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Only Blind Partisans And Fools Still Back Bush
by Bill Gallagher
Niagara Falls Reporter
appearing on rense.com
February 10, 2004

Only blind partisans and fools would now argue that the Bush administration's estimates of the threat of Saddam Hussein were anything more than wild exaggerations used to sell the war to the American people, done with the disgraceful compliance and assistance of corporate media.

DETROIT -- For George W. Bush and company, these are good, bad and ugly days -- very little good, a lot of bad and mostly ugly. A series of events are converging. Past lies and flawed polices are now apparent. The administration built on the four Ds -- deception, debt, dirt and deals -- is now in serious disarray and the American people are catching on.

You know Bush is getting desperate when he makes an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." He was often hesitant and always evasive. Host Tim Russert let him get away with some whoppers.

Bush repeated over and over that Saddam Hussein was a threat to us with or without weapons of mass destruction, but never really explained how that threat was manifested. George W. admitted he "sounded like a broken record," which was the most truthful thing he said in the interview.

He dodged and danced around his being AWOL from his National Guard duties and Russert let him off. Bush had the nerve to say that critics of his wild spending are wrong and that "discretionary spending has declined" under his leadership.

That is simply not true. Who is the biggest spender of them all, the conservative "National Review" asks? The percentage increase of discretionary federal spending has skyrocketed 8.2 percent from 2002 to 2004 under Bush's spend-and-borrow policies. Keep in mind that discretionary spending under those liberal Democrats, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, grew only 2 percent and 2.5 percent respectively during their administrations. Mix in a $500 billion deficit and we have in George W. Bush the most fiscally reckless president we've ever had. Russert should have pointed that out to his viewers.

The president's naming of a commission to investigate intelligence failures used to justify the war in Iraq is simply a political move aimed at defusing criticism, placing blame anywhere but on the White House, and making sure the findings are not released until after the November election.

A truly independent commission would include members that Democratic congressional leaders would name. Remember, Bush vehemently opposed creating such a panel in the first place and yielded only when is was clear the failure to find vast arsenals of illicit weapons in Iraq had become a political liability.

Only blind partisans and fools would now argue that the Bush administration's estimates of the threat of Saddam Hussein were anything more than wild exaggerations used to sell the war to the American people, done with the disgraceful compliance and assistance of corporate media. Intelligence is simply information. The real issue is how the Bush crowd "cherry-picked," hyped, distorted, shaped and used information selectively to build the case for a war of choice, and how they systematically excluded the use of information that pointed away from the conclusions the warmongers had already made.

The president has not asked the commission for a candid examination of how the White House presented the intelligence. That's much too dangerous.

Recall how detailed the deception was. In last year's State of the Union address, Bush told us, with certainty, that Iraq had stashes of weapons of mass destruction, including "30,000 warheads, 500 tons of chemical weapons, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulism toxin, 1 million pounds of sarin mustard and VX nerve gas and tons of yellowcake uranium." The president claimed Iraq had bought the uranium from the African country of Niger. Field Marshall Rumsfeld told us he knew "exactly" where these weapons were hidden.

CIA Director George Tenet now admits, for the first time, that, yes indeed, the spy agency may have overestimated Iraq's illicit weapons capacity. Tenet denied any political interference from policy-makers. I guess he forgets Vice President Cheney's Saturday morning visits and reviews of the CIA's homework.

Tenet made his defense in a speech at Georgetown University, but what was most interesting was what he didn't mention. Not a word about the myth that Saddam was shopping for enriched uranium. Most telling, no mention whatsoever of any link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, one of the most repeated and effective lies in the phony case for war.

There certainly is a link, though, between al-Qaeda and many of the detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as enemy combatants. Most were apprehended in Afghanistan and were loyalists of Osama bin Laden, the real bad guy and the brains and money behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The United Press International did a detailed survey of the nationalities of the detainees and, lo and behold, 160 of the 650 -- almost one-quarter of the total -- are from Saudi Arabia, the most dangerous terrorist-breeding nation on earth.

While the Saudis are No. 1 in the nationality breakdown at GITMO, there is exactly one Iraqi there. George W. Bush has mentioned Iraq, Saddam, terrorism and Sept. 11 countless times in the same paragraph. Can anyone recall a single time the president has ever mentioned Saudi-spawned terrorism, the kind that kills and threatens Americans? He never will. Too many family business pals there.

Again yielding to political pressure from the families of the victims, the president has agreed to give the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission a two-month extension to do its work. That's a good thing, especially since the administration's resistance is the reason the panel is behind schedule.

National Security Adviser "Concealeezza" Rice was most reluctant to testify before the commission, but her petulance is paying off. The "New York Observer" reports Rice has been promised her interview will not be held under oath and her testimony will not be made public.

Former Nebraska senator Bob Kerrey, now a member of the commission, says, "I'm very much interested in following up on the statement Condoleezza Rice made at her famous press conference in '02 that 'I don't think anybody could have predicted ... that they would try to use an airplane as a missile,'" Kerrey told the paper. "I don't believe that." Does anyone?

Vice President Cheney's having bad and ugly days all of his own devious making. His old company Halliburton is again caught cheating the taxpayers. Pentagon auditors found the company overbilled the U.S. government $27.4 million for meals for troops in Iraq and Kuwait. The company has promised to refund the money, which is no big deal since Halliburton has already raked in $8 billion in war-related contracts.

The government of Nigeria is investigating allegations that Halliburton paid $180 million in bribes to land a $4 billion natural gas project there while Cheney was CEO. The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are also looking into the deal that happened during Cheney's watch.

Halliburton's corporate motto ought to be "Bribe, steal, but promise to pay if you're caught."

We are now learning more about Cheney's duck-hunting vacation in Louisiana with Supreme Court Justice Antonin "Tony the Thug" Scalia, the administration's favorite member of the high court. Scalia doesn't see any problem with this social intimacy with Ceney while the Supreme Court is reviewing a case involving the vice president's fight to keep secret the details of his energy policy task force and how people like Enron's disgraced Ken Lay got to help craft that policy.

Scalia traveled with Cheney on a government jet to a private hunting camp in a secluded bayou. The camp is owned by Wallace Carline, a multimillionaire oil services company mogul and big-time Republican campaign contributor. Scalia certainly didn't pay a nickel for his cushy, taxpayer-provided transportation, and I'll bet anything neither he nor Cheney paid for their plush accommodations.

New York University law professor Stephen Gillers tells the Los Angeles Times that Scalia should recuse himself from Cheney's case. "If the vice president is the source of the generosity, it means Scalia is accepting a gift of some value from a litigant in a case before him," Gillers says. "It is not just a trip with a litigant. It's a trip at the expense of the litigant. This is an easy case for stepping aside."

Cheney and Scalia are shameless, but nothing rivals the shame in Texas, where a man suffering from profound mental illness is set to be executed.

Forty-five-year-old Scott Louis Panetti shot his wife's parents to death in 1992. His crime came after being diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness more than a dozen years before the killings. He often hallucinated, committed violent acts and was hospitalized 11 times. He refused to take his medication. His wife took Panetti's guns to the police, but they returned them to the sick and increasingly out-of-control man.

The Texas judge allowed Panetti to represent himself at his trial, and records show he engaged in bizarre behavior and rambled nonsensically. A lawyer who monitored the trial says Panetti had no grasp of reality.

Amnesty International is pleading that Panetti be spared execution. In the civilized world, he would be institutionalized for the rest of his life, but not in Texas.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their buddy Tony Scalia support this barbarism that makes the rest of the world look at us with utter amazement.

One nation's got it ever so right and we can only pray that its wisdom can be exported from our biggest trading partner. A poll in "Maclean's" magazine shows only 15 percent of the Canadian people would vote for George W. Bush if they had the opportunity.

Polite, humorous people, in a tolerant society with great beer, fine Chinese food and universal health coverage, achieve wonderful political wisdom.

I love the headline: "Canadians to Bush: Hope You Lose, Eh?"

Me, too.

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is gallaghernewsman@aol.com.

Niagara Falls Reporter February 10 2004

Posted: February 11, 2004


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