Singing the Bite Me Song


« April 2005 | Main | June 2005 »

May 29, 2005

Is George W. Bush a worse president than Nixon?

Historians take an informal survey and 81% rate the Bush presidency a failure.

Is this significant or simply a partisan response? One could ask the same question from other outgrowths of the Middle Ages Enlightenment's response to an authoritarian ruling Aristocracy and Church: does a rigorous course of learning, study, and examination focused on the study of history give one ANY special insight?

If you are inclined to dismiss these results, please that factor into consideration. I'd never argue for the replacement of one dictatorial authority with another for us to blindly follow. I will blindly follow NO authority. But all I ask is: does the rigor of the course of study for a historian, the insight, count for anything?

Link: History News Network: Historians vs. George W. Bush .

5-17-04: News at Home

Historians vs. George W. Bush

By Robert S. McElvaine

Mr. McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College. He is the author of EVE'S SEED: BIOLOGY, THE SEXES AND THE COURSE OF HISTORY (McGraw-Hill).

Although his approval ratings have slipped somewhat in recent weeks, President George W. Bush still enjoys the overall support of nearly half of the American people. He does not, however, fare nearly so well among professional historians.

A recent informal, unscientific survey of historians conducted at my suggestion by George Mason University’s History News Network found that eight in ten historians responding rate the current presidency an overall failure.

Of 415 historians who expressed a view of President Bush’s administration to this point as a success or failure, 338 classified it as a failure and 77 as a success. (Moreover, it seems likely that at least eight of those who said it is a success were being sarcastic, since seven said Bush’s presidency is only the best since Clinton’s and one named Millard Fillmore.) Twelve percent of all the historians who responded rate the current presidency the worst in all of American history, not too far behind the 19 percent who see it at this point as an overall success.

Among the cautions that must be raised about the survey is just what “success” means. Some of the historians rightly pointed out that it would be hard to argue that the Bush presidency has not so far been a political success—or, for that matter that President Bush has not been remarkably successful in achieving his objectives in Congress. But those meanings of success are by no means incompatible with the assessment that the Bush presidency is a disaster. “His presidency has been remarkably successful,” one historian declared, “in its pursuit of disastrous policies.” “I think the Bush administration has been quite successful in achieving its political objectives,” another commented, “which makes it a disaster for us.”

Additionally, it is, of course, as one respondent rightly noted, “way too early to make a valid comparison (we need another 50 years).” And such an informal survey is plainly not scientifically reliable. Yet the results are so overwhelming and so different from the perceptions of the general public that an attempt to explain and assess their reactions merits our attention. It may be, as one pro-Bush historian said in his or her written response to the poll, “I suspect that this poll will tell us nothing about President Bush’s performance vis-à-vis his peer group, but may confirm what we already know about the current crop of history professors.” The liberal-left proclivities of much of the academic world are well documented, and some observers will dismiss the findings as the mere rantings of a disaffected professoriate.

[...]

Yet it seems clear that a similar survey taken during the presidency of Bush’s father would not have yielded results nearly as condemnatory. And, for all the distaste liberal historians had for Ronald Reagan, relatively few would have rated his administration as worse than that of Richard Nixon. Yet today 57 percent of all the historians who participated in the survey (and 70 percent of those who see the Bush presidency as a failure) either name someone prior to Nixon or say that Bush’s presidency is the worst ever, meaning that they rate it as worse than the two presidencies in the past half century that liberals have most loved to hate, those of Nixon and Reagan. One who made the comparison with Nixon explicit wrote, “Indeed, Bush puts Nixon into a more favorable light. He has trashed the image and reputation of the United States throughout the world; he has offended many of our previously close allies; he has burdened future generations with incredible debt; he has created an unnecessary war to further his domestic political objectives; he has suborned the civil rights of our citizens; he has destroyed previous environmental efforts by government in favor of his coterie of exploiters; he has surrounded himself with a cabal ideological adventurers . . . .”

Why should the views of historians on the current president matter?

I do not share the view of another respondent that “until we have gained access to the archival record of this president, we [historians] are no better at evaluating it than any other voter.” Academic historians, no matter their ideological bias, have some expertise in assessing what makes for a successful or unsuccessful presidency; we have a long-term perspective in which to view the actions of a current chief executive.

The past presidencies most commonly linked with the current administration include all of those that are usually rated as the worst in the nation’s history: Nixon, Harding, Hoover, Buchanan, Coolidge, Andrew Johnson, Grant, and McKinley. The only president who appeared prominently on both the favorable and unfavorable lists was Ronald Reagan. Forty-seven historians said Bush is the best president since Reagan, while 38 said he is the worst since Reagan. Almost all of the historians who rate the Bush presidency a success are Reagan admirers. Indeed, no other president (leaving aside the presumably mostly tongue-in-cheek mentions of Clinton) was named by more than four of the historians who took a favorable view of the current presidency.

[...]

Several charges against the Bush administration arose repeatedly in the comments of historians who responded to the survey. Among them were: the doctrine of pre-emptive war, crony capitalism/being “completely in bed with certain corporate interests,” bankruptcy/fiscal irresponsibility, military adventurism, trampling of civil liberties, and anti-environmental policies.

[...]

EVER: The second most common response from historians, trailing only Nixon, was that the current presidency is the worst in American history. A few examples will serve to provide the flavor of such condemnations. “Although previous presidents have led the nation into ill-advised wars, no predecessor managed to turn America into an unprovoked aggressor. No predecessor so thoroughly managed to confirm the impressions of those who already hated America. No predecessor so effectively convinced such a wide range of world opinion that America is an imperialist threat to world peace. I don 't think that you can do much worse than that.”

“Bush is horrendous; there is no comparison with previous presidents, most of whom have been bad.”

“He is blatantly a puppet for corporate interests, who care only about their own greed and have no sense of civic responsibility or community service. He lies, constantly and often, seemingly without control, and he lied about his invasion into a sovereign country, again for corporate interests; many people have died and been maimed, and that has been lied about too. He grandstands and mugs in a shameful manner, befitting a snake oil salesman, not a statesman. He does not think, process, or speak well, and is emotionally immature due to, among other things, his lack of recovery from substance abuse. The term is "dry drunk". He is an abject embarrassment/pariah overseas; the rest of the world hates him . . . . . He is, by far, the most irresponsible, unethical, inexcusable occupant of our formerly highest office in the land that there has ever been.”

“George W. Bush's presidency is the pernicious enemy of American freedom, compassion, and community; of world peace; and of life itself as it has evolved for millennia on large sections of the planet. The worst president ever? Let history judge him.”

“This president is unique in his failures.”

And then there was this split ballot, comparing the George W. Bush presidencies failures in distinct areas. The George W. Bush presidency is the worst since:

“In terms of economic damage, Reagan.

In terms of imperialism, T Roosevelt.

In terms of dishonesty in government, Nixon.

In terms of affable incompetence, Harding.

In terms of corruption, Grant.

In terms of general lassitude and cluelessness, Coolidge.

In terms of personal dishonesty, Clinton.

In terms of religious arrogance, Wilson.”

[...]


May 29, 2005 at 01:13 PM in Favorite Links, News to Note, Politics, Privacy & Free Speech, Religion, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 27, 2005

Daily Kos points out new story vindicates Newsweek

Link: Daily Kos :: Political Analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation..

FBI: Newsweek was right

by kos Wed May 25th, 2005 at 14:43:41 PDT

Turns out Newsweek was wrong about its source, right about the story.

To my memory, the only thing Newsweek was forced to retract was a Pentagon official saying he saw the report in the FBI investigation documents, but not the particular document named in the story.

ACLU got its hands on the documents. Here's the thing: if the FBI is conducting an investigation, WHO is going to tell them anything BUT partyline whitewash, besides the detainees? So the blanket denial by the Pentagon that the detainee reports were not credible sounds downright silly.

Here's a bit from the Reuters story:

FBI memo reports Guantanamo guards flushing Koran

Wed May 25, 7:58 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An FBI agent wrote in a 2002 document made public on Wednesday that a detainee held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had accused American jailers there of flushing the Koran down a toilet.

The Pentagon said the allegation was not credible.

The declassified document's release came the week after the Bush administration denounced as wrong a May 9 Newsweek article that stated U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo had flushed a Koran down a toilet to try to make detainees talk. The magazine retracted the article, which had triggered protests in Afghanistan in which 16 people died.

The newly released document, dated Aug. 1, 2002, contained a summary of statements made days earlier by a detainee, whose name was redacted, in two interviews with an FBI special agent, whose name also was withheld, at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects.

The American Civil Liberties Union released the memo and other FBI documents it obtained from the government under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Personally, he has nothing against the United States. The guards in the detention facility do not treat him well. Their behavior is bad. About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Koran in the toilet," the FBI agent wrote.

[...]

In other documents, FBI agents stated that Guantanamo detainees also accused U.S. personnel of kicking the Koran and throwing it to the floor, and described beatings by guards. But one document cited a detainee who accused a guard of dropping a Koran, prompting an "uprising" by prisoners, when it was the prisoner himself who dropped it.

"Unfortunately, one thing we've learned over the last couple of years is that detainee statements about their treatment at Guantanamo and other detention centers sometimes have turned out to be more credible than U.S. government statements," said ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer.

[...]

May 27, 2005 at 01:04 PM in Democracy, Media & Journalism, News to Note, Politics, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2005

Armageddon averted?

Link:
Bloomberg.com: U.S. Senate Group Reaches Agreement to Avert Showdown (Update3)
.

I love this bit:

McCain and 13 other smiling members of the negotiating group attended the evening news conference. The agreement ensures that three of Bush's most hotly disputed federal appeals courts nominees -- and two others -- will get up-or-down votes in the Senate that Republicans control 55-45. Future nominees, including anyone named to a possible Supreme Court vacancy, would face a filibuster only under ``extraordinary circumstances,'' McCain said.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, 80, is ailing with thyroid cancer and there has been widespread speculation he may step down next month when the Supreme Court concludes its term.

Tonight's agreement is ``based on trust,'' said Senator Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat.

[...]

Democrats used the filibuster to block 10 of Bush's judicial appointments in his first term. He resubmitted the names of seven of them this year.

Tonight's agreement leaves the Democrats free to use the filibuster to block the nominations of William G. Meyers III and Henry Saad to appellate court judgeships.

"Armageddon has been averted, and thank God,'' said Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat.


Trust? I think that means Frist pulls the entire "nuclear" show back out of his ass the second a Supreme Court justice is on the table. What is the significance of Frist being absent from the "marathon session," the intense negotiating today? Was he hustled out of the way? Strategized out of the way? Defanged? Trumped by McCain?

His absence is conspicuous, but it does leave the door enticingly open for him to break with the negotiated terms any time he gets a hair up his butt the right way, to be able to say "Well, I didn't agree to those terms."

He should be hooted out of the Senate if he ever dares venture to say such a thing, but even then, the extremist "scorched Earth" Republicans, perhaps even channeling Newt Gingrich himself, wouldn't bat an eye at letting the Dems play their cards, let some odious judicial nominees through, and then once the majority of their bargaining chips had been pissed away, to turn with a wink and crossed fingers and say "Psych!"

And on an idiotic tangent, WOULD SOMEBODY PUT A SOCK DOWN THE THROAT OF THE PHRASE "an up-or-down vote"??!!

It is a pre-selected PR soundbite, people! Every time you mouth it, parrot it, chant it, even journalists, you are chanting, "I'm on message. I have no mind of my own. I'm on message..."

Why? Gimmie a break! What other kind of fucking vote is there?! An up-or-up vote? A down-or-sideways vote? It's just a damn vote.

It's like the other day, when I heard Wolf Blitzer breathlessly announce, "Coming up after the break, we're going give you the pros... and the cons." Love that significant pause. What else would you give us? Just the pros? Just the cons? NOBODY EVER talks about giving pros without giving cons. It's like shave and a haircut... two bits. Who doesn't know it's coming? Don't hold us in suspense, Wolf. Are you going to add those cons in to go along with the pros, or not? In the words of Frank Furter in "Rocky Horror Picture Show, "Anti-ci.... "

Back on the vote, obviously the "up-or-down" thing is a reference to the Greek democracy, and also to the Roman Colosseum, the use of thumbs up or thumbs down.

Which is part of the irony of Karl Rove's brilliance, to invoke both democratic ideals and mob rule, not to mention imperialist pandering and brutality, as the surface to provide a hypnotic chant diversion to exactly what that "up-or-down vote" is code for. It is not a vote on the judicial nominees. Once they reach the Senate floor, they are a lock for goose-stepping Republicans.

IF they reach the floor, a democratic process does not miraculously take place. We are not transported back to the Greek agora, nor are we turning anyone over to the lions. They can chant about the "up-or-down vote" until they're blue in the face, but the vote itself is a whitewash, an affirmation of the DEFEAT of democracy by reducing a once-proud legislative body to the rubble of a rubber stamp it has become for the Bush administration.

You know, the Nazi party was voted into ascendancy in Germany too. And rubber stamp votes were created in the remnants of the Reichstag to VOTE Germany into a full-on dictatorship. Do you suppose they were singing a song about up-or-down votes on the eve of their conversion to voting themselves out of power and under the thumb of an absolute dictator? Were they chanting about the wonders of the DEMOCRATIC PROCESS while each person voting was choosing to destroy their democracy?

That would be the difference between the surface and the reality of the stridency behind the Bush administration intransigence of the "up-or-down vote." They can chant all they want because they got the lock and are downright antsy to preside over the unraveling of the shreds of U.S. democracy.

May 23, 2005 at 10:31 PM in Best Essays, Democracy, News to Note, Politics, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2005

Juan Cole on Salon, by way of introduction to that Downing Street Memo

Link: Salon.com News | The lies that led to war.

I love Juan Cole's blog, and it is neat to have his clear-headed words on this topic too.

The lies that led to war

A leaked British memo, and other documents, make it clear that Bush intended all along to invade Iraq -- and lied about it to the American people. The full gravity of his offense has not yet sunk in.

By Juan Cole

May 19, 2005 | When Newsweek's source admitted that he had misidentified the government document in which he had seen an account of Quran desecration at Guantánamo prison, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita exploded, "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?"

Di Rita could have said the same things about his bosses in the Bush administration.

Tens of thousands of people are dead in Iraq, including more than 1,600 U.S. soldiers and Marines, because of false allegations made by President George W. Bush and Di Rita's more immediate boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and equally imaginary active nuclear weapons program. Bush, Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeatedly made unfounded allegations that led to the continuing disaster in Iraq, much of which is now an economic and military no man's land beset by bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and political gridlock.

And we now know, thanks to a leaked British memo concerning the head of British intelligence, that the Bush administration -- contrary to its explicit denials -- had already made up its mind to attack Iraq and "fixed" those bogus allegations to support its decision. In short, Bush and his top officials lied about Iraq.

Going to war is the most serious decision a president can make. It should never be approached in a cavalier fashion. American lives, the prestige and influence of the country, international relations, the health of its defenses, and the future of the next generation are at stake. Yet every single piece of evidence we now have confirms that George W. Bush, who was obsessed with unseating Saddam Hussein even before 9/11, recklessly used the opportunity presented by the terror attacks to march the country to war, fixing the intelligence to justify his decision, and lying to the American people about the reasons for the war. In other times, this might have been an impeachable offense.

The media circus around the Newsweek story arrived in time to further divert attention from the explosive British memorandum. Although the leaked Downing Street memo, published by the London Times on May 1, revealed the deeply dishonest and manipulative way that the Bush administration took the United States (and the United Kingdom) to war against Iraq, the American press corps studiously ignored it for two weeks.

The memo reported a July 2002 meeting of key British Cabinet and other officials, held when Sir Richard Dearlove, head of the British intelligence service, MI6, returned from a trip to Washington. It revealed that the decision to go to war had already been made by that point: "Military action was now seen as inevitable," the notes by British national security aide Matthew Rycroft revealed. Dearlove reported, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Members of the British Cabinet were worried by the news, the memo shows, since they knew that the case against Iraq was tissue-thin in international law and that there were several more egregious sinners in the weapons area than Iraq. Because the United Kingdom, unlike the United States, is a member of the International Criminal Court, its officials had to worry about being tried for war crimes if they became involved in an illegal war of aggression launched by Bush and lacking U.N. Security Council sanction. Prime Minister Tony Blair put his hopes in a ploy. He thought that Bush should arrange for the United Nations to demand a return to Iraq of weapons inspectors, with the hope that Saddam Hussein would refuse, thus creating a legal justification for war acceptable to the international community.

[...]

Go read the whole thing!

May 19, 2005 at 12:07 PM in War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Archiving an interesting piece of history: The Downing Street memo

Link: Salon.com News | The Downing Street memo.

SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL -- UK EYES ONLY

DAVID MANNING

From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August. The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work. On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.

Conclusions:

(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)

(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide.)

May 19, 2005 at 11:59 AM in War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2005

George Galloway's Showdown: the Best Quotes

Link: BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | In quotes: Galloway showdown.

Some of my own favorite picks from the transcript below slipped in too.

"Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars? The answer to that is nobody and if you had anybody who paid me a penny you would have produced them here today."

Imagine that! A radical idea for the right-wing in the US today. To actually produce evidence, a smoking gun, instead of trafficking in innuendo and allegation. The effect of calling someone out on these ridiculous practices has the effect for us watchers of standing up and boldly saying, "The emperor has no clothes." Nekkid Norm Coleman. My heart bleeds for him. Do ya think somewhere Paul Wellstone is watching with a sweet smile on his face?

"You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever having written to me or telephoned me, without any contact with me whatsoever and you call that justice."

"You have nothing on me Senator [Coleman], except my name on lists of names in Iraq, many of which were drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Iraq."

""Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice."

Terrific, to call these assholes on what they've been passing off as arguments and "effective" rhetoric, undoing years of Open Records laws, the Freedom of Information Act, Government Sunshine Laws, just about anything that makes decision-making processes transparent in a true democracy.

Not that anyone would mistake the US government for a true democracy. One "side benefit" of the movement of decisions into stereotypical "back rooms" where cronys make deals and corruption reins in darkness is that actual argument skills declined to such a level that people like Norm Coleman are so ripe to be made an utter fool of, and perhaps even more deliciously, he may not even know it!

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his."

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

Here is a deliberate rhetorical move directed not to the senators, but to the viewing television audience. While Rumsfeld's trips to make deals with Saddam in the 1980s are widely known OUTSIDE the US, the US media has rarely if ever mentioned the easily documentable fact (hell, there is even a picture, and folks, Rummy was implicated in getting Saddam chemical supplies that he later turned into the weapons he used to gas his own people). By using his bully pulpit to get this out, Galloway ran a tidy end-run around the US Velvet Curtain censorship machine. Outstanding!

Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

What a radical idea, to employ fact-checkers and actually do homework for accusatory documents. When Colin Powell was given a report to take to the UN, a case for Iraq's WMDs, with a whole section cribbed from some master's student thesis! Sorry Mr Galloway, but the disease of errors, bad proofreading, and plagiarism runs rampant on US college campuses too, which is where we try to teach students real argument and rhetoric skills.

(oh please please, somebody publish a formal rhetorical analysis of Galloway's testimony in a scholarly communication journal, mmm-kay?)

You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realise played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

The lack of credibility of US's hidden international gulag system finally comes home to roost? And then there's the matter of using "secret evidence" against someone. That's what passes for justice in the US these days. It's right up there with saying someone's specter came to my room and pinched me in the night, so that person should be hanged. This is the nature of the pure hysteria that has swept the US since 9/11.

"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

I have to say, the presentation of the "schoolboy howler" example is my ALL TIME favorite bit in the whole tirade. SO rich, so wonderfully rich, to have the pomposity of the Senate committee punctured so fully by citing the use of evidence that aims to convict someone of actions in the Oil-for-Food program before the program was even in existence. I about fell out of my chair on that one today. Coleman should have melted like the Wicked Witch of the West with embarrassment. That he didn't speaks volumes.

"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

Another story that is virtually non-existent behind the US media Velvet Curtain is the true consequences of US sanctions against Iraq after the Gulf War. To the average American media consumer, NO information about the deaths of children and others due to US sanctions has penetrated the velvet, so that this next quote is another shout-out to the TV audience, a way to slip something in sideways that normally gets NO mention in the US. It was a sweet move, a terrific moment.

Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

Another rhetorical penetration of the Velvet Curtain. The US media is in almost universal agreement to not report ANY numbers of Iraqi civilian casualties in the Iraq war, claiming they are impossible to verify. Yet there are amazingly precise numbers of deaths out of Afghanistan for the "riots against Newsweek magazine." As a matter of fact, the US military IS counting those civilian casualties in Iraq, because families are getting financial reimbursal for their losses, but none of those numbers are being released to the public. If the US media quotes a casualty number, it isn't Galloway's 100,000, but something more like 29,000.

Which is quite a bit bigger than the US losses in the WTC and other 9/11 attacks, but we won't talk about that, will we?

I just gotta quote this final bit one more time, it is so wonderful.

Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

May 17, 2005 at 10:23 PM in Best Essays, Current Affairs, Democracy, Favorite Links, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, News to Note, Politics, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MOP George Galloway rips Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) a new one

Oh joy! Go to BBC and listen to the video stream. The transcripts don't do the words justice, but the words are tremendous to dwell on as well. Galloway aptly demonstrates the difference between a culture where real public debate takes place, vs a world of myopic cronyism, innuendo, and intellectually ill-equipped wheeler-dealers who are drunk with power and stupid enough to believe their own media, locked behind the Velvet Curtain of US propaganda.

I'll do another post and pull out the best quotes, but these public words need to be out in the air as much as possible.

Link: World news from The Times and the Sunday Times - Times Online.

World News

May 18, 2005

Galloway v the US Senate: transcript of statement

By Times Online

George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, delivered this statement to US Senators today who have accused him of corruption

George Galloway after arriving in the Senate committee room to give evidence (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.

"Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his.

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

"You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

"Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

"Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.

"You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realise played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

"I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.

"And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].
"Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.

"Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.

"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

May 17, 2005 at 09:34 PM in Democracy, Favorite Links, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, News to Note, Politics, Privacy & Free Speech, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 16, 2005

HILARIOUS Quote of the Day: Condoleeza Rice

I Google-Newsed it, pulled up the exact quote in quite a few non-Western Hemisphere news sources. Are we just waiting for the Sun to move further around the Earth to report it in the U.S.?

Here's ABC Radio Australia:

Link: Radio Australia - News - US urges greater role for Sunnis in new Iraq.

US urges greater role for Sunnis in new Iraq

Last Updated 16/05/2005, 04:51:40

The American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is continuing her surprise visit to Iraq, meeting with Iraqi Government officials in Baghdad.

It's Dr Rice's first visit to Iraq since she took up her new position in the Bush administration.

She's also the first senior foreign official to visit Iraq since the formation of the country's new government.

Dr Rice says she wants to see Iraq's Sunni Muslims play a bigger role in drafting the country's new constitution.

She's also delivered a brief pep-talk to U-S troops and Embassy staff.

"This is a tough environment sometimes - maybe all the time. But I want you to stay focussed on what it is we are doing here. You see, this war came to us, not the other way around. "

Her visit comes after two weeks of sustained violence .

Among the latest developments, authorities say they have discovered the bodies of more than 30 people at three separate locations. Ten of the bodies were Iraqi soldiers found dumped in Ramadi.

However, insurgents have also released the governor of Iraq's Anbar province, who was kidnapped last week.

It bears repeating:

"...But I want you to stay focused on what it is we are doing here. You see, this war came to us, not the other way around. "

She must be living in that NON-reality-based universe, where the U.S. didn't invade Iraq on false evidence trumped up by freaky U.S. neocon hawks.

It's not entirely unknown, this particular rhetorical strategy. It is the warped logic used by domestic abusers, when they are about to whale on wife and kids for making too much noise or not having dinner on the table in time. You know the phrase, "You're bringing this on yourself. You're making me do this."

Miasma

May 16, 2005 at 12:19 PM in War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 10, 2005

Really inspires confidence in John Bolton, eh?

But what I can't figure out is Richard Armitage being so willing to lie in order to march with the party line. That part strikes me as a bit odd, since the goose-stepping at Colin Powell's State Department was not as crass and absurd as it is in the rest of the non-"Reality-Based Universe" of the Bush administration.

Link: No. 2 at State Dept. Was Said to Put Restrictions on Bolton - New York Times.

No. 2 at State Dept. Was Said to Put Restrictions on Bolton

By DOUGLAS JEHL
Published: May 10, 2005

WASHINGTON, May 9 - A new portrayal of John R. Bolton describes him as having so angered senior State Department officials with his public comments that the deputy secretary of state, Richard L. Armitage, ordered two years ago that Mr. Bolton be blocked from delivering speeches and testimony unless they were personally approved by Mr. Armitage.

The detailed account was provided to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Lawrence S. Wilkerson, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Mr. Wilkerson said that Mr. Bolton, who was then an under secretary of state, had caused "problems" by speaking out on North Korea, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other delicate issues in remarks that had not been properly cleared.

"Therefore, the deputy made a decision, and communicated that decision to me, that John Bolton would not give any testimony, nor would he give any speech, that wasn't cleared first by Rich," Mr. Wilkerson said, according to a transcript of an hourlong interview with members of the committee staff last Thursday.

In an e-mail message on Monday, Mr. Wilkerson said of the restrictions imposed on Mr. Bolton that "if anything, they got more stringent" as time went on. "No one else was subjected to these tight restrictions," he said.

The Senate committee is to vote Thursday on Mr. Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations, and the Republican chairman, Richard G. Lugar, has said he believes that the nomination will be sent to the Senate floor on a 10-to-8 vote, along party lines. But only on Monday, after a 10-day recess, were senators beginning to review the documents and interview transcripts assembled by the staff over the past three weeks.

[...]

Mr. Wilkerson said that Mr. Bolton had been a major cause of tension and resentment at the highest levels of the State Department because of his temperament, his treatment of subordinates and the fact that he had "overstepped his bounds" on a number of occasions, including what Mr. Wilkerson called "his moves and gyrations" aimed at preventing Mohamed ElBaradei from being reappointed as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring body.

"Now, what do I mean by that?" Mr. Wilkerson said. "I mean, going out of his way to bad-mouth him, to make sure that everybody knew that the maximum power of the United States would be brought to bear against them if he were brought back in," Mr. Wilkerson said of Mr. Bolton's approach to Dr. ElBaradei.

[...]

In his capacity as chief of staff, Mr. Wilkerson said, he was often visited in his office by other high-level State Department officials who would ask, "Can I sit down?"

"Sure, sit down," Mr. Wilkerson said he would say. "What's the problem?" Invariably, Mr. Wilkerson said, the answer would be "Bolton."

Mr. Armitage has declined a reporter's interview request on the topic, but did speak briefly to an Associated Press reporter who intercepted him outside an event last week. The A.P. reported that Mr. Armitage had said he regarded Mr. Bolton as "eminently qualified" and "one of the smartest guys in Washington."

"It was the president's choice, and I support my president," Mr. Armitage was quoted as saying.

[...]

On the dispute involving Syria, Mr. Hutchings told the committee that a protracted and "particularly acute" debate had taken place between Mr. Bolton and intelligence analysts over the assertions he sought to make about Syria's weapons program, a transcript of that interview shows.

"I wouldn't say he was making up facts," said Mr. Hutchings, whose job was to coordinate the government's formal intelligence estimates. "Let's say that he took isolated facts and made much more of them to build a case than I thought the intelligence warranted. It was a sort of cherry-picking of little factoids and little isolated bits that were drawn out to present the starkest-possible case."

[...]

May 10, 2005 at 09:45 AM in Favorite Links, News to Note, Politics, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 05, 2005

On our way to National ID Cards?

The $82 billion dollar emergency defense spending bill just passed the House of Representatives today. It is expected to pass the Senate easily next week.

Wisconsin Rep Jim Sensenbrenner's immigration/driver's license thing is buried in there, slipping through with no debate. This is the clause he tried to use to hold up the intelligence reform bill.

Link: DenverPost.com - EDITORIALS.

Article Published: Thursday, May 05, 2005

Editorial

License debate ignores issues

A proposal to create strict federal standards for state-issued driver's licenses could help fulfill a worthy goal - keeping terrorists and criminals from getting legitimate IDs.

But Congress is dealing with the license proposal in a way that precludes meaningful debate on important factors, like cost, privacy, illegal immigration and whether more secure licenses would become de facto national ID cards.

The so-called Real ID requirements are attached to an $82 billion Iraq-Afghanistan spending bill agreed upon by House and Senate conferees on Tuesday and it's on a fast track to passage. We think Real ID should have been stand-alone legislation given full consideration.

Under the proposal, the 50 states will share a common format for licenses. To obtain a license or state-issued ID card, a U.S. citizen will have to show a birth certificate, photo ID, proof of Social Security number and a document with their full name and home address.

[...]

Others worry that broader issues haven't been fully aired. "This is essentially a national identity card," said Cathryn Hazouri, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. She is concerned that the development of a national drivers' database will make it easier for government to track individuals and that new procedures may make identity theft easier, too. "I don't think it makes us any safer," she said.

Privacy and identity theft are real concerns and ought to be considered carefully when the new requirements are implemented, as it appears they will be.

In the post-Sept. 11 world, there's clear value in having fewer phony driver's licenses floating around. But when the new format and rules take effect, public officials, civil libertarians and others need to keep close watch for unintended consequences.

May 5, 2005 at 06:47 PM in Privacy & Free Speech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack