As the 2004 presidential campaign has gotten underway in earnest in the last few weeks, two disturbing trends have coincided. First, new questions have emerged concerning data aggregator ChoicePoint, including revelations that the firm provided the Department of Homeland Security with information on foreign nationals obtained under questionable circumstances. ChoicePoint's DBT subsidiary gained notoriety during the 2000 election as the company that produced the error-laden "purge list" of Florida voters, ultimately found to be 97% incorrect. Second, as states have rushed to upgrade their vote-gathering systems, in response to the Voting Rights Act of 2002, serious questions have been raised about the security and integrity of electronic voting machines. These events have occurred in a political climate in which a federal agency was recently employed in a state partisan endeavor, when the Department of Homeland Security was called upon to help locate Democratic state legislators from Texas who had fled to Oklahoma in order to thwart a redistricting plan that would have altered the political makeup of the US House of Representatives.
To some, Bush's descent from heaven aboard an S-3B Viking jet symbolized his prowess as a war leader, while for others it was a reminder of his missing year of military service while hiding out from the Vietnam War in the Texas Air National Guard, his spot secured by "Poppy's" political connections. But if the symbolism of his aircraft carrier photo-op was ambiguous, the choice of venues for the May 2 speech boosting his tax cut proposal was not. Three years ago Bush was busy raising money in Silicon Valley. Late in the 2000 campaign he used a $1,000-a-plate fundraising dinner in Atherton to criticize a Gore tax cut proposal. "If you're going to have tax relief, everybody who pays taxes ought to get tax relief," Bush said. "Yet he's willing to talk about the rich and the powerful; He said I'll represent the powerful." This time, though, Silicon Valley executives were not invited to the Bush event. Instead he used as a backdrop the grounds of United Defense Industries, maker of the Bradley fighting vehicle, in what observers described as an attempt to link perceptions of his economic plan with national defense.
"We have no intention of ruling Iraq," Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's special envoy to Iraq, told a gathering of Iraqi leaders on April 15. "We want you to establish your own democratic system based on Iraqi traditions and values." On April 19 the New York Times reported that the Pentagon is planning "some kind of a long-term defense relationship with a new Iraq," that would include access to four military bases. An unidentified "senior administration official" asserted that such relationship did not contradict the policy of rapid withdrawal from Iraq.
On April 7, about 600 antiwar demonstrators trying to block two gates to American President Lines at the Port of Oakland were fired upon by members of the Oakland Police Department using "sting balls," wooden projectiles, and bean bags. About 30 protesters were arrested. In trying to control the crowd, the wooden projectiles were fired at or near the protesters' legs and bean bags were shot directly at protesters. Sting balls -- small rubber pellets, which were contained in a larger ball that exploded in the air -- were fired above the crowd, raining pellets down on protesters. A number of demonstrators were hurt, and displayed to members of the media wounds that included golf ball-sized lumps, bloody abrasions, welts and lacerations.
by Firas Al-Atraqchi
Reprinted from YellowTimes.org
For two days running, mainstream media has bombarded the viewing public with the same images of Saddam Hussein's toppling statue, filmed from numerous angles. Cheering Iraqis stomping on, ripping, or burning pictures of Saddam seemed to portray that the war in Iraq had come to an end; victory, freedom, liberty -- all at arm's reach.
However, the real war, the true test of U.S. President George Bush's and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's resolve is yet to come.
Ominously, the past two days of toppled statues showed nothing of the carnage in Baghdad hospitals. The International Committee of the Red Cross revealed that Iraqi hospitals were so overwhelmed that the injured were lying bleeding in hallway floors awaiting treatment and care. This is where the real war begins.
"I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk," wrote former Rumsfeld assistant Kenneth Adelman in the Washington Post on February 13, 2003. Adelman's reasons:
- It was a cakewalk last time
- They've become much weaker
- We've become much stronger
- Now we're playing for keeps
In a recent interview on Pacifica Radio's Flashpoints, Major Doug Rokke of the US Army reported that on September 10, 2001 the UN declared "depleted uranium" munitions to be weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and that their use was illegal. Previous UN resolutions in 1996 and 1997 had included such munitions, in which projectiles are manufactured from waste products of the uranium enrichment process, in lists of WMD and urged that their use be discontinued. Yet, as reported by the . "This war was about Iraq possessing illegal weapons of mass destruction - yet we are using weapons of mass destruction ourselves.... Such double-standards are repellent."
Many articles critical of the Bush administration, including some posted on The Dubya Report site, conclude that Bush's opposition to popular policies like Social Security and Medicare, his support of programs like his so-called economic plan that benefit an elite minority, and his apparent willingness to ignore his allies and world opinion in prosecuting war in Iraq are the result of a commitment to a conservative ideology. Yet from time to time there are glimpses of a more personal source of such anti-populist if not downright anti-social policies. In The Right Man, former White House speech writer David Frum reports that Bush told him, "there is only one reason I am in the Oval Office…I found faith. I found God. I am here because of the power of prayer." According to Christianity Today, Bush told a Baptist congregation in Houston, TX, that he "believed that he had been chosen by God to be a good steward of the nation."
This article is Part III of The Dubya Report's three-part response to Bush's State of the Union message. See also
Three quarters of the way through his State of the Union Message, Bush finally addressed the conflict with Iraq. He offered no new evidence, and seemed, as Salon.com suggested in the lead-in to Jake Tapper's piece, to be trying "to scare the bejesus out of his audience."
Subsequent revelations, particularly Secretary of State Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council, and its critique by experts and the media, have highlighted the varied history of US involvement in the region, and suggest that Bush's Iraq policy is being determined -- even more than by big-oil interests -- by a group of ideologically committed partisans with ties to Israel's Likud party, who have been advocating the overthrow of Saddam Hussein for nearly a decade.
This article is Part II of The Dubya Report's three-part response to Bush's State of the Union message. See also
Second only to "an economy that grows fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job," (see Part I of The Dubya Report commentary on the State of the Union) Bush declared "Our ... goal is high-quality, affordable health for all Americans."