Bush’s Final State of the Union Speech 01.28.08 (video; transcript)

Updated: 01.29.08 added Highlights video.  ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

CapNewsNet

Updated: 01.29.08

Highlights

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President Bush Delivers State of the Union Address

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives
United States Capitol
source
Jan. 28, 2008

THE PRESIDENT: Madam Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: Seven years have passed since I first stood before you at this rostrum. In that time, our country has been tested in ways none of us could have imagined. We faced hard decisions about peace and war, rising competition in the world economy, and the health and welfare of our citizens. These issues call for vigorous debate, and I think it’s fair to say we’ve answered the call. Yet history will record that amid our differences, we acted with purpose. And together, we showed the world the power and resilience of American self-government.

All of us were sent to Washington to carry out the people’s business. That is the purpose of this body. It is the meaning of our oath. It remains our charge to keep.

The actions of the 110th Congress will affect the security and prosperity of our nation long after this session has ended. In this election year, let us show our fellow Americans that we recognize our responsibilities and are determined to meet them. Let us show them that Republicans and Democrats can compete for votes and cooperate for results at the same time. (Applause.)

From expanding opportunity to protecting our country, we’ve made good progress. Yet we have unfinished business before us, and the American people expect us to get it done.

In the work ahead, we must be guided by the philosophy that made our nation great. As Americans, we believe in the power of individuals to determine their destiny and shape the course of history. We believe that the most reliable guide for our country is the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens. And so in all we do, we must trust in the ability of free peoples to make wise decisions, and empower them to improve their lives for their futures.

To build a prosperous future, we must trust people with their own money and empower them to grow our economy. As we meet tonight, our economy is undergoing a period of uncertainty. America has added jobs for a record 52 straight months, but jobs are now growing at a slower pace. Wages are up, but so are prices for food and gas. Exports are rising, but the housing market has declined. At kitchen tables across our country, there is a concern about our economic future.

In the long run, Americans can be confident about our economic growth. But in the short run, we can all see that that growth is slowing. So last week, my administration reached agreement with Speaker Pelosi and Republican Leader Boehner on a robust growth package that includes tax relief for individuals and families and incentives for business investment. The temptation will be to load up the bill. That would delay it or derail it, and neither option is acceptable. (Applause.) This is a good agreement that will keep our economy growing and our people working. And this Congress must pass it as soon as possible. (Applause.)

We have other work to do on taxes. Unless Congress acts, most of the tax relief we’ve delivered over the past seven years will be taken away. Some in Washington argue that letting tax relief expire is not a tax increase. Try explaining that to 116 million American taxpayers who would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800. Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm. I’m pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders. (Laughter and applause.)

Most Americans think their taxes are high enough. With all the other pressures on their finances, American families should not have to worry about their federal government taking a bigger bite out of their paychecks. There’s only one way to eliminate this uncertainty: Make the tax relief permanent. (Applause.) And members of Congress should know: If any bill raises taxes reaches my desk, I will veto it. (Applause.)

Just as we trust Americans with their own money, we need to earn their trust by spending their tax dollars wisely. Next week, I’ll send you a budget that terminates or substantially reduces 151 wasteful or bloated programs, totaling more than $18 billion. The budget that I will submit will keep America on track for a surplus in 2012. American families have to balance their budgets; so should their government. (Applause.)

The people’s trust in their government is undermined by congressional earmarks — special interest projects that are often snuck in at the last minute, without discussion or debate. Last year, I asked you to voluntarily cut the number and cost of earmarks in half. I also asked you to stop slipping earmarks into committee reports that never even come to a vote. Unfortunately, neither goal was met. So this time, if you send me an appropriations bill that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half, I’ll send it back to you with my veto. (Applause.)

And tomorrow, I will issue an executive order that directs federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by Congress. If these items are truly worth funding, Congress should debate them in the open and hold a public vote. (Applause.)

Our shared responsibilities extend beyond matters of taxes and spending. On housing, we must trust Americans with the responsibility of homeownership and empower them to weather turbulent times in the housing market. My administration brought together the HOPE NOW alliance, which is helping many struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. And Congress can help even more. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, modernize the Federal Housing Administration, and allow state housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. (Applause.) These are difficult times for many American families, and by taking these steps, we can help more of them keep their homes.

To build a future of quality health care, we must trust patients and doctors to make medical decisions and empower them with better information and better options. We share a common goal: making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. (Applause.) The best way to achieve that goal is by expanding consumer choice, not government control. (Applause.) So I have proposed ending the bias in the tax code against those who do not get their health insurance through their employer. This one reform would put private coverage within reach for millions, and I call on the Congress to pass it this year. (Applause.)

The Congress must also expand health savings accounts, create Association Health Plans for small businesses, promote health information technology, and confront the epidemic of junk medical lawsuits. (Applause.) With all these steps, we will help ensure that decisions about your medical care are made in the privacy of your doctor’s office — not in the halls of Congress. (Applause.)

On education, we must trust students to learn if given the chance, and empower parents to demand results from our schools. In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams — and a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.

Six years ago, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, and today no one can deny its results. Last year, fourth and eighth graders achieved the highest math scores on record. Reading scores are on the rise. African American and Hispanic students posted all-time highs. (Applause.) Now we must work together to increase accountability, add flexibility for states and districts, reduce the number of high school dropouts, provide extra help for struggling schools.

Members of Congress: The No Child Left Behind Act is a bipartisan achievement. It is succeeding. And we owe it to America’s children, their parents, and their teachers to strengthen this good law. (Applause.)

We must also do more to help children when their schools do not measure up. Thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest children in our Nation’s Capital have found new hope at a faith-based or other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America’s inner cities. So I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these lifelines of learning. And to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids. We have seen how Pell Grants help low-income college students realize their full potential. Together, we’ve expanded the size and reach of these grants. Now let us apply that same spirit to help liberate poor children trapped in failing public schools. (Applause.)

On trade, we must trust American workers to compete with anyone in the world and empower them by opening up new markets overseas. Today, our economic growth increasingly depends on our ability to sell American goods and crops and services all over the world. So we’re working to break down barriers to trade and investment wherever we can. We’re working for a successful Doha Round of trade talks, and we must complete a good agreement this year. At the same time, we’re pursuing opportunities to open up new markets by passing free trade agreements.

I thank the Congress for approving a good agreement with Peru. And now I ask you to approve agreements with Colombia and Panama and South Korea. (Applause.) Many products from these nations now enter America duty-free, yet many of our products face steep tariffs in their markets. These agreements will level the playing field. They will give us better access to nearly 100 million customers. They will support good jobs for the finest workers in the world: those whose products say “Made in the USA.” (Applause.)

These agreements also promote America’s strategic interests. The first agreement that will come before you is with Colombia, a friend of America that is confronting violence and terror, and fighting drug traffickers. If we fail to pass this agreement, we will embolden the purveyors of false populism in our hemisphere. So we must come together, pass this agreement, and show our neighbors in the region that democracy leads to a better life. (Applause.)

Trade brings better jobs and better choices and better prices. Yet for some Americans, trade can mean losing a job, and the federal government has a responsibility to help. (Applause.) I ask Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs. (Applause.)

To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. (Applause.) Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil. Last year, I asked you to pass legislation to reduce oil consumption over the next decade, and you responded. Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions. (Applause.) Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power. (Applause.) Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future. (Applause.) Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. (Applause.)

This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride. (Applause.) The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more energy-efficient technology. (Applause.)

To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Last year, Congress passed legislation supporting the American Competitiveness Initiative, but never followed through with the funding. This funding is essential to keeping our scientific edge. So I ask Congress to double federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on Earth. (Applause.)

On matters of life and science, we must trust in the innovative spirit of medical researchers and empower them to discover new treatments while respecting moral boundaries. In November, we witnessed a landmark achievement when scientists discovered a way to reprogram adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. This breakthrough has the potential to move us beyond the divisive debates of the past by extending the frontiers of medicine without the destruction of human life. (Applause.)

So we’re expanding funding for this type of ethical medical research. And as we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves. And so I call on Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life. (Applause.)

On matters of justice, we must trust in the wisdom of our founders and empower judges who understand that the Constitution means what it says. (Applause.) I’ve submitted judicial nominees who will rule by the letter of the law, not the whim of the gavel. Many of these nominees are being unfairly delayed. They are worthy of confirmation, and the Senate should give each of them a prompt up-or-down vote. (Applause.)

In communities across our land, we must trust in the good heart of the American people and empower them to serve their neighbors in need. Over the past seven years, more of our fellow citizens have discovered that the pursuit of happiness leads to the path of service. Americans have volunteered in record numbers. Charitable donations are higher than ever. Faith-based groups are bringing hope to pockets of despair, with newfound support from the federal government. And to help guarantee equal treatment of faith-based organizations when they compete for federal funds, I ask you to permanently extend Charitable Choice. (Applause.)

Tonight the armies of compassion continue the march to a new day in the Gulf Coast. America honors the strength and resilience of the people of this region. We reaffirm our pledge to help them build stronger and better than before. And tonight I’m pleased to announce that in April we will host this year’s North American Summit of Canada, Mexico, and the United States in the great city of New Orleans. (Applause.)

There are two other pressing challenges that I’ve raised repeatedly before this body, and that this body has failed to address: entitlement spending and immigration. Every member in this chamber knows that spending on entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is growing faster than we can afford. We all know the painful choices ahead if America stays on this path: massive tax increases, sudden and drastic cuts in benefits, or crippling deficits. I’ve laid out proposals to reform these programs. Now I ask members of Congress to offer your proposals and come up with a bipartisan solution to save these vital programs for our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)

The other pressing challenge is immigration. America needs to secure our borders — and with your help, my administration is taking steps to do so. We’re increasing worksite enforcement, deploying fences and advanced technologies to stop illegal crossings. We’ve effectively ended the policy of “catch and release” at the border, and by the end of this year, we will have doubled the number of border patrol agents. Yet we also need to acknowledge that we will never fully secure our border until we create a lawful way for foreign workers to come here and support our economy. (Applause.) This will take pressure off the border and allow law enforcement to concentrate on those who mean us harm. We must also find a sensible and humane way to deal with people here illegally. Illegal immigration is complicated, but it can be resolved. And it must be resolved in a way that upholds both our laws and our highest ideals. (Applause.)

This is the business of our nation here at home. Yet building a prosperous future for our citizens also depends on confronting enemies abroad and advancing liberty in troubled regions of the world.

Our foreign policy is based on a clear premise: We trust that people, when given the chance, will choose a future of freedom and peace. In the last seven years, we have witnessed stirring moments in the history of liberty. We’ve seen citizens in Georgia and Ukraine stand up for their right to free and fair elections. We’ve seen people in Lebanon take to the streets to demand their independence. We’ve seen Afghans emerge from the tyranny of the Taliban and choose a new president and a new parliament. We’ve seen jubilant Iraqis holding up ink-stained fingers and celebrating their freedom. These images of liberty have inspired us. (Applause.)

In the past seven years, we’ve also seen images that have sobered us. We’ve watched throngs of mourners in Lebanon and Pakistan carrying the caskets of beloved leaders taken by the assassin’s hand. We’ve seen wedding guests in blood-soaked finery staggering from a hotel in Jordan, Afghans and Iraqis blown up in mosques and markets, and trains in London and Madrid ripped apart by bombs. On a clear September day, we saw thousands of our fellow citizens taken from us in an instant. These horrific images serve as a grim reminder: The advance of liberty is opposed by terrorists and extremists — evil men who despise freedom, despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule.

Since 9/11, we have taken the fight to these terrorists and extremists. We will stay on the offense, we will keep up the pressure, and we will deliver justice to our enemies. (Applause.)

We are engaged in the defining ideological struggle of the 21st century. The terrorists oppose every principle of humanity and decency that we hold dear. Yet in this war on terror, there is one thing we and our enemies agree on: In the long run, men and women who are free to determine their own destinies will reject terror and refuse to live in tyranny. And that is why the terrorists are fighting to deny this choice to the people in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Palestinian Territories. And that is why, for the security of America and the peace of the world, we are spreading the hope of freedom. (Applause.)

In Afghanistan, America, our 25 NATO allies, and 15 partner nations are helping the Afghan people defend their freedom and rebuild their country. Thanks to the courage of these military and civilian personnel, a nation that was once a safe haven for al Qaeda is now a young democracy where boys and girls are going to school, new roads and hospitals are being built, and people are looking to the future with new hope. These successes must continue, so we’re adding 3,200 Marines to our forces in Afghanistan, where they will fight the terrorists and train the Afghan Army and police. Defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda is critical to our security, and I thank the Congress for supporting America’s vital mission in Afghanistan. (Applause.)

In Iraq, the terrorists and extremists are fighting to deny a proud people their liberty, and fighting to establish safe havens for attacks across the world. One year ago, our enemies were succeeding in their efforts to plunge Iraq into chaos. So we reviewed our strategy and changed course. We launched a surge of American forces into Iraq. We gave our troops a new mission: Work with the Iraqi forces to protect the Iraqi people, pursue the enemy in its strongholds, and deny the terrorists sanctuary anywhere in the country.

The Iraqi people quickly realized that something dramatic had happened. Those who had worried that America was preparing to abandon them instead saw tens of thousands of American forces flowing into their country. They saw our forces moving into neighborhoods, clearing out the terrorists, and staying behind to ensure the enemy did not return. And they saw our troops, along with Provincial Reconstruction Teams that include Foreign Service officers and other skilled public servants, coming in to ensure that improved security was followed by improvements in daily life. Our military and civilians in Iraq are performing with courage and distinction, and they have the gratitude of our whole nation. (Applause.)

The Iraqis launched a surge of their own. In the fall of 2006, Sunni tribal leaders grew tired of al Qaeda’s brutality and started a popular uprising called “The Anbar Awakening.” Over the past year, similar movements have spread across the country. And today, the grassroots surge includes more than 80,000 Iraqi citizens who are fighting the terrorists. The government in Baghdad has stepped forward, as well — adding more than 100,000 new Iraqi soldiers and police during the past year.

While the enemy is still dangerous and more work remains, the American and Iraqi surges have achieved results few of us could have imagined just one year ago. (Applause.) When we met last year, many said that containing the violence was impossible. A year later, high profile terrorist attacks are down, civilian deaths are down, sectarian killings are down.

When we met last year, militia extremists — some armed and trained by Iran — were wreaking havoc in large areas of Iraq. A year later, coalition and Iraqi forces have killed or captured hundreds of militia fighters. And Iraqis of all backgrounds increasingly realize that defeating these militia fighters is critical to the future of their country.

When we met last year, al Qaeda had sanctuaries in many areas of Iraq, and their leaders had just offered American forces safe passage out of the country. Today, it is al Qaeda that is searching for safe passage. They have been driven from many of the strongholds they once held, and over the past year, we’ve captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al Qaeda leaders and operatives.

Last month, Osama bin Laden released a tape in which he railed against Iraqi tribal leaders who have turned on al Qaeda and admitted that coalition forces are growing stronger in Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated. (Applause.)

When we met last year, our troop levels in Iraq were on the rise. Today, because of the progress just described, we are implementing a policy of “return on success,” and the surge forces we sent to Iraq are beginning to come home.

This progress is a credit to the valor of our troops and the brilliance of their commanders. This evening, I want to speak directly to our men and women on the front lines. Soldiers and sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen: In the past year, you have done everything we’ve asked of you, and more. Our nation is grateful for your courage. We are proud of your accomplishments. And tonight in this hallowed chamber, with the American people as our witness, we make you a solemn pledge: In the fight ahead, you will have all you need to protect our nation. (Applause.) And I ask Congress to meet its responsibilities to these brave men and women by fully funding our troops. (Applause.)

Our enemies in Iraq have been hit hard. They are not yet defeated, and we can still expect tough fighting ahead. Our objective in the coming year is to sustain and build on the gains we made in 2007, while transitioning to the next phase of our strategy. American troops are shifting from leading operations, to partnering with Iraqi forces, and, eventually, to a protective overwatch mission. As part of this transition, one Army brigade combat team and one Marine Expeditionary Unit have already come home and will not be replaced. In the coming months, four additional brigades and two Marine battalions will follow suit. Taken together, this means more than 20,000 of our troops are coming home. (Applause.)

Any further drawdown of U.S. troops will be based on conditions in Iraq and the recommendations of our commanders. General Petraeus has warned that too fast a drawdown could result in the “disintegration of the Iraqi security forces, al Qaeda-Iraq regaining lost ground, [and] a marked increase in violence.” Members of Congress: Having come so far and achieved so much, we must not allow this to happen. (Applause.)

In the coming year, we will work with Iraqi leaders as they build on the progress they’re making toward political reconciliation. At the local level, Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds are beginning to come together to reclaim their communities and rebuild their lives. Progress in the provinces must be matched by progress in Baghdad. (Applause.) We’re seeing some encouraging signs. The national government is sharing oil revenues with the provinces. The parliament recently passed both a pension law and de-Baathification reform. They’re now debating a provincial powers law. The Iraqis still have a distance to travel. But after decades of dictatorship and the pain of sectarian violence, reconciliation is taking place — and the Iraqi people are taking control of their future. (Applause.)

The mission in Iraq has been difficult and trying for our nation. But it is in the vital interest of the United States that we succeed. A free Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven. A free Iraq will show millions across the Middle East that a future of liberty is possible. A free Iraq will be a friend of America, a partner in fighting terror, and a source of stability in a dangerous part of the world.

By contrast, a failed Iraq would embolden the extremists, strengthen Iran, and give terrorists a base from which to launch new attacks on our friends, our allies, and our homeland. The enemy has made its intentions clear. At a time when the momentum seemed to favor them, al Qaida’s top commander in Iraq declared that they will not rest until they have attacked us here in Washington. My fellow Americans: We will not rest either. We will not rest until this enemy has been defeated. (Applause.) We must do the difficult work today, so that years from now people will look back and say that this generation rose to the moment, prevailed in a tough fight, and left behind a more hopeful region and a safer America. (Applause.)

We’re also standing against the forces of extremism in the Holy Land, where we have new cause for hope. Palestinians have elected a president who recognizes that confronting terror is essential to achieving a state where his people can live in dignity and at peace with Israel. Israelis have leaders who recognize that a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state will be a source of lasting security. This month in Ramallah and Jerusalem, I assured leaders from both sides that America will do, and I will do, everything we can to help them achieve a peace agreement that defines a Palestinian state by the end of this year. The time has come for a Holy Land where a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine live side-by-side in peace. (Applause.)

We’re also standing against the forces of extremism embodied by the regime in Tehran. Iran’s rulers oppress a good and talented people. And wherever freedom advances in the Middle East, it seems the Iranian regime is there to oppose it. Iran is funding and training militia groups in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas’ efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land. Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range, and continues to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon.

Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you. We respect your traditions and your history. We look forward to the day when you have your freedom. Our message to the leaders of Iran is also clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin. And to rejoin the community of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, cease your support for terror abroad. But above all, know this: America will confront those who threaten our troops. We will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf. (Applause.)

On the home front, we will continue to take every lawful and effective measure to protect our country. This is our most solemn duty. We are grateful that there has not been another attack on our soil since 9/11. This is not for the lack of desire or effort on the part of the enemy. In the past six years, we’ve stopped numerous attacks, including a plot to fly a plane into the tallest building in Los Angeles and another to blow up passenger jets bound for America over the Atlantic. Dedicated men and women in our government toil day and night to stop the terrorists from carrying out their plans. These good citizens are saving American lives, and everyone in this chamber owes them our thanks. (Applause.)

And we owe them something more: We owe them the tools they need to keep our people safe. And one of the most important tools we can give them is the ability to monitor terrorist communications. To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they’re planning. Last year, Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, Congress set the legislation to expire on February the 1st. That means if you don’t act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We’ve had ample time for debate. The time to act is now. (Applause.)

Protecting our nation from the dangers of a new century requires more than good intelligence and a strong military. It also requires changing the conditions that breed resentment and allow extremists to prey on despair. So America is using its influence to build a freer, more hopeful, and more compassionate world. This is a reflection of our national interest; it is the calling of our conscience.

America opposes genocide in Sudan. (Applause.) We support freedom in countries from Cuba and Zimbabwe to Belarus and Burma. (Applause.)

America is leading the fight against global poverty, with strong education initiatives and humanitarian assistance. We’ve also changed the way we deliver aid by launching the Millennium Challenge Account. This program strengthens democracy, transparency, and the rule of law in developing nations, and I ask you to fully fund this important initiative. (Applause.)

America is leading the fight against global hunger. Today, more than half the world’s food aid comes from the United States. And tonight, I ask Congress to support an innovative proposal to provide food assistance by purchasing crops directly from farmers in the developing world, so we can build up local agriculture and help break the cycle of famine. (Applause.)

America is leading the fight against disease. With your help, we’re working to cut by half the number of malaria-related deaths in 15 African nations. And our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is treating 1.4 million people. We can bring healing and hope to many more. So I ask you to maintain the principles that have changed behavior and made this program a success. And I call on you to double our initial commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS by approving an additional $30 billion over the next five years. (Applause.)

America is a force for hope in the world because we are a compassionate people, and some of the most compassionate Americans are those who have stepped forward to protect us. We must keep faith with all who have risked life and limb so that we might live in freedom and peace. Over the past seven years, we’ve increased funding for veterans by more than 95 percent. And as we increase funding — (applause.) And as increase funding we must also reform our veterans system to meet the needs of a new war and a new generation. (Applause.) I call on the Congress to enact the reforms recommended by Senator Bob Dole and Secretary Donna Shalala, so we can improve the system of care for our wounded warriors and help them build lives of hope and promise and dignity. (Applause.)

Our military families also sacrifice for America. They endure sleepless nights and the daily struggle of providing for children while a loved one is serving far from home. We have a responsibility to provide for them. So I ask you to join me in expanding their access to child care, creating new hiring preferences for military spouses across the federal government, and allowing our troops to transfer their unused education benefits to their spouses or children. (Applause.) Our military families serve our nation, they inspire our nation, and tonight our nation honors them. (Applause.)

The strength — the secret of our strength, the miracle of America, is that our greatness lies not in our government, but in the spirit and determination of our people. (Applause.) When the Federal Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787, our nation was bound by the Articles of Confederation, which began with the words, “We the undersigned delegates.” When Governor Morris was asked to draft a preamble to our new Constitution, he offered an important revision and opened with words that changed the course of our nation and the history of the world: “We the people.”

By trusting the people, our Founders wagered that a great and noble nation could be built on the liberty that resides in the hearts of all men and women. By trusting the people, succeeding generations transformed our fragile young democracy into the most powerful nation on Earth and a beacon of hope for millions. And so long as we continue to trust the people, our nation will prosper, our liberty will be secure, and the state of our Union will remain strong. (Applause.)

So tonight, with confidence in freedom’s power, and trust in the people, let us set forth to do their business. God bless America. (Applause.)

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Suharto, the Model Killer & His Friends in High Places By John Pilger

Dandelion Salad

By John Pilger
28/01/08 “ICH”

In my film Death of a Nation, there is a sequence filmed on board an Australian aircraft flying over the island of Timor. A party is in progress, and two men in suits are toasting each other in champagne. “This is an historically unique moment,” says one of them, “that is truly uniquely historical.” This is Gareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister. The other man is Ali Alatas, principal mouthpiece of the Indonesian dictator, Gen. Suharto. It is 1989, and the two are making a grotesquely symbolic flight to celebrate the signing of a treaty that allowed Australia and the international oil and gas companies to exploit the seabed off East Timor, then illegally and viciously occupied by Suharto. The prize, according to Evans, was “zillions of dollars.”

Beneath them lay a land of crosses: great black crosses etched against the sky, crosses on peaks, crosses in tiers on the hillsides. Filming clandestinely in East Timor, I would walk into the scrub and there were the crosses. They littered the earth and crowded the eye. In 1993, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Parliament reported that “at least 200,000” had died under Indonesia’s occupation: almost a third of the population. And yet East Timor’s horror, which was foretold and nurtured by the U.S., Britain, and Australia, was actually a sequel. “No single American action in the period after 1945,” wrote the historian Gabriel Kolko, “was as bloodthirsty as its role in Indonesia, for it tried to initiate the massacre.” He was referring to Suharto’s seizure of power in 1965-1966, which caused the violent deaths of up to a million people.

To understand the significance of Suharto, who died on Sunday, is to look beneath the surface of the current world order: the so-called global economy and the ruthless cynicism of those who run it. Suharto was our model mass murderer – “our” is used here advisedly. “One of our very best and most valuable friends,” Thatcher called him, speaking for the West. For three decades, the Australian, U.S., and British governments worked tirelessly to minimize the crimes of Suharto’s Gestapo, known as Kopassus, who were trained by the Australian SAS and the British army and who gunned down people with British-supplied Heckler and Koch machine guns from British-supplied Tactica “riot control” vehicles. Prevented by Congress from supplying arms directly, U.S. administrations from Gerald Ford to Bill Clinton provided logistic support through the back door and commercial preferences. In one year, the British Department of Trade provided almost a billion pounds worth of so-called soft loans, which allowed Suharto to buy Hawk fighter-bombers. The British taxpayer paid the bill for aircraft that dive-bombed East Timorese villages, and the arms industry reaped the profits. However, the Australians distinguished themselves as the most obsequious. In an infamous cable to Canberra, Richard Woolcott, Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta, who had been forewarned about Suharto’s invasion of East Timor, wrote: “What Indonesia now looks to from Australia … is some understanding of their attitude and possible action to assist public understanding in Australia….” Covering up Suharto’s crimes became a career for those like Woolcott, while “understanding” the mass murderer came in buckets. This left an indelible stain on the reformist government of Gough Whitlam following the cold-blooded killing of two Australian TV crews by Suharto’s troops during the invasion of East Timor. “We know your people love you,” Bob Hawke told the dictator. His successor, Paul Keating, famously regarded the tyrant as a father figure. When Indonesian troops slaughtered at least 200 people in the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor, and Australian mourners planted crosses outside the Indonesian embassy in Canberra, foreign minister Gareth Evans ordered them destroyed. To Evans, ever-effusive in his support for the regime, the massacre was merely an “aberration.” This was the view of much of the Australian press, especially that controlled by Rupert Murdoch, whose local retainer, Paul Kelly, led a group of leading newspaper editors to Jakarta, fawn before the dictator.

Here lies a clue as to why Suharto, unlike Saddam Hussein, died not on the gallows but surrounded by the finest medical team his secret billions could buy. Ralph McGehee, a senior CIA operations officer in the 1960s, describes the terror of Suharto’s takeover of Indonesia as “the model operation” for the American-backed coup that got rid of Salvador Allende in Chile seven years later. “The CIA forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders,” he wrote, “[just like] what happened in Indonesia in 1965.” The U.S. embassy in Jakarta supplied Suharto with a “zap list” of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and crossed off the names when they were killed or captured. Roland Challis, the BBC’s south east Asia correspondent at the time, told me how the British government was secretly involved in this slaughter. “British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops down the Malacca Straits so they could take part in the terrible holocaust,” he said. “I and other correspondents were unaware of this at the time…. There was a deal, you see.”

The deal was that Indonesia under Suharto would offer up what Richard Nixon had called “the richest hoard of natural resources, the greatest prize in southeast Asia.” In November 1967, the greatest prize was handed out at a remarkable three-day conference sponsored by the Time-Life Corporation in Geneva. Led by David Rockefeller, all the corporate giants were represented: the major oil companies and banks, General Motors, Imperial Chemical Industries, British American Tobacco, Siemens, U.S. Steel, and many others. Across the table sat Suharto’s U.S.-trained economists who agreed to the corporate takeover of their country, sector by sector. The Freeport company got a mountain of copper in West Papua. A U.S./ European consortium got the nickel. The giant Alcoa company got the biggest slice of Indonesia’s bauxite. America, Japanese, and French companies got the tropical forests of Sumatra. When the plunder was complete, President Lyndon Johnson sent his congratulations on “a magnificent story of opportunity seen and promise awakened.” Thirty years later, with the genocide in East Timor also complete, the World Bank described the Suharto dictatorship as a “model pupil.”

Shortly before he died, I interviewed Alan Clark, who under Thatcher was Britain’s minister responsible for supplying Suharto with most of his weapons. I asked him, “Did it bother you personally that you were causing such mayhem and human suffering?”

“No, not in the slightest,” he replied. “It never entered my head.”

“I ask the question because I read you are a vegetarian and are seriously concerned with the way animals are killed.”

“Yeah?”

“Doesn’t that concern extend to humans?”

“Curiously not.”

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy – A Documentary Film By John Pilger (video)

Road to Impeachment & Peace Runs Through Cleveland by David Swanson

Dandelion Salad

by David Swanson
http://www.opednews.com
January 28, 2008 at 17:16:49

Congressman Dennis Kucinich is facing a tough primary in five weeks in his working class district in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s up against better funded opponents and the concerted effort of the corporate and media powers of Cleveland that have opposed him since long before he took that seat away from a Republican.

Kucinich is a progressive candidate who inspires passionate support from many in Cleveland who might not turn out to vote for a DLC Democrat. If he loses his primary, the Democrats may lose the seat. And if he loses the primary, the Democrats will, without any doubt, have lost something more valuable: their spine.

Kucinich fared poorly in the presidential primaries. But he tended to win surveys that asked about issues and then matched you up with the closest candidate. He often won post-debate polls following those debates that the corporate media allowed him to participate in. He usually finished first or second in polls conducted by progressive activist groups. And quite often, just as four years ago, his speeches won the loudest and longest applause. But, rightly or wrongly, most people who agreed with Kucinich more than any other candidate, tended (at least in the few states that decide these things) to back another candidate for president.

Whether we’re glad that Kucinich’s voice was a part of the Eternal Campaign for many months, or not, we can agree that off the election circuit for many years now Kucinich has had our backs. He has stood alone or in rare company on Capitol Hill for positions backed by 90 percent of Democrats outside the Beltway. He has been there for working people, for labor rights, for the poor, for minorities. He has been there for immigrants, for the sick, for the homeless. When he’s asked to bash immigrants, he quotes the words from the Statue of Liberty. And when he was asked to support the erosion of our rights and the build up to a fraudulent war in Iraq, he sued the President in court, published a report showing White House claims about Iraq to be lies, and organized two-thirds of the Democrats in the House to vote No.

“What would it be like,” Kucinich asked in the presidential debates, in reference to his opponents’ shifting positions on NAFTA, the PATRIOT Act, the invasion of Iraq, the bankruptcy bill, etc., “to have a president who is right the first time?”

Now, we have to ask ourselves what it would be like to have a Congress without anyone who is right the first time. There are other leaders in Congress, of course. There are mavericks on the right like Ron Paul, whose pro-peace supporters will understand the need to keep Kucinich in Congress and can be counted on to help with it. And there are leaders on the left. Barbara Lee stood alone against attacking Afghanistan. But no member of Congress has been as reliable a leader as Kucinich. None has come close. If the peace movement spends 2008 distracted from real action by an obsession with presidential politics, but does not get behind Kucinich’s congressional race in a national way, then we truly will have lost our bearings.

…continued

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Congressman Kucinich On The Impeachment Of President George Bush

Impeachment: No More Investigations Please! by David Swanson

Impeachment Statement by Presidential Candidate Senator Mike Gravel

Kucinich to Introduce Articles of Impeachment Against Bush on Jan 28 State of Union Day By David M. Herszenhorn + videos (updated: added transcript and a ‘mash-up’ video: Offending Words)

Kucinich Urges Restoration of Humanitarian Aid to Gaza

Dennis Kucinich’s Brave Voice by Mike Gravel

The murdering of the Kucinich campaign By Jack Balkwill

Kucinich-Dennis

Impeach

Bringing Death and Destruction to Muslims by Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

by Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research, January 28, 2008
Antiwar.com – 2008-01-17

After pandering to Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s right-wing government last week, US president George W. Bush carried the Israeli/neoconservative campaign against Iran to Arab countries. Sounding as authentic as the “Filipino Monkey,” Bush told the Arab countries that “Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terror,” and that “Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere.”

To no effect. Every country in the world, except America, knows by now that the US is the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and that the neoconservative drive for US hegemony over the world threatens the security of nations everywhere. But before we get into this, let’s first see what Bush means by “terrorist” and Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism.

Bush considers Iran to be the leading state sponsor of terror, because Iran is believed to fund Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian ghetto. Hezbollah and Hamas are two organizations that exist because of Israeli aggression against Palestine and Lebanon. The two organizations are branded “terrorist” because they resist Israel’s theft of Palestine and Israel’s designs on southern Lebanon. Both organizations are resistance organizations. They resist Israel’s territorial expansion and this makes them “terrorist.”

They are terrorists because they don’t receive billions in US military aid and cannot put armies in the field with tanks, fighter jets and helicopter gunships, backed up by US spy satellites and Israel’s nuclear weapons – although Hezbollah, a small militia, has twice defeated the Israeli army. However, Palestine is so thoroughly under the Israeli heel that Hamas can resist only with suicide bombers and obsolete rockets. It is dishonest to damn the terrorist response but not the policies that provoke the response.

The US is at war in Iraq, because the neoconservatives want to rid Israel of the Muslim governments – Iraq, Iran and Syria – that are not American surrogates and, therefore, are willing to fund Palestinian and Lebanese resistance to Israeli aggression. Israel, protected by the US, has disobeyed UN resolutions for four decades and has been methodically squeezing Palestinians out of Palestine.

Americans do not think of themselves or of Israel as terrorist states, but the evidence is complete and overwhelming. Thanks to the power of the Israel Lobby, Americans only know the Israeli side of the story, which is that evil anti-semite Palestinians will not let blameless Israelis live in peace and persist in their unjustified terror attacks on an innocent Israeli state.

The facts differ remarkably from Israel Lobby propaganda. Israel illegally occupies Palestine. Israel sends bulldozers into Palestinian villages and knocks down Palestinian houses, occasionally killing an American protester in the process, and uproots Palestinian olive groves. Israel cuts Palestinian villages off from water, hospitals, farmlands, employment and schools. Israel builds special roads through Palestine on which only Israelis can travel. Israel establishes checkpoints everywhere to hinder Palestinian movement to hospitals, schools and from one enclave or ghetto to another. Many Palestinians die from the inability to get through checkpoints to medical care. Israel builds illegal settlements on Palestinian lands. Israeli Zionist “settlers” take it upon themselves to evict Palestinians from their villages and towns in order to convert them into Israeli settlements. A huge wall has been built to wall off the stolen Palestinian lands from the remaining isolated ghettoes. Israeli soldiers shoot down Palestinian children in the streets. So do Israeli Zionist “settlers.”

All of this has been documented so many times by so many organizations that it is pathetic that Americans are so ignorant. For example, Israeli peace groups such as Gush Shalom or Jeff Halper’s Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions provide abundant documentation of Israel’s theft of Palestine and persecution of Palestinians. Every time the UN passes a resolution condemning Israel for its crimes, the US vetoes it.

The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees’ film, The Iron Wall, reveals the enormity of Israel’s crimes against Palestine.

President Jimmy Carter, Israel’s friend, tried to bring peace to the Middle East but was frustrated by Israel. Carter was demonized by the Israel Lobby for calling, truthfully, the situation that Israel has created “apartheid.”

Historians, including Israel’s finest, such as Ilan Pappe, have documented The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, the title of Pappe’s book published in 2006.

Israelis, such as Uri Avnery, a former member of Israel’s Knesset, are stronger critics of Israel’s policies toward Palestine than can be found in America. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is more outspoken in its criticism of Israeli policies than any newspaper would dare to be in North America or Europe.

But it is all to no avail in brainwashed America where Israelis wear white hats and Arabs wear black hats.

The ignorance of Americans commits US foreign policy to the service of Israel. As Uri Avnery wrote recently, a visitor from another planet, attending the recent press conference in Jerusalem, would conclude that Olmert is the leader of the superpower and that Bush is his vassal.

Americans don’t know what terror is. To know terror, you have to be a Palestinian, an Iraqi, or an Afghan.

Layla Anwar, an Iraqi Internet blogger, describes what terror is like. Terror is families attending a wedding being blown to pieces by an American missile or bomb and the survivors being blown to pieces at the funeral of the newlyweds. Terror is troops breaking down your door in the middle of the night, putting guns to your heads, and carrying off brothers, sons, and husbands with bags over their heads and returning to rape the unprotected women. Terror is being waterboarded in one of America’s torture dungeons. Terror is “when you run from hospital ward to hospital ward, from prison to prison, from militia to militia looking for your loved one only to recognize them from their teeth fillings in some morgue.”

For people targeted by American hegemony, terror is realizing that Americans have no moral conscience. Terror is the lack of medicines from American embargoes that led to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. When asked by Lesley Stahl if the American policy was worth the children’s deaths, Madeleine Albright, President Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, said “we think the price is worth it.”

In the feeble minds of the White House Moron and his immoral supporters, the massive deaths for which America is responsible, including those inflicted by Israel, have nothing to do with Muslim enmity toward America. Instead, Muslims hate us for our “freedom and democracy,” the real threat to which comes from Bush’s police state measures and stolen elections.

There is dispute over the number of Iraqis killed or murdered by Bush’s illegal invasion, a war crime under the Nuremberg standard, but everyone agrees the number is very large. Many deaths result from American bombing of civilian populations as the Israelis did in Lebanon and do in Gaza. There is nothing new about these bombings. President Clinton bombed civilians in Serbia in order to dictate policy to Serbia. But when Americans and Israelis bomb other peoples, it is not terror. It is only terror when the US or Israel is attacked in retaliation.

The Israeli assault from the air on Beirut apartment houses is not terror. But when a Palestinian puts on a suicide belt and blows himself up in an Israeli cafe, that’s terror. When Clinton bombs a Serbian passenger train, that’s not terror, but when a buried explosive takes out an American tank somewhere in Iraq, that’s terror.

Aggressors always have excuses for their aggression. Hitler was an expert at this. So are the US and Israel.

Unfortunately for the world, there’s little chance for change in America or Israel. The presidential candidates (Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) who would bring change in Washington, without which there will be no change in Israel, are not in the running for their party’s nomination. As John J. Mearsheimer noted on January 12, the candidates in the running are as much under the thumb of the Israel Lobby as Bush. The candidates are Bush clones as strongly committed as Bush to hegemony, war, Israel and executive power.

The possible exception is Obama. If he is an exception, that makes him a threat to the powers that be, and, as we might have witnessed in the NH primary, the Republican-supplied, Republican-programmed Diebold electronic voting machines can easily be rigged to deny him the Democratic nomination. Hillary will not resist Israel’s wishes, and her husband’s presidency bombed at will his demonized victims.

There is no essential difference between the candidates or between the candidates and George W. Bush. Alabama Governor George Wallace, a surprisingly successful third party candidate for the presidency, said as long ago as 1968, “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties.” Today, four decades later, there’s not a penny’s worth of difference, not an ounce of difference. Both parties have revealed themselves to be warmonger police state parties. The US Constitution has few friends in the capital city.
Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Paul Craig Roberts, Antiwar.com, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7927

American Liberty Teetering on Edge of Abyss By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
January 27, 2008

“Your papers please”
has long been a phrase associated with Hitler’s Gestapo. People without the Third Reich’s stamp of approval were hauled off to Nazi Germany’s version of Halliburton detention centers. Today Americans are on the verge of being asked for their papers, although probably without the “please.”

Thanks to a government that has turned its back on the US Constitution, Americans now have an unaccountable Department of Homeland Security that is already asserting tyrannical powers over US citizens and state governments. Headed by the neocon fanatic Michael Chertoff, the Orwellian-sounding Department of Homeland Security has mandated a national identity card for Americans, without which Americans may not enter airports or courthouses.

There is no more need for this card than there is for a Department of Homeland Security. Neither are compatible with a free society.

However, Bush, the neocons, Republicans and Democrats do not want America to any longer be a free society, and they are taking freedom away from us just as they took away the independence of the media.

Free and informed people get in the way of power-mad zealots with agendas.

It is the agendas that are supreme, not the American people, who have less and less say about less and less.

George W. Bush, an elected president, has behaved like a dictator since September 11, 2001. If “our” representatives in Congress care, they haven’t done anything about it. Bush has pretty much cut Congress out of the action.

In truth, Congress gave up its law making powers to the executive branch during the New Deal. For three-quarters of a century, the bills passed by Congress have been authorizations for executive branch agencies to make laws in the form of regulations. The executive branch has come to the realization that it doesn’t really need Congress. President Bush appends his own “signing statements” to the authorizations from Congress in which the President says what the legislation means. So what is the point of Congress?

As for laws already on the books, the US Department of Justice (sic) has ruled that the President doesn’t have to abide by US statutes, such as FISA or the law forbidding torture. Neither does the President have to abide by the Geneva Conventions.

Other obstacles are removed by edicts known as presidential directives or executive orders. There are more and more of these edicts, and they accumulate more and more power and less and less accountability in the executive.

The disdain in which the executive branch holds the “separate and equal” legislative branch is everywhere apparent. For example, President Bush is concluding a long-term security agreement with the puppet government he has set up in Iraq. Prior to September 11, 2001, when the President became The Decider, a defense pact was a treaty requiring the approval of Congress.

All that is now behind us. General Douglas Lute, President Bush’s national security adviser for Iraq says that the White House will not be submitting the deal to Congress for approval. Lute says Bush will not be seeking any “formal inputs from the Congress.”

“There is no question that this is unprecedented,” said Yale Law School Professor Oona Hathaway. [Bush plan for Iraq would be a first, By Charlie Savage, The Boston Globe, January 25, 2008]

Bush can do whatever he wants, because Congress has taken its only remaining power—impeachment—off the table.

The Democratic Party leadership thinks that the only problem is Bush, who will be gone in one year. Besides, the Israel Lobby doesn’t want Israel’s champion impeached, and neither do the corporate owners of the US media.

The Democrats are not adverse to inheriting the powers in Bush’s precedents. The Democrats, of course, will use the elevated powers for good rather than for evil.

Instead of having a bad dictator, we’ll have a good one.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington;  Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Congressman Kucinich On The Impeachment Of President George Bush

Dandelion Salad

by Dennis Kucinich

Washington, Jan 28 – Today, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) released the following statement:

“After making a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives last week indicating my intent to introduce articles of impeachment against George W. Bush, I met with members of the Judiciary Committee. After that brief meeting, I am hopeful there will be an inquiry by the Judiciary Committee. I will give them the opportunity to proceed before introducing articles of impeachment.”

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Impeachment: No More Investigations Please! by David Swanson

Impeachment Statement by Presidential Candidate Senator Mike Gravel

Kucinich to Introduce Articles of Impeachment Against Bush on Jan 28 State of Union Day By David M. Herszenhorn + videos (updated: added transcript and a ‘mash-up’ video: Offending Words)

Hey Hey Nancy (music video; impeachment)

Impeach

Sicko by Michael Moore

Dandelion Salad

Replaced the video June 23, 2015

by 4 years ago
https://vimeo.com/22571895 Continue reading

Dennis Kucinich’s Brave Voice by Mike Gravel

Dandelion Salad

Gravel for President ’08 (Former US Sen. D-AK)

by Mike Gravel
Mike’s blog post
January 28, 2008

Dennis Kucinich deserves the praise and gratitude of all Americans who want our government to promote peace and justice at home and abroad. On all the issues, Dennis took brave, honest positions that reflect his great courage and decency.

While Clinton and Obama continued to support funding the Iraq war, Dennis said the war was simply WRONG and worked to cut off funds and remove our troops before more Americans died in vain.

While many of his fellow Democrats hope the Bush administration just quietly fades away, Dennis wants to impeach Dick Cheney right now and expose his high crimes before the American public.

We don’t need more Congressional hearings on Cheney, the record is clear. It’s time for the Democrats to follow Dennis’ lead and make Cheney an ignominious example to future leaders who contemplate lying to the public to get us into another war.

While Clinton, Obama and Edwards claim their “morality” prevents them from supporting gay marriage, Dennis takes the truly moral position: All Americans deserve the right to marry regardless of their sexual orientation. Anything less than full marriage equality is immoral discrimination!

I congratulate Dennis for his brave campaign and I wish him great success in his congressional race. I will do anything I can to see him reelected because we need his stalwart voice challenging his fellow congressmen and fighting for the America that he and I both believe is possible.

I promise to stay in the presidential race and continue promoting our shared ideals so that one day our party and our government will be as committed to peace and justice as Dennis Kucinich.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Impeachment Statement by Presidential Candidate Senator Mike Gravel

Kucinich abandons White House bid + photos link + Vows to keep fighting for causes + Integritynow.org (vid) (updated)

Dennis Kucinich Announces Re-Elect Campaign (video)

Kucinich-Dennis

Gravel-Mike

Mike Gravel For President 2008

Fight Back Kucinich Donations:
http://www.usalone.com/fight_back_kucinich.php

http://www.kucinich.us/contribute.html

http://actblue.com/page/rjones2818cong (donate to Kucinich for Congress)

Integritynow.org

Sibel Edmonds: Buckle up, there’s much more coming. Interview by Luke Ryland

by Luke Ryland
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Luke’s blog post
January 28, 2008

In the last few weeks, UK’s Times has run a series of articles about the so-called ‘Sibel Edmonds case.’ (‘For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets, ‘FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft‘ and ‘Tip-off thwarted nuclear spy ring probe‘)

Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds stumbled into a world of espionage, nuclear black market, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and corruption at the highest levels of the US government.

I interviewed Sibel yesterday regarding the current investigation and reporting by the Times, the failures of the US media, and last week’s decision by the Bush administration to legalize the sale of nuclear technology to Turkey, in an apparent to exonerate prior criminal activity by officials in his administration.

Sibel also has some urgent ‘action items’ so that we can stop these dangerous nuclear proliferation activities. I urge you to act on her suggestions.

***

Luke Ryland: What do you have to say about the recent work by the Insight journalists – Chris Gourlay, Jonathan Calvert, Joe Lauria – at the UK’s Times?

Sibel Edmonds: They’ve done good, solid reporting so far by doing what reporters are supposed to. They have been chasing sources and getting their hands on documents. It’s pretty simple. As you know, this story has been available to any journalist for six years now.

There’s been a lot of speculation in the last few weeks that American reporters haven’t touched this story because they are ‘corporate owned’ but it is wrong to exonerate these reporters so quickly. Many of them are too close to their official sources, and some are simply lazy. This Times team chases sources, and if they can’t reach them one way, they’ll try and try again, or they’ll seek out alternate sources, or find other ways to ensure that they get the story.

When I hear from US reporters, they say ‘Sibel, give us all the documents we’ll need, and you line up all the sources for us, and then maybe we’ll do a story’ and if one source doesn’t return their phone call, they simply give up. That’s not journalism!

Luke Ryland: Why has the US failed on this story so dramatically for 6 years?

Sibel Edmonds: It’s a combination of things, obviously. You need to consider that the entire US press corps has failed on this story; not only the regular print and TV media, but the alternative media has failed on this too.

Part of the reason is that journalists are simply too close to their official sources. Those sources might tell the journalist that there’s nothing to the story, and so the journalist gives up on it, or the official sources might ‘request’ that the journalist to stay away from the story, and the journalist is then concerned about losing access to the source in the future.

Another reason is the partisanship. With the foreign press, there is no partisanship, and that’s one reason why they have been more effective at covering this case, and I’m not just talking about the recent Times articles here. With the US media, it appears as though if there is no clear partisan angle, then there’s no story. As you know, this case is spread over two administrations, and that appears to make it difficult for the reporters to cover the story. Even within one news organization you might have one journalist who wants to use the story to indict Clinton, and another who wants to use the story to bash Bush, and in the end neither of them write about the story because it doesn’t fit their partisanship, their ‘narrative’, so they just drop it altogether.

I had such high hopes for the alternative press, and they do a lot of good work, but partisanship repeatedly gets in the way there too, on both sides.

The US media also suffers from a pack mentality. I was told by one executive that they weren’t doing the story because it was ‘old news’ because 60 Minutes did a single segment in October 2002, even though they only covered a tiny part of the case. This executive literally told me that he’d only cover the story if it was ‘hot and sexy.’ I often think that I’d need to be able to hire Britney Spears to be a spokesperson – and this is not just for my case, but for any of the many other solid, important cases at the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. Apparently this is what it would take to get any coverage.

Of course, given the pack mentality, if any of these stories does become ‘hot and sexy’ then all the journalists focus on the same issues and there’s no differentiation in their reporting.

The other major problem in the US is the focus on symptoms, rather than root causes. My case is a good example, but there are lots of others too. Look at the early reporting on my case in 2002, the Washington Post broke the story in July 2002 about the espionage in the translation bureau and then they dropped the story after two weeks. They stopped reporting on it when more important information came out and the State Secrets Privilege was invoked. To this day not a single US reporter has asked ‘Why was the State Secrets Privilege been invoked here? What is going on?’

Just this week I was approached by a major US outlet who wanted to do a story on Kevin Taskesen! [Ed note: Taskesen was an incompetent FBI translator who got his job because his wife worked in the administrative office] This is absolutely the most trivial element of the case, and it has already been reported at length. I told them that they could learn everything they needed to know by watching 60 Minutes, 2002. Again, the US media needs to start looking at the root causes of these problems, not the symptoms.

Luke Ryland: Will the US media start reporting on this now that it is ‘hot and sexy’ again?

Sibel Edmonds: It’s hard to know. After being told for years that they won’t cover it because it is ‘old news,’ now there are certain officials in the agencies quietly telling journalists to stay away from the story because I came across a highly sensitive covert national security operation.

Also, Turkey’s army of lobbyists in DC are very effective. The US press tends to stay away from any stories critical of Turkey, I would say even more than Israel.

There’s also the possible problem of ‘eating crow’ but I hope this isn’t an issue, this story is way too important for any of that. The information that has been published in the Times recently could have easily come out four years ago in the US press. We now need everyone to focus on the important issues.

I have one message for the US media: If they think this is over, it’s not over. Much more will come out. They won’t be able to ignore it any longer, and so I hope they get over any reluctance they might have.

Look at the positive press that the Times’ series has received since their first article ran. Do you think their editors haven’t noticed? The Times is adding more and more resources to the story, more journalists, bigger budgets, and more importantly, they are getting more and more sources coming forward to shed light on these illegal activities. As I have said from the beginning, this story is not about me, there are many sources who have been waiting for the right time to come forward, I’ve probably never even heard of most of them, and now they are coming forward. This will play out like Watergate played out, with the drip, drip, drip. So I say to everyone ‘Buckle up, there’s much more coming.’

So, hopefully American reporters will start to cover the story. I’m not particularly confident, but to a certain degree it doesn’t matter that much because the internet and the blogs can spread the reporting from the UK as soon as it hits the wires.

Luke Ryland: Two weeks after the first article in the Times about the involvement of high-level US officials being involved with Turkish and Israeli interests in supplying the nuclear black market, President Bush quietly announced that the US will start supplying nuclear technology to Turkey. Do you think that is a coincidence?

Sibel Edmonds: The timing is certainly very, very suspicious. The proposals that are being floated are very suspicious too. There are reports that Turkey will build an enrichment facility, and that Turkey will become the key supplier of nuclear fuel to other Muslim countries who want nuclear power plants. None of this makes any sense.

And again, the US media is nowhere to be seen on this issue. Where are the journalists? Do you remember the noise made a couple of years ago when the US announced that it would supply India with nuclear technology? So far, nearly a week after the announcement and not a single major US media outlet has even reported on the deal! Think of the hypocrisy, with all the saber-rattling at Iran over enrichment.

If it’s such a good idea to sell nuclear technology to Turkey, why isn’t the White House out there selling the idea? Where are the arguments in the press saying that this will be good for regional stability, or that it will help reduce demand for oil, or even that it is simply good business because US firms will be able to sell their hardware and knowledge? There’s nothing! Silence. What does that tell you?

Luke Ryland: What needs to be done?

Sibel Edmonds: The way they’ve structured this deal is that Congress has 90 days from the announcement, now 84 days, to block the ‘agreement’ otherwise it basically becomes law.

The first thing that we need to do is to make sure that this doesn’t ‘automatically’ become law. We need the journalists, the experts, and the bloggers to raise hell over this issue, and we need to make sure that Congress investigates this properly before rubber-stamping it. The clock is ticking and we need to act now.

As you know, and this was even published in the White House press release on this issue, certain ‘Turkish private entities’ have been involved ‘in certain activities directly relating to nuclear proliferation.’ This includes supplying the A.Q. Khan network – which built Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, and also supplied North Korea, Iran and other countries – but as the recent Times stories indicate, so much more as well.

The White House press release states that all these issues have been resolved; that the Turkish government has addressed these issues, that the US government has evaluated these actions and that the US government is satisfied, and that all of this is secret, classified!

Given the track record of this administration in abusing classification and distorting intelligence, why on earth would we trust them with this? What is in the report? Is it truthful? Why is it classified? We saw these exact same people do the same thing in the late 80s when they enabled Pakistan to get nuclear weapons. Richard Barlow did his best to stop them then, but if Congress doesn’t hold hearings this time around the same thing will happen again. We should have stopped Pakistan then, but unless this ‘classified’ report is made public and the contents publicly debated, then the Barlow of today won’t even get the chance to debunk whatever is in that ‘classified’ report. What conceivable logic is there in classifying the details of how Turkey has cleaned up its act regarding nuclear proliferation? If they have, they should be proud of it!

There are many great anti-proliferation organizations out there, we need to rally all of them, and all of the ‘pro-transparency’ organizations, to this cause. We need journalists to contact these experts for their opinion and expertise, and we need these experts to contact journalists to ensure that the story, and the issues, is covered, and covered thoroughly.

We also need to recruit bloggers and alternative media to keep the pressure on. Perhaps a ‘countdown clock’ as we count down the 90 days might help.

Luke Ryland: What are the next steps in the process?

Sibel Edmonds: I’m not exactly sure of the process at the moment, but it has been reported that this ‘automatically’ becomes law after the 90 days, somehow, unless Congress blocks or amends the legislation.

Apparently the approval process somehow includes convincing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee not to object, so those committees appear to be our first firewall.

(Ed note: Senate Foreign Relations Committee includes Joe Biden (Chair), Chris Dodd, John Kerry, Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, Barack Obama and Jim Webb for the Democrats, and Richard Lugar, Chuck Hagel and George Voinovich for the minority. Hopefully one of them will stand up on this important issue. The House side looks more difficult, the Chairman is Tom Lantos who was listed in Sibel’s Rogue’s Gallery, which apparently identifies 18 of the guilty parties in her case, so that might be a problem. Ron Paul is also on that committee, he might be a prime target for this campaign.)

Luke Ryland: Is there anything else we can do?

Sibel Edmonds: There is one other hope. As last week’s White House press release states, Bill Clinton tried to pass this legislation in 2000 but “immediately after” Clinton tried to send it to Congress it was blocked because some people apparently highlighted Turkish involvement in the nuclear black market and, who knows, maybe threatened to blow the whistle. Those same individuals, and others like them, can stop this again, and they should do everything they can to make sure that this doesn’t happen. They should try to do it internally, and if they can’t do it internally, then they need reach out to journalists, either on or off the record. Hopefully some honest, dedicated people will try to block it again, but we can’t rely on that. We need to pressure congress to ensure that this doesn’t go through.

Time is running out, the countdown clock is ticking down, and we need to stop this now. We need the help of journalists, congress, nuclear proliferation experts, bloggers and those active citizens in the blogosphere and elsewhere.

————–

Many thanks to Sibel, as always.

Please do what you can to help block this proposed legislation.

If you can create a ‘countdown clock’ please contact me, and we’ll offer it so that everyone can place it on their blogs and use it in their sigs etc.

————-

Regarding alternative media, Sibel is particularly grateful to American Conservative and Antiwar.com for their objectivity and non-partisanship in covering this case. In particular, Phil Giraldi, Justin Raimondo, Joshua Frank and Scott Horton.

To reiterate Sibel’s emphasis on the importance of the internet to help get the story out, Daily Kos statistics for the week Jan 19-25 have been released. During a primary week when many were (rightly) complaining that campaign diaries made it almost impossible for other issues to get any attention, diaries related to Sibel’s case dominated the list. Sibel’s story was both #1 and $2 for the week, and filled 3 of the top 11, and 4 of the top 25 diaries. Statistics at Democratic Underground will demonstrate the same level of interest in the case. Thank you to all of you, and I ask that you continue to support the case, and I ask that journalists and bloggers pick up the story and support the great work done by the Times. It’s about time, no?
see

Sibel Edmonds (archive of posts)

“We Can’t Afford to Let Them Spill the Beans” Edmonds on Grossman by Gary Leupp

Sibel Edmonds: No Voice – No Title (video)

None Dare Call It Treason-Who is stealing our nuclear secrets – and why are they being shielded by the authorities? by Justin Raimondo

UK Times: Brewster Jennings outed by ‘treasonous’ US govt official in 2001, not 2003 by Luke Ryland

Edmonds-Sibel

Eight More Years? by Ralph Nader

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Friday, January 25. 2008

For Bill and Hillary Clinton, the ultimate American dream is eight more years. Yet how do you think they would react to having dozens of partisans at their rallies sporting large signs calling for EIGHT MORE YEARS, EIGHT MORE YEARS?

Don’t you have the feeling that they would cringe at such public displays of their fervent ambition which the New York Times described as a “truly two-for-the-price-of-one” presidential race? It might remind voters to remember or examine the real Clinton record in that peaceful decade of missed opportunities and not be swayed by the sugarcoating version that the glib former president emits at many campaign stops.

The 1990’s were the first decade without the spectre of the Soviet Union. There was supposed to be a “peace dividend” that would reduce the vast, bloated military budget and redirect public funds to repair or expand our public works or infrastructure.

Inaugurated in January 1993, with a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party, Bill Clinton sent a small job-creating proposal to upgrade public facilities. He also made some motions for campaign finance reform which he promised during his campaign when running against incumbent George H.W. Bush and candidate Ross Perot.

A double withdrawal followed when the Congressional Republicans started roaring about big spending Democrats and after House Speaker Tom Foley and Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell, told Clinton at a White House meeting to forget about legislation to diminish the power of organized money in elections.

That set the stage for how Washington politicians sized up Clinton. He was seen as devoid of modest political courage, a blurrer of differences with the Republican opposition party and anything but the decisive transforming leader he promised to be was he to win the election.

He proceeded, instead, to take credit for developments with which he had very little to do with such as the economic growth propelled by the huge technology dot.com boom.

Bragging about millions of jobs his Administration created, he neglected to note that incomes stagnated for 80% of the workers in the country and ended in 2000, under the level of 1973, adjusted for inflation.

A brainy White House assistant to Mr. Clinton told me in 1997 that the only real achievement his boss could take credit for was passage of legislation allowing 12 weeks family leave, without pay.

There are changes the Clinton Administration actively championed that further entrenched corporate power over our economy and government during the decade. He pushed through Congress the NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements that represented the greatest surrender in our history of local, state and national sovereignty to an autocratic, secretive system of transnational governance. This system subordinated workers, consumers and the environment to the supremacy of globalized commerce.

That was just for starters. Between 1996 and 2000, he drove legislation through Congress that concentrated more power in the hands of giant agribusiness, large telecommunications companies and the biggest jackpot—opening the doors to gigantic mergers in the financial industry. The latter so-called “financial modernization law” sowed the permissive seeds for taking vast financial risks with other peoples’ money (ie. pensioners and investors) that is now shaking the economy to recession.

The man who pulled off this demolition of regulatory experience from the lessons of the Great Depression was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, who went to work for Citigroup—the main pusher of this oligopolistic coup—just before the bill passed and made himself $40 million for a few months of consulting in that same year.

Bill Clinton’s presidential resume was full of favors for the rich and powerful. Corporate welfare subsidies, handouts and giveaways flourished, including subsidizing the Big Three Auto companies for a phony research partnership while indicating there would be no new fuel efficiency regulations while he was President.

His regulatory agencies were anesthetized. The veteran watchdog for Public Citizen of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, said that safety was the worst under Clinton in his twenty nine years of oversight.

The auto safety agency (NHTSA) abandoned its regulatory oath of office and became a consulting firm to the auto industry. Other agencies were similarly asleep—in job safety (OSHA) railroads, household product safety, antitrust, and corporate crime law enforcement.

By reappointing avid Republican Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Clinton assured no attention would be paid to the visible precursors of what is now the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Mr. Greenspan, declined to use his regulatory authority and repeatedly showed that he almost never saw a risky financial instrument he couldn’t justify.

Mr. Clinton was so fearful of taking on Orrin Hatch, the Republican Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that he cleared most judicial appointments with the Utah Senator. He even failed to put forth the nomination of sub-cabinet level official, Peter Edelman, whose credentials were superb to the federal appeals court.

Mr. Edelman resigned on September 12th, 1996. In a memo to his staff, he said, “I have devoted the last 30-plus years to doing whatever I could to help in reducing poverty in America. I believe the recently enacted welfare bill goes in the opposite direction.”

Excoriated by the noted author and columnist, Anthony Lewis, for his dismal record on civil liberties, the man from Hope set the stage for the Bush demolition of this pillar of our democracy.

To justify his invasion of Iraq, Bush regularly referred in 2002-2003 to Clinton’s bombing of Iraq and making “regime change” explicit U.S. policy.

But it was Clinton’s insistence on UN-backed economic sanctions in contrast to just military embargos, against Iraq, during his term in office. These sanctions on civilians, a task force of leading American physicians estimated, took half a million Iraqi children’s lives.

Who can forget CBS’s Sixty Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl’s tour through Baghdad’s denuded hospitals filled with crying, dying children? She then interviewed Mr. Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeline Albright and asked whether these sanctions were worth it. Secretary Albright answered in the affirmative.

Bill Clinton is generally viewed as one smart politician, having been twice elected the President, helped by lackluster Robert Dole, having survived the Lewinsky sex scandal, lying under oath about sex, and impeachment. When is it all about himself, he is cunningly smart.

But during his two-term triangulating Presidency, he wasn’t smart enough to avoid losing his Party’s control over Congress, or many state legislatures and Governorships.

It has always been all about him, Now he sees another admission ticket to the White House through his wife, Hillary Clinton. EIGHT MORE YEARS without a mobilized, demanding participating citizenry is just that—EIGHT MORE YEARS. It’s small wonder that the editors of Fortune Magazine headlined an article last June with the title, “Who Business is Betting On?” Their answer, of course, was Hillary Clinton.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Cheney pushes to make eavesdropping law permanent (video)

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

For the complete interview go to http://therealnews.com/c.php?c=070926YT
Ratner: Cheney is misleading the American people

Sunday January 27th, 2008

see

Democrats standing up to Bush on warrantless wiretap bill by Nick Juliano

Democrats standing up to Bush on warrantless wiretap bill by Nick Juliano

Call or write your Senators today! Write To Congress

see: Stop Telecom Immunity Call Your Senators NOW! ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

by Nick Juliano
Raw Story
January 28, 2008

In the shadow of the president’s final State of the Union address, Senate Democrats are preparing for an 11th-hour showdown with George W. Bush and his Republican allies in Congress over controversial surveillance legislation.The Senate will vote Monday at 4:30 p.m. on a GOP proposal that would cement an expansion of the president’s authority to spy on Americans and free from legal jeopardy any telephone or Internet service provider who helped the country’s intelligence agencies to collect vast amount of data on US citizens without a warrant. Anti-immunity activists say they expect the GOP gambit to fail.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) successfully led an effort to block immunity in December, just before Congress’ holiday recess, and the Senate returned to the issue last week, considering dual proposals from the Intelligence and Judiciary committees. Last Thursday, Republicans and a dozen Democrats blocked Judiciary’s proposal to update FISA without immunity, but the GOP then refused an agreement that would have required a mere 51-vote majority to pass further amendments.

…continued

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, January 28, 2008

Reviewing Jennifer Van Bergen’s book

Jennifer Van Bergen is an author, activist and educator who currently teaches English and writing at Sante Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida. Professionally, she’s also a journalist, legal analyst and non-practicing attorney who’s written, spoken out and debated widely on Patriot Act justice and other civil liberties issues. Her newest book is titled “Archetypes for Writers: Using the Power of Your Subconscious.” It analyzes the component skills writers need to learn about their “own already-existing characters” through a series of exercises in the book.

Her other vitally important recent book and subject of this review is called “The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America” written in 2005. It’s a clear and powerfully relevant analysis of the threat to freedom, democracy and justice in America today under the Bush regime. As the author puts it: “(We live in a time when) civil liberties have been broadly violated to an unprecedented degree….My goal (in the book) is to lay bare what the government does and is doing, and why it is so profoundly anti-democratic” and a danger to everyone.

The book is in two parts. In Book I, Van Bergen discusses constitutional law, the types of courts and standards of review established to administer it, and the dangerous path we’re now on toward a fascist state under George Bush. Book II then reviews “The Bush Plan” for America under Patriot Act justice; the pervasive culture of fear, extreme secrecy and illegal sweeping universal surveillance; permanent state of war for world dominance; and network of barbaric torture-prisons where anyone for any reason may be labeled an “unlawful enemy combatant” and unjustly consigned to the awaiting hell within them.

Book I – Deciphering the Democratic Code

Van Bergen starts off by explaining the clear and present danger of a president who disdains the law and ignores it in pursuit of whatever he wishes. The result is “Freedom and democracy in America are in grave danger,” and all humanity is affected as well. By his actions, Van Bergen believes the Bush administration declared war on the Republic and has gone so far astray, “there may be no going back.” She may be right, it may already be too late, and she explains why in her opening chapter.

Down the Road to Fascism

Van Bergen cites the following signs of a nation “already more than three-quarters of the way down the road to fascism:” the stolen 2000 presidential election, Patriot Acts I and II, illegal mass surveillance, torture-prison gulag, culture of extreme secrecy and fear, contempt for the rule of law, a permanent state of war and more. We may already be past the tipping point of its classical definition:

— a state combining corporatism with strong elements of patriotism and nationalism;

— a claimed messianic Almighty-directed mission; and

— characterized by authoritarian rule backed by iron-fisted militarism and homeland security enforcers, mass illegal spying, and intolerance of dissent under a president who disdains the law.

Van Bergen calls these components “The Bush Plan to subvert and overthrow democratic systems” and values. It’s not just the work of one man or a group of loyalist supporters. It’s become part of our corporate culture that thrives on achieving imperial global dominance. It’s being pursued by waging war on the world under a national security Patriot Act-governed police state tolerating no dissent. Van Bergen discusses the Act briefly before getting into a more in-depth treatment in Book II. She shows how the law dilutes constitutional standards by amending and combining three separate but parallel legal systems listed below. They use different courts, are now merged and are exploited under Patriot Act justice:

(1) criminal laws and procedures,

(2) foreign intelligence law, and

(3) immigration law.

Post 9/11, Van Bergen notes people are out of the loop believing “constitutional law is hard to understand” and strictly the realm of theoreticians. How does the Constitution relate to “getting ahead in life, with making money,” she asks. It’s central to it if people begin realizing it’s what guarantees their rights in a free society without which nothing is guaranteed but government repression against anyone considered a threat, true or not. The basic laws of the land aren’t hard to understand. What’s hard is getting people to know their rights under them, realize they’re now at risk and be willing to take a stand for what they can’t afford to ignore.

The Law is King – If We Can Keep It

We like believing we’re a country of laws, not men. It’s far from true, won’t ever be unless demanded from the grassroots, and under the Bush administration it’s pure fantasy. Its officials scorn the law at home and abroad. Van Bergen counts the ways:

— refusing to adhere to the four Geneva Convention treaties that are the supreme law of the land;

— opting out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) 104 other nations belong to, including virtually all Western democracies; in addition 42 others signed the Rome Statute but haven’t yet ratified it;

— condoning torture and allowing or ignoring other human rights abuses; the Nazis called torture “Verscharfte Vernehmung,” or “enhanced interrogation” leaving few telltale signs of abuses committed; George Bush secretly authorized his own version of harsh “enhanced interrogation” in a July, 2006 executive order; it was unmentioned on October 5 when he confronted a public uproar and contemptuously stated: “This government does not torture people;” he also ignored secret Department of Justice (DOJ) legal opinions confirming his administration condones “the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the CIA;”

— scorning Bill of Rights laws that guarantee free expression, religion, assembly, representation by competent counsel in a criminal proceeding, fair and speedy trials by a jury of peers, protection from illegal searches and seizures and much more.

These and other rights are constitutionally guaranteed that in a nation of laws “is considered the bottom line” and inviolate. Not so in the age of George Bush with the DOJ and courts taking great “balancing test” liberties when the administration raises issues of national security, justified or not. Van Bergen asks “Do we want a country of laws and not of power-mongering men?” Getting it means earning it and that begins with understanding our rights and how legal systems work.

They’re all underpinned by the supreme law of the land in the benchmark Constitution most people know about but not what’s in it, what it means, and how, in fact, it works for good or ill. In spite of it, governments always side with privilege and especially capital interests. Ordinary private citizens are hard-pressed to get justice without competent and generally expensive legal counsel few can afford.

Our Individual Rights

Here Van Bergen focuses on due process, free speech and association, legal representation, and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. She notes these rights aren’t absolute because democratic governments try to balance the “good of the one” against “the good of the many” when it comes to issues of peace and security. The result is individuals often lose out for the supposed greater good that may only be the workings of a repressive state. That’s what’s happening today in America.

Due Process

Also called “procedural due process,” this term only applies when a person’s “life, liberty, or property” is at stake, and the government is constitutionally required to provide due process legal procedures so a person gets a proper defense. Often in the past, this right wasn’t afforded. Today it’s being willfully swept away under police state justice.

First Amendment Freedoms – Speech, the Press, Religion, Assembly and Association

No rights are more vital than these as without them no others are possible, but today, under George Bush, they’re being lost. As Van Bergen puts it: “democracy cannot exist without these freedoms.” Indeed not, and it’s why earlier crumbs of them are now threatened more than ever under Patriot Act justice and other harsh laws like the Military Commissions Act enacted after Van Bergen’s book was published. She points out free expression, the press and right to assemble are most threatened today even though they’re constitutionally guaranteed.

That doesn’t deter George Bush who on July 17, 2007 issued another of his “one-man” Executive Order (EO) decrees “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.” Nothing in the Constitution implicitly or explicitly allows for EOs, but once issued, even illegally, they become the law of the land unless or until courts rule otherwise. This one criminalizes dissent so that all anti-war protests are now illegal, and persons participating in them are subject to arrest, prosecution and loss of their property. That’s how a police state works, and that’s the condition in America under George Bush’s contemptuous flouting of the law to crush all opposition.

Fourth Amendment Rights

This law protects people from illegal searches and seizures, it’s not absolute under the best of conditions, and it’s practically null and void today. Later in her book, Van Bergen shows how the Patriot Act allows the government “to mix standards from different, incompatible areas of law” (such as criminal investigations, foreign intelligence and immigration) that amounts to a “witch’s brew….of ingredients poisonous to a democratic government or way of life.”

The Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel

This law provides that defendants shall “have the assistance of counsel” in all criminal prosecutions during and prior to trial and to free assistance if unable to pay for it. In addition, attorney-client confidentiality and privilege are protected under law. Patriot Act justice threatens these rights for immigrants, so-called “unlawful enemy combatants,” cases in which the government feels national security trumps confidentiality, and in situations where lawyers (like Lynne Stewart) are targeted for defending “unpopular” clients.

Van Bergen concludes this section saying 9/11 changed everything, the gloves came off, and constitutionally protected rights no longer apply at the government’s discretion. Real democracies don’t work that way, America always fell short in the past, but the bar was lowered to bottom-scraping standards post-9/11. Now the unjustifiable is justified in the name of national security because the president says so, law or no law. That, however, openly constitutes “an exact reversal of the principles in our Constitution.” That’s the condition today and why Van Bergen’s book is so important to explain it.

The Constitutional Code

Van Bergen calls the constitutional doctrines of separation of powers, judicial review and probable cause “code words invest(ing) the Constitution with meaning.” How they’re abused, however, explains a lot about today’s frightening situation under a president who thinks and acts (in his words) like the Constitution is “just a goddamned piece of paper.”

1. Separation of Powers

The framers crafted a government in three parts so no one of them got too much power although it never worked out that way from the start. Nonetheless, their idea was for the legislative branch to make laws, the executive to execute them, and the judiciary to interpret them. The doctrine is called the “separation of powers” that’s the “core protection against tyranny” if enforced and utterly meaningless if not like today under George Bush.

Since 9/11, Democrats and Republicans abdicated their responsibility and have marched ever since in lockstep on virtually everything the administration wants. Rhetoric aside, almost nothing’s changed to this day in spite of six and a half years of disastrous and reckless governance outside the law. Van Bergen sums it up saying, in the absence of checks and balances, “government power (has) run amok” under the Bush Plan.

2. Judicial Review

According to law professor Jethro Lieberman, judicial review is “the power of courts to declare laws and acts of government unconstitutional” although nothing in the Constitution allows this practice. Van Bergen adds, without this check on the other two branches, there’s “no remedy for bad laws (and in fact) no democracy.” It differs from the notion of “judicial supremacy” meaning the High Court is the final arbiter on all constitutional issues.

3. Court Stripping

Examples of this practice are found in extremist laws like the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Law (AEDPA), Patriot Acts I and II and other recent legislation as they restrict the ability of courts to review executive actions, and that’s not how democratic states function.

4. Probable Cause

Under the Fourth Amendment, neither arrest or search warrants are allowed without evidence of “probable cause” of criminal activity. The Bush administration, however, views all legal constraints as quaint and fanciful. It simply sweeps them away to do as it pleases to target anyone for any reason, real or concocted, in its sham “war on terrorism.” Weak as they always were, post-9/11, constitutional protections are now an illusion. They simply no longer exist despite all the pretense they do.

Types of Courts and Standards of Review

Van Bergen lists four types today, each functioning under very different legal standards:

— regular federal civil and criminal courts called an “Article III court;” here, in theory, convictions depend on there being proof beyond a reasonable doubt; in practice, justice depends on how much of it defendants can buy in the form of competent legal counsel, and too few people can buy enough or any;

— immigration (or Executive branch) courts that rule on asylum and deportation issues; they’re also called the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR); these courts administer immigration law and handle cases under it involving asylum, deportation, immigration crimes and detentions pending review;

— military courts and tribunals don’t come under the federal civil justice system; they’re for trying members of the armed services under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and are used under the oppressive Military Commissions Act for anyone the president calls an “unlawful enemy combatant,” real or imagined; the greatest danger these courts pose is that under a real or concocted state of emergency, the president can declare martial law, suspend the Constitution, and consign any targeted individual to justice under these courts with no trial by jury, no habeas rights, no assigned competent defense counsel, and no right of appeal;

— FISA courts (or FISC made up of 11 district court justices) rule on obtaining foreign intelligence warrants under which no Fourth Amendment protections apply; The Patriot Act amended FISA to allow surveillance of US citizens whenever the administration claims it relates to a foreign intelligence investigation with obvious implications what this means; the Democrat-led Congress went even further in early August as discussed below.

The above-listed courts operate under hugely differing standards, and Van Bergen notes a stark one in the case of military tribunals where civilians may now be tried on the whim of the president. In these courts, due process is a fantasy as they’re run by, untrained in civil law, military officers, yet they’re empowered to render final judgments, beyond appeal, up to and including death sentences. Serious abuses are common enough in civil and criminal courts. In immigration, FISA and military ones, the notion of due process and fair and equal justice under the law is a non-starter.

All the above examples today, in fact, add up to a shredding of notions of “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” due process under the law, and “probable cause of criminal activity” to justify arrests and searches in the age of George Bush. Van Bergen notes under the Patriot Act alone, criminal constitutional procedural standards are severely undermined so that the rule of law no longer applies any time the government says so. That’s pretty scary if you’re the target.

Book II – “The Bush Plan”

Here Van Bergen gets into the meat of her book under “The Bush Plan” that contains “the elements of fascism.”

The Demise of Democracy – Part One

Intentional or not, the Bush administration charted a post-9/11 course straight toward a full-blown national security fascist police state. It already has all its oppressive trappings dressed up in modern-day garb, including high-sounding, fear-engendering, doublespeak language disguising it. Strip off the mask and here’s a look:

— Patriot Acts I and II,

— the Military Commissions Act (aka the “torture authorization act” and much more),

— a permanent state of preventive wars under the concocted doctrine of “anticipatory self-defense” using first strike nuclear weapons;

— a climate of fear and extreme secrecy;

— universal illegal surveillance for any purpose all the time;

— disdain for domestic and international law with George Bush unconstitutionally usurping “unitary executive” powers Chalmers Johnson calls a “bald-faced assertion of presidential supremacy….dressed up in legalistic mumbo jumbo;”

— criminalizing dissent (Jefferson called “the highest form of patriotism”) through legislation and illegal “one-man” decree Executive Orders;

— stealing elections;

— shredding civil liberties and rendering human rights a non-starter;

— controlling information through the dominant mass media functioning as collective national thought police gatekeepers “filtering” in all acceptable state propaganda and suppressing all vital and relevant information and analysis;

— rampant corruption in a corporatocracy;

— a culture of out-of-control militarism, and much more under the phony “war on terrorism” making democracy in America pure fantasy.

Van Bergen reviews all of the above in detail and other elements Laurence W. Britt listed in his article titled “Fascism Anyone?” Her conclusion: “Using Britt’s list, it is no stretch to call the Bush government fascist….if Britt is believed, we’re already there.”

The Patriot Act – Part Two

Van Bergen states this act gives “tremendous powers to central authorities, undermine(s) civil liberties, and enable(s) suppression of opposition.” It’s the “mainstay of government oppressive power (as it) authorizes and codifies a near-absolute and permanent invasion of (our) private lives, sets vast precedents in immigration law….dissolving….human rights (and erecting) a massive law enforcement apparatus (targeting) immigrant(s) and citizen(s) (worldwide).”

Van Bergen discusses the issues below before getting into the meat of the Act that opens the way for a vast menu of other abuses.

Guantanamo, Enemy Combatants, and Abu Ghraib

The Bush Administration usurped the unconstitutional right to detain any foreign national or US citizen without evidence and deny them due process, habeas or competent counsel with the right of appeal. It also flouts domestic and international laws it denounces as “quaint and out of date.” It won’t allow them or any nation, body or individual to impede its plans for unchallengeable worldwide imperial dominance. Anyone in the way may be consigned to torture-prison hellholes like Guanatanamo that was purposefully placed on foreign soil because those locations present a “minimal ‘litigation risk.’ ” Being offshore was believed to make possible the denial of due process, habeas and judicial review rights as well as to be able to hold detainees beyond the law indefinitely.

Iraq: Preemptive war and International law

Van Bergen states “The invasion of Iraq established the doctrine of preemptive (or preventive) war” with the US usurping an illegal right to attack another nation it claims is a current or future threat with no justifiable evidence to prove it. The 1945 Nuremberg Charter said doing that is the “supreme international crime against peace” that constitutes the worst of all crimes of war and against humanity. Van Bergen asserts attacking Iraq (and Afghanistan) “signal(s) an end of the rule of law and avoid(ance) of accountability on a global scale.” She cites other examples of contempt for the law as well.

The Coup in Haiti

The US has a long and disturbing history of intervening in Haiti’s affairs, deposing its leaders, and replacing them with acceptable puppets. The Bush administration continued this practice on February 29, 2004 when US Marines abducted and forcibly removed democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and flew him against his will to the repressive Central African Republic. Today he remains in exile in South Africa vowing to return even though the Bush administration asserts the right to prevent him from doing it.

US administrations have deposed many foreign leaders, and the Bush administration violates international laws “left and right,” so what’s the significance of Haiti, asks Van Bergen? “There is no (other) ‘third world’ country (anywhere) closer (in proximity) to the US,” it’s also the “first (ever) black republic,” the sole one in the Western Hemisphere, and it won its independence through armed rebellion against repressive French foreign rule. Haiti is much like what former Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz said about his own country: “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the US.” Proximity to America has been Haiti’s curse for over 200 years, and it still is.

Withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC)

The ICC was created by the 1998 Rome Statute and established in 2002 to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war. As of mid-2007, 146 countries signed the Statute and 104 ratified it to become members except for a big absentee – America with Van Bergen saying withdrawing from the ICC (after the Clinton administration signed the Statute) “frees up the United States from international accountability for war crimes.” The Bush administration made sure over 100 nations won’t extradite Americans to the Hague by signing Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIAs) with them, and in August, 2002, Congress passed the American Servicemembers Protection Act (called the Hague Invasion Act) authorizing the President “any means necessary” to secure release of any American detained by or on behalf of the Court.

Prosecutions and Proceedings

Activists are prime Bush administration targets in its effort to crush all dissent and opposition. It’s using the Patriot Act to do it along with bending other current and obscure older laws to bring criminal indictments. Then on July 17, George Bush issued another Executive Order criminalizing dissent by targeting anyone opposing the administration’s Iraq war effort with threats to seize their property. Another EO followed August 2 against anyone seen undermining Lebanon’s corrupted pro-Western government claiming “Such actions constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Van Bergen notes these type actions by individuals or groups signal the notion that “activists = terrorists” and linking them together is the administration’s way to control, suppress and remove all opposition it finds threatening. Activists are being targeted by grand jury subpoenas. Before them they’re required to testify about unspecified federal law violations and then later allow that testimony to be used against them to charge perjury for some slightly incorrect or inaccurate statements.

Data Mining under MATRIX

MATRIX is a data mining effort standing for the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Exchange Program that police and federal authorities are using in some states. It’s a form of mass scrutiny over the lives and activities of innocent people to learn if targets exhibit signs of being a terrorist or other type criminal.

MATRIX creates a “terrorism quotient” or High Terrorist Factor (HTF) that measures the likelihood individuals in the database are terrorists. Van Bergen noted the ACLU believes the program is “an effort to recreate the discredited Total Information Awareness (TIA) data mining program at the state level.” It shows the federal authorities are deep into efforts at all levels to spy on US citizens. MATRIX is an unprecedented effort to do it within or outside the law. It constitutes a massive invasion of privacy and violates our rights in a free society and is one of many repressive post-9/11 unconstitutional tools the nation’s 16 spy agencies are using against us.

The Constitution doesn’t specifically mention a right to privacy, but Supreme Court decisions affirmed it over the years as a fundamental human right. As such, it’s protected under the Ninth Amendment as well as the Third prohibiting the quartering of troops in homes, the Fourth affording protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the Fifth protecting against self-incrimination. MATRIX and other intrusions enhance Patriot Act powers allowing them to persist outside of congressional oversight and judicial review. It’s another part of the overall scheme to subvert the rule of law under George Bush police state justice.

Secrecy

The Bush administration built a culture of extreme secrecy from the start. Van Bergen call this trait the “watchword of the Bush adminstration” by quoting Judge Keith of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals saying “Democracy dies behind closed doors” where under this administration they’re locked shut and bolted. Policy for the last six and a half years has been a “blatant power grab….an American coup, an American military dictatorship (and) an American fascist empire” that’s highlighted by what’s going on at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other torture-prisons free from oversight or public scrutiny.

Van Bergen sums up saying the Bush administration exhibits the “common threads found in all fascist states,” and that should scare everyone. This government, she says, is run “by a ruling elite of (extremist Christian) religious fanatics” wielding “unrestrained oppressive power” violating constitutional law, including the most precious of our rights under the First Amendment. It’s flouted the rule of law and smashed civil liberties after “sull(ying) the name and reputation of the United States Supreme Court” by using the Court’s authority to seize power lawlessly and keep it. Ever since, it’s been on the march for total world dominance and now threatens all humanity by its out-of-control actions.

The Patriot Act – Mainstay of Oppressive Power

Van Bergen calls this act “the most vivid component of the Bush Plan.” Its danger lies in placing too much unchecked power in executive branch hands that creates an “enabling structure for fascism and oligarchy” that endangers democracy. Specifically, the act creates three main threats to civil liberties: the erosion of due process, freedom of association, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and as a consequence, the loss of privacy.

(1) The Threat to Due Process

The Patriot Act threatens due process in two ways:

— by permitting indefinite detentions of undocumented immigrants, it represents a slippery slope as law professor David Cole explains: “(W)hat we do to foreign nationals today often paves the way for what will be done to American citizens tomorrow,” and it’s already happening under the concocted notion of “unlawful enemy combatants” anyone for any reason can be called and face prosecution.

— by the act’s “designation provision” that authorizes the Attorney General or Secretary of State to call a foreign organization a terrorist group even if it isn’t. Further, the administrative designation is sealed to effectively render it beyond review or challenge.

(2) The Threat to Freedom of Association

“Designation” also threatens freedom of association as aliens and US citizens may be charged and prosecuted because of their claimed association with an “undesirable group.” Van Bergen notes that post-9/11, many thousands of Muslims and Arabs were illegally rounded up, detained, imprisoned, abused, tortured and/or deported solely because of their faith. By Bush administration reasoning, Muslims = “terrorists” and “Islamofascists,” especially those not white enough.

(3) The Fourth Amendment Threat: Surveillance and Privacy

Patriot Act privacy issues fall under FISA that just got worse as prior to its August recess Congress cravenly caved to the politics of fear and hastily passed the White House crafted Protect America Act 2007 that amends FISA with doublespeak language Orwell would love.

The new law supposedly closes so-called “communication gaps” but will allow virtual unrestricted mass data-mining, monitoring, and intercept of domestic and foreign internet, cell phones and other new technology as well as transit international phone call traffic and emails. The Act claims to restrict surveillance to foreign nationals “reasonably believed to be outside the United States” and will sunset in six months unless renewed as Congress is about to do for at least most of its provisions for six years. In fact, this law targets everyone, including US citizens inside the country, if the AG or DNI claim they pose a potential terrorist or national security threat, and no evidence is needed to prove it. Further, in an election year, renewal is virtually guaranteed with even harsher provisions added.

In point of fact, the new law allows near-unrestricted warrantless spying of anyone at the discretion of the AG or DNI. It thus renders any notion of illegal searches and privacy rights null and void. The Act effectively legalizes illegality by Fourth Amendment standards that Patriot Act provisions pretty much swept away earlier. This is how things work in a police state where laws render privacy issues (and all other freedoms) null and void, and everyone is under constant surveillance and stripped of their rights.

When FISA was enacted, it was done to collect “foreign intelligence information” between or among “foreign powers” with FISC warrants only targeting foreigners. The Patriot Act then amended the law to effectively target anyone the government so designates as long as it relates “to an ongoing investigation (for a) significant foreign intelligence purpose.” Van Bergen highlights the threat (now even greater) with this example: “if you speak to a friend or relative in the Middle East and that person gave money….to an (humanitarian aid providing) organization….suspected of ties to terrorism….you are a legitimate target for wire, phone, or computer taps under FISA.” Even worse, you can be charged with terrorism, arrested, tried in a military tribunal as an “unlawful enemy combatant” and renditioned to a torture-prison hellhole forever – for having made an innocent phone call.

Van Bergen concludes saying the Patriot Act (even without the new Protect America Act) is so sweeping in scope, it’s impossible relating everything about it in a short book, let alone this review. Instead, she highlighted areas in it relating to civil rights protections affecting due process and under the First and Fourth Amendments. This oppressive act severely weakened them and with prosecutorial finesse effectively renders them null and void that threatens everyone with police state justice in the age of George Bush.

Ashcroft’s Way – A Closer Look at the Patriot Act

In the hands of a man like former Attorney General John Ashcroft (as well as Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey), laws like the Patriot Act become repressive police state tools that sweep aside the rule of law. Van Bergen shows how easily this Act can be twisted and misused by citing assertions about it Ashcroft made to justify its use and under what circumstances.

Preserving Life and Liberty

Ashcroft gave four reasons to justify using the Patriot Act to, in his judgment, preserve life and liberty.

(1) It provides tools for investigating terrorism and other crime while ignoring that laws were already available to do it pre-Patriot. DOJ claims the new law provides enhanced enforcement by strengthening its use of surveillance that was never prohibited in the past but wasn’t as unrestricted as now under Patriot. Unlike before, this Act denies constitutional protections nominally in place for all type criminal investigations pre-Patriot, and therein lies its danger.

(2) The Act allows “roving (telephone) wiretaps” that apply to the person, not the place. Thus, if someone uses different phones, all of them may be tapped. DOJ claims this provision allows federal agents to “follow sophisticated terrorists trained to evade detection.” Van Bergen explains these taps don’t require probable cause of criminal behavior and thus evade constitutional protections. Under Patriot, federal agents are immune from Fourth Amendment restrictions against unreasonable searches and seizures that renders this protection null and void for everyone.

(3) The Act allows what’s called “sneak and peak” searches through issuance of “delayed notice” warrants. Under it, targets aren’t notified until a later time and at the government’s discretion so investigators won’t tip off suspects in advance. Again, this type warrant has been available for decades provided law enforcers could show a judge it was justified under special conditions. That’s all changed now, and anything goes for any criminal investigation involving a physical or electronic search.

(4) Patriot gives federal agents court-ordered access to “third party records” of all kinds – financial, medical, educational, virtually anything requested. For any national security claimed purpose, it allows the government to pry into any aspect of our lives, justified or not.

Information Sharing

Ashcroft claimed the “Patriot Act facilitated information sharing and cooperation among government agencies so they can better ‘connect the dots.’ ” Van Bergen notes separate government agencies never were impeded from working together, but Patriot tore down built-in safeguards against abuses that are now a thing of the past. Today under the Act, our constitutionally-protected civil liberties are severely compromised and effectively off the table because of the latitude law enforcement is now allowed under this law.

In a word, the Patriot Act poses real dangers to democratic freedoms that are now on very shaky footing. In fact, they’re practically non-existent at the whim of law enforcers who can operate ad libitum in the name of national security that’s freely interpreted to mean virtually anything. Van Bergen asks: “(Is it) ever wise to leave our liberty and our country in the unaccountable hands of those who by their positions must always be ‘cast in the role of adversary’ against those whose liberties they seek to invade.” Answer: never, especially if the “adversaries” are in the Bush administration.

The Cheney Plan for Global Dominance

Van Bergen lays out the threat straightaway saying if there’s any doubt about the Bush administration’s “fascist and imperial objectives,” the “Cheney Plan for global dominance must quell it.” Under GHW Bush, Defense Secretary Cheney and his undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz were tasked to shape America’s post-Cold War strategy. Wolfowitz and convicted and commuted Cheney aide Lewis Libby drafted the scheme in their Defense Planning Guidance some call the Wolfowitz doctrine. It was so extreme, it was kept under wraps until it was leaked to the New York Times. Its exposure got it shelved until it was revived under GW Bush in 2001 as an updated scheme for world dominance. It’s spelled out clearly in the 2002 National Security Strategy (NSS) that was revised in 2006 in even more extreme form.

NSS is an “imperial grand strategy” declaration of preemptive or preventive war against any country or force the administration claims threatens our national security, true or false. Along with the 2001 Nuclear Policy Review, it gives the government the unilateral right to declare and wage future wars using first strike nuclear weapons under the doctrine of “anticipatory self-defense” that has no basis in international law or anywhere else outside Washington. Van Bergen explains that “the Cheney Plan (aka the Bush Plan)….is an exceedingly dangerous doctrine” in play in the Middle East and Central Asia that may be cataclysmic if it’s unleashed in its most extreme form.

Global Dominance in Action – Military Necessity or War Crimes? – Violating the Geneva and Hague Conventions

As a signatory to the Geneva and Hague Conventions, these laws are the supreme law of the land under the Constitution, but that hasn’t deterred the Bush administration from defying their letter and spirit. No signatory nation is exempt from Geneva and Hague, and violating their provisions constitutes a serious and punishable breach of sacred law. Van Bergen calls any of numerous instances she noted a war crime and “Taken together, they are an outrage against humanity and the law of nations.”

She also brings up the “Doctrine of Military Necessity” that involves lawful measures indispensable in the conduct of war. It’s important to note this notion doesn’t justify violating international humanitarian law or our own Constitution. “A real necessity,” like launching D-Day, is “obvious,” Van Bergen explains. But mass-slaughtering innocent civilians in Fallujah can’t be justified for any reason nor is waging aggressive wars against non-threatening nations, and saying it’s for national security meets no acceptable international law standard.

Epilogue – Detainees and Torture

The final part of Van Bergen’s book provides still more proof of the Bush administration’s “broad assault” against long-standing, rock-solid rule of law principles. Its scorn for the law opened the door for more extreme violations that are nonchalantly accepted as standard practice under “war on terrorism” rules that changed everything. They don’t and won’t ever under any conditions. Yet, the Pentagon and DOJ “developed the breathtaking legal argument that the President, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, was not bound by US or international laws prohibiting torture when acting to protect national security.”

Torture

Van Bergen cites Bush’s frequent use of the death penalty and indifference to human suffering when he was Texas governor. In fact, his flippant attitude showed up much earlier and now he flaunts it. The Patriot Act made current practices possible by “help(ing) set the stage for government endorsed torture.” Under this repressive law, the nation regressed to “barbarian times” reminiscent of the worst of the Spanish Inquisition and Nazi era. Van Bergen stresses no society claiming to be a “liberty-protecting one” can justify “human rights abuses in response to a terrorist attack” or for any other reason. Any country violating these sacred precepts must be held to account and made to answer for their serious crimes against humanity, and that’s what the ICC is in place to do.

On July 19, 2007, well after the publication of Van Bergen’s book, George Bush displayed his contempt for the law in another sweeping executive order (EO). According to AP, he “breathed new life into the CIA’s terror interrogation program (aka no holds barred torture) that would allow harsh questioning of suspects limited in public only by a vaguely worded ban (signifying none whatever) on cruel and inhuman treatment.” The order pretends to prohibit some practices, “to quell international criticism,” describes them only vaguely, and doesn’t say what practices are still allowed. The Bush administration insists its interrogation operation is one of its most important tools in the “war on terrorism.” Bottom line – ugly business as usual will continue unchanged and unchecked, except for doublespeak language that signifies only deception from a president exposed as a serial liar.

The Detainee Decisions – by the US Supreme Court

Van Bergen notes recent detainee decisions of great “importance to the future of this country.” In Rasul v. Bush in June, 2004, the Court settled the jurisdictional question regarding Guantanamo detainees. It ruled the US exercises “complete jurisdiction and control (of the territory and) Aliens held (there), like American citizens, are entitled to invoke the federal courts’ authority” under their habeas rights.

On the same day, the Court ruled on Hamdi (a US citizen) v. Rumsfeld and granted his habeas right to challenge his detention as an “unlawful enemy combatant.” Then in June, 2006, the Court ruled on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and held that military commissions set up to try Guantanamo detainees lack “the power to proceed because (their) structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949.”

Van Bergen calls habeas the “Great Writ of Liberty” that dates back to 12th century England and long considered sacrosanct and inviolable – but not to the Bush regime. By its Inquisition era rules, habeas, probable cause, due process and half or more of the Bill of Rights amendments are null and void in the name of national security that denies it to us.

National Security Courts and Torture Warrants

The notion that (undefined) “terrorists” are military enemies who justify war, and not criminals, is offensive and illegal. Van Bergen points out doing it “creates another parallel legal system (and it ignores) a primary condition of battle, visible combat.” The very idea of a “war on terrorism” is doublespeak fraud. It’s nothing more than a devious scheme for a broader agenda that needs fictitious “outside enemy” threats as justification. That’s what made Osama bin Laden “Enemy Number One” along with Al Queda even though the CIA created them both to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Making them fearsome enough and on the loose opens the door to all sorts of abuses that are passed off as justifiable self-defense under the Bush regime. In the name of national security, it’s gotten away with aggressive wars, torture, indefinite detentions, repressive laws and an end to democracy in America that was on shaky ground pre-9/11 and now is kaput. This happened because our judicial and core constitutional systems were separated and left “outside the protections of the Constitution and international laws.” We keep heaping new kinds of oppression on top of old ones that deepen the problem instead of working to rectify it.

Van Bergen ends her book saying these actions recruit more enemies and make the world less safe. Another way is needed, and it ought to start with “learn(ing) about the lessons of our own sometimes violent history and recall and reclaim the fundamental, lost ideals that we have forgotten” and sadly only paid lip service to for more than two centuries.

Global Research Associate Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on TheMicroEffect.com Mondays at noon US central time.


The Twlight of Democracy by Jennifer Van Bergen can be ordered from Amazon athttp://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Democracy-Bush-Plan-America/dp/1567512925
Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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The murdering of the Kucinich campaign By Jack Balkwill

Dandelion Salad

By Jack Balkwill
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jan 28, 2008, 00:48

The Dennis Kucinich campaign was destroyed by the corporate media for trying to represent the public interest.

At the start of his campaign, corporate media did not cover Kucinich because he refused to take the bribes. The transnational investors who own corporate media, or represent its interests on corporate boards, or advertise in it for control, do not trust anyone to be president who does not take the bribes.

So at the start of our modern presidential campaigns, all of the talk is about who raised the most cash from transnational investors who don’t give a damn about this country or its people.

Next, corporate media cited the lack of campaign funding for Kucinich as the reason they did not cover him. “Hillary has more money from the nuclear mafia and Medical industrial complex than any other candidate” they recognized, “so we have to give her tens of millions of dollars of free coverage.” Same for all of the corporate CEOs; Clinton, Edwards, Obama.

All that free publicity for the CEOs moved their polling numbers up until, voila, corporate media could exclude Kucinich because he was not as well known. Finally, they simply refused to let him into the debates.

When Kucinich was allowed into debates and got brief chances to speak, the audiences went wild. It was a rare time when a candidate spoke to their issues, the public interest. This forced other Democrats to move toward Kucinich positions, at least in rhetoric, to win audience share.

…continued

***

freepresssheesh_0

h/t: After Downing Street

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Kucinich-Dennis