course

Another Plan

Republicans claim we have two basic choices, stay the course or withdraw. Stay the course is the Vietnam policy, which cost and additional 55,000 American lives after Under Secretary of State George Ball recognized the quagmire and recommended, we cut our losses. I’ve read that staying the course makes as much sense as a sailor having been blown off course, continuing to blunder aimlessly across the ocean.

Republicans refer to the Democrats as the party of "cut and run" without mentioning that in 1983, Ronald Reagan showed political courage by pulling our troops out of Lebanon after a suicide bomber killed 241 Marines in their Beirut barrack.

Former interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi was once hailed by Bush as the kind of fair-minded leader Iraq needed. Mr. Allawi, who served as prime minister after the American invasion and presently leads a 25 seat secular alliance of representatives in Iraq's 275-seat National Assembly. In early 2006, Allawi said: "It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."

The invasion of Iraq was not about terrorist or WMDs. It was about oil. We went into Iraq with a promise of democracy and anticipated that local cultures would buy into our capitalistic definition of freedom. The majority Shia, who are of the same religious sect as the Muslims in Iran are not going to forget the oppressive Sunni rule under Saddam. Kurds and Sunni are not about to forget thousands of years of tradition and mistrust to now submit to democratic rule by the majority Shia.

The invasion of Iraq was a perfect example of how not to deal with terrorism. Presently, Shia majorities rule from Iran across Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. It’s alarming that the American people are for the most part silent while the Bush regime takes our country down the wrong path.

We should be talking to the leaders of the insurgency. We should disavow any intention to have permanent military bases in Iraq. We should disavow any intention to have permanent rights to the oil. Once we do these things, the Europeans might be willing to come in behind us, which would enable us get out with a measure of grace.

Times of Crisis

To understand the essence of being duped into supporting the invasion of Iraq, we must recognize the following:

Sen. Robert Byrd wrote that prior to the Iraqi war resolution some senators were almost terrified at the prospect of being labeled "unpatriotic," if they voted against the resolution. He doubted that some members fully comprehended the magnitude of Bush's grab for power and that Congress was relinquishing its Constitutional authority and responsibility. Byrd's concern was that Bush was given a "blank check" for the unrestrained use of military power, when Congress surrendered its congressional prerogative to declare war.

We find our country trapped again in a quicksand of lies, because Bush propogandist repeatedly claimed Saddam's weapons of mass destruction posed "a serious and mounting threat to our nation" with consequences that would be "grave and tragic" if we failed to act. We were repeatedly told that the Iraqi regime possessed "vast arsenals of deadly biological and chemical weapons". "We cannot wait for final proof, the smoking gun." "It could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

Eisenhower's Sec. of State John Foster Dulles observed: "In order to bring a nation to support the burdens of maintaining great military establishments, it is necessary to create an emotional state akin to war psychology. There must be the portrayal of external menace. To achieve this it is necessary to depict one's own country as a shining hero and the other country as the vilest villain. Once such an ideology has been fostered, the nation is a long way on the path to war".

Michael Parent's "Superpatriotism" points out: "We are told that during times of crisis we must trust the president. Democracy is not about trust; it's about distrust, accountability, public exposure and responsible government. We must impress on our fellow Americans to trust Congress less and themselves more."