A report card for your representatives in Congress
If they voted against the rule of law (for the Military Commissions Act)
you will want to see that they are not elected again as they are no
friend of your freedoms.
Bush says they hate us for our freedoms.
Republican response: take away our freedoms.
Mrs. Betty Bowers' Halloween / Election Newsletter 2006
Dear Spooked-Out Voter:
I'm doing a joint Halloween Night and Election Day newsletter this year
because, frankly, the two holidays are virtually indistinguishable.
After all, political campaigning is all about pretending you're
something you're not -- and then scaring people. Mr. Bush pretends
he's competent; Mr. Cheney pretends he's sane -- and then they both run
around our cities trying to frighten strangers.
The "Vote Because You're Scared!" drumbeat seemed to work well in the
last election. It certainly worked more than the indolent blowhards we
elected to the 109th Congress because of it! I fear, however, that such
an alarmist mantra has lost its appeal and potency now that voters have
had time to realize that the reason we're scared is because of who we
voted for in 2000 and 2004.
Since the GOP has no verifiable successes to tout, I'm rather proud of
how inventive our latest iteration of the "stick with the incumbent"
message has been this year.
In case you haven't picked up on this delicately nuanced sophistry in
the relentless stream of earnest blather coming every 30 seconds from
you TV, allow me to break it down for you, dears. The GOP message
basically boils down to this: We have created a world so unstable and
hostile with our unbroken string of blunders and unnecessary
provocations, can you really risk electing someone new who will squander
two weeks learning the screen-names for all the sluttish pages?
I have to chuckle at all of the fear-mongering ads this year. No, it's
not the ubiquitous, bland female voice, which would sound like a hammy
attempt at "solemn" and "concerned" on the stages of even America's
least persnickety-at-casting community theaters. And it isn't how often
she earnestly intones, "Can we really afford to risk electing the other
guy?" No, what makes me laugh is that congressmen who are throwing
$200,000,000 each and every day down that insatiable drain called Iraq,
money that could be spent on schools and health, have the temerity to
ask us questions that start with "Can we really afford to..."
Speaking of that imploding, anarchical money pit, when the lights go out
at a press conference to herald progress in Iraq, you know that crazy
hellhole is falling apart quicker than Kevin Federline's rap career. As
such, President Bush (truly the Carrot Top of silly political props) is
left to chant "Presto Chango" and unveil -- are you ready for it? -- a
timetable. In a nutshell, this "Timetable for Iraq" is basically
arbitrary, un-agreed-upon dates when the impossible will not happen.
While a timetable in Iraq is probably about as useful as a reservation
in Burger King, it is Mr. Bush's gallantly wistful attempt to make it
look as if he has actually accomplished something -- anything -- before
the election. As you may have guessed, this timetable is just as likely
to be successful after the election as the President's mother's recently
penned "Timetable to be Smokin' Hot Again."
Speaking of the ever-charming Bar Bush, this campaign has been unusually
ugly, hasn't it? But we can't expect an election to be genteel when a
perfunctory congressional roll call nets more sexual predators than
And if we're not being frightened out of our wits that some Negro
running for Tennessee Senator, Harold Ford Jr., might pick up the phone
and call a white harlot, we are peeing our drawers that homosexuals may
one day pick out china together in the sacred department stores of New
Perhaps the scariest thing about this Halloween evening is that it is
the last day of the month, and there is still no October Surprise! I
don't mean to be an alarmist here, but isn't it time Karl Rove climbed
out from under Jeff Gannon long enough to round up an Islamic coffee
klatch that knew a man who met a woman who had a niece who once said
something suspicious about a recipe for exploding hair conditioner -- or
maybe it was tabouli . . .
Of course, nature, just like Mrs. Bowers, abhors a vacuum. When the
Republicans fail to hurt the Democrats, we can always count on the
Democrats to pull their weight. So, a week before the election the
relentlessly clumsy John Kerry makes a comment that would seem to impugn
the same troops that are being supported by magnetic car decals from
coast to cast.
Yes, the White House has called on Senator John Kerry to apologize to
the men and women serving in Iraq because he may have hurt their
Even if Mr. Bush were wont to admit error, much less apologize, to the
servicemen in Iraq he hurt, he couldn't.
They are dead.
Yes, it had been a sad and scary election year. As a Republican, I'd
actually be quite scared if America still went through the arduous,
quaint process of counting votes!
Bush Lies... and Knows He's Lying
By Robert Parry
October 31, 2006
Many Americans are cynical about what they hear from politicians -- and
often with good reason -- but perhaps no U.S. political leader in modern
history has engaged in a pattern of lying and distortion more
systematically than George W. Bush has.
Bush's lies also aren't about petty matters, such as some personal
indiscretion or minor misconduct. Rather his dishonesty deals with
issues of war and peace, the patriotism of his opponents, and the
founding principles of the American Republic.
They are the kinds of lies and distortions more befitting the leader of
a totalitarian state whipping up his followers to go after some
perceived enemy than the President of the world's preeminent democracy
seeking an informed debate among the citizenry.
For instance, in an Oct. 28 speech in Sellersburg, Indiana, Bush worked
the crowd into a frenzy of "USA, USA" chants by accusing Democrats of
not wanting to "detain and question terrorists," not wanting to listen
in on "terrorist communications," and not wanting to bring terrorists to
trial -- all gross distortions of Democratic positions.
Bush has used this same gambit for many years. He characterizes his
strategies and actions in the most innocuous ways; he then ignores
honest reasons for disagreement with him; and he characterizes his
opponents' positions in the most absurd manner possible.
So, regarding the "war on terror," Bush never mentions the
constitutional concerns about his strategies or the questions about
their effectiveness. According to him, his decisions are always benign
and obvious; those of his opponents border on the crazy and disloyal.
"When al-Qaeda or an al-Qaeda affiliate is making a phone call from
outside the United States to inside the United States, we want to know
why," Bush told the cheering Indiana crowd. "In this new kind of war, we
must be willing to question the enemy when we pick them up on the
Referring to the capture of alleged 9/11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh
Mohammed, Bush said, "when we captured him, I said to the Central
Intelligence Agency, why don't we find out what he knows in order to be
able to protect America from another attack."
Bush then contrasted his eminently reasonable positions with those held
by the nutty Democrats.
"When it came time on whether to allow the Central Intelligence Agency
to continue to detain and question terrorists, almost 80 percent of the
House Democrats voted against it," Bush said, as the crowd booed the
Democrats. "When it came time to vote on whether the NSA [National
Security Agency] should continue to monitor terrorist communications
through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, almost 90 percent of House
Democrats voted against it.
"In all these vital measures for fighting the war on terror, the
Democrats in Washington follow a simple philosophy: Just say no. When it
comes to listening in on the terrorists, what's the Democratic answer?
Just say no. When it comes to detaining terrorists, what's the Democrat
Crowd: "Just say no!"
Bush: "When it comes to questioning terrorists, what's the Democrat
Crowd: "Just say no!"
Bush: "When it comes to trying terrorists, what's the Democrat's
Crowd: "Just say no!"
Bush vs. the truth
Yet, Bush realizes that the Democrats are not opposed to eavesdropping
on terrorists, or detaining terrorists, or questioning terrorists, or
bringing terrorists to trial.
What Democrats -- and many conservatives -- object to are Bush's
methods: his tolerance of abusive interrogation techniques; his
assertion of unlimited presidential authority; his abrogation of habeas
corpus rights to a fair trial; and his violation of existing laws, such
as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which already gives the
President broad powers to engage in electronic spying inside the United
States, albeit with the approval of a special court.
Bush's critics argue that all his "war on terror" objectives can be
achieved without throwing out more than two centuries of American
constitutional traditions or by violating human rights, such as
prohibitions against torture. While Bush says Democrats don't want to
try terrorist, their real complaint about his Military Commissions Act
of 2006 comes from its denial of habeas corpus for non-citizens and its
vague wording that could apply its draconian provisions to American
citizens as well.
Bush's defenders may argue that the President was just using some
oratorical license in the Indiana stump speech. But all the points he
made to the crowd, he also has expressed in more formal settings.
The distortions also fit with Bush's long pattern of slanting the truth
or engaging in outright lies when describing his adversaries, both
foreign and domestic.
Yet Bush is almost never held to account by a U.S. news media that seems
almost as cowed today as it was when Bush misled the nation into the
Iraq War or -- after the invasion -- when he lied repeatedly, claiming
that he had no choice but to invade because Saddam Hussein had barred
U.N. weapons inspectors from Iraq.
Even when acknowledging that Bush's statements often turn out to be
false, his defenders say it's unfair to call him a liar. They say he's
just an honest guy who gets lots of bad information.
False talking points
But there comes a point when that defense wears thin. The evidence
actually points to a leader who wants his subordinates to give him a
steady supply of "talking points" that can be used to achieve his goals
whether the arguments are true, half true or totally false.
How else can anyone explain why the most expensive intelligence system
in history acted in 2002-03 like a kind of backward filter in processing
evidence about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and Saddam
Hussein's purported ties to al-Qaeda.
The CIA's reverse analytical filter consistently removed the nuggets of
good information -- when they undercut Bush's positions -- and let
through the dross of misinformation.
In September 2006, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report
that detailed how the U.S. intelligence community surrendered its duty
to provide the government with accurate data and instead gave the Bush
administration what it wanted to hear.
The committee concluded that nearly every key assessment as expressed in
the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq's WMD was wrong:
"Postwar findings do not support the [NIE] judgment that Iraq was
reconstituting its nuclear weapons program; ... do not support the [NIE]
assessment that Iraq's acquisition of high-strength aluminum tubes was
intended for an Iraqi nuclear program; ... do not support the [NIE]
assessment that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and
yellowcake' from Africa; ... do not support the [NIE] assessment that
'Iraq has biological weapons' and that 'all key aspects of Iraq's
offensive biological weapons program are larger and more advanced than
before the Gulf war'; ... do not support the [NIE] assessment that Iraq
possessed, or ever developed, mobile facilities for producing biological
warfare agents; ... do not support the [NIE] assessments that Iraq 'has
chemical weapons' or 'is expanding its chemical industry to support
chemical weapons production'; ... do not support the [NIE] assessments
that Iraq had a developmental program for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
'probably intended to deliver biological agents' or that an effort to
procure U.S. mapping software 'strongly suggests that Iraq is
investigating the use of these UAVs for missions targeting the United
The Senate Intelligence Committee also concluded that the Bush
administration's claims about the supposed relationship between the
Iraqi government and al-Qaeda were bogus. Rather than cooperating with
Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as the Bush administration has
claimed for the past four years, it turned out that the Iraqi government
was trying to arrest Zarqawi.
But the creation of the bogus Saddam Hussein-Osama bin Laden link was
not accidental. According to the committee report, the misinformation
came via an administration mandate to cast every shred of information in
the harshest possible light.
That systemic bias was revealed in the guidelines for a CIA paper
produced in June 2002, entitled "Iraq and al-Qa'ida: Interpreting a
The CIA study was designed to assess the Iraqi government's links to
al-Qaeda. But the analysts were given unusual instructions, told to be
"purposely aggressive in seeking to draw connections, on the assumption
that any indication of a relationship between these two hostile elements
could carry great dangers to the United States."
A former CIA deputy director of intelligence told the Senate
Intelligence Committee that the paper's authors were ordered to "lean
far forward and do a speculative piece." The deputy director told them,
"if you were going to stretch to the maximum the evidence you had, what
could you come up with."
In other words, the CIA analysts set out to hype any evidence of
possible links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. So, if some piece of
information contained even a remote possibility of a connection, the
assumption had to be that the tie-in was real and substantive.
When Zarqawi snuck into Baghdad for medical treatment, therefore, the
assumption could not be that the Iraqi authorities were unaware of his
presence or couldn't find him; it had to be that Saddam Hussein knew all
about it and was collaborating with Zarqawi.
This practice of assuming the worst -- rather than attempting to gauge
likelihoods as accurately as possible -- guaranteed the kind of slanted
and even fanciful intelligence reports that guided the United States to
war in 2002-2003.
What Bush wanted
But what is equally clear from the Senate report is that the U.S.
intelligence community was giving Bush exactly what he wanted so he
could present a litany of alleged grievances that would justify an
unprovoked invasion. Even after the falsity of the intelligence was
known, Bush gave CIA Director George Tenet, the bureaucrat who oversaw
this perversion of intelligence, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the
highest honor that can be bestowed on an American civilian.
This pattern of slanting information about Iraq also has not stopped. It
continues to the present day.
For instance, one of Bush's favorite arguments in his stump speeches is
that the Democrats are playing into Osama bin Laden's hands by seeking a
U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.
"In Washington, the Democrats say [Iraq is] not a part of the war
against the terrorists, it's a distraction." Bush told that crowd in
Sellersburg, Indiana. "Well, don't take my word for it -- listen to
Osama bin Laden. He has made it clear that Iraq is a central part of
this war on terror. He and his number two man, Zawahiri have made it
abundantly clear that their goal is to inflict enough damage on innocent
life and damage on our own troops so that we leave before the job is
But that isn't what the latest intelligence on al-Qaeda's goals shows.
Indeed, U.S. intelligence has intercepted communiqués from al-Qaeda
leaders to Zarqawi in 2005 that actually reveal their alarm at the
possibility of a prompt U.S. military withdrawal and their goal of
"prolonging the war" by keeping the Americans bogged down in Iraq.
In a Dec. 11, 2005, letter, a senior al-Qaeda leader known as "Atiyah"
lectured Zarqawi on the need to take the long view and build ties with
elements of the Sunni-led Iraqi insurgency that had little in common
with al-Qaeda except hatred of the Americans.
"The most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness
and firm rooting, and that it grows in terms of supporters, strength,
clarity of justification, and visible proof each day," Atiyah wrote.
"Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest." [Emphasis added.]
The "Atiyah letter," which was discovered by U.S. authorities at the
time of Zarqawi's death on June 7, 2006, and was translated by the U.S.
military's Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, also stressed the
vulnerability of al-Qaeda's position in Iraq.
"Know that we, like all mujahaddin, are still weak," Atiyah told
Zarqawi. "We have not yet reached a level of stability. We have no
alternative but to not squander any element of the foundations of
strength or any helper or supporter."
Atiyah's worries reiterated concerns expressed by bin Laden's deputy
Ayman al-Zawahiri in another intercepted letter from July 7,
2005. In that letter, Zawahiri fretted that a rapid U.S. pullout could
cause al-Qaeda's operation in Iraq to collapse because foreign
jihadists, who flocked to Iraq to fight Americans, would give up the
fight and go home.
"The mujahaddin must not have their mission end with the expulsion of
the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence
the fighting zeal," wrote Zawahiri, according to a text released by the
U.S. Director of National Intelligence.
To avert mass desertions, Zawahiri suggests that Zarqawi talk up the
"idea" of a "caliphate" along the eastern Mediterranean.
What al-Qaeda leaders seem to fear most is that a U.S. military
withdrawal would contribute to a disintegration of their fragile
position in Iraq, between the expected desertions of the foreign
fighters and the targeting of al-Qaeda's remaining forces by Iraqis
determined to rid their country of violent outsiders. In that sense, the
longer the United States remains in Iraq, the deeper al-Qaeda can put
down roots and the more it can harden its new recruits through
indoctrination and training. These intercepted letters also fit with
last April's conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies that the U.S.
occupation of Iraq has proved to be a "cause celebre" that has spread
Islamic radicalism around the globe.
Bush surely knows all this, but he also appears confident that he can
continue to sell a distorted interpretation of the evidence to a
gullible U.S. public. Basically, it appears that the President believes
that the American people are very stupid.
Robert Parry's new book is Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty
from Watergate to Iraq."
© 2006 Independent Media Institute.
Bush The Cheerleader
by Ray McGovern
October 30, 2006
Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst from the administrations of John F.
Kennedy to George H. W. Bush. He now works with Tell the Word, the
publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington,
When President George W. Bush was asked at his news conference last
Wednesday whether we are winning in Iraq, he answered, "Absolutely;
we're winning." The disingenuousness was almost enough to provoke
sympathy for the beleaguered president as he lived through another bad
week with further diminished credibility.
A letter winner in cheerleading at Andover and Yale, the president knows
how tough it is to keep spirits up when it becomes clear that his team
is not winning, but the bedlam in Iraq has become the supreme test. Some
of his fellow cheerleaders have quit cheering, and even the Fox News
Channel is having trouble putting on a brave front.
And small wonder. For example, on October19 USA Today put the main
The mistaken war and botched aftermath have created such a mess that the
only credible course change must be predicated on this painful question:
Is there an achievable goal that makes the further sacrifice of American
lives worthwhile? With each passing day, that is looking less and less
likely. ... What, exactly, is the goal that U.S. forces are fighting and
Is it to referee a civil war in Iraq? At the press conference Bush said:
Our job is to prevent the full-full-scale civil war from happening in
the first place. It is one of the missions, is to work with the Maliki
government to make sure that there is a political way forward that says
to the people of Iraq, It's not worth it. Civil war is not worth the
effort-by them...And so we will work to prevent that from happening.
Is that it? Or is it, as the president let slip, to prevent "terrorists
or extremists in Iraq [from gaining] access to vast oil reserves" in
Iraq and denying them to the U.S. How often were we told that oil had
"nothing to do with it!"?
The president did say that too many children "won't ever see their mom
and dad again," and that he owes it "to them and to the families who
still have loved ones in harm's way to ensure that their sacrifices are
not in vain."
He owes to people like the family of Jeremy Shank. In a small town in
Missouri last month, Rev. Carter Frey eulogized young Shank, who was
killed while on patrol in Iraq. Frey stressed that Shank was one of
those who "put themselves in harm's way and paid the ultimate sacrifice
so that you and I can have freedom to live in this country."
Really? Many patrols like the one Shank was on appear to be aimed at
stopping Shia and Sunni from killing each other-stopping what the
president calls "full-scale civil war." Two months ago Bush's national
security adviser Stephen Hadley told the press, "It's no longer about
insurgency, but sectarian warfare." Is that what Jeremy Shank and other
young men and women are paying the ultimate sacrifice-or the penultimate
one of living the rest of their lives without arms or legs?
What else could be their purpose? To continue the pursuit of evidence of
weapons of mass destruction or ties between Iraq and al-Qaida? Or is it
really, as the Bush administration suggests, to bring freedom and
democracy to Iraq and the wider Middle East? Really? How long will we
let our young soldiers be mocked and used? How long will we allow
President Bush to treat them as disposable soldiers-like toys a rich kid
gets for Christmas?
Time To Bring Them Home
There are basically two choices: (1) "stay the course" (or the same
concept with a more felicitous label); or (2) withdraw. Let's look at
(1) Those of us who have "been there, done that" know what is meant by
"stay the course"-or whatever updated formulation the Bush
administration uses that implies action short of withdrawal. Its name is
Vietnam. It means more violence month by month-as we have witnessed
recently-until there are 50,000 more of our young troops, and a million
more Iraqis, dead. From the president's own words we know his intention
is to keep our troops in Iraq until the end of his term. A year or two
later, our helicopters will be lifting the remainder of the American
presence in Iraq off the rooftops of the billion-dollar embassy we are
now building in the Green Zone. The name is Vietnam. It is a no-brainer
for anyone who knows the first thing about "insurgency"-or, more
properly, resistance to foreign occupation. More and more
(2) Withdrawal: It is more difficult to predict what will happen if we
withdraw our troops from Iraq over the next year or so. A lot depends on
how we go about it. The steps outlined below, the result of
brainstorming with my colleagues with Veteran Intelligence Professionals
for Sanity (VIPS) and others, would in my view hold the promise of much
less violence and killing:
(a) Show a modicum of respect for the opinions of the Iraqi people,
two-thirds of whom want U.S. forces out of Iraq immediately, according
to a recent poll commissioned by our Department of State. It seems the
height of hubris and incongruity for U.S. officials to pretend, as they
do, that they know far better what would be best for the Iraqis. Another
poll had 60 percent of the Iraqi people saying they would shoot an
American on sight, if they had the opportunity.
(b) Publicly disavow any intention of having permanent-or as the
Pentagon now prefers to say "enduring"-military bases in Iraq.
(c) Publicly disavow any intention of having special rights over the oil
under the sands of Iraq. (These last two steps will be difficult for the
Bush administration, since those aims formed the bulk of the motivation
for attacking and occupying Iraq.)
(d) TALK. Yes, talk. It is bizarre that the Bush administration does not
let the State Department talk with "evil" forces-like North Korea, Iran,
Hamas, Hezbollah and (perish the thought) "insurgents" in Iraq. If
Ronald Reagan could talk with the Evil Empire, and conclude very
important arms control and other agreements, surely the George W. Bush
administration can engage resistance forces in Iraq. The Arab League
states have shown themselves eager to facilitate such discussions.
Indeed, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak did precisely that in October
2005, when he invited all interested states and factions to a meeting in
Cairo. The U.S. boycotted those talks, and made it difficult for its
clients in Baghdad to attend.
Following these four steps would attenuate the violence and damage that
can be expected, however well-planned our withdrawal. Most importantly,
then-and only then-we can expect the Arab League countries, the United
Nations, the Western Europeans, Indians, Pakistanis and others to do
what they can to facilitate our withdrawal with as much grace as can be
mustered at that point. Why? Because they like us? No; we have frittered
away the strong support rendered us in the wake of
9/11. They will help because most of them have even more interest than
we in a more stable Iraq-and just as much interest as we in the oil
Bottom line: It seems virtually certain that there will be more violence
in "staying the course." That being the case, it can no longer be a
moral decision to say, in effect: Let's let those kids from the inner
cities and the farms stay the course for us; who knows, maybe they'll be
I cannot resist the temptation to recall that all of this was entirely
predictable-and predicted. Almost exactly a year ago we took strong
issue with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's insistence that the war
in Iraq was "winnable." We noted at the time that "most of those with a
modicum of experience in guerrilla warfare and the Middle East are
persuaded that the war is NOT winnable and that the only thing in doubt
is the timing of the U.S. departure."
When will they ever learn; when will they ever learn?
Halloween project: turn a pumpkin into a computer
You too can join in those lively internet debates
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You may not review your file which is secret. The President reserves the
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the law, as he is above accountability. As Nixon said, "If the president
does it, it is not illegal." If you are not with us, you are for the
terrorists; be aware that dissent is considered sedition: resistance to
lawful authority. It may be considered treason to question authority; as
it is un-American and unpatriotic to criticize the actions of your
President. You could be designated as giving material support to the
enemy, subject to indefinite incarceration without charges or trial,
under Republican law.
Note: a Federal court has ordered the Bush administration to stop the
illegal warrentless spying, handing down 30 felony convictions. The
illegal activity continues during an appeal, Bush says he has the right
to ignore US and International laws. Note: The Supreme Court has ruled
that Bush policies violated US and International laws. That could mean
a trial for war crimes if justice follows that verdict. Note: the
Republican Congress has passed a law to allow torture, and retroactively
clear Bush of war crimes. The Congress has not held Bush accountable
starting and losing two illegal unnecessary wars.
George Soros interview on Fox...(video links)
War on Terror is doing more harm than good...
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