Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Time To Impeach

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A country is not only what it does---it is also what it puts up with, what it tolerates.

---Kurt Tucholsky

Nothing the happy newspapers say can change the fact that all over India, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages, in public places and private homes, George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America, world nightmare incarnate, is just not welcome.

---Arundhati Roy

We have before us in the White House a thief who steals the country's good name and reputation for his private interest and personal use; a liar who seeks to instill in the American people a state of fear; a televangelist who engages the United States in a never-ending crusade against all the world's evil, a wastrel who squanders a vast sum of the nation's wealth on what turns out to be a recruiting drive certain to multiply the host of our enemies. In a word, a criminal—known to be armed and shown to be dangerous.

---Lewis H. Lapham

Ever since I was stopped by a fully armed, battle dressed SWAT team (which stands for Special Weapons And Tactics) or I realized no one catches a glimpse of this President of the United States without an invitation. The man was campaigning in a republic of supposed free election in 2004. What had become of my country? Where was my pride in being an American, the liberators in World War II, the Good Guys?

It wasn't just the War On Terra (as Molly Ivins now is calling it). Here is a leader whose anger at criticism must never be revealed to the people. He must be insulated by handlers, carefully scripted and rehearsed. Some American families have fathers like that. Mom's job is to make sure his blood pressure never flies so high that he blows a gasket. The kids grow up never learning how to negotiate problems or compromise with friends. The United States citizenry has become like that now. All we know how to do is consume. With citizenship practically dead, at least as it used to be taught to us all at home and in school, I've come to despair that anything can be done to stop the insanity of this administration.

Furthermore, the very process of impeachment, which is an effort to correct rather than indict, has become so predictable and cheapened in recent years I've hesitated to join any cries for something to begin. The Clintons were hunted with such tenacity as soon as he took federal office that it's little wonder he finally began the behaviors of a monkey in the zoo. Any mention of Republican problems and we hear about Ted Kennedy again. The Congress refuses to hold hearings about eavesdropping on the American people. So why am I writing about this and what chance is there?

Two articles by a couple of heavy hitters have stirred my hopes. The first is by Arundhati Roy and appears at present only at The Nation's website. Maybe they'll put it in the next issue of the magazine. She won the Booker Prize for The God of Small Things and War Talk, and lives in New Delhi, India, where Bush is showing up tomorrow. Her article is called Bush in India: Just Not Welcome, and is posted today~~~

On his triumphalist tour of India and Pakistan, where he hopes to wave imperiously at people he considers potential subjects, President Bush has an itinerary that's getting curiouser and curiouser.

For Bush's March 2 pit stop in New Delhi, the Indian government tried very hard to have him address our parliament. A not inconsequential number of MPs threatened to heckle him, so Plan One was hastily shelved. Plan Two was to have Bush address the masses from the ramparts of the magnificent Red Fort, where the Indian prime minister traditionally delivers his Independence Day address. But the Red Fort, surrounded as it is by the predominantly Muslim population of Old Delhi, was considered a security nightmare. So now we're into Plan Three: President George Bush speaks from Purana Qila, the Old Fort.

Ironic, isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity should be a crumbling medieval fort?

Since the Purana Qila also houses the Delhi zoo, George Bush's audience will be a few hundred caged animals and an approved list of caged human beings, who in India go under the category of "eminent persons." They're mostly rich folk who live in our poor country like captive animals, incarcerated by their own wealth, locked and barred in their gilded cages, protecting themselves from the threat of the vulgar and unruly multitudes whom they have systematically dispossessed over the centuries.

So what's going to happen to George W. Bush? Will the gorillas cheer him on? Will the gibbons curl their lips? Will the brow-antlered deer sneer? Will the chimps make rude noises? Will the owls hoot? Will the lions yawn and the giraffes bat their beautiful eyelashes? Will the crocs recognize a kindred soul? Will the quails give thanks that Bush isn't traveling with Dick Cheney, his hunting partner with the notoriously bad aim? Will the CEOs agree?

Oh, and on March 2, Bush will be taken to visit Gandhi's memorial in Rajghat. He's by no means the only war criminal who has been invited by the Indian government to lay flowers at Rajghat. (Only recently we had the Burmese dictator General Than Shwe, no shrinking violet himself.) But when Bush places flowers on that famous slab of highly polished stone, millions of Indians will wince. It will be as though he has poured a pint of blood on the memory of Gandhi.

We really would prefer that he didn't.

It is not in our power to stop Bush's visit. It is in our power to protest it, and we will. The government, the police and the corporate press will do everything they can to minimize the extent of our outrage. Nothing the happy newspapers say can change the fact that all over India, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages, in public places and private homes, George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America, world nightmare incarnate, is just not welcome.
Here's more about her~~~

The second article has been on the stands and in subscriber mailboxes for a week. It is the centerpiece of the current issue of Harper's, and is by the magazine's editor since 1976 (with a year off in 1982). Born in 1935, Lewis H. Lapham was educated at Hotchkiss, Yale and Cambridge. He's been a newspaper reporter and magazine editor throughout his career. He's written a pile of books and reviewers liken him to Mencken, Mark Twain and even Montaigne. He writes an essay every month in Harper's, but once in a while he spreads out into a major article and the current issue is such a time. A brief excerpt from the whole thing has appeared online~~~

The Case for Impeachment
Why we can no longer afford George W. Bush
Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006.
An excerpt from an essay in the March 2006 Harper's Magazine.
By Lewis H. Lapham.

On December 18 of last year, Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D., Mich.) introduced into the House of Representatives a resolution inviting it to form “a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.” Although buttressed two days previously by the news of the National Security Agency's illegal surveillance of the American citizenry, the request attracted little or no attention in the press—nothing on television or in the major papers, some scattered applause from the left-wing blogs, heavy sarcasm on the websites flying the flags of the militant right. The nearly complete silence raised the question as to what it was the congressman had in mind, and to whom did he think he was speaking? In time of war few propositions would seem as futile as the attempt to impeach a president whose political party controls the Congress; as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee stationed on Capitol Hill for the last forty years, Representative Conyers presumably knew that to expect the Republican caucus in the House to take note of his invitation, much less arm it with the power of subpoena, was to expect a miracle of democratic transformation and rebirth not unlike the one looked for by President Bush under the prayer rugs in Baghdad. Unless the congressman intended some sort of symbolic gesture, self-serving and harmless, what did he hope to prove or to gain? He answered the question in early January, on the phone from Detroit during the congressional winter recess.

“To take away the excuse,” he said, “that we didn't know.” So that two or four or ten years from now, if somebody should ask, “Where were you, Conyers, and where was the United States Congress?” when the Bush Administration declared the Constitution inoperative and revoked the license of parliamentary government, none of the company now present can plead ignorance or temporary insanity, can say that “somehow it escaped our notice” that the President was setting himself up as a supreme leader exempt from the rule of law.

A reason with which it was hard to argue but one that didn't account for the congressman's impatience. Why not wait for a showing of supportive public opinion, delay the motion to impeach until after next November's elections? Assuming that further investigation of the President's addiction to the uses of domestic espionage finds him nullifying the Fourth Amendment rights of a large number of his fellow Americans, the Democrats possibly could come up with enough votes, their own and a quorum of disenchanted Republicans, to send the man home to Texas. Conyers said:

“I don't think enough people know how much damage this administration can do to their civil liberties in a very short time. What would you have me do? Grumble and complain? Make cynical jokes? Throw up my hands and say that under the circumstances nothing can be done? At least I can muster the facts, establish a record, tell the story that ought to be front-page news.”

Which turned out to be the purpose of his House Resolution 635—not a high-minded tilting at windmills but the production of a report, 182 pages, 1,022 footnotes, assembled by Conyers's staff during the six months prior to its presentation to Congress, that describes the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq as the perpetration of a crime against the American people. It is a fair description. Drawing on evidence furnished over the last four years by a sizable crowd of credible witnesses—government officials both extant and former, journalists, military officers, politicians, diplomats domestic and foreign—the authors of the report find a conspiracy to commit fraud, the administration talking out of all sides of its lying mouth, secretly planning a frivolous and unnecessary war while at the same time pretending in its public statements that nothing was further from the truth.[1] The result has proved tragic, but on reading through the report's corroborating testimony I sometimes could counter its inducements to mute rage with the thought that if the would-be lords of the flies weren't in the business of killing people, they would be seen as a troupe of off-Broadway comedians in a third-rate theater of the absurd. Entitled “The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War,” the Conyers report examines the administration's chronic abuse of power from more angles than can be explored within the compass of a single essay. The nature of the administration's criminal DNA and modus operandi, however, shows up in a usefully robust specimen of its characteristic dishonesty.

* * *

That President George W. Bush comes to power with the intention of invading Iraq is a fact not open to dispute. Pleased with the image of himself as a military hero, and having spoken, more than once, about seeking revenge on Saddam Hussein for the tyrant's alleged attempt to “kill my Dad,” he appoints to high office in his administration a cadre of warrior intellectuals, chief among them Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, known to be eager for the glories of imperial conquest.[2] At the first meeting of the new National Security Council on January 30, 2001, most of the people in the room discuss the possibility of preemptive blitzkrieg against Baghdad.[3] In March the Pentagon circulates a document entitled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oil Field Contracts”; the supporting maps indicate the properties of interest to various European governments and American corporations. Six months later, early in the afternoon of September 11, the smoke still rising from the Pentagon's western facade, Secretary Rumsfeld tells his staff to fetch intelligence briefings (the “best info fast...go massive; sweep it all up; things related and not”) that will justify an attack on Iraq. By chance the next day in the White House basement, Richard A. Clarke, national coordinator for security and counterterrorism, encounters President Bush, who tells him to “see if Saddam did this.” Nine days later, at a private dinner upstairs in the White House, the President informs his guest, the British prime minister, Tony Blair, that “when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.”

By November 13, 2001, the Taliban have been rousted out of Kabul in Afghanistan, but our intelligence agencies have yet to discover proofs of Saddam Hussein's acquaintance with Al Qaeda.[4] President Bush isn't convinced. On November 21, at the end of a National Security Council meeting, he says to Secretary Rumsfeld, “What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq?...I want you to get on it. I want you to keep it secret.”

The Conyers report doesn't return to the President's focus on Iraq until March 2002, when it finds him peering into the office of Condoleezza Rice, the national security advisor, to say, “Fuck Saddam. We're taking him out.” At a Senate Republican Policy lunch that same month on Capitol Hill, Vice President Dick Cheney informs the assembled company that it is no longer a question of if the United States will attack Iraq, it's only a question of when. The vice president doesn't bring up the question of why, the answer to which is a work in progress. By now the administration knows, or at least has reason to know, that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, that Iraq doesn't possess weapons of mass destruction sufficiently ominous to warrant concern, that the regime destined to be changed poses no imminent threat, certainly not to the United States, probably not to any country defended by more than four batteries of light artillery. Such at least is the conclusion of the British intelligence agencies that can find no credible evidence to support the theory of Saddam's connection to Al Qaeda or international terrorism; “even the best survey of WMD programs will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile and CW/BW weapons fronts...” A series of notes and memoranda passing back and forth between the British Cabinet Office in London and its correspondents in Washington during the spring and summer of 2002 address the problem of inventing a pretext for a war so fondly desired by the Bush Administration that Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain's MI-6, finds the interested parties in Washington fixing “the intelligence and the facts...around the policy.” The American enthusiasm for regime change, “undimmed” in the mind of Condoleezza Rice, presents complications.

Although Blair has told Bush, probably in the autumn of 2001, that Britain will join the American military putsch in Iraq, he needs “legal justification” for the maneuver—something noble and inspiring to say to Parliament and the British public. No justification “currently exists.” Neither Britain nor the United States is being attacked by Iraq, which eliminates the excuse of self-defense; nor is the Iraqi government currently sponsoring a program of genocide. Which leaves as the only option the “wrong-footing” of Saddam. If under the auspices of the United Nations he can be presented with an ultimatum requiring him to show that Iraq possesses weapons that don't exist, his refusal to comply can be taken as proof that he does, in fact, possess such weapons.[5]

Over the next few months, while the British government continues to look for ways to “wrong-foot” Saddam and suborn the U.N., various operatives loyal to Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld bend to the task of fixing the facts, distributing alms to dubious Iraqi informants in return for map coordinates of Saddam's monstrous weapons, proofs of stored poisons, of mobile chemical laboratories, of unmanned vehicles capable of bringing missiles to Jerusalem.[6]

By early August the Bush Administration has sufficient confidence in its doomsday story to sell it to the American public. Instructed to come up with awesome text and shocking images, the White House Iraq Group hits upon the phrase “mushroom cloud” and prepares a White Paper describing the “grave and gathering danger” posed by Iraq's nuclear arsenal.[7] The objective is three-fold—to magnify the fear of Saddam Hussein, to present President Bush as the Christian savior of the American people, a man of conscience who never in life would lead the country into an unjust war, and to provide a platform of star-spangled patriotism for Republican candidates in the November congressional elections.[8]

* * *

The Conyers report doesn't lack for further instances of the administration's misconduct, all of them noted in the press over the last three years—misuse of government funds, violation of the Geneva Conventions, holding without trial and subjecting to torture individuals arbitrarily designated as “enemy combatants,” etc.—but conspiracy to commit fraud would seem reason enough to warrant the President's impeachment. Before reading the report, I wouldn't have expected to find myself thinking that such a course of action was either likely or possible; after reading the report, I don't know why we would run the risk of not impeaching the man. We have before us in the White House a thief who steals the country's good name and reputation for his private interest and personal use; a liar who seeks to instill in the American people a state of fear; a televangelist who engages the United States in a never-ending crusade against all the world's evil, a wastrel who squanders a vast sum of the nation's wealth on what turns out to be a recruiting drive certain to multiply the host of our enemies. In a word, a criminal—known to be armed and shown to be dangerous. Under the three-strike rule available to the courts in California, judges sentence people to life in jail for having stolen from Wal-Mart a set of golf clubs or a child's tricycle. Who then calls strikes on President Bush, and how many more does he get before being sent down on waivers to one of the Texas Prison Leagues?

* * *

1. The report borrows from hundreds of open sources that have become a matter of public record—newspaper accounts, television broadcasts (Frontline, Meet the Press, Larry King Live, 60 Minutes, etc.), magazine articles (in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The New York Review of Books), sworn testimony in both the Senate and House of Representatives, books written by, among others, Bob Woodward, George Packer, Richard A. Clarke, James Mann, Mark Danner, Seymour Hersh, David Corn, James Bamford, Hans Blix, James Risen, Ron Suskind, Joseph Wilson. As the congressman had said, “Everything in plain sight; it isn't as if we don't know.”

2. In January of 1998 the neoconservative Washington think tank The Project for the New American Century (which counts among its founding members Dick Cheney) sent a letter to Bill Clinton demanding “the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power” with a strong-minded “willingness to undertake military action.” Together with Rumsfeld, six of the other seventeen signatories became members of the Bush's first administration—Elliott Abrams (now George W. Bush's deputy national security advisor), Richard Armitage (deputy secretary of state from 2001 to 2005), John Bolton (now U.S. ambassador to the U.N.), Richard Perle (chairman of the Defense Policy Board from 2001 to 2003), Paul Wolfowitz (deputy secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005), Robert Zoellick (now deputy secretary of state). President Clinton responded to the request by signing the Iraq Liberation Act, for which Congress appropriated $97 million for various clandestine operations inside the borders of Iraq. Two years later, in September 2000, The Project for the New American Century issued a document noting that the “unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification” for the presence of the substantial American force in the Persian Gulf.

3. In a subsequent interview on 60 Minutes, Paul O'Neill, present in the meeting as the newly appointed secretary of the treasury, remembered being surprised by the degree of certainty: “From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go.... It was all about finding a way to do it.”

4. As early as September 20, Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, drafted a memo suggesting that in retaliation for the September 11 attacks the United States should consider hitting terrorists outside the Middle East in the initial offensive, or perhaps deliberately selecting a non-Al Qaeda target like Iraq.

5. Abstracts of the notes and memoranda, known collectively as “The Downing Street Minutes,” were published in the Sunday Times (London) in May 2005; their authenticity was undisputed by the British government.

6. The work didn't go unnoticed by people in the CIA, the Pentagon, and the State Department accustomed to making distinctions between a well-dressed rumor and a naked lie. In the spring of 2004, talking to a reporter from Vanity Fair, Greg Thielmann, the State Department officer responsible for assessing the threats of nuclear proliferation, said, “The American public was seriously misled. The Administration twisted, distorted and simplified intelligence in a way that led Americans to seriously misunderstand the nature of the Iraq threat. I'm not sure I can think of a worse act against the people in a democracy than a President distorting critical classified information.”

7. The Group counted among its copywriters Karl Rove, senior political strategist, Andrew Card, White House chief of staff, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

8. Card later told the New York Times that “from a marketing point of don't introduce new products in August.”

Tomorrow evening at 8:00, Harper's is sponsoring a Public Forum entitled Is There A Case For Impeachment? It will be at Town Hall in New York City, and there is a charge of $10 for a seat. Participants will be Mr. Lapham, Representative John Conyers, Michael Ratner, Elizabeth Holtzman, and John Dean. I imagine a transcript will be published in next month's Harper's, but I'll try to watch for signs of it before then. Hopefully some New York friend will go and write me a review.


jazzolog said...

Comments I received online have cheered me mightily! One reply I got by email was from new friend George Buddy, whose blog is one of the most consistently interesting : "Look Richard your stand has set off a stampede!" There followed a reprint of Garrison Keillor's column for Salon yesterday. If you're not a subscriber to Salon, the article's a bit troublesome to get in entirety so I'll put it up here. After that you'll see an Associated Press release a friend in Toulouse linked for us. suggests we spread that one around as much as possible, predicting the White House will be spinning it like mad all day today~~~

Impeach Bush

The man was lost and then he was found and now he's more lost than ever -- and he's taking us into the darkness with him. It's time to remove him.

By Garrison Keillor

March 1, 2006 | These are troubling times for all of us who love this country, as surely we all do, even the satirists. You may poke fun at your mother, but if she is belittled by others it burns your bacon. A blowhard French journalist writes a book about America that is full of arrogant stupidity, and you want to let the air out of him and mail him home flat. You hear young people talk about America as if it's all over, and you trust that this is only them talking tough. And then you read the paper and realize the country is led by a man who isn't paying attention, and you hope that somebody will poke him. Or put a sign on his desk that says, "Try Much Harder."

Do we need to impeach him to bring some focus to this man's life? The man was lost and then he was found and now he's more lost than ever, plus being blind.

The Feb. 27 issue of the New Yorker carries an article by Jane Mayer about a loyal conservative Republican and U.S. Navy lawyer, Albert Mora, and his resistance to the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. From within the Pentagon bureaucracy, he did battle against Donald Rumsfeld and John Yoo at the Justice Department and shadowy figures taking orders from Dick (Gunner) Cheney, arguing America had ratified the Geneva Convention that forbids cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners, and so it has the force of law. They seemed to be arguing that the president has the right to order prisoners to be tortured.

One such prisoner, Mohammed al-Qahtani, was held naked in isolation under bright lights for months, threatened by dogs, subjected to unbearable noise volumes, and otherwise abused, so that he begged to be allowed to kill himself. When the Senate approved the Torture Convention in 1994, it defined torture as an act "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering." Is the law a law or is it a piece of toast?

Wiretap surveillance of Americans without a warrant? Great. Go for it. How about turning over American ports to a country more closely tied to 9/11 than Saddam Hussein was? Fine by me. No problem. And what about the war in Iraq? Hey, you're doing a heck of a job, Brownie. No need to tweak a thing. And your blue button-down shirt -- it's you.

But torture is something else. When Americans start pulling people's fingernails out with pliers and poking lighted cigarettes into their palms, then we need to come back to basic values. Most people agree with this, and in a democracy that puts the torturers in a delicate position. They must make sure to destroy their e-mails and have subordinates who will take the fall. Because it is impossible to keep torture secret. It goes against the American grain and it eats at the conscience of even the most disciplined, and in the end the truth will come out. It is coming out now.

According to the leaders of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, our country is practically as vulnerable today as it was on 9/10. Our seaports are wide open, our airspace is not secure except for the nation's capital, and little has been done about securing the nuclear bomb materials lying around in the world. They give the administration D's and F's in most categories of defending against terrorist attack.

Our adventure in Iraq, at a cost of trillions, has brought that country to the verge of civil war while earning us more enemies than ever before. And tax money earmarked for security is being dumped into pork barrel projects anywhere somebody wants their own SWAT team. Detonation of a nuclear bomb within our borders -- pick any big city -- is a real possibility, as much so now as five years ago. Meanwhile, many Democrats have conceded the very subject of security and positioned themselves as Guardians of Our Forests and Benefactors of Waifs and Owls, neglecting the most basic job of government, which is to defend this country. We might rather be comedians or daddies or tattoo artists or flamenco dancers, but we must attend to first things.

The peaceful lagoon that is the White House is designed for the comfort of a vulnerable man. Perfectly understandable, but not what is needed now. The U.S. Constitution provides a simple ultimate way to hold him to account for war crimes and the failure to attend to the country's defense. Impeach him and let the Senate hear the evidence.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.)

The New Yorker article Garrison refers to is here : don't miss it!

Tape: Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina
Mar 1, 7:14 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

The footage - along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press - show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

Linked by secure video, Bush expressed a confidence on Aug. 28 that starkly contrasted with the dire warnings his disaster chief and numerous federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.

A top hurricane expert voiced "grave concerns" about the levees and then-Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren't enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.

"I'm concerned about ... their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.

The White House and Homeland Security Department urged the public Wednesday not to read too much into the video footage.

"I hope people don't draw conclusions from the president getting a single briefing," presidential spokesman Trent Duffy said, citing a variety of orders and disaster declarations Bush signed before the storm made landfall. "He received multiple briefings from multiple officials, and he was completely engaged at all times."

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said his department would not release the full set of videotaped briefings, saying most transcripts from the sessions were provided to congressional investigators months ago.

"There's nothing new or insightful on these tapes," Knocke said. "We actively participated in the lessons-learned review and we continue to participate in the Senate's review and are working with them on their recommendation."

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, a critic of the administration's Katrina response, had a different take after watching the footage Wednesday afternoon from an AP reporter's camera.

"I have kind a sinking feeling in my gut right now," Nagin said. "I was listening to what people were saying - they didn't know, so therefore it was an issue of a learning curve. You know, from this tape it looks like everybody was fully aware."

Some of the footage and transcripts from briefings Aug. 25-31 conflicts with the defenses that federal, state and local officials have made in trying to deflect blame and minimize the political fallout from the failed Katrina response:

- Homeland Security officials have said the "fog of war" blinded them early on to the magnitude of the disaster. But the video and transcripts show federal and local officials discussed threats clearly, reviewed long-made plans and understood Katrina would wreak devastation of historic proportions. "I'm sure it will be the top 10 or 15 when all is said and done," National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield warned the day Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast.

(AP) This frame taken from secure government video obtained by The Associated Press shows President Bush, center, in a narrow, windowless room at his vacation ranch in Texas, Aug. 28, 2005, taking part in a government wideo briefing the day before Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29.

"I don't buy the 'fog of war' defense," Brown told the AP in an interview Wednesday. "It was a fog of bureaucracy."

- Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. He later clarified, saying officials believed, wrongly, after the storm passed that the levees had survived. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility even before the storm - and Bush was worried too.

White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Brown discussed fears of a levee breach the day the storm hit.

"I talked to the president twice today, once in Crawford and then again on Air Force One," Brown said. "He's obviously watching the television a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome, he's asking questions about reports of breaches."

- Louisiana officials angrily blamed the federal government for not being prepared but the transcripts shows they were still praising FEMA as the storm roared toward the Gulf Coast and even two days afterward. "I think a lot of the planning FEMA has done with us the past year has really paid off," Col. Jeff Smith, Louisiana's emergency preparedness deputy director, said during the Aug. 28 briefing.

It wasn't long before Smith and other state officials sounded overwhelmed.

"We appreciate everything that you all are doing for us, and all I would ask is that you realize that what's going on and the sense of urgency needs to be ratcheted up," Smith said Aug. 30.

Mississippi begged for more attention in that same briefing.

"We know that there are tens or hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana that need to be rescued, but we would just ask you, we desperately need to get our share of assets because we'll have people dying - not because of water coming up, but because we can't get them medical treatment in our affected counties," said a Mississippi state official whose name was not mentioned on the tape.

Video footage of the Aug. 28 briefing, the final one before Katrina struck, showed an intense Brown voicing concerns from the government's disaster operation center and imploring colleagues to do whatever was necessary to help victims.

"We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," Brown warned. He called the storm "a bad one, a big one" and implored federal agencies to cut through red tape to help people, bending rules if necessary.

"Go ahead and do it," Brown said. "I'll figure out some way to justify it. ... Just let them yell at me."

Bush appeared from a narrow, windowless room at his vacation ranch in Texas, with his elbows on a table. Hagin was sitting alongside him. Neither asked questions in the Aug. 28 briefing.

"I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm," the president said.

A relaxed Chertoff, sporting a polo shirt, weighed in from Washington at Homeland Security's operations center. He would later fly to Atlanta, outside of Katrina's reach, for a bird flu event.

One snippet captures a missed opportunity on Aug. 28 for the government to have dispatched active-duty military troops to the region to augment the National Guard.

Chertoff: "Are there any DOD assets that might be available? Have we reached out to them?"

Brown: "We have DOD assets over here at EOC (emergency operations center). They are fully engaged. And we are having those discussions with them now."

Chertoff: "Good job."

In fact, active duty troops weren't dispatched until days after the storm. And many states' National Guards had yet to be deployed to the region despite offers of assistance, and it took days before the Pentagon deployed active-duty personnel to help overwhelmed Guardsmen.

The National Hurricane Center's Mayfield told the final briefing before Katrina struck that storm models predicted minimal flooding inside New Orleans during the hurricane but he expressed concerns that counterclockwise winds and storm surges afterward could cause the levees at Lake Pontchartrain to be overrun.

"I don't think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not but that is obviously a very, very grave concern," Mayfield told the briefing.

Other officials expressed concerns about the large number of New Orleans residents who had not evacuated.

"They're not taking patients out of hospitals, taking prisoners out of prisons and they're leaving hotels open in downtown New Orleans. So I'm very concerned about that," Brown said.

Despite the concerns, it ultimately took days for search and rescue teams to reach some hospitals and nursing homes.

Brown also told colleagues one of his top concerns was whether evacuees who went to the New Orleans Superdome - which became a symbol of the failed Katrina response - would be safe and have adequate medical care.

"The Superdome is about 12 feet below sea level.... I don't know whether the roof is designed to stand, withstand a Category Five hurricane," he said.

Brown also wanted to know whether there were enough federal medical teams in place to treat evacuees and the dead in the Superdome.

"Not to be (missing) kind of gross here," Brown interjected, "but I'm concerned" about the medical and mortuary resources "and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe."

Associated Press writers Ron Fournier and Lara Jakes Jordan contributed to this report.

On the Net:
Homeland Security Department:
Federal Emergency Management Agency:

Copyright 2005 Associated Press.

jazzolog said...

'No One Could Have Anticipated ...'
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 02 March 2006

The video is gut-wrenching.

There they sit, a whole room full of hurricane experts and disaster managers, shouting down a telephone line at George W. Bush, warning him a full day ahead of time that Hurricane Katrina is a catastrophe waiting to happen. There stands Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center, emphatically explaining that Katrina is far larger and more dangerous than Hurricane Andrew, that the levees in New Orleans are in grave danger of being overtopped, and that the loss of life could be extreme.

There sits the much-maligned FEMA Director Michael Brown, joining in the chorus of warnings to Mr. Bush and giving every appearance of a man actually doing his job. "This is, to put it mildly, the big one," says Brown. "Everyone within FEMA is now virtually on call." Brown goes on to deliver an eerily accurate prediction of the horrors to come within the Louisiana Superdome. "I don't know what the heck we're going to do for that, and I also am concerned about that roof," says Brown. "Not to be kind of gross here, but I'm concerned about (medical and mortuary disaster team) assets and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe."

And there, of course, is Mr. Bush, sitting in a dim conference room while on vacation in Texas, listening to all the pleas for immediate action on the telephone. With an emphatic hand gesture, Bush promises any and all help necessary. "I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm," says Bush, "but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm." After the delivery of this promise, however, Bush goes mute. No questions, no comments, no concerns. As if to foreshadow what the people of New Orleans received from their leader, Mr. Bush finishes the conference by delivering a whole lot of nothing.

That's the video, 19 hours before the bomb struck New Orleans. It is gut-wrenching because everyone now knows what came next. The storm struck, the waters rolled in, and thousands were left to die. Days passed with no help reaching the city. Images of corpses left to rot in the streets were broadcast around the globe.

It is gut-wrenching, more than anything else, because of this: four days later, when questioned about his flaccid response to the catastrophe in Louisiana, Bush stated, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." Right. No one anticipated the breach of the levees except the Director of the National Hurricane Center, the Director of FEMA, and a half-dozen other experts who implored Mr. Bush to take this storm seriously a full day before the hammer dropped.

No one could have anticipated it? That has a familiar ring to it.

No one could have anticipated the failure of the levees.

No one could have anticipated the strength of the insurgency in Iraq.

No one could have anticipated that people would use airplanes as weapons against buildings.

No one could have anticipated these things ... except all the people who did. We are forced to get into some very large numbers today to accurately assess the body count from all the things the Bush administration would have us believe no one could have anticipated.

No one could have anticipated the vigorous violence the Iraqi people would greet any invaders with, said the Bush administration, except a roomful of now-unemployed generals, a whole galaxy of military experts, several former weapons inspectors, more than a few now-silenced voices within the administration itself, and millions of average citizens who took to the streets to stop the impending disaster they easily anticipated. Add this to the "No One Could Have Anticipated" body count: nearly 2,300 American soldiers, thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police, and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

No one could have anticipated that people would use airplanes as weapons against buildings, said the Bush administration. Really?

In 1993, a $150,000 study was undertaken by the Pentagon to investigate the possibility of airplanes being used as bombs. A draft document of this was circulated throughout the Pentagon, the Justice Department, and to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In 1994, a disgruntled Federal Express employee invaded the cockpit of a DC10 with the intention of crashing it into a company building. Again in 1994, a pilot deliberately crashed a small airplane into the White House grounds, narrowly missing the building itself. Also in 1994, an Air France flight was hijacked by members of a terrorist organization called the Armed Islamic Group, who intended to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower.

The 1993 Pentagon report was followed up in September 1999 by a report titled "The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism." This report was prepared for the American intelligence community by the Federal Research Division, an adjunct of the Library of Congress. The report stated, "Suicide bombers belonging to Al Qaida's martyrdom battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House."

On August 6, 2001, George W. Bush received his Presidential Daily Briefing. The briefing described active plots by Osama bin Laden to attack the United States. The word "hijacking" appeared in that briefing. When he received this briefing, George W. Bush was in Texas for a month-long vacation. Again. He did nothing in response. Again.

For the love of God, even the fiction writers saw this coming. Tom Clancy's book "Debt of Honor," written in 1994, ends with a commercial aircraft being flown into the Capitol Building during a joint session of Congress, virtually wiping out the entire government. The famous Stephen King novella "The Running Man," written in 1982, ends in similar fashion. "Heeling over slightly," reads the ending of the King novella, "the Lockheed struck the Games building dead on, three quarters of the way up. Its tanks were still better than a quarter full. Its speed was slightly over five hundred miles an hour. The explosion was tremendous, lighting up the night like the wrath of God, and it rained fire twenty blocks away."

Add this to the "No One Could Have Anticipated" body count: more than 3,000 people killed in the Towers, the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field, in addition to thousands of Afghani civilians who found themselves collaterally damaged in our attack upon that nation.

Remember the Bush-Gore debate from what seems a thousand years ago? Bush was asked about the responsibilities of an executive in a time of emergency. He said in response, "I remember the floods that swept our state. I remember going down to Del Rio, Texas ... that's the time when you're tested not only - it's the time to test your mettle, a time to test your heart when you see people whose lives have been turned upside down. It broke my heart to go to the flood scene in Del Rio where a fellow and his family got completely uprooted. The only thing I knew was to get aid as quickly as possible with state and federal help, and to put my arms around the man and his family and cry with them."

Thousands in Louisiana and the surrounding states. Thousands in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania and Afghanistan. Tens of thousands in Iraq. Is Mr. Bush crying with them, and their families, because no one could have anticipated this?

There is, perhaps, one aspect to all this that no one could have anticipated. No one could have anticipated that the United States of America would ever be governed by a man so callow, so unconnected, so uncaring, so detached, that tens of thousands of people would die during his time in office because he just didn't give a damn.

jazzolog said...

I'm searching the Internet for signs of response to the Town Hall Forum last night, which I understand was filled to capacity. C-Span was there and reportedly will broadcast later---but finding out when is a mystery as far as I can tell from their website. If anyone runs across it please let me know. At any rate, you can buy most of what C-Span records from them. I expect stuff will start to show up at sites like Daily Kos and After Downing Street, so stay tuned.

In the meantime I have reason to believe that what John Conyers posted yesterday morning may have been his opening statement. Here's the Hope part of this comment~~~

For some time, I have opened some of my speeches with a fairly standard line about how great democracy is because hardly anyone votes but everyone complains. There is a new variation on this problem among some in the progressive community and it goes like this: nothing we do matters, nothing we do changes anything so why bother doing anything. Here are a few thoughts I will touch upon tonight that I offer in response:

Why We Act

There are few roles in our constitutional government that are more frustrating than being a member of the minority party during a period of one party control of the government. However, at a time when the majority party in general - and the president in particular - appears to be acting in open violation of the laws and the constitution, there are few jobs which are more important to the future of our democratic form of government.

People think of Watergate, or Iran Contra as constituting crises. They were in the sense that an executive branch was acting in violation of the law, and in tension with the majority party in the congress. But in the end, the system worked, the abuses were investigated, and actions were taken - even if presidential pardons ultimately prevented a full measure of justice.

Today, the crisis is substantively and systemically far worse. The alleged acts of wrongdoing - lying about the decision to go to war; manipulation of intelligence; facilitating and countenancing torture; using confidential information to out a CIA agent; open and flagrant violations of federal wiretap laws - are far more egregious than any I have witnessed in my 41 years in Congress. The majority party has shown no ability to engage in simple oversight, let alone challenge the Administration directly. The courts, while operating as an occasional and partial check, are institutionally incapable of delving into most of the controversies we are presented with as a result of limitations on standing, ripeness, and other doctrines. The media, which is increasingly concentrated, was shell-shocked and in some respects cowered by 9/11, and for the most part unwilling to alienate the party in charge.

Faced with that dilemma, we had a choice. We could simply ignore the myriad of transgressions being committed, and continue to reacting to the legislative agenda put before us by the Republican Party on a day-to-day basis, or we could do everything in our power to call attention to and document these very grave abuses of power. I opted for the latter course.

I could not live with myself or my children, if when faced with an Administration that went to war under false pretenses, used classified information to smear political opponents; and wiretapped innocent Americans without warrants, I did not formally respond to it. If the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the constitution, is silent on these matters, who else can we expect to speak out?

So for the last several years I have:

* Forwarded scores of letters to the Administration requesting information about these abuses, including most notably a letter inquiring about the accuracy of the Downing Street Minutes signed by 122 Members and more than 500,000 Americans.

* Forwarded numerous letters to the Republican Chairs asking them to conduct hearings on these abuses, including a letter signed by 52 Members formally requesting that the Committees on Judiciary, Armed Services, International Relations and Intelligence convene hearings on the Downing Street Minutes.

* Filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Administration, asked for investigations by GAO, various Inspectors General, and the Justice Department.

* Held our own Democratic hearings, for which we were forced by the Majority to retreat to the basement of the Capitol.

* Completed a comprehensive report on the Downing Street Minutes and the Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War, which was more than 270 pages and 1000 footnotes in length.

* Filed legislation resulting from our investigation not only censoring the President and the Vice President, but creating a select committee to more fully investigate whether impeachable offenses had occurred.

* When the NSA scandal broke, we again responded - with letters, requests for independent investigations, holding our own hearing, and are now in the process of completing a comprehensive report of these and related civil rights and civil liberties abuses by the Administration since 9/11.

All of this constitutes a public record of the constitutional abuses we have seen, and is designed to stand the test of time. It comes on top of the hearings and Report I prepared on the electoral abuses in Ohio which led to an unprecedented electoral college challenge in the House and the Senate.

Now let me add, in many respects, this is just the tip of the iceberg of the policy failures of this Administration. Over the last six years we have seen a record budget surplus turn into a record deficit; we face trade deficits as far as they eye can see and the near evisceration of our manufacturing base; we have a record number of individuals and families who do not have health insurance; we passed a disastrous Medicare sell out bill; we went through the debacle of Congress and the President politicizing the tragic Terry Schiavo case; Port Security is abysmal, the Homeland Security Department is a joke, and yesterday we learned that Bush knew very well that the levees in New Orleans could be breached even though he later said no one anticipated it. These are all weighty, serious issues. They present significant problems for our nation as well, however, they are not of the same constitutional magnitude as the other issues we're talking about today.

There can be no doubt that today we are in a constitutional crisis that threatens the system of checks and balances that has preserved our fundamental freedoms for more than 200 years. Just because the president's approval ratings is down to 34% and the vice president's approval is down to 18%, does not mean they cannot do severe, long term harm to our nation. Our actions and tonight's forum are an important clarion call to anyone who is listening - that there is a constitutional line that even a president cannot cross without our people standing up and fighting for their democracy.

jazzolog said...

Bush Opponents Seek Relief In Impeachment Dreams

By GARY SHAPIRO - Staff Reporter of the Sun
March 3, 2006

A crowd flocked last evening to Town Hall for a sold-out forum entitled "Is there a case for impeachment?" The panel, sponsored by Harper's magazine, was composed of those supporting impeachment proceedings and not a discussion among differing viewpoints.

"This is not a political rally nor is it an explicit call to action," said publisher Rick MacArthur, "Our goal here is to attempt to educate." He added, to audience laughter, "I didn't say Harper's was strictly neutral" on the topic.

The brooding specter of Richard Nixon hung over the evening, whose panelists included a former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, and a former member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during Watergate, Elizabeth Holtzman. Another panelist, Michael Ratner, is president of The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has issued its own articles of impeachment: "warrantless surveillance, lying to Congress about Iraq, torturing prisoners, and subverting the Separation of Powers."

In the cover story this month in Harper's, editor Lewis Lapham says that Congressman John Conyers Jr.'s introduction on December 18 of House Resolution 635, calling for a select committee to investigate grounds for possible impeachment, had attracted "little or no attention in the press." Last evening, Mr. Lapham said Mr. Bush had been acting with "executive tyranny" and asked how, if Congress did not impeach President Bush, it could retain its function and self-respect? Mr. Conyers said, "We must act now" and regarding domestic warrantless surveillance, declared, "No way and not much longer, Mr. President." Mr. Ratner said, "We're talking about moving from a republic to a tyranny" and "it's getting too late."

Ms. Holtzman, who wrote a cover story in the Nation in January, told the audience that the movement to impeach Nixon began not in Congress but when the American people said "enough is enough." Mr. Conyers said such a mood is now coming "more and more from the people."

But Nation magazine correspondent John Nichols has noted online that the "burgeoning movement for impeachment" has drawn wider attention after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors's 7-3 voted last month in favor of impeachment. Two city councils, Arcata, Calif., and Santa Cruz, Calif., have passed such resolutions, while Newfane, Vt., and Chapel Hill, N.C., have resolutions pending, according to, which supports democrats who favor impeachment.

Garrison Keillor's weighed in this Wednesday with a short piece on entitled "Impeach Bush" and actor Richard Dreyfuss's last month called for impeachment, while speaking before the National Press Club in Washington.

Paul Gigot, in "The Journal Editorial Report" referred to impeachment as "the I word" and said it sounded like Senator Boxer and others thought the issue of impeachment was "a political winner for them." Mr. Nichols observed that the issue has exposed a "rift between top Democrats and grassroots party activists and elected officials around the country."

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, responded at a public meeting in California, when constituents shouted "Impeach! Impeach!" by urging, "channel your energies into the 2006 elections." Likewise, a former presidential candidate, George McGovern, declined to call for impeachment while speaking last month in Corte Madera, Calif.

Another former presidential candidate, Albert Gore Jr., said in January that Congress ought to conduct hearings regarding "serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President." Blogger Arianna Huffington has written that Mr. Bush "deserves" impeachment but calling for it is "a huge - and pointless - distraction."

There is related activity on this matter closer to home. The Daily Record in New Jersey reported this week that Bush was being tried for "crimes against civilian populations" and "inhumane treatment of prisoners" as a class exercise at Parsippany High School.

There were slight differences of opinion last night at Town Hall: Mr. Dean thought the offences were coming more from the vice president, while Mr. Ratner thought the president thought the president most culpable.

© 2006 The New York Sun

jazzolog said...

Maybe we're not stampeding exactly---at least compared to the Nixon popular outrage...and against Clinton too, for that matter. Bloggers seem cautious about it this morning, and perhaps MsKrazyKat in Brooklyn puts it best. She went to the Town Hall forum and concluded, "In truth, it's hard to imagine the Congress doing a thing about Bush until after the mid-term elections in November, and then only if the Democrats take back the majority in the House, the Senate or both."

There've been a couple more reviews of the symposium, notably this from Bob Fertik at, which he founded in 2000~~~

Please John Conyers: Impeach Bush NOW
By Bob Fertik
Created 2006-03-03 21:19

On Thursday, Harper's Magazine held a truly outstanding forum on impeaching George Bush.

The panel could not have been more distinguished. It included former Rep. Liz Holtzman, who became famous through her diligent service on the House Judiciary Committee when it adopted Articles of Impeachment that forced Richard Nixon to resign; John Dean, Nixon's White House Counsel whose conscientious refusal to cover up Nixon's crimes played a crucial role in Nixon's downfall; Harper's editor Lewis Lapham, who has analyzed American politics with profound insight for decades; Michael Ratner, the passionate human rights lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is leading the legal battles to stop Bush's torture; and Rep. John Conyers, the civil rights legend who is Bush's most passionate and determined critic in Congress.

If anyone came to the forum doubting Bush deserves to be impeached, that doubt was dispelled immediately when all of the panelists emphatically agreed that Bush's war in Iraq, his torture of prisoners, his illegal wiretapping, and his assertion of dictatorial powers all rose to the level of High Crimes as intended by the Founding Fathers.

Sam Seder of Air America Radio, who was an excellent moderator, tried to play devil's advocate, but even he found it impossible to come up with a reason not to impeach Bush.

So the question for the evening was not whether to impeach Bush, but how - and when.

Obviously the primary obstacle is Republican control of Congress. Only Lapham thought a few Republicans might rise above partisanship to join Democrats. Salon's Michelle Goldberg described that idea as "a delusion almost as great as Bush's conviction that God, not William Rehnquist, made him president."

So the question shifted to whether Democrats could win a majority in Congress. Holtzman declared her faith in the voters, who will wake up to the enormity of Bush's crimes and demand impeachment - or sweep Republicans out of office for standing in the way.

As the panel wrapped up, those fired-up voters in the audience headed for the microphones. When my turn came, I echoed Holtzman's remarks by providing concrete evidence of the tremendous grassroots passion for impeachment.

"I have good news: there is a grassroots movement for impeachment, and you can find it at We have raised over $60,000 to support pro-impeachment candidates, and we have endorsed two so far. But our main problem is that very few candidates are willing to call for impeachment. Mr. Conyers, why don't you introduce Articles of Impeachment so ImpeachPAC can endorse you?"

My question was not meant as an attack on Conyers, who is far and away my favorite Member of Congress, and has done more than any other Member to make impeachment a genuine possibility, however remote it seems. But Conyers was a bit exasperated.

"My goodness, please look at H.Res. 635, which calls for an investigation that could lead to impeachment. But I cannot call for impeachment now, before we have investigated all the facts."

My time was up, so I could not continue the debate. But if I could, these are the arguments I would make for the immediate introduction of Articles of Impeachment.

First, the Articles of Impeachment have been written. You can find them in Michael Ratner's brand new book. We don't need a committee to struggle for months over the wording; Conyers and his allies can simply "throw the book" at Bush.

Second, when House Republicans impeached President Clinton in 1998, they emphasized ad nauseum that "impeachment" is merely the equivalent of an indictment, the determination that there is sufficient evidence to charge a suspect with a crime. Impeachment, like an indictment, leads to a trial, in which a jury (in this case the Senate) determines whether the evidence is sufficient for conviction. The evidence we have in hand (as presented in Michael Ratner's book, as well as John Conyers' thorough report on the Iraq War lies, The Constitution in Crisis) is far more than is needed for an indictment. There is absolutely no reason for Conyers' proposed Select Committee to do the work of the Senate in weighing the evidence.

Third, Bush's criminal activity is ongoing and must be stopped. Our occupation of Iraq has already cost 2,300 American lives and at least 28,636 Iraqi lives, if not well over 100,000. We are committing war crimes by torturing and murdering prisoners, using chemical weapons and depleted uranium, and pushing Iraq to the brink of civil war. Bush is still wiretapping countless Americans without a warrant, in direct violation of the FISA law. And even though Bush's crimes are flagrant and obscene, the Republican Congress refuses to either investigate them or stop them.

Finally, as the panelists made clear, the American people are truly in a state of despair that George Bush is able to commit these unspeakable crimes without any effort to hold him accountable. By introducing real Articles of Impeachment - even if only a few Members do so - those Members will make a powerful statement that they are determined to challenge that despair and demand accountability. That act of leadership, in and of itself, would galvanize the 52% of Americans (when last measured in January, long before Dubai and the Katrina tapes) who support impeachment. And it would most likely persuade even more Americans that Bush's impeachment was both necessary and urgent. So if 55% or 60% or even 65% of Americans supported impeachment, Republicans in Congress would have a very difficult time standing in the way - especially as they faced a disastrous election in November.

After four distinguished decades in Congress, John Conyers is not a man who acts rashly. But all of us who have watched Bush shred the Constitution know that Conyers has tried to stop him every step of the way by sending urgent letters, filing Freedom of Information requests, and proposing Resolutions of Inquiry. Through those diligent efforts, Conyers has laid the most solid groundwork possible for impeachment.

So please John Conyers, I honestly beg you to introduce Articles of Impeachment now.

Action items:

1. Send this article with a few words of your own to

2. Urge your Representative and Senators to support Impeachment:

3. C-Span taped this outstanding forum but it does not appear on C-Span's schedule for Saturday, Sunday or Monday. Email and urge them to broadcast it.

4. The New York Times is one block from Town Hall, yet it did not even mention this historic event. Email Executive Editor Bill Keller and Public Editor Byron Calame and demand to know why.

5. Link to this article from your favorite blogs and ask the blog owner to join ImpeachPAC's Citizens Impeachment Commission.

6. Register to join in local protests:

7. Read the whole protest plan:

8. Organize your congressional district:

9. Support our efforts by contributing to ImpeachPAC.

Thank you for continuing your tireless efforts to save American Democracy!

Source URL:

The Salon review to which Mr. Fertik refers is here but you have to be a subscriber...or go through some ads and stuff to read the whole thing. I haven't done that at this point. I do recommend you visit the link to read the comments, especially the one by Dusty from 4:30 yesterday afternoon.

I understand 500 people were turned away from Town Hall, and the program had to start late. Representative Conyers also blogged on the event, concluding, "While we didn't agree on every detail, I think we all agreed that the key to this movement is the same as the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movement in the 60's and 70's -- grass roots energy and passion. If we could take the energy in the room last night and transport it around the country, I have no doubt that not only would we take back the House and the Senate, but that we would be able to hold the Bush Administration accountable for their mistatements, misteps, and yes, their lies.
"I think last night was a milestone. It was so gratifying to see all of our hard work in action outside the beltway. For all those who think Americans are apathetic, I invite them to review last night's forum, or come to the many events we are scheduling around the country on this subject in the days and months to come. Together we can do this."

John Dean already has written on Bush's impeachability, and so far has not updated his remarks from last December. I imagine he covered some of the same ground Thursday night. Mr. Dean has remarked that George Bush is the only president in history who actually has admitted to the offenses for which he could be charged.

While CSpan videotaped the proceedings, I don't see they have broadcast it but once. Does that say 2:00 AM? And what is "ns"? Does that mean it was shown only in Nova Scotia? A search of the site does not show, at this point, either rebroadcast or that one can buy it. has set up a subjects listing of various editorials and columns on the impeachment of this president. One of the articles is at Atlanta Progressive News, and lets us know how many Representatives are supporting Mr. Conyers' resolution at the moment~~~

28 US House Reps Want Bush Impeachment Probe
Over 14 Percent of House Democrats Have Signed On
By Matthew Cardinale, Editor and National Correspondent, Atlanta Progressive News (March 04, 2006)

28 members of US Congress have now signed on to H Res 635, including US Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the original co-sponsor, Atlanta Progressive News has learned. Meanwhile, US cities of Arcata, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco, each in California, have passed resolutions recommending Bush’s impeachment.

US Rep Martin Sabo (D-MN) was the latest member of Congress to sign Conyers’s resolution, which would create a Select Committee to investigate the grounds for impeaching President Bush. Phone calls to Sabo’s press secretary Friday were not immediately returned. Sabo is the first member of US Congress to sign on to the bill since February 16, 2006.

Over 14% of US House Democrats now support the impeachment probe; over 6% of all US House Representatives now support the probe. In December 2005, there were 231 Republicans in the US House, 202 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 1 vacancy, a clerk for the US House of Representatives told Atlanta Progressive News.

The best represented states on H. Res 635 are California (7), New York (6), Georgia (2), Massachusetts (2), Minnesota (2), and Wisconsin (2).

The current 28 total co-sponsors are Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. John Olver (D-MA), Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

Rep. Olver (D-MA) was convinced to sign on by constituents who represented Progressive Democrats of America, The Nation Magazine reported in February.

“It is an issue that should be examined in total detail,” Olver told The Sentinel and Enterprise Newspaper. “The American people deserve an answer to why the Bush administration decided, in the absence of an imminent nuclear threat, the absence of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection, and the absence of weapons of mass destruction threatening the U.S., to invade Iraq."

White House spokesman Ken Lisaius told The Sentinel and Enterprise Newspaper that H. Res 635 was an election year strategy designed to win votes. "The facts are that members of Congress had access to the same intelligence that we had before going into Iraq," he said. "Some have chosen to play politics with that." Members of Congress did not have access to the same “intelligence,” however.

The legislation was initially referred to the US House Rules Committee, which has not taken action. None of the US House Democrats on the committee have signed on as co-sponsors. The Ranking Democrat on the Committee is US Rep. Louise Slaugher (D-NY). Democratic members of the Committee are Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Doris Matsui (D-CA), and James McGovern (D-MA).

If the Democratic Party is able to retake the US House of Representatives, Rep. Conyers would become Chairman Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee, whereas he is currently the Ranking Democrat on the Committee.

If not acted on this session, the bill would have to be reintroduced next session. It is possible that a new bill could include new language regarding Bush’s approval of illegal NSA domestic wiretapping.

For now, however, sources in Washington DC tell Atlanta Progressive News that H. Res 635 is a venue for coalition among members of Congress who are willing to consider impeachment for a variety of reasons.

Even though H. Res 635 does not specifically reference the NSA domestic wiretapping issue, some Members of US Congress have found the wiretapping issue to be a compelling reason to sign on as a co-sponsor, sources say.

In other words, why introduce separate legislation to address a single issue when momentum has been built with H. Res 635?

The thing about H. Res. 635 is, it deals with impeaching Bush over a cluster of issues from misleading the public to go to war, to authorizing torture. Wiretapping was not listed as one of the reasons to investigate the grounds for Bush’s impeachment in the bill because the existence of the secret, illegal wiretapping had not come to light yet when the bill was being prepared.

US Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) withdrew her name from H. Res 635 two weeks ago, whereas she had been listed as a cosponsor throughout January 2006. Lofgren cited a clerical error for her name having been listed in the first place. Lofgren’s Office told Atlanta Progressive News the Representative learned of her being listed as a co-sponsor after reading an exclusive article by Atlanta Progressive News issued January 01, 2006.

H. Res 635 reads as its official title: "Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment."

"In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice-President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration. There is at least a prima facie case that these actions that federal laws have been violated," Rep. Conyers said in a press release on December 20, 2005.

Atlanta Progressive News has provided near-exclusive–and during most times, exclusive–coverage of the progress of H. Res 635. We will continue to follow this story and any related developments.

About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the Editor of Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at

Syndication policy:
This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.
Atlanta Progressive News, Copyright © 2006

David Swanson also has put the article up at AfterDowningStreet~~~

jazzolog said...

March 8, 2006
They Came for the Chicken Farmer

This has been our nightmare since the Bush administration began stashing prisoners it did not want to account for in Guantánamo Bay: An ordinary man with a name something like a Taliban bigwig's is swept up in the dragnet and imprisoned without any hope of proving his innocence.

A case of mistaken identity's turning an innocent person into a prisoner-for-life was supposed to be impossible. President Bush told Americans to trust in his judgment after he arrogated the right to arrest anyone, anywhere in the world, and toss people into indefinite detention. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld infamously proclaimed that the men at Guantánamo Bay were "the worst of the worst."

But it has long been evident that this was nonsense, and a lawsuit by The Associated Press has now demonstrated the truth in shameful detail. The suit compelled the release of records from hearings for some of the 760 or so men who have been imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. (About 490 are still there.) Far too many show no signs of being a threat to American national security. Some, it appears, did nothing at all. And they have no way to get a fair hearing because Gitmo was created outside the law.

Take the case of Abdur Sayed Rahman, as recounted in Monday's Times. The transcripts quote Mr. Rahman as saying he was arrested in his Pakistani village in January 2002, flown to Afghanistan, accused of being the Taliban's deputy foreign minister and then thrown into a cell in Guantánamo Bay. "I am only a chicken farmer in Pakistan," he said, adding that the Taliban official was named Abdur Zahid Rahman.

Other cases included prisoners who owned a particular kind of cheap watch supposedly favored by Al Qaeda. An Afghan was accused of being the former Taliban governor of a province and subjected to a pretzel logic that would make Joseph Heller cringe. He said he was a different person entirely and asked the tribunal to contact the current governor and verify his story. The presiding officer refused, saying it was up to the prisoner to produce the evidence. The incarcerated Afghan then pointed out that he was being held virtually incommunicado in a United States prison in a remote corner of Cuba and not allowed to make calls. The presiding officer assured the prisoner that he would have plenty of time to write a letter — during the year of continued detention before his case might be reviewed again.

Some of the prisoners proudly proclaimed their allegiance to the Taliban or Al Qaeda. But far too many seemed to be innocents or lowly foot soldiers simply caught up in the whirlwind after 9/11.

Because Mr. Bush does not recognize that American law or international treaties apply to his decisions as commander in chief, these prisoners were initially not given hearings. The transcripts are from proceedings that were begun under a court order. They started years after the prisoners were originally captured — a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. And they were conducted under rules that mock any notion of democratic justice.

Prisoners do not see the evidence against them and barely have access to legal counsel. Now, thanks to a horrible law sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham, a Republican, and Carl Levin, a Democrat, they have virtually no right of appeal. The law even permits the use of evidence obtained by torture.

If the stories of the chicken farmer and the men with the wrong watches are new, the broad outlines of this disaster have long been visible. It is shocking in itself, and in the fact that average citizens have not risen up to demand that these abuses come to an end. The founding fathers knew that when you dispensed with the rule of law, the inevitable outcome was injustice. Now America is becoming the thing they sought to end.

Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

jazzolog said...

Day after tomorrow is the official anniversary of the Iraq invasion. If you won't be lost in warm nostalgia, you might prick up your ears for opportunities to gather with other folks of a like mind. Our friend Jason Hartz tells us there's a demonstration in Parkersburg WV on Sunday afternoon. I'd love to return to the scene of my confrontation with a SWAT team when I tried to catch a glimpse of the campaigning George Bush. (I didn't have an invitation.)

Wonderful Paul Quintanilla has sent out an URL he heard about on Al Franken's program. It's a collection of headlines from all over that horrible-liberal mainstream-media following the overwhelming welcome (with flowers) our guys and gals (and faithful allies) got in Baghdad. Have a cup of Irish tea and reminisce~~~

"The Final Word Is Hooray!"

jazzolog said...

I see that Arlen Specter is holding a hearing of the Judiciary Committee next Friday about the Feingold resolution to censure Bush. As Specter intimates, he's probably doing it just to prevent Feingold from forcing the issue onto the Senate floor...but who knows? maybe something will come of it.

It's become clear in the last few years the real talent with words and slogans now resides with conservatives. For someone who loves words and studies communication and perception, this is a revolting development. Why must liberals be so high-minded about fair play and all that...and never just resort to calling someone a slimeball over and over and over? So I was happy to run across this column from last week by Will Durst. Maybe we liberals can get some ideas from it~~~

03.16.06 - I don't know about you guys, but I am so sick and tired of these lying, thieving, holier-than-thou, right-wing, cruel, crude, rude, gauche, coarse, crass, cocky, corrupt, dishonest, debauched, degenerate, dissolute, swaggering, lawyer shooting, bullhorn shouting, infrastructure destroying, hysterical, history defying, finger-pointing, puppy stomping, roommate appointing, pretzel choking, collateral damaging, aspersion casting, wedding party bombing, clear cutting, torturing, jobs outsourcing, torture outsourcing, "so-called" compassionate- conservative, women's rights eradicating, Medicare cutting, uncouth, spiteful, boorish, vengeful, noxious, homophobic, xenophobic, xylophonic, racist, sexist, ageist, fascist, cashist, audaciously stupid, brazenly selfish, lethally ignorant, journalist purchasing, genocide ignoring, corporation kissing, poverty inducing, crooked, coercive, autocratic, primitive, uppity, high-handed, domineering, arrogant, inhuman, inhumane, insolent, know-it-all, snotty, pompous, contemptuous, supercilious, gutless, spineless, shameless, avaricious, poisonous, imperious, merciless, graceless, tactless, brutish, brutal, Karl Roving, backward thinking, persistent vegetative state grandstanding, nuclear option threatening, evolution denying, irony deprived, depraved, insincere, conceited, perverted, pre-emptory invading of a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 911, 35 day vacation taking, bribe soliciting, incapable, inbred, hellish, proud for no apparent reason, smarty pants, loudmouth, bullying, swell headed, ethnic cleansing, ethics eluding, domestic spying, medical marijuana busting, kick backing, Halliburtoning, New Deal disintegrating, narcissistic, undiplomatic, blustering, malevolent, demonizing, baby seal clubbing, Duke Cunninghamming, hectoring, verbally flatulent, pro-bad, anti-good, Moslem baiting, photo-op arranging, hurricane disregarding, oil company hugging, judge packing, science disputing, faith based mathematics advocating, armament selling, nonsense spewing, education ravaging, whiny, unscrupulous, greedy exponential factor fifteen, fraudulent, CIA outing, redistricting, anybody who disagrees with them slandering, fact twisting, ally alienating, betraying, god and flag waving, scare mongering, Cindy Sheehan libeling, phony question asking, just won't get off the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling, two-faced, inept, callous, menacing, oppressive, vulgar, antagonistic, brush clearing, suck-up, showboating, tyrannizing, peace hating, water and air and ground and media polluting -- which is pretty much all the polluting you can get -- deadly, illegal, pernicious, lethal, haughty, venomous, virulent, ineffectual, mephitic, egotistic, bloodthirsty, incompetent, hypocritical, did I say evil, I'm not sure if I said evil, because I want to make sure I say evil... EVIL, cretinous, fool, toad, buttwipe, lizardstick, cowardly, lackey imperialistic tool slime buckets in the Bush Administration that I could just spit. Impeachment, hell no. Impalement.

Upon the sharp and righteous sword of the people's justice.
Political satirist Will Durst has been called "a modern day Will Rogers" by the Los Angeles Times. He hosts the PBS show, The Durst Amendment and was a frequent contributor to George magazine, as well as the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

jazzolog said...

Incompetent Design
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 27 March 2006

Last week, George W. Bush got up before a gaggle of reporters and washed his hands of the mess in Iraq. The question of how long an American presence will remain in that country "will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq," said Bush. To be fair, he isn't the only one. The entire administration appears to have become bored with the whole process.

Take Daniel Speckhard, for example. Speckhard is Director of the US Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, which is in charge of rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure ravaged by war and depredation lo these last three years. Speckhard is quoted in a report in last week's USA Today: "The Iraqi government can no longer count on U.S. funds and must rely on its own revenues and other foreign aid, particularly from Persian Gulf nations. 'The Iraqi government needs to build up its capability to do its own capital budget investment,' said Speckhard."

Really. They have no police or military to speak of, the hospitals are trashed, the lights won't stay on, the flow of potable water is screwed, roads and bridges are bombed out, hundreds of buildings are wrecked, the so-called "elected" government is totally powerless to contain or control the chaos within the country, headless bodies are popping up left and right, a dozen people die every day from bombings and executions, the entire country is careening towards civil war ... and somewhere in all this, Bush and his people expect the Iraqi government to "do its own capital budget investment."

I am going to find a china shop somewhere in the city and walk in with a free-swinging baseball bat. My goal, which will be clearly stated, will be to improve upon the place. I will spend the next three years meticulously destroying everything I see inside, from the cash registers to the display cases to the nice Royal Albert tea sets in the corner. Along the way, I will batter the brains out of any poor sod unfortunate enough to get in my way. When I am done, I will claim with as much self-righteousness as I can muster that none of the mess is my responsibility. I will then, of course, refuse to leave.

Hey, if the president can do it, it must be legal, right? Unfortunately, the difference between my china shop analogy and what the Bush administration is doing in Iraq is that I won't get anything out of it except an arrest record and a chance to enjoy my state's municipal accommodations. Bush and crew are reaping far better benefits from the mayhem they have caused.

Here's the deal, in case anyone is wondering: none of this, not one bit of it, can be or should be chalked up to "incompetence" on the part of Bush or anyone else within his administration. This was not a mishandled situation. Bush and the boys have gotten exactly, precisely what they wanted out of Iraq, and are now looking forward to fobbing it off on the next poor dupe who staggers into the Oval Office. They got what they came for, and have quit.

Consider the facts. For two elections in a row, 2002 and 2004, the GOP was able to successfully demagogue the rafters off the roof about supporting the troops and being patriotic, placing anyone who questioned the merits of the invasion squarely into the category of "traitor." Meanwhile, military contractors with umbilical ties to the administration have cashed in to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

The same goes for the petroleum industries; did you know there are gas lines today in oil-rich Iraq? It's true. The oil infrastructure is fine; indeed, it is the most well-guarded point of pressure in Iraq. There are gas lines because companies like Halliburton are not pumping the oil. They are sitting on it, keeping it as a nice little nest egg.

One would think this administration would be worried about the violence and chaos in Iraq. They aren't, because the violence has become the justification for "staying the course." Bush will mouth platitudes about bringing democracy to the region, but that is merely the billboard. What he and his friends from the Project for the New American Century wanted in the first place, and what they have now, is a permanent military presence over there. There was never any consideration of a timetable for withdrawal, because there was never any intention to withdraw. The violence today is a self-perpetuating justification, a perfect circle lubricated by blood, oil and currency.

Keeping our attention on Iraq has allowed this administration to do what it came to do under cover of darkness. They have managed to eviscerate dozens of federal regulations designed to make sure our children aren't born with gills or seventeen eyes thanks to the pollution in the air, water and food. The Clean Air Act is pretty much gone now, as are requirements for food safety labeling. GOP "pension reform" means growing old in America amounts to growing poor, just like in the good old days of the Depression. Millions of elderly people have been fed to the wolves by way of the new Medicare Plan D calamity. There are now tens of millions more poor people in America, the middle class is evaporating, but top incomes are up 497% according to the Federal Reserve.

The administration has also used Iraq to accomplish a goal the GOP has been pining for since 1934. Since the advent of FDR and the creation of federally-funded safety nets for the neediest Americans, the Goldwater wing of the Republican party has been lusting after an opportunity to savage the government's ability to serve its citizens in this fashion. Their argument has been that it cost too much to do this, required too much taxation, and was harmful to business interests.

This fight raged until the very end of the 20th century. When Bill Clinton stood up during his 1998 State of the Union speech and said "Save Social Security first!" he was actually firing a directed salvo at this wing of the GOP. Look, Clinton was saying, we have trillions of dollars in the bank and the economy is going great guns. We can provide for the neediest among us without bankrupting the government or killing business. In short, he was rendering fiscal conservatives obsolete. He won the argument. Remember this, by the way, the next time someone asks you why he was attacked so viciously.

The Grover Norquist drown-the-government-in-the-bathtub crew, however, had no interest in going gently into that good night. One busted election gave them the chance to do exactly what they have done with Iraq. They have rendered it almost completely impossible for the federal government to pay for programs designed to care for the poor, the sick, the elderly and the needy. The war, the war, we have to pay for the war, to the tune of what will be one to two trillion dollars before all is said and done. Oh, and tax cuts that go to families making more than $200,000 a year, of course.

Bush has also, in the process, managed to put himself even farther above the rule of law. Not long ago, he signed the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Getting the document to his desk had been a laborious process for Congress; arguments and debates raged across the ideological spectrum as to exactly what kind of firewalls against executive abuse should be put into the bill to protect civil liberties.

Among these additions were a number of oversight provisions to keep the FBI from abusing their power to search homes and seize papers without notifying the resident or presenting a warrant. Other provisions required that officials within the Justice Department maintain tight scrutiny over where, when and how the FBI put these powers to use. One new part of the bill required the administration brief Congress now and again on these specific matters. Congress finally came to an agreement, and on March 9th, Bush signed the Patriot Act reauthorization into law with much fanfare.

After all the worthies had left the room, however, and after all the cameras had gone, Bush quietly put his signature to a "signing statement" that, basically, says anything in the aforementioned law which applies to the president shall be considered null and void. The Boston Globe reported on March 24 that, "In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used. Bush wrote: 'The executive branch shall construe the provisions ... that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch ... in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information.'"

This was the third time Bush dropped a "signing statement" into an issue of signal importance. When it was revealed that the administration had bypassed the FISA laws in order to conduct surveillance on American citizens, Bush claimed his "wartime powers" gave him the ability to ignore the laws of the land. When Congress passed a law forbidding the torture of any detainee in US custody, Bush issued a signing statement stating that he could bypass the law at his pleasure and torture anyone he damned well pleased.

So, to recap, the "incompetence" thing is nonsense. The Bush boys got paid, got an issue to run on in two elections, put themselves completely and totally above the law on picayune issues like torture and the unauthorized surveillance of American citizens, obliterated the central function of the federal government, and ripped up any and all regulations that would keep their corporate friends from dumping mercury into the river so as to save a few precious pennies on the dollar.

Can anyone still think this was all by accident?

The poll numbers say that nearly 70% of the country believes we are heading in the wrong direction in Iraq and here at home. This is edifying, to say the least. It means that people like me can stop trying to point out all the things that have gone wrong, because at long last a huge majority of the country has come to see things for how they actually are. But it also means that we as a nation are required now to move past what is actually happening, and ask why it is happening.

Batting down the "incompetence" argument is easy; all one has to do is see what this administration and its friends have gained in the last five years. The rest of the answer is more difficult, because it has to do with us, with we the people, and the staggering degree to which we take our rights and freedoms for granted.

When we hear about our government spying on American citizens without warrants or due process of law, when we hear the president say he does not have to tell Congress anything if he doesn't want to, when we hear the president claim the right to torture, all too often the response is, "Well, I'm not doing anything wrong, so I don't have to worry about it."

But we do have to worry about it. Patriots from Lexington to Gettysburg to Bastogne lie cold in their graves because they died to defend the freedoms we would so casually cast aside. Could we stand before the endless ranks of the fallen and say the rights they died to protect have no bearing on us, because we are "not doing anything wrong?" Is that not the most selfish, conceited, lazy answer we could possibly offer in the face of their sacrifice?

George W. Bush quit on us last week. He quit because he has accomplished everything he came to do. He will get away with it because, for the most part, the American people have also quit. We take what we have for granted, and assume the difficult tasks will be handled by someone else. Rest assured, they will be. They will be handled by other craven opportunists like Bush, by corporations looking to turn a profit off our indifference, by those among us who couldn't care less about you and yours.

The American people have come to see that things have gone wrong. Imagine what would happen if we decided to do something about it.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

jazzolog said...

I am in the unenviable position currently to be watching closely not only the situation the LA Times brilliantly headlined the other day as "Spin Cycle Springs Leak"...BUT the crisis in France and the preparations for bird flu mutation in Scotland. Obviously I am a bit on edge. The problems with the dead swans in Scotland is here~~~ , and I'll have to check out Figaro and LeMonde after church I guess.

As for Bush, there are a ton of articles and editorials today. I've spent a couple hours sorting through them, and I believe things can be sifted down to just a couple. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have done a job that I hope heralds a return to the old days of journalistic investigation of stuff the White House pours out. McClellan's big defense of Bush has been he did nothing illegal. In fact he just did the hard work of his job, as usual. The Executive is supposed to declassify documents all the time. He released the ones about Saddam's "vigorous" pursuit of weapons of mass destruction just to clear the air from the lies disseminated by unpatriotic critics.
Both papers hit the files to check out those declassified documents and what intelligence and members of the Bush administration themselves said about them at the time...and before. Please note in the Times story, Judith Miller was not told anything about the yellow cake stuff nor did she publish about it, those allegations not having been even released yet.

On Friday John Dean put up his response to the Fitzgerald filing on Libby, and concludes at least the Wilsons have a legal case against the President. Mr. Dean has written a typically excellent summary of the whole situation~~~

If you haven't read Bill Moyers' essay from last week on money and corruption in our way of government in the United States, it's here~~~

A Glad Palm Sunday to you...if that is your Path.