Olbermann: Bush, Cheney should resign (Special Comment; transcript + video)

Olbermann: Bush, Cheney should resign

“I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.’

SPECIAL COMMENT

By Keith Olbermann

Anchor, ‘Countdown’

MSNBC Updated: 53 minutes ago

“I didn’t vote for him,” an American once said, “But he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

That—on this eve of the 4th of July—is the essence of this democracy, in 17 words. And that is what President Bush threw away yesterday in commuting the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

The man who said those 17 words—improbably enough—was the actor John Wayne. And Wayne, an ultra-conservative, said them, when he learned of the hair’s-breadth election of John F. Kennedy instead of his personal favorite, Richard Nixon in 1960.

“I didn’t vote for him but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

The sentiment was doubtlessly expressed earlier, but there is something especially appropriate about hearing it, now, in Wayne’s voice: The crisp matter-of-fact acknowledgement that we have survived, even though for nearly two centuries now, our Commander-in-Chief has also served, simultaneously, as the head of one political party and often the scourge of all others.

We as citizens must, at some point, ignore a president’s partisanship. Not that we may prosper as a nation, not that we may achieve, not that we may lead the world—but merely that we may function.

But just as essential to the seventeen words of John Wayne, is an implicit trust—a sacred trust: That the president for whom so many did not vote, can in turn suspend his political self long enough, and for matters imperative enough, to conduct himself solely for the benefit of the entire Republic.

Our generation’s willingness to state “we didn’t vote for him, but he’s our president, and we hope he does a good job,” was tested in the crucible of history, and earlier than most.

And in circumstances more tragic and threatening. And we did that with which history tasked us.

We enveloped our President in 2001.And those who did not believe he should have been elected—indeed those who did not believe he had been elected—willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and shaped it to a razor-sharp point and stabbed this nation in the back with it.

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers.

Did so even before the appeals process was complete; did so without as much as a courtesy consultation with the Department of Justice; did so despite what James Madison—at the Constitutional Convention—said about impeaching any president who pardoned or sheltered those who had committed crimes “advised by” that president; did so without the slightest concern that even the most detached of citizens must look at the chain of events and wonder: To what degree was Mr. Libby told: break the law however you wish—the President will keep you out of prison?

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental com-pact between yourself and the majority of this nation’s citizens—the ones who did not cast votes for you. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party. And this is too important a time, Sir, to have a commander-in-chief who puts party over nation.

This has been, of course, the gathering legacy of this Administration. Few of its decisions have escaped the stain of politics. The extraordinary Karl Rove has spoken of “a permanent Republican majority,” as if such a thing—or a permanent Democratic majority—is not antithetical to that upon which rests: our country, our history, our revolution, our freedoms.

Yet our Democracy has survived shrewder men than Karl Rove. And it has survived the frequent stain of politics upon the fabric of government. But this administration, with ever-increasing insistence and almost theocratic zealotry, has turned that stain into a massive oil spill.

The protection of the environment is turned over to those of one political party, who will financially benefit from the rape of the environment. The protections of the Constitution are turned over to those of one political party, who believe those protections unnecessary and extravagant and quaint.

The enforcement of the laws is turned over to those of one political party, who will swear beforehand that they will not enforce those laws. The choice between war and peace is turned over to those of one political party, who stand to gain vast wealth by ensuring that there is never peace, but only war.

And now, when just one cooked book gets corrected by an honest auditor, when just one trampling of the inherent and inviolable fairness of government is rejected by an impartial judge, when just one wild-eyed partisan is stopped by the figure of blind justice, this President decides that he, and not the law, must prevail.

I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.

I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.

I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.

I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent.

I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.

I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.

I accuse you of handing part of this Republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.

And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush, of giving, through that Vice President, carte blanche to Mr. Libby, to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary, to lie to Grand Juries and Special Counsel and before a court, in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation, with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison, and, in so doing, as Ambassador Wilson himself phrased it here last night, of becoming an accessory to the obstruction of justice.

When President Nixon ordered the firing of the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” on October 20th, 1973, Cox initially responded tersely, and ominously.

“Whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men, is now for Congress, and ultimately, the American people.”

President Nixon did not understand how he had crystallized the issue of Watergate for the American people.

It had been about the obscure meaning behind an attempt to break in to a rival party’s headquarters; and the labyrinthine effort to cover-up that break-in and the related crimes.

And in one night, Nixon transformed it.

Watergate—instantaneously—became a simpler issue: a President overruling the inexorable march of the law of insisting—in a way that resonated viscerally with millions who had not previously understood – that he was the law.

Not the Constitution. Not the Congress. Not the Courts. Just him.

Just – Mr. Bush – as you did, yesterday.

The twists and turns of Plame-Gate, of your precise and intricate lies that sent us into this bottomless pit of Iraq; your lies upon the lies to discredit Joe Wilson; your lies upon the lies upon the lies to throw the sand at the “referee” of Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s analogy. These are complex and often painful to follow, and too much, perhaps, for the average citizen.

But when other citizens render a verdict against your man, Mr. Bush—and then you spit in the faces of those jurors and that judge and the judges who were yet to hear the appeal—the average citizen understands that, Sir.

It’s the fixed ballgame and the rigged casino and the pre-arranged lottery all rolled into one—and it stinks. And they know it.

Nixon’s mistake, the last and most fatal of them, the firing of Archibald Cox, was enough to cost him the presidency. And in the end, even Richard Nixon could say he could not put this nation through an impeachment.

It was far too late for it to matter then, but as the decades unfold, that single final gesture of non-partisanship, of acknowledged responsibility not to self, not to party, not to “base,” but to country, echoes loudly into history. Even Richard Nixon knew it was time to resign

Would that you could say that, Mr. Bush. And that you could say it for Mr. Cheney. You both crossed the Rubicon yesterday. Which one of you chose the route, no longer matters. Which is the ventriloquist, and which the dummy, is irrelevant.

But that you have twisted the machinery of government into nothing more than a tawdry machine of politics, is the only fact that remains relevant.

It is nearly July 4th, Mr. Bush, the commemoration of the moment we Americans decided that rather than live under a King who made up the laws, or erased them, or ignored them—or commuted the sentences of those rightly convicted under them—we would force our independence, and regain our sacred freedoms.

We of this time—and our leaders in Congress, of both parties—must now live up to those standards which echo through our history: Pressure, negotiate, impeach—get you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney, two men who are now perilous to our Democracy, away from its helm.

For you, Mr. Bush, and for Mr. Cheney, there is a lesser task. You need merely achieve a very low threshold indeed. Display just that iota of patriotism which Richard Nixon showed, on August 9th, 1974.

Resign.

And give us someone—anyone—about whom all of us might yet be able to quote John Wayne, and say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

© 2007 MSNBC Interactive

***

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

TPMtv: Libby’s Liberation (video)

GEORGE BUSH COMMUTES SCOTTER LIBBY’S PRISON TERM (The Hermit; video)

Lewis Libby owes his freedom to our corrupt political elite by Glenn Greenwald

I really hate these guys. by Michael (Libby)

Olbermann: SPECIAL PROSECUTOR FITZGERALD, WILSON RESPONDS TO LIBBY PARDON (videos)

Olbermann: GEORGE W. BUSH WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD!!! (video; Libby)

BUSH PARDONS SCOOTER LIBBY!! (videos)

Bush spares Libby from prison by Andrew Ward

 

 

 

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Republic to Empire By Charley Reese

Republic to Empire

By Charley Reese

07/03/07 “
Lew Rockwell

 

When President Teddy Roosevelt attended the funeral of a member of British royalty, he declined the offer of a gilded carriage for the funeral procession. Roosevelt told his British hosts that it would be inappropriate for the head of a republic. He would therefore walk.

One of President Franklin Roosevelt’s favorite things to do was to pack a lunch, drive up into the Pine Mountains, pull off the road, spread a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch with two or three of his friends.

In 1933, an assassin opened fire on Roosevelt during an appearance in an open car in Miami. The mayor of Chicago, however, was in the way and took the bullets. The Secret Service members immediately started to speed away, and Roosevelt ordered them to stop and retrieve the wounded mayor. At first they didn’t, until he shouted, “Damn it, back this car up and get the mayor!” They did, and carried the wounded mayor to the hospital in the president’s car. The mayor later died.

President Harry Truman always took a vigorous daily walk – on the streets of Washington. When his term ended, he and his wife took a cab to the train station, where they returned to Missouri. Truman, by the way, refused all offers to serve on corporate boards of directors. “You don’t want me, you want the presidency, and that’s not mine to sell,” he said.

If you will recall the funeral procession for Princess Diana, you will remember that the royal princes walked the route to Westminster Cathedral. Imagine that – British royalty walking down a street jammed with common people.

The last time President George W. Bush visited the British Isles, the Air Force had to fly over a fleet of 16 armored limousines for use of the president and his entourage.

If you are young and don’t like to read (I hope this hasn’t become a redundancy), then you are probably unaware of the transition from a republic to an empire. One of the reasons I’m so contemptuous of modern politicians is that I don’t compare them with each other; I compare them with the great men of the past. The last elected president who had genuinely great accomplishments on his résumé was Dwight Eisenhower.

There is no such thing as a flawless politician. We should never expect perfection in anything involving human beings. But there very much is such a thing as character, and that’s where we’ve gotten careless in our choice of leaders.

The foundations of character are honesty, courage and fidelity. An adulterer who is unfaithful to his wife is hardly likely to be faithful to his oath of office. John F. Kennedy was an adulterer and a playboy, but he was the first president to be marketed like a bar of soap or a tube of toothpaste. It becomes more and more difficult these days to distinguish between accomplishment and image.

To get even an idea of a person’s character, you have to look at his whole life, not just the public image. People rarely, if ever, change their character after adolescence. Hopefully, they will grow in knowledge and perhaps wisdom, but most people remain the same people they always were as far as character is concerned. Self-indulgent cowards don’t become brave stoics.

Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust, discovered that the hellish experience didn’t change anybody. Those who were bad remained bad, and those who were good remained good. I suppose the question for us today is, Have we lost the ability to distinguish between good and bad?

Charley Reese has been a journalist for 49 years.

© 2007 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.


Global Pulse: The Undocumented – News from the Other Side (video; LinkTV)

Global Pulse: The Undocumented – News from the Other Side

For more episodes and other Links programs: http://www.linktv.org/originalseries

This episode: Illegal immigration is often reduced to statistics and legal wrangling in the US, but in Latin American news coverage, the focus is on human beings.

TPMtv: Libby’s Liberation (video)

TPMtv: Libby’s Liberation

July 03, 2007

From:  Veracifier

 “If the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.”

As you may have heard, President Bush commuted the prison sentence of
convicted former White House aide Scooter Libby. Today we take a look
back at all the president’s tough talk about the CIA leak case.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjD6kCrot7A

see:

GEORGE BUSH COMMUTES SCOTTER LIBBY’S PRISON TERM (The Hermit; video)

 

Al Jazeera: Torture was Systematic in Iraq + Tony Lagouranis on the Harsh Techniques He Used in Iraq, Detainee Abuse by Marines and Navy Seals and Why “Torture is the Worst Possible Thing We Could Do”

Dandelion Salad

By Manila Ryce
Published Monday, July 2nd, 2007, 3:47 pm

Former US army interrogator Tony Lagouranis reveals that torture tactics used by the US armed forces extended far beyond Abu Ghraib. These sanctioned tactics seem to have been standard procedure, and not just isolated incidents as the White House claims. Lagouranis joins Riz Khan to reveal the secrets discussed in his book, Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator’s Dark Journey through Iraq. Furthermore, we have fairly good testimony to assume that torture is continuing to this day in Guantanamo and secret CIA prisons throughout the world due to an insistence by the White House that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to these detainees.

[Al Jazeera video no longer available]

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What’s Keeping You Here, Punk? by Greg Palast (Audio link)

What’s Keeping You Here, Punk?

by Greg Palast
July 3, 2007

Another Fourth on the North Fork. Time to pick the new Strawberry Queen, shine the fire trucks, put out the collection jar for the un-insured and beat up the bald guy from out of town.

I think it’s only game to allow my critics their say on my home page.
This editorial is re-printed in my local penny-saver…

[Regarding] gonzo “journalist” – and I use that term lightly – Greg Palast.

Mr. Palast, as you may recall, is the former summer resident who reached The New York Times’ non-fiction best-seller list with not one but two books, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” and “Armed Madhouse,” which was published earlier this year.

And I quote (from “Armed Madhouse”):

– ‘[The North Fork], if you look at a map, is situated at the ass end of nowhere. We are known hereabouts for our Strawberry Festival and fire truck parade. According to the census, this tiny place is made up almost entirely of inbred farmers, real estate speculators and volunteer firemen.’

– ‘At one end of town is the ‘Brand Names Outlet Mall’ and the waterslide park. At the other end, there’s a ferry-boat that takes those who feel lucky to the Mashantucket Pequot tribe’s casino in Connecticut. And in between, there’s Main Street, where we hold the Strawberry Festival.’

– ‘The [Festival] is a quaint and annoying white-folks’ ritual, an opportunity for backstabbing, petty infighting and all-American small-mindedness. But that’s another story altogether.’

In the same chapter with these sweet nothings, Mr. Palast goes tooth and nail after “Mayor Josh” … for his 2005 Homeland Security alert at Orient Point, and I regret to report that I agree with him that Josh went a little overboard on that one. [Palast’s note to readers: Mayor Josh had SUVs mounted with machine guns to prevent a sea-borne invasion by Al Qaeda.]

But considering just about everything else [Palast] has to say about the North Fork, I have this question for Greg Palast: What’s keeping you here, punk?”

Answer: I feel safe from Al Qaeda.

To hear the screechingly funny comedian Greg Proops reading the chapter “Terror in Tiny Town” from Armed Madhouse, or to read the book excerpt go to http://www.gregpalast.com/terror-in-tiny-town

*****

Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse: from Baghdad to New Orleans – Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild.

Sign up for Palast’s reports at www.GregPalast.com

Support our work and order a copy (plus many other signed gifts) of the audio version of Armed Madhouse, including readings by Proops, Amy Goodman, Ed Asner, Jello Biafra, Larry David and many more, at http://www.palastinvestigativefund.org

 

Listen Now: Audio Link

 

They Don’t Come Back the Same-The Mind of the Returning Iraq War Veteran By Helen Redmond

The Mind of the Returning Iraq War Veteran

They Don’t Come Back the Same

 

By Helen Redmond

“They fly the flag when you attack: when you come home they turn their backs.” – Iraq Veterans Against the War cadence


07/03/07 “
Counterpunch

 

One hears it all the time from soldiers who fight in wars: “You don’t come back the same.” It’s a simple truism with enormous consequences for the men and women who are on their way back to the United States from Afghanistan and Iraq. Many thousands of soldiers will be forever changed from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To be diagnosed with PTSD is an affirmation that a soldier is human. It is the mammalian brain functioning at its highest level and acknowledging that–despite all the training and brainwashing in boot camp (KILL, KILL, KILL)–it is in no way normal or natural to kill other human beings, to torture and commit atrocities (Haditha, Abu GHraib), to humiliate, subjugate and occupy a people and their country.

The negative psychological impact of war is well known by the Pentagon brass that sends soldiers into theaters of war where daily, death and dismemberment are facts of life. They understand when soldiers see their comrades-in-arms blown to bits, missing limbs, bloodied and burned bodies and grey matter strewn on walls, bridges, and highways that a psychological price is paid. The media in the United States does not show us these grisly images, but they are seared in the brains of countless soldiers.

Combat trauma has been studied since WW1. Over 8 million soldiers died in 4 years in that war. The death toll banished the notion that soldiers glory in battle and “real men” are impervious to the horrors of war. Under conditions of unrelenting exposure to the barbarity of trench warfare, soldiers began to have mental break downs in massive numbers. The British psychologist Charles Myers called the resulting nervous disorder “shell shock.” He believed it was the concussive effects of exploding shells that caused symptoms like screaming, crying uncontrollably, loss of memory and the inability to feel. But in fact, it was the emotional stress of prolonged exposure to violent death and destruction that produced what was later called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) Military authorities refused to believe it. When the existence of a combat neurosis could not longer be denied, military psychiatrists and other personnel–instead of treating soldiers humanely and with compassion–did the opposite. These soldiers were called “moral invalids,” cowards, malingerers, and unpatriotic. Some argued they should be court-martialed or dishonorably discharged rather than offered psychological care. Progressive medical authorities disagreed and advocated humane treatment.

Siegfried Sassoon, a soldier in WW1, was treated for shell shock. He became famous when, while still in uniform, he publicly joined the pacifist movement and denounced the war. The text of his Soldier’s Declaration written in 1917 is remarkably relevant for the imperialist wars of the 21st century, and most presciently, the occupation of Iraq. He wrote:

I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defense and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong the sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

A few years after the war was over, medical interest in the subject of combat neurosis ended.

The Vietnam War opened the wound up again, but this time the impetus to understand the psychological impact of war was organized by soldiers themselves. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) started “rap groups.” These meetings were peer led and allowed soldiers to talk about the traumatic experiences of war. They were also political meetings that raised consciousness around the causes of war, imperialism, class, and racism. These vets refused to be stigmatized and insisted that the war itself was to blame for their psychological problems.

The power of the antiwar movement was also crucial and gave strength to veterans, and veterans who spoke out against the war and threw their medals away gave power and legitimacy to the antiwar movement.

After the war ended Vietnam vets forced the Veterans Administration to address the mental health issues of returning soldiers. In 1980, post-traumatic stress disorder finally became a “real” diagnosis and was included in the American Psychiatric Association’s official manual of mental disorders. Without the organizing of soldiers, together with the anti-war movement, the psychological trauma of war (PTSD) would have been conveniently forgotten once again.

Those who run the war machine have always sought to ignore, downplay or deny the irrefutable fact that war profoundly damages the human psyche. How could they continue to recruit fresh troops if it were widely known, discussed, and taken seriously that almost every soldier will experience PTSD to some degree? That for some, they will be psychiatrically disabled for life, or become addicted to drugs to cope with the flashbacks and fear, perhaps unable to work and unable to enjoy the freedom they supposedly fought for. But the good news is with treatment PTSD is treatable and can be cured. That’s the other thing about the mammalian brain–with the love, support, and understanding of other human beings, trauma can be overcome.

The problem is getting that treatment and the need is overwhelming. According to Paul Rieckhoff, director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, one in three veterans is now returning with some form of PTSD. The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans getting treatment for PTSD at VA hospitals and counseling centers increased by 87 percent from September 2005 to June 2006. But there are many more that never get treatment because there is still a stigma attached to admitting to psychological problems. Soldiers report being made fun of, punished, demoted, and threatened with dishonorable discharge.

One of the main reasons for the increase in numbers is the Pentagon’s stop-loss policy. More troops are serving two, three and occasionally four tours-of-duty in Iraq which puts them at greater risk for PTSD.

The VA hospital and clinic system are in deep crisis as the recent revelations at Walter Reed showed. VA’s all over the country are underfunded and understaffed. How can this be when billions of dollars a month are spent on the war? There is a backlog of 600,000 cases and vets can wait up to 170 days for mental health treatment. For some it is already too late. A report by the Defense Manpower Data Center stated that suicide accounted for over 25 percent of all non-combat Army deaths in Iraq in 2006. And Pentagon statistics reveal that the suicide rate for U.S. troops who have served in Iraq is double what it was in peacetime.

One thing is clear: President Bush and the other war criminals in the Whitehouse and Pentagon don’t give a shit about the lives of soldiers. They are canon fodder and nothing else.

Now a new generation of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will have to continue the struggle for mental health care that they and their families will need.

Helen Redmond, LCSW CADC, redmondmadrid@yahoo.com

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:
Veterans/Troops/PTSD/VA Hospitals

 

A Declaration of Independence From Israel By Chris Hedges

Dandelion Salad

By Chris Hedges
Truthdig
July 3, 2007

Israel, without the United States, would probably not exist. The country came perilously close to extinction during the October 1973 war when Egypt, trained and backed by the Soviet Union, crossed the Suez and the Syrians poured in over the Golan Heights. Huge American military transport planes came to the rescue. They began landing every half-hour to refit the battered Israeli army, which had lost most of its heavy armor. By the time the war was over, the United States had given Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid.

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Reinventing A War Criminal by Stephen Lendman (Blair)

Reinventing A War Criminal

by Stephen Lendman

Britain’s most despised and discredited man ended his 10 year reign June 27 when he stepped down from office transferring his ruling Labor Party’s leadership to successor Gordon Brown. He had no choice because of seething public displeasure over his allying with George Bush’s illegal wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Most Brits oppose them, yet the vast majority of Labor and Conservative MPs, including new prime minister Gordon Brown, supported them early on, now may have second thoughts, but are constrained by close relations with Washington making them reluctant to back down from what they once disingenuously trumpeted as a noble cause.

That’s an open question, however, the London Guardian’s Jonathan Steele posed and answered June 29 if Mr. Brown was listening. Steele’s message to “The new man in No 10” is “seize the day….break with Bush now….signal a fresh start by taking Britain out of Iraq.” Don’t bet on it. Steele says Brown is a committed “Atlanticist.” He’s likely weighing the proper way to begin engaging his US ally. Steele tells him how, pointing to other loyal NATO members as examples. France and Germany sent no forces to Iraq, and Italy, Spain and the Netherlands withdrew theirs. It caused no rupture in relations with Washington for any of them after some name calling at first. Why not Britain now? Steele stresses how refreshing a policy change at “No 10” would be “after the subservient Blair years.”

Tony Blair began his tenure May 2, 1997 with a formidable approval rating as high at times as 90% but ended it in the mid-20% range or lower. The same is likely for George Bush already at 26% in the latest Newsweek poll suggesting it’s even lower than that. Immediately post-9/11, he was compared to Lincoln, FDR and Churchill combined. It was laughable then and seems ludicrous now for a hated man barely hanging on and trying to avoid what growing numbers in the country demand – his removal from office by impeachment along with Vice-President Cheney.

The feeling of many in Britain is that by allying with George Bush, Mr. Blair left a legacy of “dashed hopes and big disappointments, of so much promised and so little delivered.” That’s in spite of helping advance the Northern Ireland peace process, begun before he took office, and that leaders in Ireland had lots more to do with than him.

Just hours after standing down, the announcement everyone knew in advance came, surprising no one but angering most. Referring to the so-called Quartet, the BBC reported June 27: “Tony Blair is to become a Middle East envoy working on behalf of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU.” The London Guardian called him “the Quartet’s fifth horseman,” an appointment that “beggars belief.” In his new capacity, he’ll replace former World Bank president James Wolfensohn who resigned last year for lack of progress he never had a chance to achieve in the first place.

Continued…

see:

Tony Blair: Orwellian Nightmare. War Criminal becomes Envoy of Peace by Mohammad Kamaali

The Peace Envoy By Gilad Atzmon

Happy Independence Day; You Have No Government By Carolyn Baker

Bookmark and Share

Dandelion Salad

By Carolyn Baker
Speaking Truth to Power
July 02, 2007

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere;
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely, some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in the sands of the desert
As shape with a lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?

– William Butler Yeats

As this article is being written the world is entranced with terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom, and U.S. residents are stocking up on beer and barbecue for the most sacrosanct of all American holidays. Barefoot children are running through sprinklers and reveling in backyard swimming pools. Fireflies flicker through muggy Midwest nights, and urban jungles swelter in a sultry aura of crime and poverty. But whether in the McMansions of Florida bedroom communities or locked in the suffocating despair of Chicago’s Cabrini Green, everyone knows—everyone feels it, but no one is talking about “it.” That “it”, that “something” is why depression is rampant, and why Americans are so sleep-deprived. That “something” can’t be fixed with a new mattress or more Tylenol PM, and when long nights of fitful or no sleep turn into another workday, the American way is to rise and shine into frenetic workaholism and ten thousand other distractions so that no one has to think or talk about “it”.

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The (One) Good Thing about the Bush Presidency by Glitzqueen

My second featured writer is Glitzqueen, who writes short to the point blogs on newsworthy topics. Hope you enjoy her writing as much as I do. ~ Lo

On Myspace:
glitzqueen


The (One) Good Thing about the Bush Presidency

by The Other Katherine Harris

Thinking toward Independence Day tomorrow and of my generally uncelebratory spirit, I was struck by one cause for festivity: Shrub and His Thugs woke us up! Thanks to their total trashing of America’s values, liberties, economy and reputation, more of us are now focused on politics than ever before in my lifetime. Through decades of taking it all for granted, most Americans were “4th of July patriots” (in the manner of “Easter and Christmas Christians” and “Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur” Jews).

Had we been this alert sooner, we wouldn’t have spent the ’80s, ’90s and part of this decade playing into the hands of increasingly powerful corporate interests. We wouldn’t be paying companies to ship our jobs overseas; we wouldn’t be awash in illegal immigration due to the effects of NAFTA; we wouldn’t have allowed K Street and religious radicals to run Washington; we wouldn’t have allowed media conglomeration and destructive educational policies to dumb us down; we wouldn’t have allowed our government and military to be privatized; we wouldn’t have allowed our labor unions to be undermined, with predictable losses of compensation and benefits; we wouldn’t have allowed dangerous changes in health care delivery, environmental rules and food protection standards; we wouldn’t have allowed a corrupt “justice” system to take hold; and we certainly wouldn’t have elected (and re-elected) “leaders” who shamed us by waging aggressive war and torturing prisoners.

We’d have said a resounding “NO” to all of these travesties and so many others that I can’t possibly begin to name them all.

Sure, plenty of us are still asleep at the switch — but every day more of us begin to rouse and realize both that the switch is within reach and that, all along, we were the ones meant to be driving. So tomorrow let’s celebrate the growing number of Americans who are seriously pondering what this country was established to be, how far we’ve drifted from our founders’ inspiration and what we can do, as Everyday Patriots, to turn this disaster around.

see:

GlitzQueen Holds Court Blog

Powers: George Tenet, the CIA & the Invasion of Iraq by Tom Engelhardt

Powers on George Tenet, the CIA, and the Invasion of Iraq

by Tom
Engelhardt[Note for Tomdispatch readers: Think of this as the first “gone fishing” notice of the summer. The next Tomdispatch will probably appear the Sunday after July 4th. By the way, if you have a moment on the Fourth, check out the Declaration of Independence for a glimpse of the bad old days when Americans were ruled by a King George, who, as the document’s authors made clear, refused “his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good,” “affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power,” and “transport[ed] us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.” Tom]

In a week dominated by the CIA — the Agency of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s — it might be easy enough to forget the Agency of the new century, the one known for creating its own offshore Bermuda triangle of injustice, including a global system of secret (or borrowed) prisons, as well as for kidnappings, ghost prisoners, torture, assassination, covert programs aimed at “regime change” in countries like (as in 1953) Iran, and, of course, everything we don’t yet know because the “family jewels” for this period are nowhere near being released. Note, by the way, that even the recently released “family jewels” from that older era are not complete and remain heavily redacted — in the case of one document (scroll down), far more so than in a version that was released in the 1970s.

In addition, this cache of documents seems to deal only passingly, at best, with the Vietnam War, despite the CIA’s infamous Phoenix Program; nor does it focus on the Agency’s covert wars and other major actions abroad, many of which were laid out in Roger Morris’ three-part profile of Robert Gates at this site. Of course, one difference between those ancient decades and today is that the CIA is now but one jostling agency among the 16 that make up the official American “Intelligence Community,” whose combined budget, while unknown, runs into the many tens of billions of dollars.

All that’s missing, as Thomas Powers, an expert on the CIA and author of Intelligence Wars, makes so clear in the following essay, posted at this site thanks to the kindness of the editors of the New York Review of Books, is actual, serviceable “intelligence.” Tom

What Tenet Knew

Unanswered Questions


by Thomas Powers

[This essay, which considers At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA by George Tenet with Bill Harlow (HarperCollins, 549 pp., $30.00) appears in the July 19th, 2007 issue of the New York Review of Books and is posted here with the kind permission of the editors of that magazine.]

How we got into Iraq is the great open question of the decade but George Tenet in his memoir of his seven years running the Central Intelligence Agency takes his sweet time working his way around to it. He hesitates because he has much to explain: the claims made by Tenet’s CIA with “high confidence” that Iraq was dangerously armed all proved false. But mistakes are one thing, excusable even when serious; inexcusable would be charges of collusion in deceiving Congress and the public to make war possible. Tenet’s overriding goal in his carefully written book is to deny “that we somehow cooked the books” about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. If he says it once he says it a dozen times. “We told the president what we did on Iraq WMD because we believed it.”

But repetition is not enough. Tenet’s problem is that the intelligence and the war proceeded in lockstep: no intelligence, no war. Since Tenet delivered the (shockingly exaggerated) intelligence, and the President used it to go to war, how is Tenet to convince the world that he wasn’t simply giving the boss what he wanted? Tenet naturally dislikes this question but it is evident that the American public and Congress dislike it just as much. Down that road lie painful truths about the character and motives of the President and the men and women around him. But getting out of Iraq will not be easy, and the necessary first step is to find the civic courage to insist on knowing how we got in. Tenet’s memoir is an excellent place to begin; some of what he tells us and much that he leaves out point unmistakably to the genesis of the war in the White House — the very last thing Tenet wants to address clearly. He sidles up to the question at last on page 301: “One of the great mysteries to me,” he writes, “is exactly when the war in Iraq became inevitable.”

Hans Blix, director of the United Nations weapons inspection team, did not believe that war was inevitable until the shooting started. In Blix’s view, reported in his memoir Disarming Iraq, the failure of his inspectors to find Saddam Hussein’s WMD meant that a US invasion of Iraq could certainly be put off, perhaps avoided altogether. For Blix it was all about the weapons. Tenet’s version of events makes it clear that WMD, despite all the ballyhoo, were in fact secondary; something else was driving events.

Tenet’s omissions begin on Day Two of the march to war, September 12, 2001, when three British officials came to CIA headquarters “just for the night, to express their condolences and to be with us. We had dinner that night at Langley,….as touching an event as I experienced during my seven years as DCI.” This would have been an excellent place to describe the genesis of the war but Tenet declines. We must fill in the missing pieces ourselves.

The guests that night were David Manning, barely a week into his new job as Tony Blair’s personal foreign policy adviser; Richard Dearlove, chief of the British secret intelligence service known as MI6, a man Tenet already knew well; and Eliza Manningham-Buller, the deputy chief of MI5, the British counterpart to the FBI. Despite the ban on air traffic, Dearlove and Manningham-Buller had flown into Andrews Air Force Base near Washington that day. But David Manning was already inside the United States. The day before the attack on the World Trade Center, on September 10, he had been in Washington for a dinner with Condoleezza Rice at the home of the British ambassador, Christopher Meyer. Early on September 11 Manning took the shuttle to New York and from his airplane window on the approach to Kennedy Airport he saw smoke rising from one of the World Trade Center towers. By the time he landed the second tower had been struck.

It took a full day for the British embassy to fetch Manning back to Washington by car, and he arrived at Langley that night carrying the burden of what he had seen. It was a largish group that gathered for dinner. Along with the three British guests and Tenet were Jim Pavitt and his deputy at the CIA’s Directorate for Operations; Tenet’s executive secretary Buzzy Krongard; the chief of the Counter Terrorism Center, Cofer Black; the acting director of the FBI, Thomas Pickard; the chief of the CIA’s Near East Division, still not identified; and the chief of the CIA’s European Division, Tyler Drumheller.

Tenet names his British guests, but omits all that was said. Tyler Drumheller, barred by the CIA from identifying the visitors in his own recent memoir, On the Brink, reports an exchange between Manning and Tenet, who were probably meeting for the first time. “I hope we can all agree,” said Manning, “that we should concentrate on Afghanistan and not be tempted to launch any attacks on Iraq.”

“Absolutely,” Tenet replied, “we all agree on that. Some might want to link the issues, but none of us wants to go that route.”

Continued…

When the Vice President Does It, That Means It’s Not Illegal By Frank Rich

 Go to Original     When the Vice President Does It, That Means It’s Not Illegal

    By Frank Rich
The New York Times

    Sunday 01 July 2007

    Who knew that mocking the Constitution could be nearly as funny as shooting a hunting buddy in the face? Among other comic dividends, Dick Cheney’s legal theory that the vice president is not part of the executive branch yielded a priceless weeklong series on “The Daily Show” and an online “Doonesbury Poll,” conducted at Slate, to name Mr. Cheney’s indeterminate branch of government.

    The ridicule was so widespread that finally even this White House had to blink. By midweek, it had abandoned that particularly ludicrous argument, if not its spurious larger claim that Mr. Cheney gets a free pass to ignore rules regulating federal officials’ handling of government secrets.

    That retreat might allow us to mark the end of this installment of the Bush-Cheney Follies but for one nagging problem: Not for the first time in the history of this administration – or the hundredth – has the real story been lost amid the Washington kerfuffle. Once the laughter subsides and you look deeper into the narrative leading up to the punch line, you can unearth a buried White House plot that is more damning than the official scandal. This plot once again snakes back to the sinister origins of the Iraq war, to the Valerie Wilson leak case and to the press failures that enabled the administration to abuse truth and the law for too long.

    One journalist who hasn’t failed is Mark Silva of The Chicago Tribune. He first reported more than a year ago, in May 2006, the essentials of the “news” at the heart of the recent Cheney ruckus. Mr. Silva found that the vice president was not filing required reports on his office’s use of classified documents because he asserted that his role in the legislative branch, as president of the Senate, gave him an exemption.

    This scoop went unnoticed by nearly everybody. It would still be forgotten today had not Henry Waxman, the dogged House inquisitor, called out Mr. Cheney 10 days ago, detailing still more egregious examples of the vice president’s flouting of the law, including his effort to shut down an oversight agency in charge of policing him. The congressman’s brief set off the firestorm that launched a thousand late-night gags.

    That’s all to the public good, but hiding in plain sight was the little-noted content of the Bush executive order that Mr. Cheney is accused of violating. On close examination, this obscure 2003 document, thrust into the light only because the vice president so blatantly defied it, turns out to be yet another piece of self-incriminating evidence illuminating the White House’s guilt in ginning up its false case for war.

    The tale of the document begins in August 2001, when the Bush administration initiated a review of the previous executive order on classified materials signed by Bill Clinton in 1995. The Clinton order had been acclaimed in its day as a victory for transparency because it mandated the automatic declassification of most government files after 25 years.

    It was predictable that the obsessively secretive Bush team would undermine the Clinton order. What was once a measure to make government more open would be redrawn to do the opposite. And sure enough, when the White House finally released its revised version, the scant news coverage focused on how the new rules postponed the Clinton deadline for automatic declassification and tightened secrecy so much that previously declassified documents could be reclassified.

    But few noticed another change inserted five times in the revised text: every provision that gave powers to the president over classified documents was amended to give the identical powers to the vice president. This unprecedented increase in vice-presidential clout, though spelled out in black and white, went virtually unremarked in contemporary news accounts.

    Given all the other unprecedented prerogatives that President Bush has handed his vice president, this one might seem to be just more of the same. But both the timing of the executive order and the subsequent use Mr. Cheney would make of it reveal its special importance in the games that the White House played with prewar intelligence.

    The obvious juncture for Mr. Bush to bestow these new powers on his vice president, you might expect, would have been soon after 9/11, especially since the review process on the Clinton order started a month earlier and could be expedited, as so much other governmental machinery was, to meet the urgent national-security crisis. Yet the new executive order languished for another 18 months, only to be published and signed with no fanfare on March 25, 2003, a week after the invasion of Iraq began.

    Why then? It was throughout March, both on the eve of the war and right after “Shock and Awe,” that the White House’s most urgent case for Iraq’s imminent threat began to unravel. That case had been built around the scariest of Saddam’s supposed W.M.D., the nuclear weapons that could engulf America in mushroom clouds, and the White House had pushed it relentlessly, despite a lack of evidence. On “Meet the Press” on March 16, Mr. Cheney pressed that doomsday button one more time: “We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” But even as the vice president spoke, such claims were at last being strenuously challenged in public.

    Nine days earlier Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency had announced that documents supposedly attesting to Saddam’s attempt to secure uranium in Niger were “not authentic.” A then-obscure retired diplomat, Joseph Wilson, piped in on CNN, calling the case “outrageous.”

    Soon both Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Congressman Waxman wrote letters (to the F.B.I. and the president, respectively) questioning whether we were going to war because of what Mr. Waxman labeled “a hoax.” And this wasn’t the only administration use of intelligence that was under increasing scrutiny. The newly formed 9/11 commission set its first open hearings for March 31 and requested some half-million documents, including those pertaining to what the White House knew about Al Qaeda’s threat during the summer of 2001.

    The new executive order that Mr. Bush signed on March 25 was ingenious. By giving Mr. Cheney the same classification powers he had, Mr. Bush gave his vice president a free hand to wield a clandestine weapon: he could use leaks to punish administration critics.

    That weapon would be employed less than four months later. Under Mr. Bush’s direction, Mr. Cheney deputized Scooter Libby to leak highly selective and misleading portions of a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq to pet reporters as he tried to discredit Mr. Wilson. By then, Mr. Wilson had emerged as the most vocal former government official accusing the White House of not telling the truth before the war.

    Because of the Patrick Fitzgerald investigation, we would learn three years later about the offensive conducted by Mr. Libby on behalf of Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush. That revelation prompted the vice president to acknowledge his enhanced powers in an unguarded moment in a February 2006 interview with Brit Hume of Fox News. Asked by Mr. Hume with some incredulity if “a vice president has the authority to declassify information,” Mr. Cheney replied, “There is an executive order to that effect.” He was referring to the order of March 2003.

    Even now, few have made the connection between this month’s Cheney flap and the larger scandal. That larger scandal is to be found in what the vice president did legally under the executive order early on rather than in his more recent rejection of its oversight rules.

    Timing really is everything. By March 2003, this White House knew its hype of Saddam’s nonexistent nuclear arsenal was in grave danger of being exposed. The order allowed Mr. Bush to keep his own fingerprints off the nitty-gritty of any jihad against whistle-blowers by giving Mr. Cheney the authority to pick his own shots and handle the specifics. The president could have plausible deniability and was free to deliver non-denial denials like “If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.” Mr. Cheney in turn could delegate the actual dirty work to Mr. Libby, who obstructed justice to help throw a smoke screen over the vice president’s own role in the effort to destroy Mr. Wilson.

    Last week The Washington Post ran a first-rate investigative series on the entire Cheney vice presidency. Readers posting comments were largely enthusiastic, but a few griped. “Six and a half years too late,” said one. “Four years late and billions of dollars short,” said another. Such complaints reflect the bitter legacy of much of the Washington press’s failure to penetrate the hyping of prewar intelligence and, later, the import of the Fitzgerald investigation.

    We’re still playing catch-up. In a week in which the C.I.A. belatedly released severely censored secrets about agency scandals dating back a half-century, you have to wonder what else was done behind the shield of an executive order signed just after the Ides of March four years ago. Another half-century could pass before Americans learn the full story of the secrets buried by Mr. Cheney and his boss to cover up their deceitful path to war.

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