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 weekdays.

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Sept. 21-23, 2001

Canada to Bush: Thanks, eh — Reuters
Canadians were irked Thursday when Bush failed to mention the country at all in his address to Congress, despite the fact he singled out other allies to thank them for their support in the days following the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC. Canada expected acknowledgment for having taken in 250 diverted airliners and 30,000 passengers on the day of the attacks, and for the outpouring of goodwill and aid from Canadians in the days since. Some speculate that the snub may have been intentional, a response to what Washington perceives as Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s lack of enthusiasm in offering military and diplomatic support for the United States’ “war on terrorism.”

CIA already has right to hire thugs — Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is urging President Bush not to change US policy on political assassinations or the use of human-rights violators as informants. Existing CIA guidelines, the letter points out, “do not prohibit the Agency from recruiting sources or informants who are involved in human rights abuse. They simply require headquarters approval before field agents can proceed with such recruitment…. As CIA spokesman Bill Harlow asserted this week, ‘The CIA has never turned down a field request to recruit an asset in a terrorist organization.'”

Sept. 20, 2001

Bush urged to tone down rhetoric — Chicago Tribune
As reported here earlier this week, President Bush has angered Muslims around the world by characterizing the coming military offensive as a “crusade.” But his language may also alienate potential allies. In statements from the Oval Office during French President Jacques Chirac’s visit Wednesday, Bush spoke of “war” until Chirac ventured, “I don’t know whether we should use the word `war.'” After that, Bush substituted the term “campaign.” According to the Tribune, “While many political observers last week gave Bush increasingly better grades for his oratorical performances, some of his supporters are concerned that his rhetoric only fuels the perception of him overseas as a gung-ho cowboy.”

Who ordered the interceptors? — The Independent (UK)
Data released by the North American Aerospace Defense Command indicate that fighter jets were en route toward the passenger planes hijacked in last week’s terror attacks even before any of the planes had hit their targets. The data “raised questions about who ordered the fighter jets to undertake their intercept mission and what their instructions would have been in the event that they successfully caught up with a passenger aircraft while it was still in the air,” writes Andrew Gumbel. Vice President Dick Cheney has said that the President ordered the jets to shoot down any hijacked plane, but that the order didn’t come until after the impacts at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Report of Taliban aid incorrect — PR Watch Last week, BushFiles reported on a Los Angeles Times article by Robert Scheer which incorrectly stated that the administration had given financial aid to Afghanistan’s Taliban government. As CNN reported at the time, the aid was in fact appropriated to help Afghan peasants and was distributed through international relief agencies.

Sept. 19, 2001

Operation Poppy — New York Daily News
George Bush Sr. “has been drafted as a key stealth operative” in the president’s campaign to rally international support for what promises to be a drawn-out military campaign against terrorism around the world. “The old man is engaged well beyond what’s been publicly reported — or ever will be,” says one insider. According to the Daily News, Bush Sr.’s “international Rolodex is massive, and he has been tapping into his huge network of presidents, prime ministers and potentates to help with his son’s war effort.”

Bush growing into role — The Independent (UK)
George W. Bush was too often inappropriately down-home in tone just after the attacks, according to the editors of The Independent. “Mr. Bush employs folksy phrases about wanting (Usama bin Ladin) ‘dead or alive’ and ‘smoking out’ the terrorists and being a ‘lovin’ guy,’ so that he sounds more like the sort of small-town movie sheriff often played by Jimmy Stewart than the inheritor of Franklin Roosevelt’s mantle.” But even Bush’s detractors admit he has been adjusting well to his new role as leader of a victimized nation. “Mr. Bush’s high-profile visit to an Islamic centre was an eloquent gesture,” especially in light of the “Islamophobia” which has sparked unprovoked attacks against Arab people around the world, says The Independent.

Sept. 18, 2001

“Crusade” comment offends Arabs — Boston Globe
When George W. Bush described the coming war on terrorism as a “crusade,” he offended many of the Arab nations the US may need in its efforts to find bin Ladin and his accomplices. The centuries-old term “crusade” is widely interpreted to mean a holy war by Christians against Muslims. One Muslim observer said the term amounted to “the Christian word for jihad.” After Bush made the remark, the White House was reportedly flooded with calls from concerned leaders of Arab nations. They were reassured that the comment was unintended and that Bush was unaware of the connotation.

Sept. 17, 2001

Enviros suspend criticism of Bush — Associated Press
In light of Tuesday’s tragedy, the National Resources Defense Fund and the Sierra Club are cancelling several advertisements criticizing George W. Bush’s administration. “We want to show our support for the administration. This was a heinous act and it’s unseemly for anyone to try to exploit this tragedy by pushing a pre-existing agenda,” says NRDC spokesperson Elliot Negin. The NRDC’s web site stopped posting criticisms of Bush last week, opting instead to post news about rescue efforts. The Sierra Club reportedly also removed material on its Web site that might be seen as critical of Bush.

Bush: Tough or squishy? — Los Angeles Times
Conservative commentator Jonathan Last says the coming weeks will define perceptions not only of Bush’s presidency, but his character. The president seems to be “a man who strikes tough-looking poses, then carefully uses his political leverage to bring about moderate compromises. He may have conservative principles, but none have proved to be unyielding.” In this hour of crisis, asks Last, “Will he be aggressive, squishy or somewhere in-between?”


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