Thursday, November 10, 2005

Iraq Is A Local War

Jimmy Breslin, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author, poses for a portrait May 19, 1971 in Brooklyn, New York. Posted by Picasa

In order to arrive at that which thou knowest not,
Thou must go by a way that thou knowest not.
In order to arrive at that which thou possesseth not,
Thou must go by a way that thou possesseth not.

---St. John of the Cross

The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. And only he who listens can speak.

---Dag Hammarskjold

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.

---Elizabeth Barrett Browning

My good friend Quinty (Paul Quintanilla ) sent out yesterday's column by Jimmy Breslin with this comment~~~

"What is poetry? The truth burning through lies? The sharp taste of reality? Here's Jimmy Breslin burning a whole forest of lies down."

For the sake of younger readers and folks from outta town, Wikipedia at least has this stub of a description of him~~~

Jimmy Breslin (born October 17, 1930) is an American columnist who has appeared regularly in various newspapers in New York City, where he lives. On November 2, 2004 he retired as a regular columnist from Newsday but stated his intention to continue writing. In his final Newsday column, Breslin incorrectly predicted a Kerry victory in the 2004 election.

In 1969, he ran unsuccessfully as an independent for New York City Council President allied with writer Norman Mailer running for Mayor, with the agenda of New York City secession as the 51st state.

He won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.

Among his notable columns, perhaps the best known was published the day after John F. Kennedy's funeral, focusing on the man who had dug the President's grave. The column was indicative of Breslin's style, which often highlights how major events or the actions of those considered "newsworthy" affect the "common man."

Breslin is the author of a biography of Damon Runyon (Damon Runyon - ISBN 044050502X) and several novels, the best-known of which is The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (ISBN 0316111740).


War must be a local issue
Jimmy Breslin
November 9, 2005

The church was empty at dusk. You stood in the stillness and looked at the place, right there on the side of the altar, where Michael Bloomberg spoke over the casket of a fallen aristocrat of the city, Riayan A. Tejeda, Marine, dead in Iraq at age 26.

Bloomberg pronounced, "He died to keep the weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of ..."

You heard no more. He was up there in the presence of a gallant New Yorker and he spread a lie and for me it was the start of his campaign and it ended with me not voting for him last night.

He says of Iraq, "It is not a local issue."

This was almost two years ago at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church on Wadsworth Avenue in Washington Heights, which is more than somewhat local.

By myself, I have been at the deep grief of another soldier's funeral in the Bronx, one in Ridgewood, another in Brooklyn.

If the kid who gets killed is local, then - the war is local.

This war continues without an official protest that would call out the will of the people of the City of New York and might count in a nation that by now realizes it has been the victim of a president who is a fake and a fraud and a shill and a sham and now is going around with the blind staggers.

Only the other night, in a television appearance with the opponent, Ferrer, Bloomberg was asked about withdrawing troops from Iraq and - heavens! - you can't do that. Why, that would mean that New York's fallen military would have died in vain. And why you could never say that about the three or four who would be killed on the day after that, and tomorrow and tomorrow.

They die in the splendor of bravery, the prayer of valor. And fall in vain because the government causes them to die in vain.

Around this great city yesterday, the day went into the heart of the night without excitement. There was an election for mayor and the streets should have been loud with the shrieks of people crying for your vote. Bloomberg last night finished spending at least $70 million to get re-elected and the money suffocated the election. That is not democracy. Every one of those dollars should form the seeds of a revolt.

He is the mayor in a time of National Alzheimer's, and New York, too, is stricken. We have Bloomberg silent on a war. And once in this state we had as senators at the same time, Robert F. Kennedy and Jacob Javits. Look at the citizenry here accepting as United States senators, Clinton and Schumer, who both supported the war. The coin has cheapened and no outcry is heard.

How can Mike Bloomberg be the mayor of this city and not try to put his voice and weight into saving lives?

Bloomberg follows the smirking, deadly lies of a president who had people getting killed for what? For oil, for Dear Old Dad, for a racist disdain for a guy in an alley with a rag on his head. Bush saw the rag but never noticed the gun the guy carried.

Last night, Julio Cesar Tejada, the dead Marine's father, stood in the swarms of people going past his building at 602 W. 180th St. He is 53 and stocky, with short black hair and a pleasant face. On the sidewalk next to him was the small, permanent grotto to his son. A photo. Flowers. Candles. Prayers in Spanish and English.

"How has it been?" he said. He patted his chest. "My heart fell apart. I cannot work. I spend all the days going to the doctor."

"The wife?"

He shook his head. "It is very bad for her."

He said he had to get the Con Edison bill paid. "They turn off the lights if you don't."

At the corner, a young woman, a college student, asked him about Bloomberg clinging to the war. Now I mentioned the speech at his son's funeral.

Julio shook his head. "I was too mixed up at the funeral."

He said then he was going to vote.

"For whom?"

He shook his head. "I don't know 'til I get there."

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.,0,5025678.column?coll=ny-news-columnists

I found most enlightening this page of Breslin quotes...if you're in the mood for more~~~

1 comment:

jazzolog said...

Ted Kennedy's speech on the defense bill in the Senate yesterday is bringing a firestorm of the old rightwing personal invective against him. Watch for the buzzword "hypocrisy" out of Republican talking heads this weekend.

TruthOut has the speech, but it's also at his own website with the title


(As prepared for delivery)

Earlier this week, several of our Republican colleagues came to the Senate floor and attempted to blame individual Democratic Senators for their errors in judgment about the war in Iraq.

It was little more than a devious attempt to obscure the facts and take the focus off the real reason we went to war in Iraq. 150,000 American troops are bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq because the Bush Administration misrepresented and distorted the intelligence to justify a war that America never should have fought.

As we know all too well, Iraq was not an imminent threat. It had no nuclear weapons. It had no persuasive links to Al Qaeda, no connection to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

But the President wrongly and repeatedly insisted that it was too dangerous to ignore the weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein, and his ties to Al Qaeda.

In his march to war, President Bush exaggerated the threat to the American people. It was not subtle. It was not nuanced. It was pure, unadulterated fear-mongering, based on a devious strategy to convince the American people that Saddam's ability to provide nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda justified immediate war.

Administration officials suggested the threat from Iraq was imminent, and went to great lengths to convince the American people that it was.

At a roundtable discussion with European journalists last month, Secretary Rumsfeld deviously insisted: "I never said imminent threat."

In fact, Secretary Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee on September 18, 2002, "…Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent -- that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain."

In May 2003, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether we went to war "because we said WMD were a direct and imminent threat to the United States." Fleischer responded, "Absolutely."

What else could National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice have been suggesting, other than an imminent threat -- an extremely imminent threat -- when she said on September 8, 2002, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

President Bush himself may not have used the word "imminent", but he carefully chose strong and loaded words about the nature of the threat -- words that the intelligence community never used -- to persuade and prepare the nation to go to war against Iraq.

In the Rose Garden on October 2, 2002, as Congress was preparing to vote on authorizing the war, the President said the Iraqi regime "is a threat of unique urgency."

In a speech in Cincinnati on October 7, President Bush Specifically invoked the danger of nuclear devastation: "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

At an appearance in New Mexico on October 28, 2002, after Congress had voted to authorize war, and a week before the election, President Bush said Iraq is a "real and dangerous threat."

At a NATO summit on November 20, 2002, President Bush said Iraq posed a "unique and urgent threat."

In Fort Hood, Texas on January 3, 2003, President Bush called the Iraqi regime a "grave threat."

Nuclear weapons. Mushroom cloud. Unique and urgent threat. Real and dangerous threat. Grave threat. These words were the Administration's rallying cry for war. But they were not the words of the intelligence community, which never suggested that the threat from Saddam was imminent, or immediate, or urgent.

It was Vice President Cheney who first laid out the trumped up argument for war with Iraq to an unsuspecting public. In a speech on August 26, 2002, to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he asserted: "…We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons…Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon." As we now know, the intelligence community was far from certain. Yet the Vice President had been convinced.

On September 8, 2002, he was even more emphatic about Saddam. He said, "[We] do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon." The intelligence community was deeply divided about the aluminum tubes, but Vice President Cheney was absolutely certain.

One month later, on the eve of the watershed vote by Congress to authorize the war, President Bush said it even more vividly. He said, "Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes…which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed…Saddam Hussein would be in a position to pass nuclear technology to terrorists."

In fact, as we now know, the intelligence community was far from convinced of any such threat. The Administration attempted to conceal that fact by classifying the information and the dissents within the intelligence community until after the war, even while making dramatic and excessive public statements about the immediacy of the danger.

In October 2002, the intelligence agencies jointly issued a National Intelligence Estimate stating that "most agencies" believed that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program after inspectors left in 1998, and that, if left unchecked, Iraq "probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."

The State Department's intelligence bureau, however, said the "available evidence" was inadequate to support that judgment. It refused to predict when "Iraq could acquire a nuclear device or weapon."

About the claims of purchases of nuclear material from Africa, the State Department's intelligence bureau said that claims of Iraq seeking to purchase nuclear material from Africa were "highly dubious." The CIA sent two memorandums to the White House stressing strong doubts about those claims.

But the following January, in 2003, the President included the claims about Africa in his State of the Union Address, and conspicuously cited the British government as the source of that intelligence.

Information about nuclear weapons was not the only intelligence distorted by the Administration. On the question of whether Iraq was pursuing a chemical weapons program, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded in September 2002 that "there is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or whether Iraq has -- or will -- establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities."

That same month, however, Secretary Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Saddam has chemical weapons stockpiles.

He said, "We do know that the Iraqi regime has chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction," that Saddam "has amassed large clandestine stocks of chemical weapons." He said that "he has stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons," and that Iraq has "active chemical, biological and nuclear programs." He was wrong on all counts.

Yet the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate actually quantified the size of the stockpiles, stating that "although we have little specific information on Iraq's CW stockpile, Saddam probably has stocked at least 100 metric tons and possibly as much as 500 metric tons of CW agents -- much of it added in the last year." In his address to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell went further, calling the 100 to 500 metric ton stockpile a "conservative estimate."

Secretary Rumsfeld made an even more explicit assertion in his interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on March 30, 2003. When asked about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, he said, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

The Administration's case for war based on the linkage between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda was just as misguided.

Significantly here as well, the Intelligence Estimate did not find a cooperative relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda. On the contrary, it stated only that such a relationship might develop in the future if Saddam was "sufficiently desperate" -- in other words, if America went to war. But the estimate placed "low confidence" that, even in desperation, Saddam would give weapons of mass destruction to Al Qaeda.

A year before the war began, senior Al Qaeda leaders themselves had rejected a link with Saddam. The New York Times reported last June that a top Al Qaeda planner and recruiter captured in March 2002 told his questioners last year that "the idea of working with Mr. Hussein's government had been discussed among Al Qaeda leaders, but Osama bin Laden had rejected such proposals." According to the Times, an Al Qaeda chief of operations had also told interrogators that it did not work with Saddam.

Mel Goodman, a CIA analyst for 20 years, put it bluntly: "Saddam Hussein and bin Laden were enemies. Bin Laden considered and said that Saddam was the socialist infidel. These were very different kinds of individuals competing for power in their own way and Saddam Hussein made very sure that Al Qaeda couldn't function in Iraq."

In February 2003, investigators at the FBI told the New York Times they were baffled by the Administration's insistence on a solid link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. One investigator said: "We've been looking at this hard for more than a year and you know what, we just don't think it's there."

But President Bush was not deterred. He was relentless in playing to America's fears after the devastating tragedy of 9/11. He drew a clear link -- and drew it repeatedly -- between Al Qaeda and Saddam.

On September 25, 2002, at the White House, President Bush flatly declared: "You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror."

In his State of the Union Address in January 2003, President Bush said, "Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda," and that he could provide "lethal viruses" to a "shadowy terrorist network."

Two weeks later, in his Saturday radio address to the nation, a month before the war began, President Bush described the ties in detail, saying, "Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks …"

He said: "Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document-forgery experts to work with Al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. An Al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring poisons and gases. We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior Al Qaeda terrorist planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad."

Who gave the President this information? The NIE? Scooter Libby? Chalabi?

In fact, there was no operational link and no clear and persuasive pattern of ties between the Iraqi government and Al Qaeda. A 9/11 Commission Staff Statement in June of 2004, put it plainly: "Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between Al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States." The 9/11 Commission Report stated clearly that there was no "operational" connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. That fact should have been abundantly clear to the President. Iraq and Al Qaeda had diametrically opposing views of the world.

The Pentagon¹s favorite Iraqi dissident, Ahmed Chalabi, is actually proud of what happened. "We are heroes in error," Chalabi said in February 2004. "As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush Administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords, if he wants."

What was said before does matter. The President's words matter. The Vice President's words matter. So do those of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and other high officials in the Administration. And they did not square with the facts.

The Intelligence Committee agreed to investigate the clear discrepancies, and it's important that they get to the bottom of this, and find out how and why President Bush took America to war in Iraq. Americans are dying. Already more than 2000 have been killed, and more than 15,000 have been wounded.

The American people deserve the truth. It's time for the President to stop passing the buck and for him to be held accountable.