Saturday, August 28, 2004

Know Bush Fact #35

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

As hundreds of thousands of earnest people arrive in New York for a variety of creative protests, many worry that conflicts in the streets televised across the world will be used to Bush’s advantage.

Keeping demonstrations peaceful is urged.

But the gentlest intentions may not be enough.

On January 20, 2001, the Bush-Cheney Presidential Inaugural Committee coordinated with the D.C. Police and federal law enforcement to send out government agents provocateurs – undercover agents (caught on tape - see PBS' "Now with Bill Moyers") walking through groups of peaceful demonstrators, covertly squirting pepper spray at close range into the faces of innocent people.

Not just to intimidate, but to provoke violence and arrests.

And that was before 9/11. According to Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice, a public interest law firm in Washington, D.C.:

This is an effort to criminalize dissent. It's an effort from the Ashcroft Justice department specifically since September 11th. . . They're targeting people purely based on people standing up and saying they oppose government policy.

Ms. Verheyden-Hilliard and her husband, Carl Messineo, have several lawsuits filed against D.C. police and the federal government regarding this abuse of civil rights. (The D.C. Police had to admit that the pepper sprayers on Inauguration Day were indeed their own officers.)

Now, under John Ashcroft, the Justice Department allows FBI agents to go undercover to monitor citizen gatherings, whether or not there is evidence or suspicion of criminal activity.

So local police are doing their part as well.

In April 2003, the Colorado Coalition Against War in Iraq, a non-violent group, appropriately contacted police to notify them that they intended to go to U.S. Senator Wayne Allard’s office to present a resolution calling for an end to the U.S. presence in Iraq and an independent inquiry into the truthfulness of the justifications for the military action.

The night before their intended presentation, the group found themselves shocked by the suggestion of an eager new participant who said they should they up the ante and storm the building. Fortunately, wise leaders prevailed, and the new guy was later found to be with the Sheriff’s Office.

Recent terrorist alerts in Washington and New York have shown Bush and his administration anxious to display a sudden burst of diligence. Now, at the Republican National Convention in New York City, amidst new reports from Abu Ghraib, revelations of an Israeli spy in the Defense Department influencing Middle East policy, the Census Bureau reporting a growth in poverty and the uninsured, and scornful words from the Iraqi soccer team, Bush needs an enemy he can crush, especially on prime time television.

Demonstrators in New York should be very careful, and observers need to watch for Bush distracting from serious issues by focusing on turning peaceful dissenters into dangerous, crazy, Kerry-supporting terrorists he must crush for the safety of the American people.

To verify/research, Google "Bush +protest +pepper".

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Know Bush Fact #34

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

"We must uncover every detail and learn every lesson of September the 11th." – George W. Bush, November 27, 2002, at his ceremonial signing of the bill authorizing the creation of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (911 Commission).

Less publicly, that same day, he released a statement:

Many provisions of the Act, including section 342 and title VIII, establish new requirements for the executive branch to disclose sensitive information. As I have noted in signing last year's Intelligence Authorization Act and other similar legislation, the executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, the national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties.

Bush didn’t want this 911 Commission.

On January 28, 2002, Bush called Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) requesting that no September 11 inquiry be made. This was a followup call to Dick Cheney’s call to Daschle on January 24, when Cheney insisted such an inquiry would interfere with the war on terrorism.

On May 23, 2002, Bush announced that he was opposed to creating a special commission to investigate the events surrounding September 11.

"I have great confidence in our FBI and CIA," he said, in spite of revelations days before that there had been an August 5 memo presented to Bush titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." (deliberately mistitled by Bush’s Press Secretary Ari Fleischer as just "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S." – no "in").

On September 20, 2002, facing increased pressure from the 911 families, Congressional findings, and a Senate ready to approve a special 911 Commission, Bush announced his full support for a 911 Commission.

However, on October 10, 2002, just after congressional negotiators hailed a final deal over the scope and powers of a 9-11 panel, Dick Cheney called House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Porter Goss (Bush’s current nominee for CIA Director). Suddenly, Goss backtracked and refused the deal, stating behind closed doors that he’d received instructions from "above my pay grade" to "keep negotiating," pushing for more difficult subpoena guidelines and the President’s right to name the Chairman of the Commission.

Bush got his way, and when he signed the Bill on November 28, 2002, he named Henry Kissinger as its Chairman, stating, "Dr. Kissinger and I share the same commitments."

Not something most people would want to admit. After all, while Kissinger was in charge of U.S. foreign policy from 1969 to 1976, he sanctioned U.S. backing of military coups, invasions, and torture in Pakistan, Chile, Argentina, East Timor, Greece, and the massive rearmament of the Israeli government after the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.

Kissinger’s strategies in Southeast Asia, including secret bombings and the invasion of Cambodia, prolonged the Vietnam War over seven years, at the cost of 30,000 American and more than a million Vietnamese lives. On the home front he instigated illegal spying on the opponents of Nixon and the Vietnam War.

During those years, Kissinger had the pleasure of working with CIA Director George H.W. Bush, with President Ford’s Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and with White House Chief of Staff Dick Cheney.

Sadly, Kissinger stepped down as 911 Commission Chair within weeks, after he refused to reveal conflicts of interest that might exist because of Kissinger Associates, a company which facilitates contracts between multinational corporations and foreign governments. (Six months later, the Managing Director of Kissinger Associates for twelve years, L. Paul Bremer, III, was named Bush’s Head of the Coalitional Provisional Authority in Iraq.)

At that point, Bush chose Thomas Kean to Chair the 911 Commission, the former New Jersey governor who appeared less controversial. Kean’s official biography on the 911 Commission website did have to exclude his serious conflict of interest. Thomas Kean is currently a Director of Amerada Hess, a petroleum giant with an off-shore subsidiary partnership with Delta Oil, a Saudi company funded by Khalid bin Mahfouz, husband of Osama Bin Laden’s sister, and head of Saudi Arabia's powerful National Commercial Bank.

There is substantial evidence that the National Commercial Bank of Saudi funneled tens of billions of dollars to Bin Laden as both protection money and support for his actions, and the bank is named in a $1 trillion lawsuit, filed on behalf of families of the victims of September 11, as alleged financiers of Al Qaeda.

Khalid bin Mahfouz also has direct ties to George W. Bush, having rescued him twice, when he was merely the son of Vice President George H. W. Bush, by pouring Saudi/Bin Laden money into his failing businesses, Arbusto 7 Oil, and years later Harken Oil.

Thomas Kean’s ongoing petroleum affiliation with Khalid bin Mahfouz should have excluded him from serving as Chair of the 911 Commission, but it was simply kept quiet.

In the end, Bush’s selection of Kean paid off well. It was Kean who accepted Bush’s terms for his own testifying before the Commission, behind closed doors, with Cheney, without notes or taping, and most important (legally), not under oath.

In spite of Bush calling for "every detail" on November 28, Kean generously allowed him to, as he’d said the same day, "withhold."

To verify/research, Google "Bush +911 Commission", "Bush +Kissinger" and "Bush +Kean".

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Know Bush Fact #33

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

On July 25, 2003, former Senator Max Cleland, a 911 Commission member, spoke with Frank Sesno on PBS’ "Now with Bill Moyers". He complained that while the Commission was formed mid-December 2002, and was to use the joint Senate and House Intelligence Committee Report that was supposedly available on December 10 as its launching pad, it was eight months before the 911 Commission received it, with only 10 months remaining until its own deadline [later extended 2 months].

CLELAND: I'm saying that's deliberate... The 9/11 Commission was deliberately slow walked, because the Administration's policy was, and its priority was, we're gonna take Saddam Hussein out.
The real priority of the White House was not the 9/11 Commission — they fought it. And it was just, and it really was their interest was to delay the revelation of this report.
One of the reasons they didn't want it is they didn't want all this stuff out there.
Step number one, where in the world is Osama bin Laden?...
Step number two, what is the al Qaeda? Why did they do this? Why did they shift their target from the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, and the leadership in Egypt, why did they shift their target to America?
They shifted their target, we know that. . .

SESNO: Step number three. Financial Times today reporting on the Congressional Report: "Report Raises New Questions on Saudi Role in 9/11 Attacks."

CLELAND: Absolutely. . . You can read between the lines and see that there were foreign governments that were much more involved in the 9/11 attack than just supporting Islamic fundamentalist teachings and schools. Now, that has been redacted. A whole 28 page section...
Look at what’s happening. The Administration, the White House, has put several blocks in the road. One, they run all the information to the 9/11 Commission through a political coordinator in Ashcroft’s Justice Department. Duh. Why that?
Secondly, they want to put minders – that’s people who sit in the room when we have an interview with people in NSA, FBI, CIA, Department of – in DIA – in the Pentagon, and Immigration and Naturalization Services. They want to put minders in there. That's to shut down information. That’s not to reveal information.

The "minders" were actually a requirement from the White House that had to be in place before it would release information it was intentionally withholding. Chairman Kean did publicly complain as well. Still, even though the presence of minders would thwart candor, criticism, or whistle-blowing, the Commission agreed to the deal.

Max Cleland was also one of only two Commissioners (the other was former Rep. Tim Roemer, D-IN) who objected to another deal the Commission made. The White House required that only Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow and Commissioner Jamie Gorelick would be allowed to see and take notes on pre-edited versions of the Presidential Daily Briefings.

Only after their notes on the already edited PDBs were reviewed and/or redacted by the White House could they be shared with the remaining Commissioners.

By October 26, 2003, Max Cleland was fed up, and said so in the New York Times:

We're still in negotiations with some assistant White House counsel about getting these documents – it’s disgusting.
A majority of the commission has agreed to a bad deal... It is a national scandal... I'm not going to be part of looking at information only partially. I'm not going to be part of just coming to quick conclusions. I'm not going to be part of political pressure to do this or not do that...
As each day goes by, we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before Sept. 11 than it has ever admitted.

On November 21, 2003, Bush suddenly nominated Max Cleland to the Board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a credit agency that directly benefits U.S. small businesses by financing the export of U.S. goods and services.

It was a great opportunity for Cleland. "The Ex-Im Bank focuses on good-paying jobs for Americans. That's what the Bank is all about. That's what I'm all about."

The appointment required Cleland's resignation from the 911 Commission.

On December 8, 2003, the 911 Commission did not mention Cleland at their public session.

Finally, when pressed by a reporter asking about the restoration of the Commission’s credibility, Chairman Kean and Vice-Chairman Hamilton noted that Cleland was a man of integrity, but did address the issues he had raised.

To verify/research, Google "911 +Cleland".

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Know Bush Fact #32

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

And in Memory of A.D., who Knew

"We can set up all of the oversight possible, at great additional cost to the American taxpayers, and it won’t be worth an Enron pension if the people responsible lie to us, if they take their records and doctor them into falsehoods and if they get away with it."

It’s too bad the 911 Commission Report didn’t say that.

Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) said it. A week after the release of the 911 Commission Report, at the Senate Hearing on the Commission’s Recommendations, after seeing the differences between the 911 Report and the official NORAD statement of September 18, 2001.

He continued: "I believe that President Bush must call those responsible for those representations to account. If the Commission’s accounts are correct, he should fire whoever at FAA, at NORAD or anywhere else betrayed the public trust by not telling us the truth – and then he should clear up a few discrepancies of his own."

But the Commission didn’t come to such obvious conclusions. Instead, this is what 911 Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton had to say on July 22, 2004 on the PBS "News Hour with Jim Lehrer" after the release of the Report (emphasis is mine):

JIM LEHRER: What do you say to those who say, when you say everybody is to blame, then essentially nobody is to blame?

LEE HAMILTON: The whole mindset of the Commission is very different from the one your question suggests. Our mindset was focused on the future, not on the past... [Note: How can you focus on the future in an investigation?] We believe that if we had looked back and said, okay, this figure, that figure was responsible for 9/11, it would just have created a firestorm, and we would have had no chance of putting forward recommendations that would be acceptable to the Congress and to the president and to the American people. We would have destroyed any chance of a bipartisan result here.

Unfortunately, "bipartisan" is not the same as "non-partisan" - let alone "independent" – as the families had sought.

And it turns out that Lee Hamilton has a history of being the Republican’s favorite Democrat. This is not the first time he has relinquished the truth for the sake of bipartisanship.

In 1987, then Representative Lee Hamilton (D-IN) was Chairman of the House Select Committee investigating the Iran-Contra affair. A brief history reminder: Undermining both the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, members of the Reagan/Bush National Security Council were caught covertly selling arms to Iran (for its war with Iraq, where Saddam Hussein had just received U.S. arms, helicopters and biological weapons, personally delivered by Donald Rumsfeld [but that’s another story – see Know Bush 5]) and diverting the proceeds to the Contra rebels in their fight to bring down the leftist but democratically-elected Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Sitting on the Committee with Lee Hamilton was the Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, Representative Dick Cheney (R-WY). Knowing George H. W. Bush was at last perched for the Presidency, Cheney was determined to block the Democrats from bringing Vice President Bush before the Committee to testify about his Iran-Contra knowledge. Aware of Hamilton's weak spot, the intimidating Cheney pushed on his pride in his bipartisanship, and Hamilton folded. Bush never testified.

In 1992, at the end of his only term as President, George H. W. Bush pardoned five of the Iran-Contra criminals. Now many of those convicted and/or involved have at last been rewarded in his son's administration: John Negroponte - U.S. representative to the United Nations & U.S. Ambassador in Iraq; Richard Armitage - Deputy Secretary of State; Elliott Abrams - Special White House Assistant for Democracy and Human Rights; John M. Poindexter - Director, The Information Awareness Office.

Lee Hamilton did another huge favor for George H.W. Bush five years later, in 1992, when he was Chair of the House Select Committee investigating the "October Surprise" of 1980.

This time, a book entitled October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan, written by former National Security Council desk officer Gary Sick, and published just after the 1991 Gulf War, revealed the 1980 plot to undermine President Carter’s negotiations for the release of the 52 American hostages held in Iran, and specifically accused Vice Presidential candidate and former CIA Director George H. W. Bush and William Casey, Reagan’s presidential campaign manager, of meeting with Iranian Prime Minister Bani-sadr in Paris in October 1980, only weeks before the election. There they allegedly cut a deal where they would provide Iran with weapons for its war against Iraq (sound familiar?), and in exchange, Iran would refuse to release the hostages to President Carter, and instead wait until Carter was out and Reagan was in to let them go.

And so it went. Weapons were delivered, Carter’s failures cost him the election, and the hostages were released during Reagan’s Inauguration.

The incriminating book was at first ignored in the wake of Bush's quick success with the Gulf War, but by mid 1992, interest was growing, and once again Lee Hamilton was charged with investigating George H.W. Bush’s involvement, as he headed towards an election.

In a strangely irresponsible move, Hamilton publicly announced prematurely that there was no proof to the charges, even though he had not yet begun to review the evidence. Eventually, Hamilton would again save Bush from scandal and possible charges by denouncing the witnesses as untrustworthy, but by then the people had Bush out. The case, and the Bush Presidency, quietly closed in January 1993.

So, here we are again. Bush heading into a Presidential election, questions about what he knew and did, and Lee Hamilton co-leading an investigation.

On April 29, 2004, after many negotiations, the 911 Commission was finally allowed to interview Bush. . . with Cheney. . . in private. . . without cameras, tapes, transcripts, notes or witnesses. Still, it was an extraordinarily significant day.

Yet, after two hours, as Bush was still handling questions, Lee Hamilton left. As did Robert Kerrey -- the Democrat who replaced the too-outspoken Max Cleland. In so doing, they abandoned the Democratic side of the supposedly bipartisan Commission, leaving the room with 3 Democrats and 7 Republicans, while they headed off for luncheon appointments. Their early abandonment of this vital opportunity, which lasted another precious 70 minutes, was not deemed worthy of mention in the Commission's press release, of course, but soon became known around the D.C. beltway.

Whatever the excuse, the opportunity, at last, to question Bush, was clearly not a priority. So much for, as Senator Dayton put it, clearing up discrepancies.

With this family history of covert trickery followed by suppression of query, especially preceding elections, the voters have the right to be leery, from now through November, of news that seems to redeem Bush's leadership, such as:

Increased terrorist threats requiring visible efforts at security...

Dramatic arrests of important enemies...

Or maybe even...

Behold! Finding Weapons of Mass Destruction!

To verify/research, Google : "Bush +Lee +Hamilton." To find a more specific point of interest, add [space]+ and a key word, such as "Contra" or "Surprise", for example.

August 1, 2004