Top Bush Scandals of 2003, Part I: Iraq|
Bob Fertik and Ted Kahl
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As the 2004 election year begins, we are astonished to discover that a handful of Americans actually believe George W. Bush should be given four more years in the White House. Obviously this is the result of too much holiday eggnog.
So in the spirit of all those year-ending "top" lists of 2003, here is a quick refresher list of the Top Bush Scandals of 2003. We hope you will send this and future lists to any friends who think they might vote for Bush in 2004.
Because there are so MANY scandals, we will publish our list in two parts, the first part being devoted strictly to the Mother of All Scandals - Iraq.
Bush's invasion of Iraq may be the single greatest scandal in American history, thoroughly eclipsing such major scandals as Watergate and Teapot Dome, not to mention the utterly insignificant Lewinsky affair. Sometime in the future, historians will judge whether it marked the end of American Democracy and the start of a totalitarian American Empire.
- Bush's Big Lie: Iraqi WMD. The invasion of Iraq was based on one of the Biggest Lies in history: that Iraq possessed WMD's that could be used against the United States. The clearest lie was Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address, when he declared: "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" - a claim that had been thoroughly discredited by U.S. intelligence. Of course, this was just the tip of the iceberg of Bush's lies about Iraq. Yet Bush still refuses to admit Iraq had no WMD's, saying "what's the difference" between Iraq's actual possession of WMD's and "the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons." And he has spent $700 million of taxpayer dollars to perpetuate the charade of a hunt for WMD's that he knows do not exist.
- 479 Dead Soldiers, Thousands of Dead Iraqis, and $166 Billion - in 2003 Alone. Another Big Lie was Bush's claim that the U.S. would be welcomed as liberators by the Iraqi people. But the year 2003 closed with 479 U.S. soldiers dead, and thousands more wounded. Thousands of Iraqi civilians died as well, with countless families devastated. U.S. taxpayers spent $166 billion as the first payment for an occupation that will last at least through 2006, and possibly for decades. One reason the occupation has been so costly in lives and dollars was the Pentagon's rejection of the detailed plans prepared by the State Department.
- The Treasonous "Outing" of Valeria Plame. After former Ambassador Joseph Wilson exposed Bush's Niger uranium claim as a lie, two Bush administration officials sought revenge by exposing his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent, thus endangering her life and the lives of her network of informants, and committing a most serious crime. If Bush wanted to punish the criminals in his inner circle, he could have demanded the immediate self-identification of the guilty individuals, called upon Bob Novak to reveal his sources, and immediately appointed a Special Prosecutor. Instead, he turned the investigation over to his political appointees, John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez, whose primary interests are protecting Bush - rather than prosecuting criminals.
- Creating an Empire. So why did Bush invade Iraq? Bush's policy was driven by the neoconservative members of the Project for a New American Century, who unsuccessfully pressured President Clinton to invade Iraq in 1998, and then wrote a blueprint for Bush in September 2000 to create a U.S. global empire. In the context of Iraq, they wrote: "The need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." Immediately after September 11, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle decided to use American anger over the attack to justify the invasion of Iraq to create this permanent "American force presence." Bush has never explained his imperial plan to Congress or the American people, and the media pretends this plan does not exist.
- Principal War Crime: "Aggressive War." The invasion of Iraq was unprovoked by any hostile action by Iraq, since Iraq never threatened the United States or any of its neighbors. When the U.S. brought Iraq's alleged possession of WMD before the U.N. in 2002, and won passage of U.N. Resolution 1441, Iraq opened all of its territory - including the Presidential Palaces - to UN weapons inspectors. Because Bush's invasion was unprovoked, it constituted an "aggressive war", which violated the U.N. Charter that the U.S. helped draft. Indeed, Nazi leaders were prosecuted at Nuremberg for this very crime.
- Additional War Crimes: Deaths of Civilians and Journalists. The conduct of the war was marked by a number of individual war crimes. On several occasions Iraqi civilians were massacred, including at least 62 civilians at the Shu'ale market on March 28, at least 33 civilians at Hilla on April 1, at least 20 civilians in the Al-Dora neighbourhood of Baghdad on April 10, and at least 10 civilians in Mosul on April 16. A number of war crimes cases have been filed by human rights groups, covering the use of civilian-targeted weapons (cluster bombs, depleted uranium ammunition and fuel-air explosives), the treatment of prisoners of war, and the possibly deliberate killing of several journalists, most notably Al-Jazeera reporter Tariq Ayoub and two journalists at the Palestine Hotel.
- Ongoing Plan to Brainwash Americans. There was never any evidence of Iraqi WMD's or of Iraq's connection to September 11. But the White House and the Pentagon used a massive disinformation campaign to "sell" the war to the American people before the invasion, and that disinformation campaign is still ongoing. This disinformation campaign has been conducted through "leaks" to both the mainstream media (including front page NY Times propaganda by Judith Miller about Iraq's aluminum tubes) and to the right-wing media. This disinformation campaign successfully convinced a majority of Americans that Saddam was involved with September 11, a lie that Bush himself actually refuted. Still, this campaign continues, most recently with the alleged memo from the head of Iraqi intelligence claiming Mohamed Atta spent 3 days being trained in Iraq before the September 11 attack; this memo was revealed as yet another hoax, since FBI records show Atta was in the U.S. at the time. There has been no Congressional investigation of this disinformation campaign, and it will most likely continue through election day and beyond.
- Lying to Congress. Bush not only lied to the American people and the world, but he also lied to Congress, which is a crime. These lies were contained in secret intelligence briefings, including one briefing to 75 Senators that claimed Iraq had WMD's and the ability to deliver them to East Coast cities using unmanned aerial vehicles. Neither the WMD's or the UAV's existed. Donald Rumsfeld probably lied to Senator Robert Byrd when he claimed, "I have no knowledge of US companies or government being involved in assisting Iraq develop chemical, biological or nuclear weapons."
- Politically Manipulating Intelligence. America's $30 billion intelligence agencies are supposed to give strictly accurate information to the President. But when the intelligence agencies could not find evidence of Iraqi WMD's, Vice President Dick Cheney made several unprecedented visits to the CIA to intimidate intelligence officials into writing deliberately misleading reports. In addition, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created the Office of Special Plans to "stovepipe" false intelligence directly to top administration officials. Republicans have blocked efforts by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee to fully investigate this scandal.
- Recklessly Endangering Soldiers' Lives. On July 3, Bush actually invited Iraqi opponents to attack U.S. troops, when he said "Bring 'em on." No President in history has ever encouraged our adversary to attack American troops. Bush has also forced soldiers to serve as guinea pigs in a massive experimental use of anthrax and smallpox vaccines, yet the Pentagon has covered up the extent of death and illness caused by these vaccines. And Bush has sent troops into dangerous occupation duty with inadequate protective gear.
- Treating Soldiers with Contempt. While nearly 500 soldiers have died, Bush has refused to attend a single funeral - even while he found time to attend dozens of million-dollar campaign fundraising events. Bush has prohibited photographs of returning caskets, in a naked effort to keep Americans ignorant of the toll in soldiers' lives. Bush also cut veterans' benefits, thus revealing his contempt for current and past soldiers. He betrayed Gulf War veterans who were tortured by Saddam by fighting their claims for financial compensation. And despite the fact that Bush went AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard in 1972, he put on a uniform and landed on the deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln to exploit the true heroism of combat soldiers for his own personal political gain.
- Badly Weakening the Military. The occupation of Iraq has tied down the bulk of the U.S. military, and Bush has put returning troops in the U.S. on the lowest state of alert. As a result, the U.S. would be unable to respond quickly to an attack on the U.S. or our overseas interests. Bush has used "stop-loss" orders to force at least 40,000 U.S. soldiers to serve beyond the end of their tour of duty, leaving soldiers - and their families - feeling like slaves. And because troops feel abused, re-enlistment rates are dropping, and our armed forces are losing good, experienced soldiers.
- Creating Worldwide Contempt for the U.S. By lying to the world, Bush has lost all respect for the U.S. by the people of the world. Bush has alienated our historic allies through his bullying tactics, including threatening aid cutoffs and wiretapping their U.N. delegations. Worst of all, Bush has created hatred among millions of Muslims who believe the U.S. plans an endless war against them.
- Increasing the Threat of Terrorism. Bush claims his invasion of Iraq reduced the threat of terrorism against Americans, but the opposite is true. Bush admitted this when he told the American people on September 7 that Iraq had become "the central front" in the war on terror, while Iraq was not a source of terrorism before the war. Moreover, Bush's failure to protect Iraq's nuclear facility at Tuwaitha allowed looters to steal radioactive material they could sell to terrorists for a "dirty bomb." Bush's invasion of Iraq diverted resources from the war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and left Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al Zwahiri in command of its global terror network. Bush's neglect of Afghanistan has allowed the Taliban to regroup in Pakistan, where it threatens to overthrow Musharraf's government and put Pakistan's nuclear weapons in the hands of Islamic extremists.
- Hiring of Murderers and Training of Assassins. On the very day (November 4) that Bush denounced the "torturers and murders [sic] and thugs that used to benefit from Saddam Hussein's regime," he betrayed the Iraqi people by hiring former employees of Saddam's murderous security services. In December, Bush formed assassination squads to murder targeted Iraqis.
- Destruction of Priceless Antiquities. The Pentagon ignored warnings of the looting that would follow the overthrow of the Iraqi government, and failed to protect the ancient cultural heritage of Iraq.
- War Profiteering. Bush has promoted war profiteering by giving no-bid cost-plus contracts to Halliburton. Bush also allowed former top officials like 2000 campaign manager Joe Allbaugh to broker lucrative reconstruction contracts.
- Coverup of Cheney's Energy Task Force. Millions of people in the U.S. and abroad believe Bush invaded Iraq partly in order to steal its oil for the benefit of U.S. oil companies. If this is true, then the plans for this invasion may well have been discussed by Cheney's Energy Task Force, which included Bush's largest donors from the oil industry. Yet Bush refuses to provide Congress or journalists with documents from the Energy Task Force, and has responded to a series of defeats in court by filing further appeals, in order to delay the release of the documents for as long as possible.
- The Hoaxes: Jessica Lynch, Mission Accomplished, the Air Force One Sighting, and the Decoration Turkey. These would be the most trivial of Bush's Iraq scandals, except that they demonstrated the Bush's administration's willingness to lie about absolutely anything - large or small - to get a few days of positive publicity during an election year.
- Bush's Madness. It is unclear whether the war in Iraq has affected George Bush's actual sanity. He has made delusional claims, such as telling the Palestinian Prime Minister, "[God] instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did." In July, he told reporters "We gave [Saddam] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." Speaking at a fundraiser in NJ on December 1, Bush claimed he eliminated Weapons of Mass Destruction from Iraq. These statements suggest Bush may be insane or drugged.