Archive for the 'Bush/Cheney Administration' Category

Tom Ridge Says Bush May Have Raised Terror Alert out of Politics

All those who believed that the Bush/Cheney White House at least in the two or three years following the horrendous attacks and in the wake of the carnage of 9/11, used the newly established U.S Department of Homeland Security to exploit fear for political gain, tragically may have been all too correct. That is if the first Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, is to be believed in his forthcoming book.

The Huffington Post via U.S News and World Report says that in his upcoming book, Ridge will allege amongst other matters, that despite heading the Department formed to monitor and combat terrorist threats both on and in the United States of America, he was barred from attending National Security Council meetings, was kept out of the loop on FBI activities and findings, and just before the 2004 Presidential Elections the administration had exerted pressure on Ridge to up the threat level for reasons he now ascribes to politics rather then intelligence about any attacks.

According to the article Ridge was so incensed he thought it was worth resigning over and perhaps that is why he did not serve in a second Bush/Cheney administration. Despite this when questions were raised at the time, Ridge denied politics had anything to do with raising the threat level. It is great he is making those revelations now, but if an administration was so craven to use the instruments of National Security for political gain and this is in fact true, Ridge should have resigned right away and informed the public that the administration screamed terrorist attack not based on national security but political calculation. Personally, in those days I would have thought an allegation such as that was far fetched, but an official like Ridge coming out and exposing the truth (again if its true and not just an attempt to hock books), it would have given such claims at least some credence, and maybe saved some national dignity in the process.

But what is painfully obvious now, the hype leading up to the Iraq War if not made so by the torture memos, excessive secrecy, domestic spying, or accusing political rivals of wanting to erode this nation’s strength; is that the Bush/Cheney’s would take anything whether it be profound,non-existent, even contrary to reason, against the interests of their own political party, the nation’s welfare, prosperity, and even the lives of thousands of men and women to further their agenda and consolidate power. In the wake of all these other allegations of legally questionable, immoral, and even outright illegal conduct by the now previous administration this hardly seems like a surprise. But it is just further proof that for eight years that we had a government that cast aside an notion of accountability, proof, or the old notion that “Politics stops at the water’s edge”.

Still these statements if true, would show that even a national tragedy which left in its wake debris carnage, and thousands slaughtered; the Bush/Cheney administration perceived it as an issue just as ripe for political exploitation and demagoguery as tax cuts, spending, and abortion are in a typical election year. Where most Americans saw tragedy, bloodshed, peril, and the grief of losing someone under such violent circumstances; the Bush/ Cheney white house saw little more then a political issue to bludgeon opponents, dissent, and anyone who questioned their wisdom with, and as an opportunity to radically shift the apparatus and values of our government and country in a more authoritarian direction, while keeping those charged with our safety and from true danger uninformed and possibly the United States vulnerable to such an attack.

Now you can call that mindset many things; opportunistic, gloom and doom; but you can’t call it the accountable, honest, prudent, dignified, or effective conduct of a government of liberty loving people. Too bad we didn’t have all the people yelling about threats to our freedom regarding health care reform there when liberty was really under attack in an area where the government has great power and can do the most damage.

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NY Times Reports that Cheney Advocated the Use of Millitary Forces on U.S Soil to Apprehend Terror Suspects

A report over the weekend from the New York Times, states that in 2002 President Bush was advised then by— surprise, surprise— Vice President Dick Cheney and several Cheney allies that the President should deploy elements of the U.S Military to be deployed into a Buffalo, NY suburb to apprehend the so-called Laqawana six, a sextet of Yemense immigrants suspected of being an Al-Queda cell.

The rationale for a measure that resembles a measure that would be taken in a South American, African, or Middle Eastern autocratic government; then an American government was that the amount of evidence was not sufficient to charge the men and find them guilty. Cheney, his chief legal advisor David Attington, and some of the more neoconservative elements of the administration and Defense Department also advocated the use of Federal Military troops to apprehend the men and hold them as enemy combatants.

Thankfully for the people of Buffalo New York, the Empire State, legal precedent, U.S History, America, domestic security, and the U.S Constitution; Bush rejected the proposal by Cheney, and in a phrase I would seldom use in describing the actions of the Bush/Cheney administration— cooler heads prevailed. The FBI arrested five of the six individuals while the one remaining member was apprehended overseas.

WASHINGTON — Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.

Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants.

Mr. Bush ultimately decided against the proposal to use military force.

Regardless of the actual outcome and decision however, it is tragic and horrifying that the U.S Federal government would even contemplate using U.S military forces on its own soil to apprehend terrorism suspects and set a precedent that could allow this to be done in the future and done for other reasons. You show me a government that unleashes its armed forces on its domestic soil with no oversight, and I will show you a land ruled by tyrants. Even if you support the secretive nature and acquisition of Executive power under the Bush/Cheney administration is a non-issue and the President was bold and successful with his foreign and national security policy; do you really want say the Obama administration tio have such a power to deploy U.S military forces into U.S cities and small towns to arrest terror suspects and be used for intelligence gathering purposes? I don’t, nor would most of those who truely treasure freedom. I don’t think any administration without the approval of congress and the respective states should have that power.

The fourth Amendment of the U.S Constitution forbids unreasonable search and seizure of Americans, residences, and property. A 1878 law, the Posse Compatius Act made law in the wake of southern reconstruction, prohibits the deployment of active duty U.S military forces on U.S soil without the explicit consent of the Congress or the Constitution.

The fact that this would be suggested by any administration is shocking, terrifying and a sorry point in the history of the constitution, the American Executive Branch, and U.S History. But what is not surprising is that a suggestion would be expressed so vigorously and with such zeal if expressed at all would be from someone in the Bush/Cheney administration, and even less surprising is that it would be expressed by Dick Cheney, who relishes the accumulation and showcasing of authoritarian Executive power and such contempt for the freedoms and checks and balances that secure the values of freedom, that he comes off as being more fit as the leader of a third world military Junta or a totalitarian regime, then a strong liberty loving republic with robust democratic roots such as America. Cheney and other elements in the Bush/Cheney administration have mocked the idea of oversight, shunned anything resembling public disclosure for nearly anything, believes the fourth amendment and other privacy and civil liberties freedoms that are the reason America is great, and have cast aside the Geneva Conventions and the concept of Human Rights that America and much of the civilized world have promoted for a little over half a century.

Many in America now, especially on the Conservative right are accusing Obama and the federal government of overreach into the affairs of states and endangering freedom with such policies as the Stimulus package and his call for Health Care Reform; even calling branding him a socialist and a fascist. However, some of these same elements aren’t disturbed by such a blatantly illegal and atrocious exercise of power; and are ignorantly willing to cede any freedom if it is under the auspices of security. That is when questioning the government and applying laws that ensure that law abiding Americans and the foundation that the great chapel of America is constructed on, is most vital and that when some of the interests of the public and elements of the U.S government diverge the greatest.

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Audit Suggests U.S cut Embassy Staff, Costs at Embassy in Iraq

The Iraq war since 2003 has many have argued not only been a devastating loss of U.S soldiers and civilians for motives that are at best questionable, but also an endeavor rife with financial waste and corporate cronyism.

An article in the Washington Post an audit now suggests that there be cuts in the U.S embassy staffing in Iraq, that has cost $700 million to construct, consisting of 21 buildings and is the largest U.S embassy in the world with an astounding 1,873 employees. Yeah, and the Iraqi people are supposed to believe we have no long term ambitions in Iraq. Some would say that if the message an occupying power wants to send is self sufficiency and independence, building a wasteful and almost obscenely mascadonic embassy might not exactly be the most credible way. And as with much of what the Bush/Cheney administration did, it was a free for all for contractors.

For more than five years following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the embassy was housed in Saddam Hussein’s Republican Palace inside the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad. In the Bush administration, the audit said, normal staffing limits were not imposed, and cost “did not seem to be a factor.”

Construction on a new embassy compound began in 2005 — 21 buildings on 104 highly secured acres, costing more than $700 million.

Seriously, we have $700 million wasted on this palace and that is not counting the annual costs required to operate the embassy. We should sell it back to the Iraqi people, and use some of the money to build a much more humble and smaller embassy.That is if we truly do have no ambitions to indefinitely occupy the country.

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Investigate and Prosecute

Here is yet another disturbing, but not surprising allegation that former Vice President Cheney ordered that information on a secret CIA program ordered to kill Al-Queda terrorists, not be shared with members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees, a violation of the law, so the legislative branch can have oversight and knowledge of the CIA’s activities.

The revelations were made regarding the program that even current CIA director Leon Paneta lacked knowledge of until June when he ended the program.

WASHINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) – The CIA withheld information from Congress about a secret counter terrorism program on orders from former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, a leading U.S. senator said on Sunday.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told Fox News Sunday that CIA Director Leon Panetta disclosed Cheney’s involvement when he briefed members of Congress two weeks ago. She said Panetta told them he had canceled the program.

President Barack Obama appointed Panetta to head the agency early this year. The still-secret program, which The New York Times said never became operational, began after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

News of Cheney’s involvement, first reported by the Times late on Saturday, prompted an outpouring of criticism by Obama’s fellow Democrats and support by rival Republicans in Congress.

Now calls for investigations and possible prosecutions of officials in the small elite of the Bush/Cheney inner circle, regarding torture and wiretapping, could be reawakened after a period when such calls had begun to become more muted and Attorney General Eric Holder is even raising such possibilities.

Many Conservative critics worry this is politically motivated and that since those was a low level program that at least as far as was never “fully operational” or was employed, and if so would be utilized to target top Al-Queda Janissary’s, that this shouldn’t be met with such outrage.

However, National Security is a matter that the American people have the most at stake and that transparency to a certain degree is of the greatest value. That doesn’t mean the whole world should have knowledge of military troop movements, or much our intelligence, but that at least Congressional Intelligence committees can exercises oversight and ensure that any programs aren’t either laden with waste or used in a way that breaks laws, violates liberties of American citizens, and be employed in the most efficacious manner.

Rather or not the aims of this program were admirable or just is irrelevant. Since at least 2001 a deplorable and dangerous culture where legislative power is usurped routinely, judicial power is manipulated, oversight is not administered, and a small circle of elites surrounding the Executive Branch seeks to maximize its authority and powers in matters both salient and trivial, large and small. That has to end and oversight and a level of transparency must be reintroduced so that a government that is based not on rickety ideology, an avarice for power, and incompetence in policy execution can be concluded and condemned for being the abhorrence to our system of what it is.

This is just one in a long train of possible infractions of the law regarding in the amassing of intelligence as well as allegations of torture and civil liberties violations. The mantra of “look forward, not backward” have been iterated by those in both parties. That is tempting, especially as we find ourselves in such a grave and deeply involved in foreign policy, national security, and economic challenges. But if the law was broken we must find out. Not only because a law could have been seriously broken, but because leniency in acting to penalize such a crime would set a precedent that will be used by this and other future administrations to justify similar controversial policies and continue to cast aside the system of checks and balances that oversight by the other two branches of government provides that protects the American people from the dangers and excesses that can result from power.

Also whenever in the annals of History a wrong has been committed and then goes unpunished or unaddressed, it paves the way for what is at best a repeat of that wrong or the foundation for something far worse. In the 1838 there was ‘the trail of tears’ where by order of President Andrew Jackson (and in violation of a Supreme Court ruling) around 42 million Cherokee were unjustly removed and resulted in the deaths of numerous Cherokee Indians, about sixty years later we saw another atrocious episode towards the Native American with the massacre of Wounded Knee. We had slavery and the ineffectiveness in dealing with the strife and horrendous crime of slavery led to decades of Jim Crow segregation and violence directed towards African-Americans. We had World War I and the failure to address the postwar situation, paved the way for the craven brutality of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. We failed to penalize those responsible for the Palmer Raids and Red Scare of the 1920s, and we got McCarthyism and the red scare of the 1950s. We failed to effectively punish those in the Nixon administration who wronged this country in the Watergate Scandal and COINTELPRO and we got the possible violations of law and national principles that have come to surface as a result of the previous administration.

Inaction will be seen as a new standard of good and lawful policy, and in the future injustice or ineptitude is certainly set to follow in the near future. The steady stream of allegations and the alarming use of secrecy by the last administration needs to be investigated, penalized, and condemned as the violation of our national principles that it is.

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Dick Cheney Expresses Anxieties about Possible Waste of Sacrifices

Today is the date for the bulk of U.S forces to cede control of security operations to Iraqi forces. But Think Progress.org reports former Vice President Dick Cheney says he is worried that the U.S might end up “wasting” the ample time, energy, money, and lives that we have injected into Iraq.

“But what he says concerns me: That there is still a continuing problem. One might speculate that insurgents are waiting as soon as they get an opportunity to launch more attacks.

“I hope Iraqis can deal with it. At some point they have to stand on their own. But I would not want to see the U.S. waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point.“

Just because at some point the security situation there might crumble, is not a logical or desirable reason to remain occupying that nation and managing its affairs in perpetuity. Ultimately Iraq is the country not of the United States or the neoconservatives who view this as a hybrid of both a revolutionary movement and an academic exercise, but of the Iraqis who are natives of that very young country.

But U.S Generals and commanders on the ground are expressing greater optimism as the deadline approaches.

Concerning the point about the possibility that we will “waste all the tremendous sacrifice that us gotten us to this point”, it is a bit late for that anxiety to arise. Six years and 4,316 U.S Casualties later, with thousands of others wounded and mangled by warfare, countless Iraqi casualties, U.S global credibility shaken, and a reservoir of wealth and energy spent, the Vice President nor anyone else can articulate a tangible gain for the U.S that comports with the facts that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction, no Iraq connections to 9/11, and no tangible Iraq-Al-Queda links; as the security situation still remains volatile and the U.S backed government remains one of the most corrupt governments on the planet.

Much has already been wasted and much has been lost. But it wasn’t done by the people of the U.S nor our gallant fighting forces, but by the Vice President and his small circle in and allied with the Bush/Cheney administration.

Besides, though U.S and allied forces are set to pull back from the city a large amount of troops will remain in the country as “advisers” if the Iraqis are in need of aid. And there are some reports that some U.S forces may remain stationed in the cities even after the deadline.

Update: (4:27PM/ET)- The fact that the Iraqis are having celebrations regarding tomorrows’ anticipated change of mission of the U.S to a more advisory role suggests that unlike with Dick Cheney, the Iraqi people and the American people alike are relieved to cede control of Iraqi people to the country men and women who live on them and own them. Lets just hope that with this new “advisory” role we don’t get sucked back into to fighting the Iraqi people’s battles for them. Its time to have Iraq for the Iraqis.

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A Guide to Torture Supporters

(H/T: Andrew Sullivan) Click on the Pic to read.



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Former Commander of U.S Forces In Iraq Calls For a Truth Commision

That according to this piece in the Washington Independent.

Via Zachary Roth at TPMmuckraker, The Huffington Post reports that retired Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, called for a truth commission on torture. He’s the first such Bush-era senior official or military officer who might face sanctions from such a commission to propose creating one.

Sanchez, you’ll recall, received a wink-and-nod mixed message from Gen. Geoffrey Miller, then the commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, to “Gitmo-ize” interrogations in Iraq. (The mixture in that message is that Guantanamo was supposed to be exempt from the Geneva Conventions while Iraq was supposed to apply them, so “Gitmo-izing” meant violating international law that on paper Sanchez was supposed to follow.) Shortly thereafter, Sanchez issued a September 2003 memorandum authorizing SERE-derived interrogation techniques like “military working dogs, stress positions, sleep deprivation, loud music, and light control.” Although a scandalized U.S. Central Command withdrew Sanchez’s memo the following month, the damage was done, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s recent torture report (pdf), as Abu Ghraib guards and interrogators that fall acted in line with Sanchez’s instructions. His career basically ended as a result — well, that and the disastrous war he presided over — and Sanchez has expressed bitterness that his future should have to be blighted by something as trivial as an international disgrace and possible war crime.


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