Monday, October 31, 2005

The price of incompetence

Gerald Rellick: 'The price of incompetence'
Posted on Monday, October 31 @ 09:52:57 EST
Gerald Rellick

In 1988 Michael Dukakis ran for the presidency on the theme, "It's all about competence." Dukakis led George H.W. Bush in the polls throughout much of the campaign, but then made the mistake of posing in full gear atop an Army tank as it rumbled along the terrain. It's true that he looked silly, but to any intelligent observer it was just more campaign hokum and high jinx, another uneventful day for reporters on the boring campaign trail. But it didn't play out that way. The media pounced on the event, and the Bush campaign played it for all it was worth, which it turned out was a lot. Yes, there was the Willie Horton ad and CNN's Bernard Shaw's mean-spirited question in the debates about a hypothetical rape of Dukakis's wife, but the tank photo was the death knell of the Dukakis campaign.

Dukakis was wrong: The campaign was not about competence; it was about appearances. He miscalculated the intelligence of the American media and the American public. So, we might ask, was George W. Bush any less foolish looking when he landed on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in full flight gear two months after the start of the Iraq war, pronouncing "Mission Accomplished?" The difference was that Bush's stunt was orchestrated by his chief puppeteer, Karl Rove, who understood very well what the lapdog media was eager to feed on. As hokey as it seemed to many, Bush's photo-op hit the right tone, and by all accounts, was a success.

Karl Rove has by now shown himself to be the Dr. Frankenstein of American politics, and George W. Bush is his monstrous creation. Granted, Rove's miscreant is new and improved compared to Dr. Frankenstein's monster - better looking and without the bolt through his neck, but just as dumb, and possessing the same language skills as the creature who roamed the Transylvania countryside.

But there is a limit to what even Karl Rove can do, and now the Dukakis theme of competence in government is back in vogue and back to haunt Rove's creation as never before. We witnessed this in the now-aborted Harriet Miers nomination. While the extreme right wing was focused on the issue of Roe vs. Wade, more moderate and thoughtful conservatives such as George Will, William Kristol and former Reagan speech writer, Peggy Noonan, were incensed at Bush's obvious cronyism and his disrespect for the stature of the Supreme Court.....

US ‘had no policy’ in place to rebuild Iraq

US ‘had no policy’ in place to rebuild Iraq
By Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington
Published: October 30 2005

The US government had “no comprehensive policy or regulatory guidelines” in place for staffing the management of postwar Iraq, according to the top government watchdog overseeing the country’s reconstruction.

The lack of planning had plagued reconstruction since the US-led invasion, and been exacerbated by a “general lack of co-ordination” between US government agencies charged with the rebuilding of Iraq, said Stuart Bowen, the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction, in a report released on Sunday.

His 110-page quarterly report, delivered to Congress at the weekend, has underscored how a “reconstruction gap” is emerging that threatens to leave many projects planned by the US on the drawing board.

“Nearly two years ago, the US developed a reconstruction plan that specified a target number of projects that would be executed using the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund.

“That number was revised downward [last year]. Now it appears that the actual number of projects completed will be even lower,” Mr Bowen says in his report.

Increasing security costs were “the most salient” reason behind the shortfall, he concluded.

While 93 per cent of the nearly $30bn (€25bn, £17bn) the US has appropriated for reconstruction has been committed to programmes and projects, more than 25 per cent of the funds have been spent on security costs related to the insurgency.....

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The White House Criminal Conspiracy

The White House Criminal Conspiracy
By Elizabeth de la Vega
Tom Dispatch

Legally, there are no significant differences between the investor fraud perpetrated by Enron CEO Ken Lay and the prewar intelligence fraud perpetrated by George W. Bush. Both involved persons in authority who used half-truths and recklessly false statements to manipulate people who trusted them. There is, however, a practical difference: The presidential fraud is wider in scope and far graver in its consequences than the Enron fraud. Yet thus far the public seems paralyzed.

In response to the outcry raised by Enron and other scandals, Congress passed the Corporate Corruption Bill, which President Bush signed on July 30, 2002, amid great fanfare. Bush declared that he was signing the bill because of his strong belief that corporate officers must be straightforward and honest. If they were not, he said, they would be held accountable.

Ironically, the day Bush signed the Corporate Corruption Bill, he and his aides were enmeshed in an orchestrated campaign to trick the country into taking the biggest risk imaginable - a war. Indeed, plans to attack Iraq were already in motion. In June, Bush announced his "new" pre-emptive strike strategy. On July 23, 2002, the head of British intelligence advised Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the then-secret Downing Street Memo, that "military action was now seen as inevitable" and that "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Bush had also authorized the transfer of $700 million from Afghanistan war funds to prepare for an invasion of Iraq. Yet all the while, with the sincerity of Marc Antony protesting that "Brutus is an honorable man," Bush insisted he wanted peace.

Americans may have been unaware of this deceit then, but they have since learned the truth. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in June, 52% of Americans now believe the President deliberately distorted intelligence to make a case for war. In an Ipsos Public Affairs poll, commissioned by and completed October 9, 50% said that if Bush lied about his reasons for going to war Congress should consider impeaching him. The President's deceit is not only an abuse of power; it is a federal crime. Specifically, it is a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States.

So what do citizens do?....

Saving the second term

October 30, 2005 : Opinion : Editorials

Saving the second term
CAMP DAVID IS WHERE PRESIDENTS often go to lick their wounds. So President Bush's departure Friday for the Maryland retreat was as predictable as it was necessary; within the span of a week, he has seen a high-ranking administration official indicted for obstructing justice in the Valerie Plame inquiry and his White House counsel forced by critics within his own party to withdraw as a nominee to the Supreme Court.

Bush's horrible week came at an already dismal time for his presidency — even before the indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and the Harriet E. Miers debacle, Bush's approval ratings were sinking. The president's legislative agenda is stalled, the war in Iraq is turning into a quagmire and Hurricane Katrina has raised urgent questions about Bush's competence and priorities.

The White House seems bereft of initiative or momentum — on any front. Bush still has three more years in office, but they will be interminable and unproductive unless he revises his game plan and makes some needed substitutions on his team.

For starters, it's time to retire "the architect." Karl Rove may have escaped indictment on Friday, but in a larger sense "Rovism" — the notion of governing from the far right to pander to the party's most active extremists — has been indicted, tried and convicted. Regardless of whether his top political advisor stays on the payroll, Bush needs to dust off his old claim of being "a uniter, not a divider" if he is to have any chance of regaining his political footing and building a positive legacy.

Vice President Dick Cheney's days as a leading voice in this administration should also be numbered. It would be a considerable favor to Bush if Cheney decided to step down from office now, but don't expect that to happen....

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Libby indictment: A window into the White House

'Libby indictment: A window into the White House cesspool'
Posted on Saturday, October 29 @ 09:46:38 EDT
Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

With Scooter Libby’s indictment, the first shoe has been dropped in the Plamegate criminal case. Whether there will be other shoes is problematic.

Fitzgerald says the case is almost wrapped up, but that Rove is still not out of the woods yet. The fact that Rove and Cheney weren’t also indicted Friday is disappointing, to be sure -- they are the real movers and shakers in the Bush Administration -- but we don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

Is Rove working out a plea bargain that will be announced in a few days? Could Fitzgerald simply not have all the ammo he needed by October 28 to bring charges against Rove and Cheney, but is rounding up that last-minute evidence? Did Fitzgerald present charge(s) to the Grand Jury against suspects other than Libby but the panel wouldn't indict? We simply don't know at this point (I'm writing this the same day as the indictment); maybe the inevitable leaks will help us understand more as the story unfolds.

What is clear is that Libby seems to have been caught redhanded concocting a false story and, under oath, sticking to those coverup lies in both his FBI interrogations and Grand Jury testimony. A definite no-no.


If Libby goes to trial, you can bet that the potential witness list will include Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Hadley, Rice, maybe Bush, and a whole host of high-ranking neo-con underlings (Wurmser, Hanna, Feith, et al.). Libby -- and Cheney and Rove -- definitely would not want that to happen. Testifying under oath in a criminal trial is a lot different than leaking your spin to the media, and you could wind up in the slammer easily on perjury charges.

Since Libby is Cheney's alter-ego (Rove = Bush), you know that Libby wasn't a solo cowboy in revealing Plame's identity; after all, as the indictment makes clear, Libby heard about Plame from Cheney. The ball of lies Libby concocted seemed designed to deflect attention away from his closest associates, so there is no way Libby would go to trial and put them in perjury-jeopardy by having them testify.

In short, this case is not going to court. As I see it, Libby has two options:

1. Libby cops a plea to one of the charges, and no trial takes place.

2. Bush pardons Libby "pre-emptively" before a trial begins. (Remember that Bush's father pre-emptively pardoned Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger before he even was charged, thus protecting Bush Sr.’s own liability in the Iran-Contra scandal. Like father like son?)

I suppose Libby could decide to go to trial; he falls on the sword and takes the sole blame, and every other endangered Administration witness called takes the Fifth. Bush then pardons Libby. But in all three instances, we find out little or nothing....

Friday, October 28, 2005

It Ain't The Crime. It's the Cover-up

Capitol Hill Blue
It Ain't The Crime. It's the Cover-up
Oct 28, 2005, 06:54

You would think that the motley collection of crooks, thieves, con-men and bozos who masquerade as leaders of our nation would eventually learn the number-one lesson of politics.

It ain’t the crime that gets you. It’s the cover-up.....

....Lying is so pervasive in Washington that those who make it a way of life don’t even consider it so. It’s “spin” or “our position” or “staying on message” even when the message is untrue.

The culture of politics breeds deception and double-talk. Rules don’t apply. Those who defend the outright criminal actions of scandal-scarred former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay don’t deny that he committed the acts that led to indictments. Their defense is that “everyone else does it” and is therefore no big deal. Then they try to fog the issue by claiming prosecuting their boy is “motivated by politics.” Whatever happened to the concept of “do the crime, do the time?”

The GOP is already distributing talking points claiming that what Libby and Rove did is “not that serious” and “not really a crime.” And, to them, it is not. Ignoring the law is so commonplace in politics that those who commit the acts see nothing wrong with their actions.

We deserve better. Sadly, the only way we can get what we deserve is if lying scumbags like Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney get what they deserve. In a perfect world perhaps, but as we know all too well this is not, and never will be, a perfect world.

Time for Dubya to Get His Act Together

Time for Dubya to Get His Act Together
Block News Alliance
Oct 28, 2005, 06:24

My job, watching the White House, has been exceedingly painful this past week.

This country belongs to us all. A weakened presidency does us no good abroad and no good at home. George W. Bush will be the president for three more years. He needs to get his act together.

Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? Questionable.

The main problem for this president (it's tempting from his recent stubborn behavior to call him "Junior") is that he is perpetually stuck in campaign mode. For heaven's sake, the election is over. He doesn't seem to realize that there is no next race for him. He is hurting, not helping, his Republican colleagues in next year's congressional election. He needs to rediscover what it means to be president of everyone...

Thursday, October 27, 2005


By Sidney Blumenthal

Thursday 27 October 2005
Bush has so thoroughly destroyed the Republican establishment that no one, not even his dad, can rescue him now.

There is no one left to rescue the Republican Party from George W. Bush. He is home alone. The Republican-establishment wise men whose words were once quiet commands are shouting unheeded warnings. The Republican leaders of Congress are distracted and obsessed with their own crises of corruption.

Suspended House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is under indictment for criminal campaign practices while Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for insider stock trading in his family-owned Hospital Corporation of America. The only revolt brewing in the Senate is on the right against President Bush's nomination of his White House legal counsel, Harriet Miers, to the Supreme Court; some Republican senators fear her potential for secret liberal heresy despite the president's protestations of her conservative purity.

On Aug. 7, 1974, three Republican leaders of Congress made a fateful journey down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Sen. Barry Goldwater, tribune of the conservative movement; Sen. Hugh Scott, the stalwart minority leader from Pennsylvania; and Rep. John Rhodes, the minority leader in the House, informed President Richard Nixon that as a result of the Watergate scandals he must resign the presidency in the interest of the country and the Republican Party. Two days later, Nixon quit.

On Nov. 25, 1986, Attorney General Edwin Meese announced at a White House press conference that tens of millions of dollars from illegal sales of weapons to Iran had been siphoned to Contra guerrillas in Nicaragua by a far-flung conspiracy centered in the National Security Council. National Security Advisor John Poindexter immediately resigned and NSC military aide Oliver North was fired. Within the next month, President Reagan's popularity rating had collapsed from 67 to 46 percent; it did not recover until a year and a half later, in May 1988, when he negotiated an arms control treaty with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and traveled to Moscow to declare the Cold War over. After the revelation of the Iran-Contra scandal, Reagan purged his administration of right-wingers and neoconservatives in particular. The Republican establishment in all its aspects took control. Former Sen. Howard Baker, who had been the Republican leader at the Watergate hearings, became White House chief of staff; Colin Powell was named national security advisor; neocon protector and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was forced out and replaced by pragmatic bureaucratic player Frank Carlucci; and Secretary of State George Shultz was given charge of foreign policy in order to negotiate terms with Gorbachev....

Dick at the Heart of Darkness

Dick at the Heart of Darkness
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times

Wednesday 26 October 2005

After W. was elected, he sometimes gave visitors a tour of the love alcove off the Oval Office where Bill trysted with Monica - the notorious spot where his predecessor had dishonored the White House....

...If W. wants to show people now where the White House has been dishonored in far more astounding and deadly ways, he'll have to haul them around every nook and cranny of his vice president's office, then go across the river for a walk of shame through the Rummy empire at the Pentagon.

The shocking thing about the trellis of revelations showing Dick Cheney, the self-styled Mr. Strong America, as the central figure in dark conspiracies to juice up a case for war and demonize those who tried to tell the public the truth is how un-shocking it all is.

It's exactly what we thought was going on, but we never thought we'd actually hear the lurid details: Cheney and Rummy, the two old compadres from the Nixon and Ford days, in a cabal running the country and the world into the ground, driven by their poisonous obsession with Iraq, while Junior is out of the loop, playing in the gym or on his mountain bike.....

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Here is the Crime in Outing a CIA Agent

Gary Hart

Here is the Crime in Outing a CIA Agent
Huffington Post

It is now fashionable among columnists supporting the Bush administration, New York Times journalist Judith Miller, Robert Novak and the increasing network of senior administration officials implicated in the Valerie Plame Wilson outing to say, "So what? Where's the crime?"

The federal statute making it a criminal penalty to knowingly divulge the identity of anyone working undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency was not enacted in a vacuum.
In the early 1970s, in part as a result of the radicalization of individuals and groups over the Vietnam War, a former CIA employee named Philip Agee wrote a book revealing the identities of several dozen CIA employees, many under deep cover and some including agency station chiefs in foreign capitals.

Many of the countries in which those CIA employees were working themselves had extremely radical and violent elements stirred to hatred over their opposition to America's conduct in the Vietnam War. So, by revealing their identities, Agee had knowingly and willingly placed these American citizens at risk. Violent consequences were predictable.

Richard Welch, a brilliant Harvard-educated classicist, had been stationed in Greece as CIA station chief only a few months before he was murdered, by a radical Greek terrorist organization called the 17th of November, in the doorway of his house in Athens on Dec. 23, 1975. Had Agee not divulged his name, there is every reason to believe that Welch would be alive today after decades of loyal service to his country.

Largely as a result of Agee's perfidy and Welch's unnecessary death, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) of 1982 was enacted, making it a felony to knowingly divulge the identity of a covert CIA operative. It carries penalties of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for each offense....

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bush fans dwindling, delusional

Bill Gallagher: 'Bush fans dwindling, delusional'
Posted on Tuesday, October 25 @ 10:08:17 EDT
This article has been read 1795 times.
Bill Gallagher, Niagara Falls Reporter

...The current president, Wilkerson said, is "not versed in international relations and not much interested in them either."

That's certainly why George W. Bush is content with an arrangement that allows him to focus on issues like establishing the religious right as the state religion, promoting cronies for high office and doing the bidding of his corporate sponsors and the National Rifle Association.

Delegating these foreign policy matters also serves Bush's personal pleasure, allowing him ample time to relax at his ranch, clear brush, play video games and watch sports on TV.

International relations would be the exclusive domain of Lord Halliburton and Field Marshall Donald Rumsfeld. Career military and government people, national security staffers and the State Department play no role in the isolated decision-making. Just two voices, always in harmony, would sing the tune that becomes U.S. policy. They let the president know what they have decided, but his participation is never really needed or wanted. What the hell does he know, anyhow?

Congress has enacted laws that prescribe how the Defense Department, State Department, National Security Council and other agencies are to perform and interact to assure some uniformity and continuity in these important relationships and a decision-making process subject to review and oversight. Cheney and Rumsfeld will have no part of that system....

The White House cabal

October 25, 2005
LA Times
The White House cabal
By Lawrence B. Wilkerson
LAWRENCE B. WILKERSON served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell from 2002 to 2005.

IN PRESIDENT BUSH'S first term, some of the most important decisions about U.S. national security — including vital decisions about postwar Iraq — were made by a secretive, little-known cabal. It was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

When I first discussed this group in a speech last week at the New American Foundation in Washington, my comments caused a significant stir because I had been chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell between 2002 and 2005.

But it's absolutely true. I believe that the decisions of this cabal were sometimes made with the full and witting support of the president and sometimes with something less. More often than not, then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice was simply steamrolled by this cabal.

Its insular and secret workings were efficient and swift — not unlike the decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a democracy. This furtive process was camouflaged neatly by the dysfunction and inefficiency of the formal decision-making process, where decisions, if they were reached at all, had to wend their way through the bureaucracy, with its dissenters, obstructionists and "guardians of the turf."

But the secret process was ultimately a failure. It produced a series of disastrous decisions and virtually ensured that the agencies charged with implementing them would not or could not execute them well.

I watched these dual decision-making processes operate for four years at the State Department. As chief of staff for 27 months, I had a door adjoining the secretary of State's office. I read virtually every document he read. I read the intelligence briefings and spoke daily with people from all across government....

A White House 'Hip-Deep' in Plame Scandal and Cover Up

A White House 'Hip-Deep' in Plame Scandal and Cover Up
Oct 24, 2005, 04:20
Capital Hill Blue

Senior White House officials over the weekend warned President George W. Bush to “prepare for the worst” in the ever-deepening Valerie Plame scandal, laying out a scenario that includes indictments of top officials and detailing a direct involvement by the Administration in a concentrated effort to destroy the credibility of Ambassador Joseph Wilson and then conceal the actions from investigators.

Chief of Staff Andrew Card cancelled a weekend schedule of appearances and events to spend the weekend with Bush at Camp David and deliver the bad news personally, White House insiders tell Capitol Hill Blue.

With indictments expected against Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Richard Cheney’s chief of staff, and possibly White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, Card told Bush that both will have to resign if the administration is to salvage any chance of recovering from the scandal.

“We’re hip deep in this and the sharks are circling,” Card told the President.

According to multiple White House sources, Card laid out a detailed scenario of White House involvement in a staff-directed campaign to destroy administration critic Wilson.....

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Historians Against the War

From: Historians Against the War
Date: October 23, 2005 6:19:42 PM EDT
To: Historians Against the War
Subject: [haw-info] Historians Against the War (HAW) Electronic Newsletter No. 3, October, 2005

Historians Against the War (HAW)

Electronic Newsletter No. 3, October 2005

Click here for a web-formatted version of this Newsletter (

Thoughts from DC Marchers

? Margaret Power, A Turning Point in Anti-War Consciousness in This Country

? John Oliver Mason, In a Trade Union Delegation

? Shanti Singham, College Students at the March: Humane, Intelligent, Creative

? Thomas M. Ricks, Missing the Teach-Ins

? Marvin Gettleman, Honorary Historians

? Beth Barnes, Learning from Experience

Rallies Across the Nation

? Maria Pascualy, A Big Crowd in Seattle

After the Rally: What Next?

? Alan Dawley, Busted for Peace on September 26

? David Applebaum, After the September Days…

Legislative Report

? Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, 9/26 United for Peace and Justice Lobby Day

Speech Prepared for Washington Rally

? Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, What Will History Say?

The following pieces were contributed in response to an invitation to HAW members to share their experiences and thoughts about the September 24–26 anti-war protests, especially the big march and rally in Washington, D.C on Saturday, September 24. For future issues of the Newsletter, members are invited to submit news items or op-eds to In addition, you can contact HAW at This issue was edited by Jerise Fogel and Jim O’Brien.


A Turning Point in Anti-War Consciousness in This Country

Margaret Power (

Many parts of the September 24 anti-war demonstration in D.C. were uplifting. However, I found the presence of members of the Veterans of the Iraq War and Military Families Speak Out to be particularly moving. Their visible repudiation of the war in Iraq offered vivid testimony by people whose views and experiences are a vital example of why this war is so wrong. Some of the military families held signs with pictures of their sons, with messages to Bush, asking “Why did my son die?” One poster read, “Bush, why did you kill my son?”

The pictures of the murdered children and the parents’ palpable anguish reminded me of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina and the Families of the Disappeared throughout Latin America. Just as these Latin American women were the first to rupture the fear and silence that the military dictatorships instilled in much of the region throughout the 1970s and 1980s, these family members who have lost their children to the criminal war in Iraq represent a moral vision that cannot be denied.

It is of inestimable importance that the family members of those who have died or are currently serving in Iraq speak out against the war. Their denunciation of the war effectively breaks the lie that those who oppose the war do not support the troops. It is also important because it is new. During the Vietnam War military families and the mothers of troops serving in battle did not publicly call for an end to the war. The fact that they are doing so now is both a legacy of the anti-war sentiment generated by the Vietnam War and an important turning point in anti-war consciousness in this country. It is important that we seek out and project the voices of anti-war military families and returning veterans of the Iraqi war. They are some of the strongest, if not THE strongest, spokespersons our movement has.


In a Trade Union Delegation

John Oliver Mason (

I boarded my bus in Philadelphia, in front of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO building, to join a trade union delegation to the march. I thought this was great, the so-called “silent majority” of Richard Nixon was speaking for itself. Another trade union delegation boarded the bus from District Council 47 of AFSCME. Along the way we had great political conversations, some of it focused around the protests against the Viet Nam war, of which this reminds one. One trade union veteran said that this was “the Liberals’ war,” and talked about how Liberals bent over backwards to try to prove how not-soft-on-Communism they were. Another trade union official had this saying: Conservatives believe in something, and Liberals believe in everything. I agree – Liberals try to accommodate Conservatives, who in turn try to suppress any Liberal ideas, which is what is going on now in Washington.

We came close to Washington, and we could see the Washington Monument. As we passed through the District, we saw low-income families, mainly African-American – this is the Washington you don’t see or hear about, the real Washington, not the stuff that goes on in the Capitol or the white House or the Pentagon. This is within easy walking distance from the Capitol and the White House, but the rulers of our land, or the media, would not show up here, to mar the image of America as the land of prosperity.

I called out, “Look, the Cato Institute!” – the geniuses behind the privatization of Social Security – and that was good for a boo. We stopped off at the AFL-CIO headquarters for a rally sponsored by US Labor Against the War. Hurricane Katrina, and the devastation it made in the Gulf States, was on the minds of everyone. The government of the most powerful nation on the planet could not protect against a natural disaster they were warned about for so long, just like they were warned about 9-11. Curtis Muhammad, a civil rights activist from New Orleans, spoke of the racism that was part of the neglect of the levees in New Orleans, how money was diverted from boosting the levees to fattening the fat cats in Washington, and for paying for the war in Iraq.

Our group, along with unionists from all over the country, started to march at 11:30 AM, from the AFL-CIO building. We marched down 15th Street NW, and at a location near the Treasury Department building, we were joined by another river of marchers, American Students Against the War. I thought, great, another generation of activists is coming up. The streets were rivers of marchers, with tributary streams. We chanted, “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!” and “Support the troops, bring them home!” that was what was great about this campaign, we were not at all opposing the troops, our sons and daughters, our neighbors, we were opposing the lunatic regime in charge, which sent them there to be killed.

We got to a spot close to the Washington Monument, in time to hear the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and then Cindy Sheehan, who was eloquent as hell. The area was packed with people, and it was tough to move around. I saw the ladies from Code Pink, who livened things up with chanting, “Condi, Condi, Condi Rice, your policy suck, but your shoes look nice!” One of them had on a pink gown, with the words “No peace, no pussy”. I can go along with that.


College Students at the March: Humane, Intelligent, Creative

by Shanti Singham (

After a long all-night drive with a flat tire, two teenagers, and my husband, I arrived in DC tired but exhilarated by the unexpectedly huge crowd. The large numbers delayed our entry into the march by two hours and so we were able to find Marv Gettleman beside a large HAW banner and accompany him on the march.

Contrary to the claims of KC Johnson (History News Network, “Iraq and Vietnam, the Anti-War Movement”), echoing a Yale professor of genetics, the Palestinian flag was not the “dominant one” at the anti-war demonstration. I would be hard-pressed to say which “flag” was dominant, but the visual image that most impressed me quantitatively was probably that of t-shirts and posters proclaiming “Make Levees Not War.” The leader and unifier of the march was Cindy Sheehan, not a group of extreme leftists.

I consider myself somewhat of a veteran peace activist and I have gone to peace marches consistently since this war began. This march was without question the most impressive, both quantitatively and in terms of the diversity of voices and political agendas expressed. It was a real cornucopia of all that is best in the American democratic tradition. Trade union activists, African Americans, Haitians, Muslims, Catholic nuns, mid-westerners, Texans, the old, the young, families – and yes, historians – all these were fully in view. The Democratic Party, however, was largely absent; this was a lost moment reflecting the gulf between the party’s leaders and its rank and file base.

Besides reveling in the festive, highly creative, side of the march – with fascinating hand-made signs, street theatre, displays, political costumes, the Camp Casey tent – I was especially happy to see and meet so many college students, especially those from local universities. Even without the draft, these students are a natural base for antiwar activism. They are smart, educated, anti-racist, environmentally conscious, and internationalist. It behooves us to work with them, especially in the forum of teach-ins, to help support their important first forays into responsible citizenship.

The students’ presence, as well as that of so many families with young teenagers, like mine, convinced me in the end that some of the blogs posted after the demonstration are wrong about this type of action no longer being relevant or useful as a means of political action. Yes, it is true, the U.S. press did not give us adequate or fair coverage. Thankfully, via the web, the rest of the world did hear about us and was grateful. But the purpose of the march was as much educational and inspirational as an act of civic expression and in that it was supremely successful. Here, we historians, the old and middle-aged, acted as responsible role models for the next generation and began to pass the baton to the extremely impressive youth – humane, intelligent, and creative – who surrounded us.


Missing the Teach-Ins

by Thomas M. Ricks (

I was at the September 24 grand March on the White House/for Peace against War, and enjoyed very much the very large crowd of people, funny and serious protest signs, and general good spirits of everyone.

Knowing that there will be more public demonstrations of protest to end US wars and empire building, I missed the teach-ins of yore and long for more public discussions on how to turn our national resources (human and material) towards assisting and supporting our own peoples (poor, minorities, women and children) and those of the world, and away from corporate greed and foreign adventures.


Honorary Historians

By Marvin Gettleman (

The New York-Philly HAW contingent was supposed to meet at the National Archives (an appropriate spot for our craft) at 10:30 AM on September 24. My bus left the upper west side of Manhattan soon after 6:00 AM, the riders confident that we could make it to DC in 4.5 hours. But by the time we reached Baltimore it was clear that we wouldn’t. Taking the Metro from Greenbelt Maryland where the busses parked, I did go to the National Archives, the HAW banner rolled up in my backpack, but as expected no one from HAW was around by 11:30 – although a right-wing orator denouncing the demonstrators as “objective supporters” of Osama bin Laden attracted a few listeners.

Then I walked to the Ellipse, the area around Washington Monument, shared by anti-war demonstrators, regular tourists, and people attracted to Laura Bush’s Book Festival. On the way down I had read The Nation, with poet Sharon Olds’s eloquent refusal to attend. She should have come. The people at the Book Festival proved interested in our many reasons for opposing the Iraq war.

At the Washington Monument I spread out the 8-foot HAW banner on the front of a low stone wall, and waited for anyone to show up. And, lo! they did. Perhaps it is a bit of an exaggeration to say that historians flocked to the banner, as did gawking tourists and folk with digital cameras who thought that “Historians Against the War” was a piquant subject for lenses and shutters. All of these people got the double-sided HAW leaflet, which (I realized too late) ought to have listed the HAW pamphlets.

Historians as yet unaffiliated with HAW (with partners, children and other folk, whom I promiscuously deputized as honorary historians) helped carry the banner on the circular (actually rectangular) march route past the White House. One of these historians was none other than Shanti Singham of Williams College, whose father I knew at Brooklyn College. She came with her daughter and husband, who took a photo of our handsome HAW banner. Getting to the speakers platform was impossible for those of us marching with banners, and who had to get back to Greenbelt for the 5:30 bus departure. Too bad Rusti Eisenberg’s superb talk (reprinted in this newsletter) wasn’t delivered.

I am proud to say that one of my Queens College students not only came to the rally but in the midst of the crowd that may have numbered more than 200,000, actually found me in front of the White House. Despite George Bush’s absence on a photo-op designed to show his concern for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, snipers walked ominously along the White House roof line.

Many intending to go to the Washington that day were unable to travel by Amtrak, since power was out on the eastern corridor. Ellen Schrecker was holed up in NYC’s Penn Station, where writer Judy Levine organized a lively demonstration among those unable to get to DC. A group from Philadelphia gave up on Amtrak early enough to rent a collective van for a one-way trip to DC (somehow they knew they could get back), and one of them became a honorary HAW member and helped carry the banner. Perhaps HAW can recruit more historians if we make it known that HAW membership empowers people to deputize psychologists and lawyers as historians-for-a-day.


Learning from Experience

by Beth Barnes (

What I noticed first was the absence of riot gear. Certainly, the police were engaged in the standard practices of occasional motorcycle motorcades, roaring in pairs down the streets with sirens blaring and making enough noise to frighten the normally indifferent pigeons into pinwheels of surprise. But the phalanx of black suited riot cops, with plastic restraints adorning their belts were nowhere to be found. It set the tone for the day, and proved once again that the police have a sophisticated methodology for predicting crowds and crowd behavior.

I have attended multiple protests, from rallies in Philadelphia for Mumia Abu Jamal to illegal direct action activities that were part of a larger “sanctioned” march. In each instance, the memory of the protesters stretched only to the level of the march, and not much beyond. At the National Conference of Organized Resistance, held every year at American University, I listened to the organizers of the Miami anti-IMF/World Bank protests dissect the multiple successes and failures of the months of planning and organizing leading up to the events. Nowhere in the discussion was the sense of gathering information about the practices, the types of decisions made and the effectiveness or lack thereof, or of an attempt to learn from the official responses during the event. For all practical purposes, each protest happens independently of every other protest – unless there happens to be continuity of people in attendance.

At the September 24 march in Washington DC, the theme was clear and unified. It was distinctly an anti-war protest, heavily sprinkled with anti-Bush sentiments. So close on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, many of the protesters carried signs that said, “Make levees, not war.” Many signs called for the impeachment of Bush, while on the positive side many other signs showed support for Cindy Sheehan, one of the catalytic elements behind the protest. The marchers were generally middle-class, white, pacifist, and ranging somewhere between 20 and 50 years old. Certain organized groups were well represented, in particular the SEIU, whose headquarters are located in the metro DC area. The crowd was well beyond the numbers hoped for by the sponsors, although crowd count has become a point of unnecessary contention and distortion.

What can be learned from the protest? Different from many of the other protests I have attended, this somehow turned into a Cindy Sheehan v. George Bush showdown. Again, each protest seems to exist only in the moment, with no common thread to learn from. What were those people to do with that momentum – what is to come on the day after? No one knows, really, and if there were ever a need for a record to be made, a working record of planning and logistics and events, these series of flashbulb protests demonstrate this.

A peaceful march is a relatively simple affair, really – more about timing and bathrooms than about actual change, whether that change is reformist or radical. But without a record, without some way to refine the tactics and the practices of the left, without a way to learn, each protest will start from the same place. And when we continually start from the same place, there is only so far that we will move over the course of one day, no matter how many people we gather together.



A Big Crowd in Seattle

by Maria Pascualy (

A friend and I participated in the Seattle Peace Rally. Folks at the rally said we had about 4500 people- the press said about 1500. It seemed closer to 4500 to us. Mostly a subdued over 40 crowd, although there were pockets of younger people. Some unhappiness expressed that there had not been enough PR about the march in the community, but all in agreement that given the lack of PR the numbers were good. We gathered at Westlake Mall – Jim McDermott (D-WA) spoke, as did a number of other people, then the group marched to the Federal Building and back.

Construction workers at the Seattle Art Museum expansion site flashed peace signs as we passed. Much positive talk as folks headed for home of a planned November 2 walkout in the Seattle schools to protest the war.



Busted for Peace on September 26

by Alan Dawley (

On September 26th, 2005, I was among the 370 protesters arrested in front of the White House in what was the largest act of civil disobedience in DC in decades, perhaps since the Vietnam era. Let me pass along three points. First, unlike the split between protesters and the public after the Chicago disorders of ‘68, there was a strong sense of connection between those of us risking arrest and the “silent majority” opposed to the war in Iraq. That bodes well for future protest actions, which, it seems to me, will need to escalate resistance while keeping it within civil bounds. No trashing this time. Second, as we think about whom to target, I think it is time to put Democratic feet to the fire, along with Republican. Let’s politely ask Congress members to sign on to the Woolsey resolution, but if they refuse, maybe a sit-in in the office would concentrate their attention. Third, civil resistance (the term that is replacing civil disobedience) is a sign of strength, not desperation. Willingness to break the law and suffer arrest, confinement, and financial loss means that authority has lost that part of its hold over people that derives from fear of arrest, confinement, and financial loss. Getting arrested after putting “crime scene” tape on the White House fence felt empowering.


After the September Days...

By David Applebaum (

Efforts to gain support and build upon the successes in Washington continue. For the first time, “out now” is on the table at the local level. On-line discussions are historically rich. Participation in the debate is greater than ever before on any issue. There is a “buzz” and strangers are talking to one another. On Monday, October 17, there will be a vote in the local chapter of AFT. People who did not go to DC will be able to act. They can “add our voices to the movement urging the United States government to commence the orderly and rapid withdrawal of United States military personnel from Iraq as expeditiously as possible, and to provide the peoples of Iraq with the necessary aid to secure their citizens the right to rebuild Iraq.” The resolution details publicity that can open the door to work with other unions and campus groups.

[Update by David, 10/17/05: The resolution was approved, and will be published in the student paper, presented to the Board of Trustees and the Student Government Association, and the Southern NJ Labor Council of the AFL-CIO. The hope is that similar resolutions will be made by some of the groups and others will be encouraged to speak up and speak out. The next step is the work on the local resolution in support of the statement of the Working Group in Defense of Academic Freedom – accompanied by a local action plan to convert it into concrete efforts.]



9/26 United for Peace and Justice Lobby Day

By Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg

On Monday September 26, approximately 800 people from around the country participated in a UFPJ coordinated Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. This reflected a growing sentiment among the affiliates that it is vitally important for the peace movement to keep a focus on Congress. At a time when most Americans say that they want an immediate or rapid troop withdrawal from Iraq, that outlook is not yet being reflected by our elected representatives.

Training for Lobby Day took place at American University on Sunday. This was an exceptionally valuable event because it enabled activists from around the country to meet each other and to exchange experiences. Many of the participants reported on the changing mood in their home districts and their own desire to be part of a national network that keeps up the pressure.

On Monday there were approximately 400 meetings at Congressional offices, many of these with staffers. The most adversarial session I attended was at the Clinton office. Thirty-five people, representing peace groups, labor organizations and some women’s groups from around the state, expressed strong disapproval of Senator Clinton’s efforts to position herself as a “national security hawk” in her quest for the Presidency and emphasized that she should not take her “liberal base” for granted.

Other sessions were less polarized, with staffers indicating a growing willingness by their representative to adopt a more critical stance. One result of Lobby Day is that several new Congresspeople affiliated themselves with the “Out of Iraq Caucus” in the House and signed on to some moderate legislation, including HR 55 calling for a plan to begin withdrawal by the end of next year.

The overriding feeling among the participants was that the situation in Congress is now fluid enough for the peace movement to make an impact. During the next month, UFPJ will be developing a formal Legislative Action Network that will function in an ongoing way. Its fundamental goal is to get Congress to stop funding the war.

Last spring, quite a few HAW members indicated a desire to be involved with such legislative efforts. Once this United for Peace and Justice Network is set up, it will be much easier for historians to participate. Historians are vitally needed all over the country to contribute their skills to this legislative work. Anyone interested, please email me at:



What Will History Say?

By Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg (

Carolyn Eisenberg is a Steering Committee member of Historians Against the War. She is also a professor of U.S. foreign policy at Hofstra University. Her prepared speech was not given at the Washington rally (because the program was running late), and so we include it here.

Donald Rumsfeld encouraged the Pentagon press corps this week to forget the short term and start thinking like historians. In looking at the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, “We should ask what history will say.”

Let us follow that advice and ask Rumsfeld’s question: “What will history say?”
History will say that a reckless President and a coterie of cynical advisors tricked a frightened nation into an unnecessary war.

History will say that a reckless President and his cynical advisors dissipated the good will of countries around the world and turned compassion into fury.

History will say that a reckless President and his cynical advisors multiplied 3000 deaths in the World Trade Center into tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths.

History will say that a reckless President and his cynical advisors turned volunteer soldiers and National Guardsmen into national hostages, and sent them as conquerors into a place they had no right to be, without a reason, without a plan, without adequate equipment, without proper training and without international support.

History will say that a reckless President and his cynical advisors ignored the environment, ignored the poor, ignored the health care system, ignored the cities and then one day they ignored the weather. And in their arrogance and indifference brought the devastation and suffering of the Iraqi town of Fallujah to the American city of New Orleans.

History will also say that this reckless President and his cynical advisors had a great many helpers. That when it mattered, the American media did not do its job, that journalists asked too few questions and repeated too many lies.

History will say that when it mattered America’s opposition party – the cowardly Democrats – changed the subject and voted for war, knowing all the time and in advance that going to Iraq was a fool’s errand and a disastrous mistake. Knowing they would never send their own children to such a place. But not sufficiently ashamed of putting Cindy Sheehan’s son and the children of other people in harm’s way.

We could also tell Donald Rumsfeld that history is a work in progress and that we are gathered here today to write a new chapter, transforming sorrow and anger into hope. As we look around us, we feel our potential strength and we know what history might say if we act on our convictions.

History might say that in 2005 the people of America regained their wits and found their voice, recognizing that you cannot defeat “terrorism” by terrorizing others and that you cannot build democracy by shooting at checkpoints, breaking down doors and bombing towns.

History might say that in 2005 the American people had enough of war, enough of torture, enough of lawlessness, enough of lying, enough of corruption, enough of “Yellow Alerts and Orange Alerts” and hyped announcements of captured “ringleaders” and vanquished enemies, who always seem to multiply.

History might say that in 2005 the American people became weary of politicians, who were evading the war or supporting it. And that they sent a message to all the would-be Presidents – to Hillary Clinton, Kerry, Biden, Bayh, Frist, McCain and anyone else – that nobody goes to the White House, who wants an expanded military or who just want “to get it right,” when the compelling need is to get us out.
History might say that in 2005, the American people fired Donald Rumsfeld and sent him for trial to the International Criminal Court, which the United States finally joined.

History might say that in 2005, the American people closed down Gitmo, shuttered Abu Ghraib, returned the National Guard to the places they were needed, and brought 147,000 of our troops back to the United States, to the homes and families where they belong.

History might say that in 2005, the American people realized that there was no easy path to safety, not from “terrorists” nor from hurricanes. And that our best hope as a country depends on doing justice, relieving suffering, respecting difference and honoring the rule of law.

Will history actually say these things? That depends on what we do – whether we leave Washington DC today with the energy, the commitment, the belief in our own country, the faith in our fellow citizens to find a new direction and to replace the President’s message of war with a fervent call for peace.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Woman of Mass Destruction

Woman of Mass Destruction
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times

Saturday 22 October 2005

I've always liked Judy Miller. I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp.

The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy - her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of hard work and hauteur - never bothered me. I enjoy operatic types.

Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times' seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official's background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.

At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, "I think I should be sitting in the Times seat."

It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch....

Corrupt, incompetent and 'off center

Eric Alterman: 'Corrupt, incompetent and 'off center''
Posted on Saturday, October 22 @ 09:35:48 EDT
Eric Alterman, The Nation

Here is the liberals' problem in a nutshell: More than 30 percent of Americans happily answer to the appellation "conservative," while 18 percent call themselves "liberal." And yet when questioned by pollsters, a super-majority of more than 60 percent take positions liberal in everything but name. Indeed, on many if not most issues, Americans hold views well to the left of those espoused by almost any national Democratic politician.

In a May survey published by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 65 percent of respondents said they favor providing health insurance to all Americans, even if it means raising taxes, and 86 percent said they favor raising the minimum wage. Seventy-seven percent said they believe the country "should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.'' A September Gallup Poll finds that 59 percent consider the Iraq War a mistake and 63 percent agree that US forces should be partially or completely withdrawn.

Nevertheless, extremist right-wingers, including a few apparent criminals, enjoy a stranglehold on our political system and media discourse. And so the majority views of the American people are treated with contempt by pundits and politicians alike.

To give just a minor example, New York Times columnist David Brooks--the writer who best understands the dynamics of the contemporary Democratic Party, according to the smart boys at ABC's The Note--began a recent screed with the proclamation: "After a while, you get sick of the DeLays of the right and the Deans of the left." Note the implied equivalence between the corrupt and extreme Tom DeLay--who regularly compares the Environmental Protection Agency to the Nazis--and Howard Dean, a balanced-budget fiscal conservative and ally of the NRA whose "radical" position on Iraq now puts him to the right of most Americans. Or how about the treatment meted out by smarty-pants pundits to Al Gore, one of the few politicians who have given voice to majority American positions on the war, the environment and the dishonesty and ideological obsessions of the Bush Administration. Brooks termed him "unhinged." Fred Barnes said he was "nutty." Charles Krauthammer, speaking, he said, in his capacity as a psychiatrist, called him on "the edge of looniness."....

Friday, October 21, 2005

Waiting For The Valerie Plame Wilson Grand Jury: The Big Question Is Whether Dick Cheney Was a Target

Waiting For The Valerie Plame Wilson Grand Jury: The Big Question Is Whether Dick Cheney Was a Target
Friday, Oct. 21, 2005

Washington is truly abuzz with rumors about what Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald may, or may not do, as his grand jury comes to the close of its almost two-year investigation of the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert status at the CIA. As I write, it appears that Fitzgerald will act within the next few days.

Unidentified government officials, The New York Times reports, say that Fitzgerald "will not make up his mind about any charges until next week." With his grand jury expiring on October 28, 2005, he is down to only a few options:

First, he could close down his Washington office; return to his work in Chicago, where he serves as the U.S. Attorney; and simply issue a statement that his investigation has ended. (He has no authority to write a report, for the information he has obtained is subject to Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and thus is secret).

Second, he could extend the grand jury for whatever time he needs to complete his investigation. And third, he could issue one or more indictments.

Fitzgerald, and those who work for him, have acted throughout the investigation just as prosecutors should. Lips are zipped. Fitzgerald has held his information so close to his chest that, as one wag put it, he's got it in his underpants. Accordingly, Washington is filled with rumors.

The Best Information Available

While I have not begun to search all the available sources, so I can only speak to a limited universe, I can tell you who has consistently provided information and steady reports.

Unfortunately, The New York Times, which should own the story, does not. Rather, in the recent, crucial weeks, some of the best information has been coming from a very unlikely source, The National Journal. The National Journal, as readers may know, is a pricey Washington-insider weekly subscription report, with daily web updates; given the importance of the story, it has been making available the exclusive reporting of Murray Waas, who appears to be one the few reporters with meaningful access.

Editor & Publisher, which focuses on the newspaper industry, has been on top of the story from the outset, keeping an eye on who is doing the more credible reporting. And the national news magazines, Time and Newsweek have been hanging in....

Death Watch at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Death Watch at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Oct 21, 2005, 08:12
Capitol Hill Blue

For all practical purposes, governing the nation has stopped at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as aides deal with an increasingly despondent President, mounting scandals and defecting dissidents from the Ship of State.

White House insiders say George W. Bush’s mood swings have increased to the point where meetings with the President must be cancelled, schedules shifted and plans changed to keep a bitter, distracted leader from the public eye.

“He’s like a zombie some days, walking around in a trance,” says one aide who, for obvious reasons, asks not to be identified. “Other times he launches into angry outbursts, cussing out anybody who gets near him.”

Aides say gallows humor has descended on the White House, where the West Wing is now referred to as “death row” and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, along with Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, are known as “dead men walking,” a reference to the last walk death row inmates take to the execution chamber....

Hiding Behind Katrina


Hiding Behind Katrina
NY Times

Published: October 21, 2005

It takes gall to use Hurricane Katrina as cover to undermine the democratic process, but that's what conservative ideologues are attempting in the House. Among their budget-cutting proposals - being sold as "tough choices" for America to pay for the Gulf Coast recovery - is a startling plan to kill public financing in the presidential election system.

That program, financed by $3 checkoffs volunteered by taxpayers on their returns, has been a bulwark of presidential elections. It was enacted about 30 years ago, after the Watergate scandal exposed the big-money bagmen corrupting the heart of the political process. It makes politics more competitive for underdogs, more involving for the public and less reliant on floods of special-interest campaign money.

Congress should indeed turn its attention to the program - not to end it, but to repair its outdated limits. The primary calendar has become so front-loaded that the candidates with the strongest sources of private donations are now choosing to skip the limitations of public financing so they can spend early and furiously, leaving other challengers at a disadvantage.

The primary subsidy formula needs to be made more realistic to level the field, and the checkoff amount should be increased. Candidates should not be allowed to have it both ways by feeding on private money in the primaries, then switching to public money in the general election, as President Bush and Senator John Kerry did last year.

Under the current system, participating candidates in the primaries receive matching funds for the first $250 of each private contribution. This one-to-one formula should be increased to two-to-one matching or more as a way to invite more of the small donations that began showing up impressively last year from Internet users.

Sponsors of the House proposal must know they are wrong because they are trying to tuck the change into a budget bill without a public hearing and debate. If they want budget cuts, they should focus on government waste, not open elections.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Most Important Criminal Case in American History

James MooreBio

The Most Important Criminal Case in American History
Huffington Post

If special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald delivers indictments of a few functionaries of the vice president’s office or the White House, we are likely to have on our hands a constitutional crisis. The evidence of widespread wrongdoing and conspiracy is before every American with a cheap laptop and a cable television subscription. And we do not have the same powers of subpoena granted to Fitzgerald.
We know, however, based upon what we have read and seen and heard that someone created fake documents related to Niger and Iraq and used them as a false pretense to launch America into an invasion of Iraq. And when a former diplomat made an honest effort to find out the facts, a plan was hatched to both discredit and punish him by revealing the identity of his undercover CIA agent wife.

Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a random burglary in an age of innocence. The investigator’s prosecutorial authority in this present case is not constrained by any regulation. If he finds a thread connecting the leak to something greater, Fitzgerald has the legal power to follow it to the web in search of the spider. It seems unlikely, then, that he would simply go after the leakers and the people who sought to cover up the leak when it was merely a secondary consequence of the much greater crime of forging evidence to foment war. Fitzgerald did not earn his reputation as an Irish alligator by going after the little guy. Presumably, he is trying to find evidence that Karl Rove launched a covert operation to create the forged documents and then conspired to out Valerie Plame when he learned the fraud was being uncovered by Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. As much as this sounds like the plot of a John le Carre novel, it also comports with the profile of the Karl Rove I have known, watched, traveled with and written about for the past 25 years.

We may stand witness to a definitive American moment of democracy. The son of a New York doorman probably has in his hands, in many ways, the fate of the republic.....

Monday, October 17, 2005

Polarized readers

Enlarge Reading Divide

The Criminalization of Politics

The Criminalization of Politics

by Hunter

Mon Oct 17, 2005 at 12:12:44 AM PDT
...Party over country. You can hear it in Miller's accountings of her conversations with Libby; you can hear the "crimes aren't crimes if they're done for the sake of politics" meme from pundits like Chris Matthews and William Kristol; you can hear it everywhere in Washington, for that matter. Lying about sex had many of these same pundits foaming and frothing at the outrage of it all; compromising our intelligence assets against weapons of mass destruction, at the very same time the government is warning us to stock up on duct tape and watch out for swarthy bearded types holding glow-in-the-dark suitcases, is considered too shallow a crime to pursue -- if a Republican does it.

There's something beyond mere politics in all of this. Politics, one would hope, is not sufficient reason to damage the country. This is different. This is the cult of power, and of corruption, that is not just defended, but celebrated by pundits, by journalists, and by politicians alike.

The Republican pundit machine wails, and wags their fingers, and is shocked by the investigations, and depositions, and prosecutions, and calls it the "criminalization of politics".

Most of the rest of us call it crime, disguised as politics.

Crime, disguised as politics, and defended by crooks, cowards, and blowhards....

Sex, Envy, Proximity

Sex, Envy, Proximity
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times

Saturday 15 October 2005
President Bush started his weekend early. He decided to leave for Camp David at 2 p.m. yesterday.

Can you blame him?

The White House has lost its mind - and its survival instincts. The monomaniacal special prosecutor is moving in for the kill. Republicans are covered in dirt. And we may be only moments away from another Newsweek cover on another President Bush headlined "The Wimp Factor."

W.'s political career was structured to ensure that he would never suffer his father's problems by seeming weak or wobbly on conservatism. Everything would be about projecting strength and protecting the base.....

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Times Report on Judith Miller: Key Moments and Initial Comments

By Jay Rosen
October 15, 2005
Times Report on Judith Miller: Key Moments and Initial Comments
Here are my initial annotations of the big report. Key passages and brief comments. (Do add your own.) Plus my eight paragraph summary of the case and its press think.

I give credit to the Times for running the story a few days after they felt the legal clearences were had, for giving readers a look inside at decision-making normally hidden, for airing uncomfortable facts—including internal tensions—and for explaining what happened as well as the editors felt they could. This was a very difficult piece of journalism to do. As language in conveyance of fact, it is superbly edited.

I do have a small bit of news to break if you skip down to “After Matter.” Here’s my eight-graph view of the case and its mangled press think:
Maybe the biggest mistake the New York Times made was to turn decision-making for the newspaper over to Judith Miller and her “case.” This happened via the magic medium of a First Amendment struggle, the thing that makes the newspaper business more than just a business to the people prominent in it.

Miller’s defiance played to their images of Times greatness, and to their understanding of First Amendment virtue. She always described her case in the language of their principles. They heard their principles talking in the very facts of the case.

But her second attorney saw it more clearly. “I don’t want to represent a principle,” Robert Bennett told her. “I want to represent Judy Miller.” And that it is what he did. That is what she needed. The Times was the one left holding the principles.

Mostly they didn’t apply to a case that was bad on the facts, a loser on the law, quite likely to result in victory for the prosecutor, and quite possibly an ethical swamp or political sewer, since it was about using the press to discredit people without being named. All this would warn a prudent person away. It’s why other news organizations settled.

It never seems to have registered with Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.—Miller’s biggest supporter and the publisher of the newspaper—that he was fighting for the right to keep things secret, not for the right to publish what had improperly been kept from us. By taking on Miller’s secret-keeping (uncritically) the Times took on more and more responsibilities not to speak, not to publish, not to report. All this is deadly for a newspaper, and the staff knew it. By the end the readers knew it and they were crying out. Even the armchair critics knew a thing or two.

So did Bill Keller, so did Jill Abramson. But there was nothing they could do. By the time they realized what Miller’s secrets had done to their journalism, Judith Miller—by staging a First Amendment showdown she escaped from—had effectively hijacked the newspaper. Her principles were in the saddle, and rode the Times to disaster, while people of the Times watched. The newspaper never got its Robert Bennett.

And in the end her secret-keeping extended to stiffing the Times on its own story. The newspaper’s First Amendment hero wouldn’t talk, share notes, or answer any tough questions.

The spooky thing about her first person account was the suggestion that Judy Miller may have—today—security clearances that her bosses (and colleagues) do not have. This could be the reason her treatment is so singular. She said the prosecutor asked her if she still had special clearances when she met with Lewis Libby. She said she didn’t know. Does that sound good?...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Open-Source War

The Open-Source War
New York Times
Published: October 15, 2005

IN September, the Defense Department floated a solicitation for a company to build a "system of metrics to accurately assess U.S. progress in the war on terrorism" and make suggestions on how to improve the effort. As a software executive and former Air Force counterterrorist operative, I began thinking: how would I build this system and what would I recommend?

My first task would be to gauge our progress in Iraq. It is now, for better or worse, the epicenter of the war on terrorism. By most measurements, the war is going badly.

Insurgent attacks have been increasing steadily since the invasion, and the insurgents' methods are growing more sophisticated. American casualty rates remain high despite an increasingly experienced force and improvements in armor. The insurgents have also radically expanded their campaign of violence to include Iraqi troops, police officers, government officials and Shiite civilians. Since the American military's objective is to gain a monopoly on violence in Iraq, these developments indicate that it has sustained the commercial equivalent of a rapid loss in market share.

Despite this setback, the military and the Bush administration continue to claim progress, though this progress appears to be measured in the familiar metric of body counts. According to the military, it kills or captures 1,000 to 3,000 insurgents a month. Its estimate of the insurgency, however, is a mere 12,000 to 20,000 fighters. Something is clearly wrong. Simple math indicates we have destroyed the insurgency several times over since it started.

Perhaps Iraq's insurgency is much larger than the Defense Department has reported. Other observers estimate that up to 20 percent of the two million former Baathists may be involved in the insurgency. This estimate would partly explain the insurgency's ability to withstand high losses while increasing its market share of violence.

The other likely explanation is one the military itself makes: that the insurgency isn't a fragile hierarchical organization but rather a resilient network made up of small, autonomous groups. This means that the insurgency is virtually immune to attrition and decapitation. It will combine and recombine to form a viable network despite high rates of attrition. Body counts - and the military should already know this - aren't a good predictor of success.

Given this landscape, let's look at alternative strategies. First, out-innovating the insurgency will most likely prove unsuccessful. The insurgency uses an open-source community approach (similar to the decentralized development process now prevalent in the software industry) to warfare that is extremely quick and innovative. New technologies and tactics move rapidly from one end of the insurgency to the other, aided by Iraq's relatively advanced communications and transportation grid - demonstrated by the rapid increases in the sophistication of the insurgents' homemade bombs. This implies that the insurgency's innovation cycles are faster than the American military's slower bureaucratic processes (for example: its inability to deliver sufficient body and vehicle armor to our troops in Iraq).

Second, there are few visible fault lines in the insurgency that can be exploited. Like software developers in the open-source community, the insurgents have subordinated their individual goals to the common goal of the movement. This has been borne out by the relatively low levels of infighting we have seen between insurgent groups. As a result, the military is not going to find a way to chop off parts of the insurgency through political means - particularly if former Baathists are systematically excluded from participation in the new Iraqi state by the new Constitution.

Third, the United States can try to diminish the insurgency by letting it win. The disparate groups in an open-source effort are held together by a common goal. Once the goal is reached, the community often falls apart. In Iraq, the original goal for the insurgency was the withdrawal of the occupying forces. If foreign troops pull out quickly, the insurgency may fall apart. This is the same solution that was presented to Congress last month by our generals in Iraq, George Casey and John Abizaid.

Unfortunately, this solution arrived too late. There are signs that the insurgency's goal is shifting from a withdrawal of the United States military to the collapse of the Iraqi government. So, even if American troops withdraw now, violence will probably continue to escalate.

What's left? It's possible, as Microsoft has found, that there is no good monopolistic solution to a mature open-source effort. In that case, the United States might be better off adopting I.B.M.'s embrace of open source. This solution would require renouncing the state's monopoly on violence by using Shiite and Kurdish militias as a counterinsurgency. This is similar to the strategy used to halt the insurgencies in El Salvador in the 1980's and Colombia in the 1990's. In those cases, these militias used local knowledge, unconstrained tactics and high levels of motivation to defeat insurgents (this is in contrast to the ineffectiveness of Iraq's paycheck military). This option will probably work in Iraq too.

In fact, it appears the American military is embracing it. In recent campaigns in Sunni areas, hastily uniformed peshmerga and Badr militia supplemented American troops; and in Basra, Shiite militias are the de facto military power.

If an open-source counterinsurgency is the only strategic option left, it is a depressing one. The militias will probably create a situation of controlled chaos that will allow the administration to claim victory and exit the country. They will, however, exact a horrible toll on Iraq and may persist for decades. This is a far cry from spreading democracy in the Middle East. Advocates of refashioning the American military for top-down nation-building, the current flavor of the month, should recognize it as a fatal test of the concept.

John Robb is working on a book about the logic of terrorism.

Women at War

Without Reservation

A biweekly column by Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., Lt. Col. USAF (ret.)

posted 14 June 05

Women at War recently spotlighted "Women at War." This eye-opening collection of news reporting reminds us that we have both men and women on foreign battlefields that have "no rear battle areas, no forward line of troops."

Our Congress may debate what constitutes "combat," yet generally agrees that military work in occupying a country, dealing with nationalist insurgencies, and nation-building – whether performed by low-paid servicemembers or contractors at $250K a year – is in fact combat and combat support.

American liberals and neo-conservatives alike often perceive women in combat and combat support positions as a natural extension of the Civil Rights movement, a glowing example of the success of the feminist movement in America.

Interestingly, Christian traditionalists and political conservatives, who typically hold the line on both just war and the proper role of women in society, find themselves presented with a born-again President and a neo-conservative administration that embraces neither.

Images of women dead, dying, and permanently scarred by their battlefield experiences – most recently and most extremely in the American experiments in Iraq and Afghanistan – tend to jar us from our slumber back home. Dreams of an American-sponsored "liberation" are rudely broken when we watch our mothers and sisters buried, or embrace them while trying to ignore their missing limbs or faces.

The ongoing experience of women at war, in particular in Iraq and Afghanistan, should do more than tug at our heartstrings. It should launch new conversations among U.S. citizens and taxpayers.....

Friday, October 14, 2005

A *Real* Contract With America

A *Real* Contract With America

The Nation
[from the October 24, 2005 issue]

Lethal incompetence and indifference in Katrina's wake. Republican House boss Tom DeLay indicted--twice. Senate Republican leader Bill Frist under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. "Casino Jack" Abramoff's cynical cesspool of conservative corruption. Stagnant wages and rising prices. Quagmire in Iraq. Have Americans had enough? Will Katrina and corruption threaten the right's hold over Congress and open a broader challenge to the conservatism that has dominated our politics over the past twenty-five years? It's possible--but only if Democrats can make themselves a compelling force for change.

1994 and the Gingrich Revolt

The last successful effort to nationalize Congressional races in a nonpresidential year came in 1994, when Newt Gingrich and movement conservatives unfurled their Contract With America and shocked themselves by gaining fifty-four seats to take control of Congress, ending forty years of Democratic rule. That election offers pointed lessons for Democrats hoping for a similar reversal twelve years later.

Conservatives like to paint 1994 as a noble campaign run on ideas and values, with Republicans offering voters a concrete agenda and a principled choice. The reality was something different. The right set up the election with two years of unrelenting, scorched-earth assault on the newly elected Bill Clinton. The resignation under a cloud of the Democratic Speaker and minority whip, the indictment of a powerful committee chair and the post office and House banking scandals helped Gingrich paint Democrats as corrupt, arrogant and out of touch.

Gingrich's Contract With America was a notably cynical document. The controversial social passions of the conservative base--abortion, school prayer, guns--were left out. The Contract promised a balanced-budget amendment to appeal to Perot voters but also more tax cuts. It called for term limits for legislators that few would observe. Most of the measures were poll-tested conservative staples--tax cuts, a bigger military, tough on crime and welfare, plus the inevitable corporate pandering of "tort reform" and deregulation.

Substance was less important than symbol. Republicans had a specific plan that included bold political reform, and they promised to be held accountable. Despite Democratic attacks, most voters didn't know the details, yet the Contract helped the GOP present itself as a unified party with a positive plan for change.

2006: A Liberal Revolution?

Twelve years later Democrats face a far more forbidding challenge in attempting to nationalize the election. Reapportionment has left fewer contested districts. The political machine built by the right still has no Democratic equivalent. In 1994 the country was at peace. Now the Iraq War--even as Americans turn against it--divides Democratic politicians from their voters. Rebuilding after the Katrina catastrophe blurs partisan differences on the role of government. Yet the potential for a landmark election is clear. The corruption and crony capitalism of the Republican Congress and Administration are sources of unending scandal; it is simply the way they do business. The folks who came to make a revolution stayed to run a racket, and independent voters might well conclude that it's time for them to go. Moreover, Katrina exposed the tragic costs of the conservative scorn for government, and it brought to public attention the spreading poverty that marks Bush's failed economic policies....

When is a Democrat not a Democrat?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

When Is A Democrat Not A Democrat?
In monitoring the roll call votes in the United States Senate and scrutinizing the decisions of some Democrats, who routinely vote with George W. Bush and the Republican majority, I began debating when it's time to toss an incumbent Democrat in the hopes of getting a candidate whose behavior is more, well, Democratic.

While it's gratifying when it happens, I don't think we expect every Senator to vote precisely the way we would like on every issue. As the Republicans took great joy in pointing out in the last presidential election, John Kerry has one of the most liberal records in the Senate and yet even he has disappointed us on occasion.

But in looking at the most important Senate votes in 2005, Democrats like Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas vote so often with the conservative side of the aisle that one wonders how much good they do by continuing the charade of being Democrats – and, yes, I have concrete examples.

Here's a comprehensive list of the times Nelson has voted with Republicans this year on major issues....

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Gary Hart: The Art of Caring for Souls

Gary Hart

The Art of Caring for Souls
Huffington Post

Belief in the ineffectiveness of government, as we have seen in recent weeks, is self-fulfilling. For some, it is also deadly. It is a cause for wonder that those most critical of government are among those most eager to secure its power. Not believing in government, however, a conservative either does not know or care to know how to make it effective.
Response to hurricane Katrina is not proof of government’s failure; it is proof of George W. Bush’s failure to govern effectively.

The failure to govern well is a natural and a predictable result of disbelief in government. It is a brief step from disbelief in government to disbelief in governance. With many Democrats in tow, conservatives have demonized government: “Government is not the answer; government is the problem,” was Ronald Reagan’s inaugural pronouncement. How does one, not believing in government, respond when given its reins? In the case of the incumbent and previous conservative presidents the response is to not take it too seriously. Work out a couple of hours a day. Take a nap. Watch television in the evenings. Resist foreign travel and engagement in the great events of the times. Delegate authority, in many cases to incompetent people, because it really doesn’t matter much. Most of all avoid responsibility and, at all costs, accept accountability only reluctantly.

The most obvious problem with this theory of management, if you wish to call it that, is that people die. On January 31, 2001, the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, the most comprehensive review of national security in more than half a century which I co-chaired with Warren Rudman, warned of terrorist attacks and urged President Bush to create a Department of Homeland Security. Eight months later, 9.11 occurred. He was warned. He neglected to act. Another nine months went by before he reluctantly acceded to our recommendation. A year and a half was lost. He was never called to account.

Four years later hurricane Katrina revealed how slip-shod, mismanaged, uncoordinated, lackadaisical that agency still was. The president took little or no interest. He could not be bothered. This was “government” and he does not believe in government. When in public office, I heard chanted like a mantra, Why can’t we run government like a business? Perhaps only George W. Bush can imagine running a giant corporation like he tries to run the government of the world’s greatest super-power. It would soon be on the verge of bankruptcy, its customers would have fled, its management would be in chaos, and any board of directors worth its salt would have fired him. Does he really want to be held to serious business standards? As Edmund Burke had it, “a great empire and little minds go ill together.”

The columnist David Brooks recently asked how “a comprehensive governmental failure is going to restore America’s faith in big government.” It shouldn’t. But it should now cause Americans to wake up to the difference between ineffective and effective government and the consequence of electing a “leader” who not only doesn’t believe in government, he doesn’t believe in governance. To judge the effectiveness of government by the performance of the most incompetent president in modern times is a shabby refuge for discredited conservatism.

There was a time when the terrorism of the day was economic depression. Thankfully we had a president who had the genius to govern effectively and he saved democratic capitalism. But he couldn’t waste much time on an exercise bike, for he had polio.

Whatever one’s beliefs about the size of government, and the size of government has increased under Ronald Reagan and both Bushes, there ought to be some commonsense consensus that to seek to govern at all involves a solemn commitment to govern well. And to govern well means to be engaged, to step off the exercise bike and into the machinery of management, to appoint competent managers and actively inquire whether they are doing their jobs, to visit the levees before they give way, to order a snap emergency drill at Homeland Security and put a stop-watch on performance, to visit first responders (even without photographers) to see if they are awake and to offer encouragement.

Had we had a president who believed in effective, energetic government, levees might have been strengthened, drills coordinating disaster response among levels of government might have been carried out, mothballed military bases might have been made ready for victims, evacuation plans might have been current. We have now paid the somber price for the carefree neglect, the smirk and the wink, the frat-boy funny names, the swagger and the brush-cutting photo-ops. Now is the time for a sober understanding that governing America requires more than an attitude, especially one that guarantees ineffective government and incompetent governance.

We might then not have the most physically fit president in recent history, but we would surely have a more physically fit nation.

A Schoolyard Bully

A Schoolyard Bully
The Providence Journal
Oct 13, 2005, 03:27
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Imagine we're back in October 1962, at the height of the Cold War, in the thick of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The world's survival is at stake, threatened by the real possibility of nuclear war between the two superpowers, neither one prepared to concede an inch.

Then imagine this scene: The terribly tense Security Council debate is under way between the Soviet and U.S. representatives to the United Nations. Suddenly, just after Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin begins to speak, his American counterpart, Adlai Stevenson, rises and walks out of the room, leaving two note takers behind. Imagine further that the pretext for the walkout is Zorin's supposedly "terrorist" youth and the Soviet refusal to allow foreign inspectors into its nuclear facilities.

No doubt you would find such undiplomatic behavior at best shortsighted _ at worst, puerile, provocative and dangerous. No doubt even some of the most anti-communist journalists would criticize American arrogance and immaturity.

So I found myself shocked by the lack of public comment last month following America's de-facto boycott of two provocative U.N. speeches by the new president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Of course, no two historical events are perfectly analogous, but if we take seriously the Bush administration's warnings about "extremist" Iran and its nuclear-development program, then we can certainly draw a comparison. President Bush would have us believe that Iran poses an extraordinary danger to the world _ different, to be sure, from the one posed by Moscow in the 1960s, but grave nevertheless. Why snub the new Persian president at the very moment when negotiation appears urgently necessary?....

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Krugman: Will Bush Deliver?

Will Bush Deliver?
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Monday 10 October 2005

Ever since President Bush promised to rebuild the Gulf Coast in "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen," many people have asked how he plans to pay for that effort. But looking at what has (and hasn't) happened since he gave that speech, I'm starting to wonder whether they're asking the right question. How sure are we that large-scale federal aid for post-Katrina reconstruction will really materialize?

Bear with me while I make the case for doubting whether Mr. Bush will make good on his promise.

First, Mr. Bush already has a record of trying to renege on pledges to a stricken city. After 9/11 he made big promises to New York. But as soon as his bullhorn moment was past, officials began trying to wriggle out of his pledge. By early 2002 his budget director was accusing New York's elected representatives, who wanted to know what had happened to the promised aid, of engaging in a "money-grubbing game." It's not clear how much federal help the city has actually received.

With that precedent in mind, consider this: Congress has just gone on recess. By the time it returns, seven weeks will have passed since the levees broke. And the administration has spent much of that time blocking efforts to aid Katrina's victims.

I'm not sure why the news media haven't made more of the White House role in stalling a bipartisan bill that would have extended Medicaid coverage to all low-income hurricane victims - some of whom, according to surveys, can't afford needed medicine. The White House has also insisted that disaster loans to local governments, many of which no longer have a tax base, be made with the cruel and unusual provision that these loans cannot be forgiven.

Since the administration is already nickel-and-diming Katrina's victims, it's a good bet that it will do the same with reconstruction - that is, if reconstruction ever gets started....

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Framing Katrina

Framing Katrina
Hurricane Katrina revealed the failure of conservative philosophy; liberals need to stand up for their approach to governing.

By George Lakoff and John Halpin
American Prospect
Web Exclusive: 10.07.05

Hurricane Katrina exposed far more than rank incompetence and negligence by Bush administration officials. It showed Americans, in full force, the intellectual bankruptcy of modern conservatism. With millions of Americans displaced in the hurricane’s aftermath, and thousands needlessly injured or dead, the nation witnessed the pillars of modern conservative ideology -- less government, lower taxes, a strong defense -- crumble. Conservatives have lectured Americans for three decades about the evils of government and the need for a stronger nation. Turns out, the biggest threat to America’s future and security is the complete dominance of government by a conservative ideology incapable of understanding and addressing our greatest needs.

Whoever succeeds in framing Katrina will have enormous power to shape America’s future. Progressives started out with the framing advantage, because empathy, responsibility, and fairness are what progressives are about. Conservatives started out with a big disadvantage, because they promised to protect us and they failed.

But the conservatives filled the framing gap so quickly and effectively that, if progressives don’t respond immediately, conservatives may be able to parlay this disaster into an even greater power grab than they made out of September 11.

Here’s where the Katrina framing war stands.

Conservatives understand full well the importance of framing. They are busily framing Katrina to advance their right-wing agenda and expand their power. Their message is simple: The hurricane proves that conservatives were right all along....

Government by Temper Tantrum

Government by Temper Tantrum
Oct 11, 2005, 06:53
Capital Hill Blue

President George W. Bush’s temper tantrums are on the rise with White House insiders reporting increasing tongue-lashing of staffers, obscenity-filled outbursts and a leader driven to the edge by what he sees as party disloyalty and a country that no longer trusts him.

Conservative backlash over his latest Supreme Court nominee may, in fact, have pushed the President over the edge.

“He’s out of control,” one White House aide says privately. “There’s no other way to put it. His anger spills over in meetings. He berates anyone who brings him bad news but there's not a lot of good news we can bring the President right now. He calls other Republicans 'motherfucking traitors' and it is becoming more and more of a challenge to keep that anger from showing in public.”

A Bush White House that has always prided itself with an ability to shield the President’s weaknesses from the public faces a mounting list of embarrassing public incidents.

The most recent came when Bush fled Washington to avoid the largest anti-war rally since Vietnam, some reporters asked him if he was running away.

“No goddamn it,” he snapped back. “I’m going to keep track of Hurricane relief.” Then he flew out of town to a command center in Colorado to watch what was happening in New Orleans, something he could easily monitored from the situation room of The White House. Reporters present said Bush pushed his way past aides to get away from more questions.....

Monday, October 10, 2005

Did Bush administration attack peace movement with military grade biological bacteria?

Bob Fitrakis

Did Bush administration attack peace movement with military grade biological bacteria?
October 4, 2005

What do we make of the Saturday, October 1 Washington Post headline “Poison Found in Air During Anti-War Protest”?

Washington D.C. Public Health Director Greg A. Pane posed the right question in the Post article, “Why that day? That’s what is not explained.” Pane pointed that it was “just this 24-hour period and none since.”

The Post noted that Pane found “. . . it was puzzling that the finding was from a day when the mall was packed with people.”

Puzzling? Indeed. Biohazard sensors detected tularemia bacteria at the mall on Saturday, September 24.

Equally puzzling was an earlier Post report: “Weekend protesters hit travel snags.” The article reported that Amtrak trains from New York City were turned back, cancelled or delayed from heading to the nation’s capitol for the biggest peace demonstration since the Vietnam War era. Also, Metro subway cars coming into the capitol were disrupted by repairs.

Federal officials are still pondering the death of five people on U.S. soil and scores of others who were infected with U.S. military-grade anthrax in the fall of 2001.

The wholly implausible “working hypothesis” put forward by Pane is that the bacteria found in rodents, rabbits and other small animals just happened to occur on the same day the trains failed to run on time and more than quarter of a million people assembled to directly challenge the Bush regime’s illegal war in Iraq.

Coincidence theorists. You gotta love ‘em and their great faith in believing in the statistically improbable occurrence of events, rather than an alternative hypothesis: that friends of Bush (FOBs) planted the tularemia bacteria, just as they most likely sent anthrax to Democratic senators and the media.

Tularemia is one of six major bacterial bioterrorism agents, according to the Sherlock Bioterrorism Library serving the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Detrick, Maryland.

The BBC notes that tularemia is “one of the most infectious germs known to science,” and that it “takes just 10 microbes to bring on disease in humans.”

Tularemia emerged as a “plague-like disease” during a 1911 outbreak of “rabbit fever” in Tulare Lake in California. The disease progresses rapidly in humans with patients suffering from headache, fatigue, dizziness, muscle pains, loss of appetite and nausea. The disease progresses to inflamed and reddened face and eyes. The disease next attacks lymph nodes and glands, often with life-threatening complications.

Fortunately, tularemia is relatively rare in nature. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health there are generally five or fewer cases that occur each year naturally. The Kansas City Missouri Health Department tells us that most cases that occur naturally are found in “south, central and western states,” not Washington D.C.

Unfortunately, tularemia has been long used as a military biological weapon. We should consider the presence of tularemia a shot across the bow to the peace movement from an administration willing to cheat, steal, torture, lie and kill to further its political agenda. Karl Rove, the president’s brain, brags of his worship of Machiavelli and will do anything to keep his Texas prince in power.

This history of tularemia suggests it is a long-standing weapon used by fascists, militarists and authoritarians.

Japanese germ warfare research units operating in Manchuria between 1932-45 admit to possessing the tularemia bacteria.

The Sunshine Project reported in May 2003 that the German Ministry of Defense “remains engaged in a controversial biodefense research project involving tularemia bacteria that has been genetically engineered to withstand antibiotic treatment.”

Both the United States and the Soviet Union possessed the military strain Francisella tularensis during the Cold War. Dr. Kenneth Alibek (formerly known as Kanatjan Alibekov) the number two man in the former Soviet Union’s biochemical operations describes in great detail in his book “Biohazard” how the Soviets deployed Francisella tularensis against the Nazis in the Battle of Stalingrad.

In another one of those bizarre coincidences, Ken Alibek was also involved in the U.S. anthrax project run by the nonprofit Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio. Considered the DIA’s and the CIA’s favorite nonprofit contractor, Battelle has been involved, according to the New York Times and the Columbus Dispatch, with manufacturing the infamous trillion spores per gram Ames (as in Iowa) silica-impregnated anthrax. Officially, the work is done for “defensive” purposes in order to produce a vaccine.

Battelle was in partnership with BioPort of Lansing, Michigan in officially producing the anthrax vaccine for the United States.

The New York Times reported in 1998 that BioPort’s owners included Admiral William Crowe, Jr., a former chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and Ambassador to Britain during the Clinton years. One of Crowe’s partners is the mysterious Fuad El-Hibri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent and a reported business associate of the bin Laden family.

BioPort is partly owned by a top-secret British biowarfare consortium Porton International. Laura Rozen pointed out in a article that El-Hibri, then BioPort’s CEO, “made a fortune” for Porton International from its monopoly on the anthrax vaccine during the first Gulf War.

The New York Times reported that the CIA ran a top secret anthrax project through Battelle code-named “Clear Vision.” There was also another anthrax project at Battelle’s central Ohio West Jefferson labs called “Project Jefferson.”

Alibek has been listed as both a classified consultant with the CIA and Battelle. A 1998 New Yorker article outlines the joint work of Alibek and William C. Patrick, III. Patrick wrote a report on the potential of sending anthrax through the mail.

Unless federal officials are willing to think the unthinkable, but obvious, and have the tularemia samples independently tested, we’ll never know whether a deliberate attack occurred against peaceful U.S. citizens exercising their First Amendment rights, or some freakish and bizarre coincidence occurred.

In another coincidence, it was the Battelle Memorial Institute that “botched” the exit polls in the 2002 election that would have served as protection against the unexplainable defeat of Senator Max Cleland of Georgia who was up 9-12 points in the tracking polls just prior to Election Day.

The Free Press calls for an independent investigation of the tularemia bacteria found on the mall on September 24, not to be conducted by any federal officials in the Bush administration or Battelle. With Minister Louis Farrakhan calling for a Million More March on Washington for October 14-16, it is more important now than ever.

Bob Fitrakis is the author of The Fitrakis Files: Spooks, Nukes and Nazis.He is editor of the Free Press and He has a Ph.D. in Political Science and a J.D. The story of the 2004 stolen election in Ohio he co-authored with Harvey Wasserman is listed as number three in Project Censored's most censored stories of the year.