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August, 2004

The Men Behind The Masks
By Karen Nakamura

With a little digging it becomes evident that the primary players in the Bush family dynasty have been influencing government policy for several decades. That's not necessarily bad. Experience is always needed. What are in question are the policies they've implement and what direction they've taken the nation? The answers make the Bushes themselves less relevant than their aides.

For example, the same half dozen or so men have been in on the planning of the Iraq War, the Gulf War, the Somalia crisis, the invasion of Panama and in some cases the Nicaraguan invasion and the Iran/Contra scandal. This handful of men has also helped formulate Middle-East policy for years.

The most important are Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Like something from a tarot card, these two pillars have risen, side by side, through the halls of power to become the right and left hands of the current president.

Though their interagency power plays are legendary, they were thick as thieves when they planned the Panama Invasion and the Gulf War. Cheney is obviously the right pillar, a Machiavellian prince of power and civilian guardian of wealthy conservative interests; Powell, as the left pillar, represents the largest, most aggressive, military in the world and is the assumed guardian of the grunts in his Secretary of State position. Manipulation of the "king's" power is the name of their game.

It started long ago. Powell was granted a White House Fellow in 1972 under Nixon and worked in the Carter White House. Cheney served as Gerald Ford's Chief of Staff, a president remembered for his klutzy naivete. Ronald Reagan liked to daydream in the Oval office instead of attending security meetings. Bush I and Bush II have problems with syntax and synapse. These two have served the administrations of three amazingly unintelligent presidents. Could it all be a ruse, the ultimate deniability?

The presidencies these two have served, excluding Carter's, have been riddled with infringements of national and international laws. Laws were bent, sidestepped or simply ignored and usually concerned overcoming objections to American military expansion. Meeting the needs of the Military/Industrial Complex defines the last three Republican presidencies. Cheney and Powell rose in the inner circles of the military and global investment communities by their brilliant performance meeting those needs. Between them, they've held the positions of Vice President, Member of the House of Representatives, Presidential Chief of Staff, National Security Director, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State and Defense among others.

Other members of the half-dozen include present Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, NSC's Senior for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations Elliot Abrams, Ambassador to Iraq, John Negropointe and US Legal Counsel Ted Olson, recently retired. There are others less known or not as intimately involved on a long-term basis. All these players came up through the ranks together. They also share an obsession with "the cult of personality."

Not only did well-known neo-con Ted Olson argue the Bush side before the Supreme Court on Bush/Gore, he was President Reagan's personal attorney during the Iran/Contra scandal and general counsel to the Republicans platform committee in the 1992 election. His wife was killed on 9/11.

Paul Wolfowitz was undersecretary for policy at the defense department during the Panama invasion, the only civilian allowed in planning meetings. He was with Cheney and Powell when they convinced congressional oversight committee chairmen to accept defense's plan to "protect" Saudi Arabia and Kuwait just before the Gulf War. He met January 1991 with Israeli military brass concerning Saddam's use of Scud missiles. In Jerusalem, Wolfowitz and Lawrence Eagleberger convinced Israeli not to attack Iraq. It was also Wolfowitz, who, on Sept. 12, 2001, presented the Oval Office with the plan to "liberate" the Middle East, the heart of President Bush's Initiative on the Middle East. It advocates overthrowing most Arab leaders and replacing them with American/Israeli yes-men.

Elliot Abrams, who works his international operations directly under Condaleza Rice pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of lying to Congress on Iran/Contra but was pardoned by George Bush Senior. According to Bob Woodward's THE COMMANDERS, Admiral Crowe, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Reagan and Bush I, had trouble with Abrams aggressive stance on Panama and Central America when Abrams was assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs under Reagan.

Ambassador John Negropointe, the newly appointed ambassador to Iraq, was ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. This was when brutal suppression of the population was prevalent in Central America. While the American government and Elliot Abrams were working hand-in-glove with the Contras to overthrow the Sandinistas, evidence points to Negropointe condoning the notorious Honduran death squads though he hotly denies any knowledge. The School of the Americas, which he should have been fully aware, reportedly trained many death squad members.

These are the men behind the masks, the long-haulers, the survivers who have been in charge of shaping American interests basically since 1982. It's hard to find any time, with the exception of Secretary Powell, when they've showed any genuine sense of obligation to the American public except within the context of war and conflict.

[Much of the material in this article were culled from Bob Woodward's books and Colin Powell's MY AMERICAN JOURNEY].


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