18 February 2006

America Abandoned

The following article, penned by Alex Sabbeth, appeared in Consortium News (February 16, 2006). Sabbeth provides an excellent "big picture" discussion of the Bush Misadministration.



Article :

Editor’s Note: As an investigative news Web site, we often concentrate on the details of some very interesting trees and thus can be accused at times of missing the full panorama of the forest. Indeed, we do focus on specific facts, in part, because we believe that if our readers are armed with enough reliable information, they can reach their own wise judgments. We also trust in the old news axiom, “show, don’t tell.” But there are times when an overview can be helpful in recognizing patterns or coming to broader conclusions. In this guest essay, author Alex Sabbeth applies a wider lens to America’s present political crisis:

Take a look at New Orleans today. It resembles the burned out blocks of Detroit, not rebuilt since riots decades ago, testifying to a basic truth. America's wealth and power are not directed towards our well-being and security. Maybe it's easier to grasp this when pondering Sept 11. Our vaunted military did not protect us from low-tech attacks. America has over 800 military bases strung across the globe, but the fact is New York and Washington were not protected. Doubtful? We were warned about Katrina for years. Newt Gingrich is right when he asks how we can think we're safe when New Orleans was destroyed under our noses. [Fox News, Sept. 6, 2005]

Before continuing, I want to point out an obvious fact. The Bush administration purveys falsehoods as a matter of policy. Those who prove this are disparaged as the "reality community." [Boston Globe, quoting writer Ron Suskind, Nov. 5, 2004] These obvious falsehoods are directed to the administration’s political base, which either doesn't realize this, or doesn’t care. A few examples of very significant deceptions are in order.

Bush claimed he invaded Iraq because Saddam refused to allow inspectors into Iraq (while they were there). Also, Bush said Saddam refused to disarm. [Nationwide radio address, Feb. 21, 2004, Office of the Press Sec. July 14, 2003] It's well documented that the inspectors were in Iraq from November of 2002 to just before the invasion, when Bush warned them to leave. CBS publicized their reaction to Powell's speech while in Iraq, in a story called “The Man Who Knew.” Also, our own inspectors say Saddam disarmed in the early 1990s, and was left with idle programs. [CBS Oct. 17, 2003, Associated Press, Feb. 13, 2004]

Bush traveled the country, repeatedly emphasizing that warrants were required for government wiretaps, while he had been wiretapping without them for years. [AFP, Dec. 12, 2005] Regarding Sept. 11, do you remember Condoleezza Rice telling us the August 2001 Presidential Brief was mostly “historical” in nature, vague, not concerned with an impending attack? The brief warned that Osama bin-Laden was preparing an attack in America, using planes, activating cells already here. [Los Angeles Times, April 12, 2004] You get the point.

America Hurt

I want to show that Bush’s policies hurt America and our national interests. Despite detailed warnings of both Sept. 11 and Katrina, we were unprepared and unprotected. We invaded Iraq, although our intelligence officers warned that terrorism would increase as a result. [The Guardian, Feb. 24, 2003]

While we were told that the invasion made Iraq and the world safer, the State Department issued a warning of increased al-Qaeda activity against U.S. personnel and interests worldwide. [State Department Worldwide Caution] The invasion was supposed to make Israel more secure, but their security officers have recently warned the chaos in Iraq makes the region more unstable and dangerous. [Guardian, Feb. 9, 2006] All this was foretold by U.S. and British intelligence.

Military resources were redeployed away from the hunt for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, to a country that absolutely was no threat to us. Former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, wrote that Saudi Arabia’s role in financing the Sept. 11 attacks was covered up, as proved in the deleted pages of the Congressional report about Sept 11. [Graham’s “Intelligence Matters”] Our budget deficits have private-sector and government analysts warning of a genuine financial meltdown. Even the mellifluous Alan Greenspan has been warning these deficits are not sustainable.

Our country's safety has been neglected, according to the Sept. 11 Commission, which issued failing grades to the government's response to its recommendations. In 2004, undercover teams slipped weapons past security barriers in 15 U.S. airports. [USA Today, Sept. 23, 2004] In 2005, a mock attack in Boston revealed complete disarray among the terror response units. [AP, Dec. 27, 2005]

Government scientists warning about climate change, mercury and soot levels, and contaminants at Ground Zero, were overruled by political managers. Fifty Nobel prize winners signed a complaint that science is corrupted by this Administration. As a result, we miss out on the benefit of scientific guidance. [Reuters, June 20, 2004]

Our military and intelligence officers warned that an invasion of Iraq would harm our international standing just when cooperation was most needed to coordinate information and responses to terrorist threats.

Military Stress

Also, our troops would be endangered by incompetent assault planning, and our economy would be stressed dangerously. The Army itself would be stretched to breaking because of repeated tours, morale-crunching stop-loss orders, insufficient protective armor, etc. [Los Angeles Times, July, 4, 2004; Washington Post, Jan. 13, 2004]

We’re told our troops will begin to leave Iraq because of improvements in security. The attacks continue daily, and the real reason, admitted by Colin Powell, is that current troop levels can’t be sustained without serious damage to the Army, including recruitment problems. [AP, Dec. 18, 2005]

When undercover agents are most needed in the war on terror, Valerie Plame was outed for political sport, showing that our agents are not safe from their own government. Would you risk your life overseas knowing that?

To those who believe in the President, I say you live in a dream world. The President routinely does the opposite of what he says. Therefore, you have no idea what it is you support.
Mr. Bush campaigned in 2000 on a “humble” foreign policy, deriding nation-building. But he clearly planned the Iraq invasion before Sept 11, and Condi Rice testified that the administration decided to remake the entire Middle East. [UPI, Oct. 19, 2005; Richard Clarke, Paul O’Neill, Judicial Watch Web site, March 2004] How humble is that? How do you think they're doing so far? Does Katrina make you pretty confident? They are enacting goals written in 1992 by Paul Wolfowitz, long before Bush was elected. [Carnegie Endowment for Peace, March 19, 2003]

Did you know that during the 2000 campaign? Bush was going to restore honor and integrity to the White House. Have you ever heard of Abramoff? Did you see articles reporting how Rove is threatening Republicans if they revolt against NSA wiretaps? [Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire, Feb. 7, 2006] How about the Medicare actuary threatened if he revealed the true cost of the seniors' drug benefit? [CBS, March 16, 2004, “Medicare administrator warns actuary, Rick Foster to not tell Congress the price tag.”] Bush traveled the country assuring us that court warrants are still required for wiretaps. He guaranteed that. Yet years before, he had ordered wiretaps contrary to the FISA requirements. Who still has faith in what Bush says? Why listen at all?

Bush scared us with dire threats of WMDs in Iraq. Wolfowitz slipped up by saying WMDs were only a bureaucratic device to gain agreement among individual planners. [AP, May 30, 2003]
But Bush, faced with absence of WMDs, told Fox News he would have ordered the invasion knowing they weren't there. [Fox News, anchor Brit Hume, Dec. 14, 2005] They didn't matter at all!

Mushroom Cloud

Remember the mushroom cloud? Scott Ritter, the lead U.N. inspector, reported the U.S. knew Iraq had no WMDs since 1995! [Newsday, June 4, 2004] Blair's minister, Robin Cook, wrote that he was told by the chief of British intelligence that Saddam had no usable WMDs before the invasion. [Guardian, July 12, 2004] Our top CIA analyst in the Middle East (Paul Pillar) just wrote that the Administration corrupted the intelligence on Iraq, and invaded for entirely different reasons. [AFP, Feb. 10. 2006]

We’re told Bush needs wiretaps to keep us safe. Did you know that he permitted the evacuation of dozens of Saudis, without proper interviews, right after Sept. 11, while commercial planes were grounded? [NYT, quoted in AFP, March 28, 2005] Or that hundreds of hours of Arabic language intercepts remain untranslated? [Justice Department inspector general's report released in September 2004] Who knows what’s on those tapes. Does that make you feel safe?

I want to draw the obvious conclusion underlying these few examples. Bush has been governing like a King, not a democratically elected President. He lied to Congress about the weapons in Iraq, and then said their absence made no difference. He lied to all of us by assuring that warrants were required for wiretaps, while he was wiretapping thousands of innocent citizens with no court order. [NYT, Jan. 17, 2006] He has devised a veto of Congressionally enacted statutes by signing statements, which declare his refusal to honor the clear intent of the law. [Boston Globe, Jan. 4, 2006] He claims authority to ignore explicit laws under theories which caused Justice Department officers to resign, and which Gonzales admitted Congress would not have granted. [Newsweek, Feb. 6, 2006; Council on Foreign Relations Feb. 3, 2006]

Republican senators have pointed this out, but have no stomach for forcing him to follow the law. They enact a charade of hearings, according Mr. Gonzales credence while he lied about existing wiretaps. [Washington Post, Jan. 31, 2006] Instead of censuring Gonzales, they continue the theatrics, knowing full well he’ll say whatever is needed to distract attention from the criminality of the secret surveillance. Most importantly, the lie is given to the “everything changed after Sept. 11” canard. New York Times reporter James Risen writes that these wiretaps were established right after Mr. Bush’s inauguration, eight months before Sept. 11. [Risen’s State of War] After the attacks, thousands of innocents were tapped, causing the FBI to be flooded with useless information. Does this sound like a “highly targeted” tap on only U.S. to overseas communications?

Dear readers, the truth doesn’t matter today in Washington. The Administration assumes nobody pays attention, cares, or notices the bulk of its disinformation. If we don’t wake up, the America we learned about in school will remain only a shimmering dream. The British magazine, The Economist, is right for calling Bush incompetent. [The Economist, Oct. 28, 2004] But worse, he’s dangerous, and has harmed America and the world.

Author Alex Sabbeth acts as an informal researcher and organizer for several retired intelligence officers who share his concerns about America's future.

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