The Bush Files

A sampling of the day’s best independent news, views, and resources on US politics, keeping an eye on the Bush Administration. Updated throughout the day.

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Sept 14, 2001

Administration livid at Hatch’s intelligence faux-pas — Chicago Tribune
The Bush administration is reportedly furious at Sentaor Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, for revealing to the media that the CIA had intercepted a phone call, apparently from one of the twin terror attacks’ perpetrators to his handlers, that the targets in New York and DC had successfully been hit. It was apparently that leak to which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was referring Tuesday when he made vague accusations of leaks in intelligence among government officials.

Sept 13, 2001

Bush’s ‘war’ talk irresponsible, misinformed — The Guardian (UK)
Christopher Hitchens says Bush’s rush to dub the attacks in Washington and New York “an act of war,” and US citizens’ zeal to agree with him, is deeply misguided. Without knowing with any certainty who is to blame for the attacks — with no known enemy, in effect — there can be no war. Bush’s use of the word, says Hitchens, “strongly implies that he knows who is responsible; an assumption for which he doesn’t care to make known the evidence. Instant opinion polls show the same cognitive dissonance at the mass level. Most people, when asked if they agree with the president about the ‘war’ proposition, reply in the affirmative. But in follow-up questions, they counsel extreme caution about retaliation ‘until all the facts are in’. This means, in ordinary words, that they have not the least idea whether they are at war or not.”

Giuliani for president — Salon
It wasn’t President George W. Bush who stepped up on Tuesday and delivered the words of healing the nation needed to hear, writes Joan Walsh — it was New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “Bush missed a crucial opportunity to show he’s ready for a role that has, since the 2000 campaign, just seemed too big for him: being a leader who can reassure and rally Americans … I’m no Giuliani fan … but he’s risen to the occasion with a warmth and humanity I never would have anticipated.”

Bush gave Taliban drug-war money — Robert Scheer
Earlier this year, the Bush administration gave millions of dollars to Afghanistan’s Taliban government — the same regime Bush & Co. are now threatening for “harboring” Usama bin Laden. “Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-US terrorists, destroy every vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush administration will embrace you,” wrote Robert Scheer in the Los Angeles Times in May. “All that matters is that you line up as an ally in the drug war, the only international cause that this nation still takes seriously. That’s the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators of human rights in the world today. The gift … rewards that ‘rogue regime’ for declaring that opium-growing is against the will of God.”

Mourn, but organize — AlterNet
The American left must act at once, says Geov Parrish, to try to prevent the US government from making a bad situation worse. “The steadily escalating rhetoric of George Bush and his administration over the last few days has, most recently, advanced to calling the attacks an ‘act of war’ (rather than terrorism); pledging to strike back not just at the perpetrators, but the countries where they live; and all but stating that they would not be bound by the norms of international law or justice in doing so (in Colin Powell’s words, they will strike back, ‘legally or not.’) We must do whatever we can to beseech our government and its allies not to respond to the taking of innocent lives by taking still more innocent lives.”

Failure of leadership — Counterpunch
“Tuesday did not offer a flattering exhibition of America’s leaders,” writes Alexander Cockburn. It wasn’t just President Bush who remained elusive: “Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has managed to avoid almost every site of crisis or debate, was once again absent from the scene, in Latin America. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld remained invisible most of the day, even though it would have taken him only a few short steps to get to the Pentagon pressroom and make some encouraging remarks. … At no point did Vice President Cheney appear in public. … Absent national political leadership, the burden of rallying the nation fell as usual upon the TV anchors.”

The end of Star Wars? — Independent (UK)
“Opponents of the missile defense scheme have always argued that, even if it can be made to work, it gives no protection against a more likely form of attack: international terrorism,” notes Stephen Castle. The Bush administration has promoted its proposed system as a defense against “rogue states”; yet the administration is now inferring that such states may have been behind Tuesday’s attacks, which calls the value of the missile-shield into question. ”

Sept 12, 2001

Where’s the leadership? — Village Voice
James Ridgeway is livid at George W. Bush, who he says was inexcusably absent from public view during most of the first 12 hours of the nation’s biggest crisis in decades. “War has come to our shores, and where is the president? Scurrying around the country in a transparent attempt to keep from being killed by terrorists, when he should be taking charge,” Ridgeway writes. “The president and his advisors have spent months talking about the need to invest in a whopper system for missile defense, only to stand helpless before the threat from a handful of hijacked commercial flights. They need to get real. This is not leadership.”

Rush to judgment — AlterNet
When the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City jolted America, the media and the government were quick to suggest that Arab extremists were to blame. That should have been a lesson to us, says Earl Ofari Hutchinson, but apparently it was not. Tuesday’s attack has “stirred fresh tremors that a new wave of Arab-American-bashing could be in the making. If so, the blame for that must fall on the media’s wrong-headed omissions and distortions about terrorists and their traditional targets.”

Whoever the culprits in the September 11 bombings turn out to be, Hutchinson charges, the mischaracterizations of terrorist patterns have already begun: “There were not ‘thousands’ of terrorist attacks worldwide last year, as one expert claimed, but 423, according to a State Department report… Most of the attacks in recent years have been in Europe and Latin America, and few were directly linked to the Middle East or Islam. The State Department has fingered free-wheeling anti-government groups such as the Tamil Tigers of Ceylon, the Shining Path in Peru, Basque separatists in Spain, and the Red Army in Germany as major terror attackers.”

Why bombing Afghanistan won’t work —
International conflict expert Michael Klare says Bush’s thinly-veiled pledge to wreak vengeance on nations that “harbor” terrorists is doomed to failure.

“We will desperately look for targets to strike,” Klare warns. “The pressure for retaliation will be enormous. But it will be hard for us to pinpoint the responsible parties. Groups like the Afghans are stateless. You could strike the Taliban central command, but it’s unlikely their top leadership authorized it. Terrorist networks are purposely not highly structured. They’re like the right-wing militia types in this country. They may all show up from time to time at the same gun shows, but there is no mailing list or centralized command.”

“We failed to kill those responsible for the Nairobi embassy bombing when we attacked Afghanistan and the Sudan,” Klare concludes. “I think our chances this time of targeting the right people will also be very slim. ”

Sept 11, 2001

Book: Court almost backed Gore — Guardian (UK)
A new book makes the claim that the Supreme Court was wavering between finding in favor of Bush or Gore in last November’s election standoff, and that Justice David Souter was convinced that he could have swung the decision in favor of Gore if he’d had just one more day to argue his case. In “The Accidental President,” David Kaplan also reveals that Gore asked the activist Erin Brockovich to help him gather evidence of lost votes in Florida.

Nuclear footsie with China — The Progressive
“George W.’s nuclear policy is bordering on lunacy at this point,” write Progressive Editor Matthew Rothschild. In order to mollify China about Bush’s missile defense program, the Bush administration has expressed its willingness to allow China to resume developing and deploying more nuclear missiles capable of hitting US soil. Rothschild says the seemingly irrational decision may be motivated by “crass political reasons.” Strategist Karl Rove, he writes, probably has poll data indicating that missile defense is a good campaign issue for Republicans. “What else are the Republicans going to run on? The economy and the environment?”


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