Friday, April 30, 2004

To Veterans, and Anyone Else Listening:

As I’ve mentioned to others, I rarely lose my temper, but this week I’m steamed! I’m a retired military officer who has been involved in activist stuff since last September to help show veterans how this administration is leaving us all behind. But this week my grave concerns once again have turned to disgust and anger:

First was the attempted cover up, by the DoD, of photos showing flag-draped coffins coming back from Iraq.

Second, the fact (like Vietnam), that we’re ordering our troops to clean out the enemy but at the same time, are handcuffing them with dangerously unstable tactics and inadequate equipment, causing more casualties than there should be.

And now Ted Koppel’s show Nightline, honoring our dead tonight on ABC, is being kept off the air by the Sinclair network administration stooges all over the East Coast and elsewhere. Koppel is apparently only going to read the names of our dead brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, wives and husbands. That’s it – that’s all. The PBS News Hour has, very respectfully, been reading the names of the dead for a year.

As a veteran, I’ve had it with this administration, and I hope more vets make the same decision.

So what follows is a little long, and I’m going to leave this post up for several days. If you know a veteran who needs to hear something different from the Bush party line, ask him/her to come by and read this post, and leave comments. There are a lot of veterans who know that Mr. Bush is not the man for the job again in 2004 – but they need to know why. So below, updated and reprinted partially from a talk I gave in January, are some ideas that I think vets and many others might need to consider closely:


Until just nine months ago, I wasn't going to consider any Democrat for President in 2004 – after all, for almost 40 years, I like many veterans and military people, had usually voted Republican.

But Not This Time!

I no longer believe that the Bush administration has the best interests of our military and our veterans in mind.

Veterans, active duty troops, Reserves and National Guard and their families: there are millions of you out there. Most people don’t realize the importance of this bloc of voters or that the military absentee ballots from overseas, along with veterans and their families’ votes in 2000, may have swung the results in many states, including Florida.

You have seen the bumper stickers, "Support our Troops", and I know most all of you do, regardless of this administration’s policies and actions. But I say to you this: Patriotism doesn’t just belong to Mr. Bush and the Republicans.
Please also understand that "troops" includes our veterans, many of whom are being forgotten in a variety of ways by this administration.

Why should military veterans, or anyone associated with the military, or any of you, consider any option other than Mr. Bush for the coming 2004 election?

In less than a year, George Bush has radically changed our national strategy, and because everything Mr. Bush does is cloaked in the 9/11 terrorist attack, no one who supports him seems to object. That new national strategy, known as the Bush Doctrine, provides for regime change in other countries.

Now some of you will rightly point out that Iraq isn’t the first time in our history that we have gone after another country pre-emptively or another country’s leader in past administrations – Fidel Castro comes to mind - and you should critically look at those actions as well. Mr. Bush is even using the excuse, and his poor understanding of history, to now claim that Bill Clinton started the idea of regime change.

But here’s what’s different under George Bush: Regime change and pre-emptive invasions of other countries (unilaterally, if necessary) are now a matter of written as well as verbally stated policy of this administration – and therefore the policy of the United States of America. Think about that.
The Bush Doctrine contains no statement that pre-emptive war and regime change will be policies of last resort, used only when all other options have been tried.

I don’t know about you veterans out there, but I did not serve in the military to forcefully project Democracy into other countries – I served to defend our country and our allies from threats, foreign & domestic: that’s what my oath as an officer said – there’s a big difference.

This administration got us into war, based on two primary assumptions: WMDs & Saddam’s supposed ties to Al Qaeda and 9/11, neither of which has proven to be true.

Nobody was sorry to see Saddam Hussein go down. Nevertheless, a growing number of veterans do not agree with how the Bush administration justified its actions in going to war .

We will not forget those have fallen and the many more thousands of wounded, nor the administration's bait-and-switch tactics for getting us into this pre-emptive war that, in fact, has not made us safer from the terrorism that threatens us.

Now, briefly why else should you care about what this administration is doing to veterans, active duty troops, the Reserves and National Guard? Because this administration is failing in Leadership 101 with regard to veterans, and is putting our best-in-the-world military at risk for the future.

Some examples:

When Mr. Bush committed us to war in Iraq: Gen Shinseki, his Army Chief of Staff told Mr. Bush that the intended use of the military, and the inadequate numbers of personnel, was a badly flawed strategy. Gen Shinseki was fired. Now Gen Shinseki has been proven to be right.

We’re committed around the world in many places like Korea, and a war in Afghanistan that’s still going on. But instead, because Mr. Bush had his personal agenda blinders on, to take care of the Iraq “aftermath”, we’ve had to use Reserves and the National Guard for 18-month call-ups, many of them in combat areas longer than active duty troops - with no guarantee that they won’t have to be used further. Their job return guarantee by law is just 12 months.

You probably know we have an all-volunteer force these days, but our Reserves and Guard are at risk in many ways for the future, because this administration has put them there.

Their families, businesses, and incomes are being shredded as these men and women faithfully follow their oaths of service. This administration has bitten the hand that helped deliver it’s “victory” – and worse yet sidetracked us from focusing our efforts of going after the real terrorists of 9/11 and others who would harm us.

And by the way, this is no scare tactic, you have probably heard by now that many military experts say that if Mr. Bush is re-elected, expect the draft to be reactivated in 2005. Richard Perle a Bush inside advisor, in his new book, An End to Evil, pushes Mr. Bush to end the regimes in Iran and Syria, treat France and Saudi Arabia as enemies, blockade North Korea, withdraw from the United Nations, and abandon what Perle calls “the illusion of a Palestinian State.”

In other words, continue to use our military to keep us in a permanent state of aggressive warfare. Mr. Bush simply does not have the numbers of people to carry out more of his wars of pre-emption without adding a lot more forces through ready sources like the draft.

Something else: In his determined push to prove himself right about WMDs, Mr. Bush had over 1,400 military intelligence experts chasing WMDs for 6 months after the war supposedly ended, while we continued to sustain casualties.

When it became clear that WMDs weren’t going to be found, many of these experts were finally free to help in critical areas where we’ve sustained most of our casualties – including the Sunni Triangle. Not coincidentally, in my opinion, just over a month later, we were able to track Saddam Hussein down.

Many VA hospitals are being closed and other veterans’ health benefits cut back including prescription drug benefits to veterans. The Disabled American Veterans, a group with no political ax to grind other than helping disabled veterans obtain their benefits authorized by law, has been blocked from visiting wounded and disabled GIs at Walter Reed hospital for “security reasons”, and the list goes on.

What’s the bottom line here?

George Bush has broken this country’s contract with its Veterans, its Reserves and National Guard, and its active duty forces. He’s broken this country’s relationships with long time allies. He has flagrantly misused our ability to respond to the real terrorists behind 9/11 by pre-emptively invading Iraq. He thumbed his nose at the international community and yet now expects their cooperation. He’s signed into law Patriot Act I and parts of Patriot Act II that threaten your freedoms. And he plans to do more of the same. He’s divided this country, in ways not seen since Vietnam. Is this who you want again in 2004?

Mr. Bush, on behalf of veterans all around this country who believe as I do, have a nice trip back to Crawford, Texas, next January – permanently.


Not much needed to be changed in the above comments, now four months old. I’ve received many emails responding to this website since September, some accusing me of being a traitor, among other things. But many more have said words like,”Amen, and keep it coming!”

Veterans: It’s time for us all to understand “how the cow eats the cabbage.”

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Vets For Justice has some questions they hope the 9/11 Commission will ask the President and the Vice President today:

1. Did they die for weapons of mass destruction?

2. Or to "Free" the Iraq People?

3. Or to get rid of a very bad man?

4. Or was it for oil?

5. (Or) Did they die so a "Clique" of rich could make a killing off the Iraq War?

All vets have some special interest in the answers to these questions - and many more. We are proud of our returning lost comrades, Mr President and Mr. Vice President. But you hide their pictures and hope the public will not notice. You further hide your deeds behind testimonies with no oaths, testimonies with no transcripts. Your deeds and their results are being judged, however, by all veterans, today and in November.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Just Reported on Air America:

"The President is busy refreshing his memory for tomorrow's testimony in front of the 9/11 Commission."

I'll let you supply the punchline...

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

This Investigation Is Not Going Very Far - You Can Count On It:

The Justice Dept is investigating its leader for the violation of federal campaign finance laws:

The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section is reviewing allegations that Attorney General John D. Ashcroft may have violated federal campaign finance and disclosure laws based on information developed by the Federal Election Commission.

At issue is the valuable campaign fundraising list of then-Sen. Ashcroft (R-Mo.). He had claimed ownership of the fundraising list during an FEC inquiry, but had not reported it as an asset on his Senate or Justice Department financial disclosure statements.

Although the article is written in a serious tone, I had a serious case of the LOLs reading it:

1. Does anyone really believe this investigation will go anywhere?
2. How embarrassing is it to not only break federal finance campaign laws, but still lose to a dead man in a U.S. Senate race?
3. Is there still room at Guantanimo?

UPDATE: Oh by the way, this is the same law-breaking law enforcement officer who will soon be coming after YOU, dear blogger...

UPDATE#2:We're going to need a lot more room at Guantanimo than I thought. When is last time that you remember:
1. The President & the Vice President testifying before a Presidential Commission
2. The Vice-President being hauled before the Supreme Court
3. The Secretary of Defense being hauled in front of the Supreme Court
4. And the Attorney General being investigated for federal election law violations.
...all in the same week!!!

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, April 26, 2004

Three Days to go Before the Commission's Questions...
(Inspired by Maureen Dowd's N.Y. Times column, Fri Apr 22)

(For an explanation of the asterisks, see the end of the post)

Heard outside the West Wing by our able and sneaky reporter...

Speechwriter: You both know, Mr. President, that at least you will need an opening statement, and possibly you too, Mr. Vice President.

POTUS*: I am not speaking in public anymore after the last press conference.

VPOTUS*: But Mr. President, we're NOT speaking in public. It's a closed hearing and we are not even under oath. You are going to need to be ready to answer any off-the-wall thing they might ask.

POTUS: I talk better with gestures than words. I'll just shrug a couple of times and let them figure out what I mean.

Speechwriter: I don't think I've written a statement consisting only of body language before. What was so bad about the press conference?

POTUS: I didn't like the answers I was being fed in my earplug and then it went dead at the wrong time, right when I was getting asked repeatedly if I ever made a mistake.

Speechwriter: So you just...

POTUS: ...shrugged three or four times - let 'em figure it out. Shrugs ... and pregnant pauses...

VPOTUS: Pregnant pauses??? Even elephants give birth after a couple of years!

Speechwriter: OK, well let's figure out how either of you would answer questions from someone like that bulldog, Sen. Bob Kerrey.

POTUS: Yeah, he must be running out of campaign money by now.

Speechwriter: No, I think you are getting mixed up Mr. President - you are thinking of your opponent, Sen. John Kerry.

VPOTUS: Look, it's no problem with this Kerrey either - we'll cut him up in shreds just like Ashcroft did with Commissioner Jamie Gorelick. All we have to do is keep the fear of cataclysmic end-of-the-world thinking in front of the Commission or continue to blame 9/11 on the Commission itself, just like we do everyday with John Q. Public.

POTUS: Oh come on Dick - even I'm getting tired of the WMD baloney.

VPOTUS: It's not baloney - we just found another huge cache of canisters in Libya! .....50,000 canisters..

Speechwriter: Yeah, of RAID.

VPOTUS: So what? The Commission doesn't need to know the details. We need to keep pushing this victory with Qadaffi. He's now a 'good guy'.

Speechwriter: Maybe we should keep off of Qaddafi. His elevator doesn't go to the top floor...

POTUS: Huh, what do you mean? It's stops where it shouldn't? Sounds like the terrorist that he is.

Speechwriter: Um, Mr. President, I was just using a figure of speech about Qaddafi. How smart can the guy be? He's been President of Libya for 35 years and he is still a Colonel! Anybody with brains would have promoted himself to General by now, don't you think?

POTUS: Right, that's how it worked in the National Guard - I think...

Speechwriter: Yeah, Qaddafi's the kind of guy who would order a grilled cheese sandwich and then yell at the waiter to hold the cheese...

POTUS: He would? That doesn't sound right to me. Where's Tom Ridge - I need to get him on this right away...

Speechwriter: Um, never mind, what I meant to say was that Qaddafi is not playing with a full deck...

POTUS: A full deck???

VPOTUS: Speaking of not playing with a full deck, can we get back to work? Maybe the speechwriter can help you out, Mr. President, by coming up with some new shrugs...

(The prep continues...)

* POTUS is the Secret Service acronym for President of the United States, pronounced PO-TIS
VPOTUS - Vice President. See Richard Clarke's book, Against All Enemies.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Friday, April 23, 2004

Why You Don't Want W Back

Rush Limbaugh used to start his show by making fun of Robert Reich's short physical stature, but to my knowledge, Reich never returned with a personal attack of his own. Reich didn't have to because he is a class act with a whole lot more brain power than Limbaugh ever hoped to have. See for yourself Reich's ability to concisely and clearly make his arguments:

by Robert B. Reich

Musings about a second Bush term typically assume four years of the
same right-wing policies we've had to date. But it'd likely be far worse.
So far, the Bush administration has had to govern with the expectation of facing
American voters again in 2004. But suppose George W. Bush wins a second term.

The constraint of a re-election contest will be gone. Knowing that voters
can no longer turn them out, and this will be their last shot at remaking
America, the radical conservatives will be unleashed.

…the only thing that's stopped the Bushies from storming into Iran and North Korea is the upcoming election. If Bush is re-elected, "(Dick) Cheney and (Donald) Rumsfeld are out of the box," he said. "They'll take Bush's re-election as a mandate to wage the 'war of terror' everywhere and anywhere.

The second term's defense team will be even harder line than the
current one. Colin Powell will go. Condoleezza Rice will take over at the State
Department. Rumsfeld will consolidate power as the president's national-security
advisor. Paul Wolfowitz will run the Defense Department.

Bush will seek to push "Patriot II" through Congress, giving the Justice Department
and the FBI powers to inspect mail, and examine personal medical records,
insurance claims, and bank accounts.

Economic policy, meanwhile, will be… for deficits to continue to balloon until Wall Street demands large spending cuts as a condition for holding down long-term interest rates… In consequence, Bush will slash all domestic spending outside of defense. He will also argue that Social Security cannot be maintained in its present form, and will push for legislation to transform it into private accounts…

Meanwhile, the few shards of regulation still protecting the environment and the safety of American workers will be eliminated.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will surely step down from the Supreme
Court, possibly joined by at least one other Jurist, opening the way for the
white House to nominate a series of right-wing justices.

Finally, the Federal Communications Commission will allow three or
four giant media empires -- all tightly connected by the Republican Party -- to consolidate their ownership over all television and radio broadcasting. Nothing is more dangerous to a republic than fanatics unconstrained by democratic politics. Yet in a second term of this administration, that's exactly what we'll have.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Thursday, April 22, 2004

UPDATE: 'This Kind of Photo Could End the War' (See Friday, April 16 post below)

Photographer of returning flag-draped war coffins & spouse fired from their jobs!

Your secret police at work. Joe Stalin would be proud... Are you beginning to get the picture of what these words mean: "You are either with us or against us"? What hypocritical b.s. "...such photos would be insensitive to bereaved families." This kind of reaction comes straight from the top from the example of our leader who has a disgusting record with regard to being "sensitive" to our returning dead and their families.

A cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins bearing the remains of U.S. soldiers was published on a newspaper's front page was fired by the military contractor that employed her.

Tami Silicio, 50, was fired Wednesday by Maytag Aircraft Corp. after military officials raised "very specific concerns" related to the photograph, said William L. Silva, Maytag president. The photo was taken in Kuwait.

Silva declined to identify the Pentagon's concerns but said Silicio violated company and federal government rules. He declined to comment further.

Silicio said she hoped the photo of the 20 flag-draped coffins awaiting transport from Kuwait to the United States would show the relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq that civilian and military crews return the remains of their loved ones with care and devotion.

"It wasn't my intent to lose my job or become famous or anything," Silicio said.

Silicio's husband and co-worker, David Landry, was also fired, but the company gave no reason for his dismissal.

Under a policy adopted in 1991, the Pentagon bars news organizations from photographing caskets being returned to the United States, saying publication of such photos would be insensitive to bereaved families. Critics say the public is being denied information by not being able to see photos of coffins coming back from Iraq.

Silicio took the photograph in a cargo plane about to depart from Kuwait International Airport earlier this month. She sent the photo to a stateside friend who provided it to The Seattle Times, which then obtained permission from Silicio to publish it without compensation.

The photo appeared in the center of the newspaper's front page in its Sunday's editions, along with an article on the war in Iraq and a feature on Silicio's job in Kuwait. It was then posted on Web sites and has been widely discussed on the Internet.

The Times reported Thursday that its decision to print the photograph was supported in most of the e-mails and telephone calls it has received.

Executive Editor Michael R. Fancher wrote about the decision to print the photograph in his weekly column in Sunday's editions and he appeared Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" with U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, R-Delaware, who supports the Pentagon ban. Delaware is home to the military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, where all remains first arrive in the United States from overseas.

"Some will see the picture as an anti-war statement because the image is reminiscent of photos from the Vietnam era" of caskets with casualties arriving in the United States, Fancher wrote, "but that isn't Silicio's or The Times' motivation."

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Leadership 101 (cont.):
Is There a ‘Judgment’ Gene?

If so, Mr. Bush appears to have been born without one.

As this blog has often pointed out, an important measure of leadership can be found in who the leader chooses to advise him/her as well as those appointed to key positions. And once again, Mr. Bush has failed to open the book on leadership – much less read it.

The following will take a couple of minutes for you to read, but it’s informative. Some key phrases have been highlighted.

Note closely who was involved in John Negroponte’s past and who recommended and opposed him for the U.N. Ambassador post in 2001.

This is a truly scary diplomatic appointment – but then again, maybe nobody else would take the job to be Envoy to Iraq on June 30th

On the face of it, the resume sounds good…


Bush names U.N. ambassador as envoy to Iraq

John Negroponte has been in the U.S. foreign service for nearly 40 years, served all over the world and is widely regarded as a quintessential — if soft-spoken — diplomat. But his latest assignment could be his ultimate test — molding a functioning government amid the chaos and carnage of Iraq, where an armed insurrection has created a crisis for the Bush administration in recent weeks.

Admirers of Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, greeted President Bush's announcement of his nomination as the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq on Monday with applause. Negroponte would essentially replace U.S. administrator Paul Bremer after the planned turnover to an interim Iraqi government on June 30. He would be in charge of the world's largest U.S. embassy, with about 3,000 employees.

Bush said of Negroponte's new post would be a "very difficult assignment" but said that there is "no doubt in my mind he can handle it."

A past ambassador to Mexico and the Philippines, Negroponte would give the diplomatic community a sense of confidence that the State Department, not the Pentagon, will be in charge in Iraq. Negroponte was Secretary of State Colin Powell's deputy when Powell was national security adviser to President Reagan. His nomination requires Senate confirmation.

In his memoir, My American Journey, Powell describes Negroponte as having "the management style I liked, toughness applied in an easygoing manner."

Others fear Negroponte's courtly style might not be a good fit in Iraq…Negroponte also has not served in the Middle East and does not speak Arabic. And he faces a lingering controversy about his tenure as ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, when the Honduran military was accused of human rights abuses.

Here’s where the other part of Negroponte’s resume goes very, very sour:

Negroponte's U.N. nomination was held up for six months in 2001 because of concerns from several Democratic senators — including Democratic presidential challenger Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. - about Negroponte's knowledge of "death squads."

The Honduran government is accused of using such squads to murder, kidnap and torture political opponents. Honduras was the Reagan administration's base for defeating communist insurgencies throughout Latin America.

Now we need to go back to when Negroponte was being considered for the U.N. post in 2001. Ever heard of the Iran-Contra scandal? If so, here’s a piece of it you may not have heard about:

The New York Times credits John Negroponte with "carrying out the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the Sandinista government in Nicaragua" during his tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 and 1985. He oversaw the growth of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a year.

In early 1984, two U.S. mercenaries, Thomas Posey and Dana Parker, contacted Negroponte, stating they wanted to supply arms to the Contra army (who wanted to overthrow the Honduran government) after the U.S. Congress had banned governmental aid. Documents show that Negroponte connected the two with a contact in the Honduran military. The operation was exposed nine months later, at which point the Reagan administration denied any U.S. government involvement, despite Negroponte’s contact earlier that year. Other documents uncovered a scheme of Negroponte and then-Vice President George (H.W.) Bush to funnel Contra aid money through the Honduran government.

In addition to his work with the Nicaraguan Contra army, Negroponte helped conceal from Congress the murder, kidnapping and torture abuses of a CIA-equipped and -trained Honduran military unit, Battalion 3-16. No mention of these human rights violations ever appeared in State Department Human Rights reports for Honduras.

… Rick Chidester, a junior embassy official under Negroponte, reported to the (Baltimore) Sun that he was forced to omit an exhaustive gathering of human rights violations from his 1982 State Department report.

Sister Laetitia Bordes went on a fact-finding delegation to Honduras in May 1982 to investigate the whereabouts of 32 Salvadoran nuns and women of faith who fled to Honduras in 1981 after Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassination. Negroponte claimed the embassy knew nothing, but in 1996, Negroponte’s predecessor Jack Binns reported that the women had been captured, tortured, and then crammed into helicopters from which they were tossed to their deaths.

In 1994, the Honduran Human Rights Commission charged Negroponte personally with several human rights abuses.

On August 27, 1997, CIA Inspector General Frederick P. Hitz released a 211-page classified report entitled "Selected Issues Relating to CIA Activities in Honduras in the 1980s." This report was partly declassified on October 22, 1998, in response to persistent demands by the Honduran human rights ombudsman.

You can read parts of the document on the National Security Archives website. Only senators and their staff who have security clearance can read the report in its entirety.


Once again, Mr. Bush’s actions speak louder than his fumbling press conference words.

Mr. Negroponte is about the last person we want to ‘fight the war on terrorism’ in Iraq because of his knee-deep involvement in human rights violations as an ambassador.

Just the perfect message we want to send to Iraq and the rest of the world, isn't it? And it underscores what we can expect from Mr. Bush if we return him to office in November.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

'Mr Cheney, please sit closer to Mr. Bush, so you can whisper answers in his ear...'

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will answer questions together and in private before the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on April 29, the White House said on Wednesday.

They will meet at the White House with the five Republican and five Democratic members of the commission. Their appearance had been planned but a specific date had not been announced.

"The president looks forward to meeting with the commission and answering any questions," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

The two will not testify under oath.


The pictures accompanying the Reuters story need your captions badly.

I'll start it off. For the picture of the two of them sitting together: "But Dick says my answer to every question should be, 'We'll find those WMDs any day now...'

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

'Warnings Ignored, Says Retired Marine General Zinni'

Gen. Zinni, former Commander of U.S. Central Command (the Middle East), once again speaks his mind, and once again pins the tail on the elephant. Yet he still gives Mr. Bush some slack that's not deserved...

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni wondered aloud yesterday how Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could be caught off guard by the chaos in Iraq that has killed nearly 100 Americans in recent weeks and led to his announcement that 20,000 U.S. troops would be staying there instead of returning home as planned.

"I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus," said Zinni, a Marine for 39 years and the former commander of the U.S. Central Command. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?"

For years Zinni said he cautioned U.S. officials that an Iraq without Saddam Hussein would likely be more dangerous to U.S. interests than one with him because of the ethnic and religious clashes that would be unleashed.

"I think that some heads should roll over Iraq," Zinni said. "I think the president got some bad advice."

Known as the "Warrior Diplomat," Zinni is not a peace activist by nature or training, having led troops in Vietnam, commanded rescue operations in Somalia and directed strikes against Iraq and al Qaeda.

"I've been called a traitor and a turncoat for mentioning these things," said Zinni, 60. The problems in Iraq are being caused, he said, by poor planning and shortsightedness, such as disbanding the Iraqi army and being unable to provide security.

Several things have to happen to get Iraq back on course, whether the U.N. decides to step in or not, Zinni said.

Improving security for American forces and the Iraqi people is at the top of the list followed closely by helping the working class with economic projects.

But it's not the lack of a comprehensive American plan for Iraq nor the surging violence that has cost allied troops their lives – including about 30 Camp Pendleton Marines – that most concerns Zinni.

"In the end, the Iraqis themselves have to want to rebuild their country more than we do," Zinni said. "But I don't see that right now. I see us doing everything.

"I spent two years in Vietnam, and I've seen this movie before," he said. "They have to be willing to do more or else it is never going to work."

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Why is This Man Smiling?

In case you haven’t heard it yet, here’s the Uplifting Comment of the Week from page 443 of Plan of Attack:

(Woodward) asked him: How would history judge his war?

Bush smiled. “History,” he said, shrugging, taking his hands out of his pockets, extending his arms out and suggesting with his body language that it was far off. “We won’t know. We’ll all be dead."

Doesn't he just give you a warm feeling all over? This Compassionate Conservatism just oozes with oil love. They are dancing in the Carlyle Group Baghdad.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Mr. Bush’s Friend, Prince Bandar & How the Administration Played You-Scratch-My-Back-and-I’ll-Scratch-Yours for a 2004 Election Payback…

At the bookstore late yesterday, I sat down with Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack and a cup of coffee, and took some notes (it must also be getting expensive for the Bush Administration to buy all the books coming out, especially since each one rips the heart out of their once insurmountable lead – but $200 million goes a long ways, so don’t feel too sorry for them).

On pages 263-264, Woodward reports that Vice President Cheney invited Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar to the West Wing, Jan 11, 2003, before the Iraq war began (see Carla's comment on yesterday's blog). Donald Rumsfeld and JCS Chairman Gen Myers were there also. The administration needed access to Iraq through the 500-mile Saudi-Iraq border.

Then Gen Myers committed what would be a court martial offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for any other officer or enlisted person in the military:

Sitting on the edge of the table, Myers took out a classified large map clearly stamped not to be seen by any foreign national.

Myers then proceeded to brief Bandar on the U.S. war plan for Iraq. Bandar asked if he could have a copy of the map.

They were our allies, you say – what’s the big deal? Very big deal considering where 15 of 19 9/11 terrorists came from - and given how our Saudi “friends” have treated this country and bought off our leaders (see blog post for Mon Apr 5, in the archives).

Rumsfeld said that Bandar could look at the map and take notes only.

Bandar said: “No, no, it’s not important. Just let me look at it.”

In his car, Bandar scribbled out details from what he had seen on the map. When he got home, he took out a large blank map of the region that had been supplied by the CIA and began reconstructing the plan piece-by-piece.

In other words, the Saudis, of all people, were now in possession of our classified war plan, potentially jeopardizing the safety of our troops.

Later in the book, Woodward notes that Bandar, in typical Middle Eastern fashion, promised, in return, to help George Bush in the 2004 election – p.324:

According to Prince Bandar, the Saudis hoped to fine-tune oil prices over 10 months to prime the economy for 2004. What was key, Bandar knew, were the economic conditions before a presidential election, not at the moment of the election.

Hey, Prince Bandar - I’ll bet George Bush wonders why his Saudi “friends” have abandoned him again. The price of unleaded gas here this morning is $2.03 a gallon and going up. Maybe it’s time for the president to read up on his Saudi benefactors.

No. Scratch that idea, unless the PDB can be written at a 3rd grade level or made into a DVD.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, April 19, 2004

Powell Guarantees an Early Retirement for Himself (and Maybe his Boss)

If we can get Bob Woodward to put out a book about every two months between now and November, Mr. Bush will indeed be enjoying the comforts of Crawford, Texas sooner than he planned. Once again the White House is scrambling to recover from disclosures in a Woodward book - this time from Colin Powell. Woodward reportedly has 40-50 sources inside the administration who regularly feed him information. You would think that John Ashcroft would be uncovering these moles, or at least blaming this problem also on 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick.

For more than a year, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his aides have tacitly acknowledged that he was concerned before the war about what could go wrong once American forces captured Iraq.

But Mr. Powell's apparent decision to lay out his misgivings even more explicitly to the journalist Bob Woodward for a book has jolted the White House and aggravated long-festering tensions in the Bush cabinet. Moreover, some officials said, the book has created problems for the secretary inside the administration just as the situation in Iraq is deteriorating and President Bush is plunging into his re-election drive.

Mr. Powell has not acknowledged that he cooperated with Mr. Woodward, but the book presents the secretary's reservations in such detail that it leaves little doubt. A spokesman for Mr. Powell said again Sunday that he would not comment on the book, "Plan of Attack."

Critics of Mr. Powell in the hawkish wing of the administration said they were startled by what they saw as his self-serving decision to help fill out a portrait that enhances his reputation as a farsighted analyst, perhaps at the expense of Mr. Bush. Several said the book guaranteed what they expected anyway, that Mr. Powell will not stay as secretary if Mr. Bush is re-elected.

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Friday, April 16, 2004

'This Kind of Photo Could End the War'

It's called “the Dover Effect" for Dover AFB, NJ where those who have given their lives quietly return to our shores.

And it's a sober reminder from veterans, to this nation's leadership, that they must not forget the continued loss of our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, our mothers and fathers. So we will keep reminding them...

A salute to our fallen comrades: As of April 13, 2004, at least 678 U.S. service members have been killed in Iraq.

More than 18,000 have been medically evacuated.

Approximately 10,000 Iraqis have died.

Courtesy of Veterans for Common Sense

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Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Best From Tuesday Night Live...

We're all capable of mistakes, but I do not care to enlighten you on the mistakes we may or may not have made.
-- Former Vice President Dan Quayle (USA Today, 04/22/92)

Following in this conservative tradition, Mr. Bush, on Tuesday night, after being asked several times whether he ever made a mistake, said:

"I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have."

No one would argue that there are a lot of things to remember as President of the United States. I think we have to help our leader with his memory. Sometime today take time to do this public service...

Courtesy of the Independent Voter

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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

In the Loop

We caught up with Mr. Cheney after the President’s news conference last night, as he was quietly leaving by a side door…

Reporter: Mr. Vice President (VP), how did the President do tonight?

VP: Excellent, and we are close to finding WMDs in Iraq.

Reporter: But Mr. Cheney, it was difficult to figure out exactly what the President was saying in response to our questions…

VP: Exactly. We have been practicing together for our upcoming 9/11 Commission testimony, and last night was really just a dry run.

Reporter: And what was the strategy he was using last night – and the strategy you both will use in front of the 9/11 Commission to answer their questions?

VP: Well it’s clear that Iran & Syria, and possibly Botswana, now make up the new axis of evil.

Reporter: You mean there is a new axis of evil?

VP: Right, and the FBI should have known about this all along. They’ve been out of the loop.

Reporter: The FBI has been out of the loop??? I don’t get it. You are answering my questions with answers to other questions.

VP: You are either with us or against us.

Reporter: What? I never said…Look, why won’t the President ever admit he makes a mistake? And doesn’t he realize that if he even gave a hint of an apology about 9/11, his approval rating would probably shoot up to 70% overnight? It would be seen as a sign of strength, not weakness.

VP: It’s nobody’s business who I go duck hunting with…

Reporter: OK, let me get more specific here – last night the President was asked at least three times, in different ways, whether he ever admits to doing anything wrong…

VP: Yes, and if Americans will just be patient, we are close to finding massive amounts of WMDs in Iraq.

Reporter: Your responses seem sort of mechanical, like the President’s last night - like a computer in an endless loop – do you think the President will be ready for the 9/11 Commission questions?

VP: No.

Reporter: No??? Why do you say that?

VP: He’s been out of the loop.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

‘Asleep at the Switch’

Larry Johnson, an expert in Presidential Daily Briefings - the now infamous “PDBs” - takes apart Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice and, no surprise, shows that Richard Clarke was right on target. Few will argue against Ms. Rice’s contention that, had they known the specifics of the 9/11 attack beforehand, they would have acted to prevent it. That’s missing the point – or several points.

Both the Bush and Clinton administrations are attempting to fire WMDs at each other.

But, at the bottom of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Aug 6, 2001 PDB, there rests at least these two conclusions: (1) The Bush administration’s “strong point” for the upcoming election – its stated ability to fight terrorism - has been exposed for its failures in leadership and management, and (2) The need to correct significant institutional barriers in the Executive Branch of the federal government is still taking a back seat to the spear throwing. Neither of these conclusions inspires confidence.

Larry Johnson exposes the Bush/Rice PDB spin for what it is: spin (some comments are bolded for emphasis):

"Are George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice really as clueless as they are claiming to be? Bush and Rice are both on the record misstating what was in the 6 August 2001 PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing). They both insist the information was only “historical” and “not actionable.” They apparently are not alone in their faux ignorance. Republican partisans and even some members of the media are busy bolstering the spin that this was “an historical memo.” Absolute nonsense!

I wrote about 40 PDB’s during my four-year tenure at the CIA. This particular PDB article was written in response to a presidential request. I am told that Bush’s request was a reaction to the intelligence warnings he was hearing during the daily CIA morning briefings. Something caught his attention and awakened his curiosity. He reportedly asked the CIA to come back with its assessment of Bin Laden’s intentions. The CIA answered the question—Bin Laden was targeting the United States.

The PDB article released Saturday is a classic CIA response to such a request. It lays out the historical and evidentiary antecedents that undergird the analyst’s belief about the nature of the threat and provides current intelligence indicators that reinforce the basic conclusion of the piece—i.e., Bin Laden was determined to attack the United States. It is true that the piece did not contain specific details about the plot that was launched subsequently on 9/11. However, the details that are included in the piece are so alarming that anyone familiar with the nature of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda should have asked, “What are they planning and what can we do to stop it?”

Remember the furious attacks against Richard Clarke during the past month? Now that we have seen the content of the PDB we know he was telling the truth when he said that President Bush and Condoleezza Rice did not make fighting Al Qaeda a priority prior to 9/11. At a minimum, the details in the 6 August PDB should have motivated Rice to convene a principals’ meeting. Such a meeting would have ensured that all members of the president’s national security team were aware of the information that had been shared with the president.

George Bush should have directed the different department heads to report back within one week on any information relevant to the Al Qaeda threat. Had he done this there is a high probability that the FBI field agents concerns about Arabs taking flight training would have rung some bells. There is also a high probability that the operations folks at CIA would have shared the information they had in hand about the presence of Al Qaeda operators in the United States.

While Condoleezza Rice is correct that there was no “silver bullet” in that PDB, she conveniently ignores the huge pieces of the puzzle that were in the hands of various members of the U.S. government.

None of these steps were taken. Bush was on vacation and Condi—the smartest woman in Washington, we are told—was asleep at the switch.

The PDB revealed another very fascinating item—the analyst who wrote the piece had access to details about FBI investigations. This is something I never had access to when I was writing PDBs. It was forbidden territory. In other words, Bill Clinton has opened some level of cooperation between the FBI and CIA. The FBI, in a break with tradition, was telling the CIA what it was doing in some measure. Unfortunately, with the benefit of hindsight, not enough was shared."

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Monday, April 12, 2004

....Excuse Mr. Rumsfeld, Aren't There Other Things on Your Plate Right Now?

HANOI — The diminutive soldier in a brown Vietnamese army uniform bounded past a U.S. honor guard and up the Pentagon's red-carpeted steps. At the landing, the door opened and a smiling Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld appeared with an outstretched hand. Pham Van Tra clasped it warmly.

No, this is not a headline from 30 years ago (although Mr. Rumsfeld helped form that military and foreign policy disaster as well)...

With the legacy of Vietnam seemingly ready to play itself out again in a U.S. presidential race, the timing of the exploratory steps taken by both countries is ironic.

Part of the reason .... is that Vietnam — whose 600,000-strong military is saddled with outdated armaments — represents an attractive market for U.S. arms manufacturers. Vietnam wants the option of weighing bids from American arms sellers against those of other countries to bargain for lower costs, as it did when it purchased four Boeing 777 commercial jetliners for a rock-bottom price.

Maybe Mr. Rumsfeld, you are trying to rediscover some lessons learned from Vietnam (by the way, Mr. Secretary, 19 more GIs died this weekend, just to keep you up with the news).

But your biggest problems may come from Mr. Cheney when he hears your are getting some military arms sales commissions on the side. He's supposed to get the kickbacks from Halliburton.

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'$2,000 Meal, but no Utensils'

It was a mouthwatering menu. Not that you'd expect less for $2,000 a plate.

Seered beef tenderloins with golden tomatoes on an herb-encrusted baguette. Grilled garlic chicken with smoked gouda on a honey wheat wrap. Fruits and gourmet olives and crudite. A gourmet luncheon with only one thing missing: something to eat it with.

The explanation was at the bottom of the menus distributed at President Bush's $1.5 million Charlotte fund-raiser Monday.

"At the request of the White House, silverware will not accompany the table settings," it said in discreetly fine print.

No silver. No plastic.

The lack of utensils might have been why many plates went virtually untouched.

The reason: So the tinkle of silver wouldn't disrupt the president's speech.

"They're just doing it so people can eat their meals prior to or after the president's speech," said spokesman Reed Dickens, who said it's standard procedure for fund-raisers. "It's just a logistical issue. Nothing more."

Apparently the White House doesn't worry about all diners.

Behind a rope on the side of the ballroom next to many paying guests, reporters scarfed down their own buffet. It came with silverware.

Hmmmm. let's see:

A war but no exit strategy

A war but no WMDs

A booming economy with no jobs

Veterans needing help, but inadequate health care

And now a banquet without utensils...

Perfectly describes this presidency, doesn't it?

.....a government without leadership.

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Saturday, April 10, 2004

For those celebrating it: Happy Easter - see you next week!

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Friday, April 09, 2004

Mr. Bush Digs a Bigger Hole in Iraq - and Puts Our Troops in More Danger

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East said Thursday that he is considering holding several thousand troops here beyond their planned departure this spring in an attempt to squelch continuing uprisings by Shiite militiamen and Sunni insurgents.

Gen. John P. Abizaid, the chief of the U.S. Central Command, said he might extend the combat tour of the Army's 1st Armored Division and might also request that the 3rd Infantry Division, which left Iraq last summer, be brought back much sooner than planned.

As this veteran has pointed out many times:

- We don't have the forces, in country, needed to carry out the Bush Doctrine in Iraq
- We are wearing out the Reserves & Guard (has anyone remembered that the primary mission of the National Guard is to protect OUR country here?)
- The lack of adequate forces and the eventual exhaustion of our troops puts them in more danger, threatening morale as well
- Gen Shinseki, the former Army Chief of Staff, was right last year, that we needed more troops, before he got fired

Now Gen Abizaid has to make the best of what he has got, or he will be fired also.

Mr. Bush & Mr. Rumsfeld, the hole is getting deeper - a lot deeper and wider than a spider hole. If you are ordering our troops into battle, then SUPPORT THEM! Don't cause them to take more unnecessary casualties for your failed foreign policy.

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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Condi Testimony (In Progress)

UPDATE: Having been away all day teaching college business classes, I got in my car to hear the wrap up of the Rice testimony. Funny thing is that there must have been two sets of testimony given, and two Condi Rices. Virtually every media outlet was quoting her boss, Mr. Bush, saying what a great "performance" she gave.

Then there was Air America, who quite clearly was listening to a different Condi Rice. However long they last, I'm glad they are on the air (& the net).


As Ms. Rice testifies, it's now clear that two new, unique innovations in anti-terrorism have been put forth by the Bush administration:

1. The words "Yes" and "No" have been stricken from the English language.

2. Robots are now allowed to testify for their masters in front of Presidential Commissions.

Best quote so far (paraphrased from Ms. Rice): "We didn't meet a 100 times before we talked about Al Qaeda on Sept 04, 2001 - it was 33."

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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Heard Outside Condi Rice's Door This Morning...

Rice: Ok, I must have 15 drafts of this stupid speech, where's the latest one?
Speechwriter: Um, here it is..

Rice: OK: Let's try this again.... "First of all, I'd like to apologize...." No, no, this is NOT my speech..
Speechwriter: Oh sorry, I have been working on speeches for a bunch of people...What do you want to say about that FBI agent who reported that he found evidence of a lot of Saudis taking civilian jet piloting training in Aug 2001?

Rice: Isn't he the guy that wears women's underwear?
Speechwriter: No, we've already used that one on Clarke and nobody cares these days anyways.
Rice: OK, let's just say it was bad intelligence.
Speechwriter: I think we've overused that one...
Rice: OK, well I want his wife 'outted'

Speechwriter: His wife? We've already used that one too, on Valerie Plame... Ok, look we need to show you've been in charge of things all along and that you've understood the threat. After all the President put you in charge of Iraq last year.

Rice: He did what???
Speechwriter: Right - back in October. And then in a speech, he said you were doing a great job. He called you his "unsticker".
Rice: What the hell does that mean?
Speechwriter: It's hard to tell coming from him, but I guess it means you unstick things.

Rice: Don't put a word in there that I'm in charge of Iraq, got it?
Speechwriter: Right....But, there's another problem - remember Bob Woodward's book, Bush at War where, the day after 9/11 over at Camp David, the president told you to shut up and sit quietly while the rest of the cabinet discussed what to do?... I'll have to spin that one somehow. It makes it sound like you didn't know what was going on...

Speechwriter: And another thing, don't forget to smile once in awhile in front of the Commission tomorrow. The pictures of you in the media have you scowling worse than Richard Nixon...
Rice: Who??

Speechwriter: Look this is going to take awhile, I'd better call home
Rice: Right, don't plan on going home tonight...

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Better Than the Atkins Diet...

No -C-heney
No -A-shcroft
No -R-umsfeld
No -B-ush

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

The Sunk Cost Mentality in the White House

Once again Mr. Bush & Mr. Rumsfeld are asking the military to bail out their bad decisions. And I truly don't understand why Rumsfeld keeps insisting we don't need more military there, or altogether. This is way past the point of personal egos.

In business, we use the term "sunk costs.” For Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz etc., they have poured so much into the sunk costs of their past decisions, that they don't know how to get themselves out without saying they screwed up (and forfeiting the next four years to Mr. Kerry) - and that problem is more important to them than anything else. Is this some kind of macho bravado? With our kids lives at stake?

The difference in the business world is that at some point you swallow your ego and cut your losses - a concept, ironically, that is apparently foreign to the big business mentality controlling the White House.

Veterans – you know that without adequate forces, we increase the risk to our troops every day – and the casualties will increase because of egos. I wonder how many administration decision makers have kids in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Mr. Rumsfeld continues to try to convince us “they” can get the job done without further troops. But, we don't have enough replacement active duty troops and we are also wearing out the Reserves and National Guard. Returning Oregon Guard troops were interviewed yesterday. Several said, “I am not going back, period.”

Our adversaries have their strategy: keep threatening us with terror attacks up to the election and disrupt Iraq in order to force us out. We still don't have a strategy, or said another way, our strategy continues to be one of "reaction." If the administration refuses to fully support the troops, get them out, now. Otherwise give them what they need to do the job at minimum casualties - and get them out as soon as possible. Remember, the words are "exit strategy," Mr. Bush & Mr. Rumsfeld. Try developing one, when you aren't thinking about how to save your own tails.

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Monday, April 05, 2004

As 13 More Americans Die Over the Weekend, We Refuse to Hold Supporters of Terrorism Accountable: Our "Friends" the Saudis

Craig Unger, a specialist in Saudi Arabia affairs, is interviewed by the on-line website Buzzflash.

Unger in his book, "House of Bush, House of Saud," shows how the Bush family and his advisors are so financially tied up in preserving the Saudi royal family, that it could not hold them responsible for the role that many Saudi Arabians played in the 9/11 day of terror.

As the interview began, Buzzflash, after reminding us that 15 of 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, also reminds us that "...the Bush Cartel censored 28 pages in Congress's 9/11 reports. The subject of those 28 pages was reportedly the Saudi financing of terrorist front organizations and 'charities.'...Unger, a respected journalist, concludes that Bush must believe that "the billionaire Saudi royals are somehow more worthy of the government's concern than are the victims of 9/11."

Here is an extended excerpt from the interview - read it all when you get a chance. Some key phrases are highlighted.

* * *

BuzzFlash: In "House of Bush, House of Saud," you write about the special relationship between the Bush family and the Saudi Royal Family.

Unger: I think there are very elemental, logical questions here that America has to confront. One is: What was the Saudi role - and I think it's a very large one - in 9/11? Without the Saudis, you really have no 9/11. It's not just that 15 of the hijackers were Saudis. The Saudis have played a huge role in funding terrorism over the last 20 years. Two: Isn't it amazing that the Bush family has had a close relationship with them for nearly 30 years? And you don't know the exact number, but we know that it's at least $1.4 billion that has gone from the House of Saud to companies in which the Bushes and their allies have prominent positions.

I think this has been sometimes dismissed as a conspiracy theory and confined to the margins, and you see a lot of it in the Internet, due to the nature of the Internet. But the fact of the matter is this is not conspiracy, it's business. This is the oil business, and the defense business. And one of the cardinal rules of business is you don't bite the hand that feeds you, and we know the extent now to which the Bushes have been fed by the Saudis.

BuzzFlash: Your book begins with an incident that Greg Palast first reported on shortly after it happened. And again, the mainstream press, for the most part, has still completely ignored this, although there have been a couple articles that have come up here and there.

Unger: In the wake of September 11th, when basically America was a no-fly zone, the Bush administration allowed Saudi planes to come and extract from the United States members of the bin Laden family and extended members of the bin Laden family. This just seems phenomenal, and it's never really been explained by the Bush administration. It's basically accepted, I think, as fact now that this occurred. There were many eyewitnesses.

...air space was completely restricted up through 9/13. And on that day, the first flight took off from Tampa, Fl., to Lexington. I found at least eight airplanes that stopped in 12 American cities. This was a massive operation. They picked up roughly 140 Saudis, roughly two dozen members of the bin Laden family, and they simply were not interrogated or interviewed seriously.

One of the basic rules in any criminal investigation is that even in the most commonplace murder, you interview the friends and relatives of the perpetrator... In addition, Richard Clarke told me so. He was the counter-terrorism czar in the situation room at the White House, and he said that he was party to these conversations. He said that it was OK so long as they were vetted by the FBI.

The problem is that they were not vetted by the FBI. There was no serious investigation. I was able to obtain the passenger list for four of the planes. We have to presume innocence on the part of most people on the planes, but we do know that one person in particular is highly suspicious, and that is Prince Ahmed bin Salman, who was a very high-ranking member of the royal family and was said to have been a link between the royal family and al-Qaeda who may have had foreknowledge.

BuzzFlash: Let me go back to this figure which we've brought up many times ... 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. Yet, in the buildup to the Iraq War, more than 70 percent of Americans thought that Saddam Hussein was directly related to 9/11. And more than a majority of Americans, because of mirroring language that the Bush administration used in speeches, thought that most of the hijackers were from Iraq.

If we accept that Osama bin Laden masterminded this, the mastermind was Saudi. The money that financed Osama bin Laden was largely Saudi. As an American who's concerned about my family, my friends, and the life and safety of Americans, this amounts to close to treachery and betrayal. Don't we want to really get the people responsible? Or is this just a show?

Unger: ...It's particularly interesting when you look at the Bush role in all this. There are always two factors when you look at American policy in the Middle East, and particularly the Saudis. Those factors are oil and Israel. And we had this relationship that was so full of contradictions for so many years.

... And that may have been fine up to a point, but that point changed when the Saudis started killing Americans. And what is particularly distressing is that the Bushes appear to have turned a blind eye again and again to this.

It dates back before the time when Bush got into office. In the 90s, George Bush, Sr., James Baker -- people that I see as part of the House of Bush -- Dick Cheney and Halliburton, the Carlyle Group, were investing and making very, very lucrative deals with Saudis. So they had very close business relationships. You have to wonder, given those relationships, did they dare ask the tough questions of the Saudis about their role in financing terrorism?

They were making business deals with people who have at least indirectly been involved in terrorism.

BuzzFlash: Isn't James Baker, or his law firm, defending the Saudi government in a lawsuit that some of the relatives of 9/11 victims have filed?

Craig Unger: Baker-Botts represents the Carlyle Group and has represented some of the Saudis in the suit by the relatives of the 9/11 victims. It represents many of the major oil companies who have deals with Saudi Arabia. So the Saudi oil family and its allies, the wealthy merchant elite, are very, very close to the House of Bushes, as I call it, which means James Baker, the firm of Baker-Botts, the Carlyle Group, former President Bush, and other people who were in the Carlyle Group.

BuzzFlash: To me this seems, in its starkest sense, a betrayal of American people. We know our government knows -- meaning the Bush administration -- that the Saudi government is probably the chief financier, at least, of Wahhabi-connected terrorism through the Osama bin Laden branch.

Craig Unger: ...the best argument for being soft on the Saudis is that this is the best we're going to get, and we need oil, and we need a strategic ally in that part of the world.

At the same time, there's got to be a line at which you say: If they're killing Americans, what kind of allies are they? That's unacceptable. And this atrocious act of terrorism, killing 3,000 people on 9/11 -- we've been directing all our energy elsewhere against Saddam Hussein. The Bush administration has not really focused on the root cause of it at all.

Richard Clarke had drawn up a very aggressive attack plan to go after them. Yet it stayed on Bush's desk for month after month after month. Why did he not act then? On August 6, 2001, there was a Presidential daily briefing, at which President Bush was advised that bin Laden and al-Qaeda might well attack the United States very, very soon.

What exactly was said during that briefing? Why didn't he act then? I think you've got an awful lot of questions about how Bush addressed the question of terrorism, and why he didn't act more aggressively. And it's especially ironic from an administration that prides itself on being so tough on terrorism.

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Friday, April 02, 2004

Why Mr. Bush (and the Rest of Us) Should be Thanking Richard Clarke

Lots of politicians and media stars have commented on Richard Clarke's book, "Against All Enemies." This blogger has actually read the whole book. Amazingly, not one of the blowhards from the Republican controlled sources of information, known as radio and TV, have said much of anything about how Clarke kept expert control of the White House Situation Room and the President's staff on 9/11 until the President was able to safely return to Washington DC the next day.

The first quarter of the book recounts those events from his perspective and contain no criticisms of either the Bush or Clinton administrations. Amidst the confusion that could have led to wrong and disastrous decisions, Richard Clarke coolly and professionally directed the White House staff, and established needed decision making connections across the government. Military professionals will recognize at once how well Mr. Clarke performed.

At one point as the twin towers fell, when it became known that over 4,000 aircraft were still in the air, and unknown others could be headed for DC with terrorists aboard (at least two others were), Clarke calmly made the decision to evacuate the White House except for himself and any of his people that chose to stay - several did so.

Since the book came out, not one of Mr. Clarke's attackers from the snarling, angry right have disputed a single fact from those events, or recognized how well Mr. Clarke performed under those circumstances. More on "Against all Enemies" next week, but for now as a thankful citizen, I for one would like to thank you personally Mr. Clarke for your professionalism, dedication, and expertise with which you handled an unspeakably stressful situation, the equivalent of which has not been seen in this country since Pearl Harbor.

Regardless of what else is discussed about Mr. Clarke and his book, you Mr. Bush, your administration, the media, and the people of this country should also be thanking him for his courageous actions at a time when it looked like the attacks would even be more devastating to this country.

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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Those Who Are ANGRY and Those Who HATE: Surprise, it’s the Republicans!

First, some good news. Air America, the first nation-wide liberal & progressive radio station, launched yesterday in several big cities, including here in Portland, Oregon, and here’s hoping they are very successful. Leading the charge is Al Franken, humorist, satirist, and general pain-in-the-neck to Mr. Bush and his horde of ANGRY followers, full of HATE (yes, Republicans – who would have believed it?) – the snapping turtles, going after Richard Clarke – including Franken’s favorite target, Bill O’Reilly.

Second, in terms of the Nov 2004 presidential election: The Real Difference between the Liberals and Conservatives is this: You dear readers, if you are of the liberal persuasion in some form, are being continually described by the conservative media and administration supporters as “Bush-Haters" – you will vote for "Anybody to beat George Bush.” Maybe many of you might not take issue with that description, but here’s the difference: Mr. Bush and his followers HATE YOU(!) because in their minds you are no better than the terrorists themselves if you don’t support Mr. Bush – you are either “with him or you are against him,” as Mr. Bush has said many times. Pretty easy choice in that case, isn’t it?

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