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Bush Bunker Crew's Legacy: "Dangerous Losers"
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
President Lyndon Johnson gave up his chance for re-election in hopes that the ongoing Vietnam War eventually would resurrect his political reputation and land him a place of honor in history. George W. Bush sacrificed Donald Rumsfeld in the hope that by jettisoning that unpopular baggage, the ongoing Iraq War (and perhaps the attack on Iran that is coming) eventually will demonstrate that he was right and that history will rebuild his historical legacy.
It didn't happen for LBJ-the war, which lasted for seven more years, resulted in a death-total of 58,000 American troops and at least two million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians-and it's not likely to happen for Bush, who is planning on having a strong U.S. presence in Iraq for at least a decade or more.
Both presidents ignored the central fact at the heart of their self-made disasters: Their wars were unnecessary, tragically wrong from the outset, based on lies, deceptions, and gross misreadings of the cultures they invaded and occupied.
When the foundations of your house are rotten, you can't expect it to stand straight and tall, especially when you put great weight and stress on it; and no amount of last-minute jerry-rigged repairs will make it right. The misbegotten house skews, twists, and eventually collapses. That's
Cheney-Bush's Iraq War
In short, Bush, already widely believed to be one of the worst presidents in American history, will not have the legacy he so desperately wants, that of a historical giant who, in the space of a few years, transformed the Greater Middle East by bringing "democracy" and free-market capitalism to the region.
Instead, he will be remembered as the American president, ignorant and uncaring as to consequences and cultures, who recklessly stirred the pot of chaos in that area of the world and wound up committing numerous war crimes, endangering the national security of the United States and creating more anti-American terrorists all around the globe. He also will be remembered as the president who, in the name of bringing democracy to the world, trampled it at home.
In other words, Dick Cheney won.
Exit Stage Right
One by one, the other key players -- a good share of whom were incompetent or at least over their heads to begin with -- were overwhelmed and forced out by Cheney, the master of political intrigue, duplicity and cutthroat infighting.
¥ John Ashcroft, a hardline supporter of the Patriot Act who once told Congress that criticism of his hardline police tactics gave "aid and comfort" to terrorists, resigned as U.S. Attorney General in November of 2004. Everyone wondered why. Only recently did we learn that a few months before that, Ashcroft, Deputy AG James Comey and FBI Director Robert Mueller had threatened to resign over Bush's warrantless data-mining of American citizens' phone records and emails unless the program were brought under judicial review. Ashcroft's days were numbered.
¥ Colin Powell, something of a voice of reason (at least in the context of the ideological zealotry in the rest of the Cheney-Bush Administration) fought the good fight against the neo-cons Rumsfeld and Cheney before being forced to resign. His moral low point was allowing himself to be forced into the role of chief war-apologist when he delivered his embarrassing list of reasons to attack Iraq before the United Nations in early 2003. He later sort-of owned up to his mistake, one of the few Administration leaders to do so, even if belatedly and over-cautiously.
¥ Paul Wolfowitz, along with Cheney and Rumsfeld one of the key architects of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, was eased out and kicked upstairs to the World Bank, to cover that flank of Cheney-Bush imperial policy. But his managerial incompetence and neo-connish arrogance led to his removal.
¥ Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security, was eased out for a hard-line Bushie, Michael Chertoff. Ridge later admitted that a lot of the security "alerts" he announced were ordered from above, not because there was actionable intelligence to justify raising the threat level. Often, when the Administration was suffering some bad news or a new scandal, Ridge would appear to issue those fear-mongering "alerts."
¥ Donald Rumsfeld, one of the chief architects of the Iraq war, took the fall for the years of Cheney-Bush's disastrous policies and inept management of the occupation. The hope was that the pressure of criticism would lessen after Rumsfeld was forced out. But again, as bumbling as Rumsfeld was, it wasn't the secretary's conduct that was the central problem, it was the war and occupation itself, a war based on mendacities, deceptions, and self-deceptions. Both Cheney and Bush, so psychologically and ideologically insecure, could never admit to that colossal error of judgment.
¥ Scooter Libby, Cheney's powerful chief of staff, took the fall for Rove and Cheney and Bush, and then, when Bush commuted his sentence, didn't have to serve a day in jail for committing perjury and obstruction of justice in the case involving the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. Libby's replacement, David Addington, reportedly is, if you can imagine it, even more authoritarian and ruthless than his predecessor.
¥ Karl Rove, Bush's chief political strategist, having led his party to the disastrous defeat in 2006 that put the Democrats back in power in Congress, is departing -- perhaps to plan a legal defense for his role in a wide variety of scandals, including, to name just a few, his violation of the Hatch (using government employees to aid a political party's election chances), his coverup role in the outing of a covert CIA agent, his power interactions with corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his role in election fraud in 2000 and 2004, and his involvement in the coverup of the U.S. Attorneys mess.
The key generals, most prominently George Casey and John Abizaid, were unable to put lipstick on the pig of this war; after trying in their own ways to warn the Administration that it was engaged in a futile quagmire in Iraq and that escalation maybe wasn't such a great idea, they were forced out in favor of lickspittle generals who would swallow the Cheney-Bush kool-aid and not make waves.
The departure of all those key figures leaves Cheney, Bush, Addington and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley as the last creators of major Administration policy left standing. (Rice and Gonzales are toadies, doing the jobs ordered of them by their bosses.)
Addicted To Secrecy
As it turns out, Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will not be writing the much-awaited September report on the progress of the Administration's escalation ("surge"). Not taking any chances, the White House will write it. One can expect that report will say that enough "progress" is being made on the ground to justify a continuation of the escalation, perhaps with some pre-election fig-leaf alteration in the number of troops and where they will be deployed.
Cheney-Bush at first indicated that Petraeus and Crocker would defend the war-policies of their masters before the Congress in closed session. (After the Democrats loudly complained, that decision was reversed.) That's how much confidence this gang of ideological brutes had in its policies. It didn't want the American people to hear what the general and the ambassador would have to say under oath about this war and Cheney-Bush's attempt to string it out until a new president is inaugurated in January 2009.
The obsession with secrecy this Administration has displayed for the past six and a half years is not only an authoritarian knee-jerk reaction to keep the public in the dark about what it's up to, but is also symbolic of Cheney-Bush's deep suspicion of and revulsion towards democratic institutions of all kinds.
Knowing that the public would never support a pre-emptive war of aggression against Iraq based on the neo-con ideology of America ruling the world, Cheney-Bush invented Saddam's supposed "weapons of mass destruction" (especially non-existent nuclear weapons), and an imagined tie between Iraq and 9/11. As a result of its lies and deceptions to Congress, the American people and the United Nations, the Administration was able to launch its "shock& awe" war and occupation. The current run-up to a likely war with Iran is starting to resemble the pattern used before the attack on Iraq.
Fearful of the public hearing too much truth about its various domestic and war policies, Cheney-Bush spent $1.6 billion of taxpayer money to buy journalists and place their propaganda stories in various media outlets, along with pre-packaged "news" reports churned out by its own governmental employees and often run as "news" on small-town TV stations. Administration spokesmen then quoted those stories in mainstream media, as proof of the correctness of its policies.
Even Ashcroft Kept In The Dark
At times the Administration doesn't even tell the truth to its own high-ranking officials. We now learn that it didn't keep then-Attorney General John Ashcroft fully informed about aspects of the National Security Administration's own data-mining operations against American citizens. Thus it made sure that Ashcroft would not have a full range of well-researched legal opinions abodut the unconstitutional nature of the program.
These facts are now coming to light only as a result of James Comey's recent Senate testimony about the infamous hospital visit of Alberto Gonzales, then White House Counsel, and then-Chief of Staff Andrew Card to Ashcroft's bedside in March of 2004. We've all heard how Gonzales and Card tried to take advantage of the woozy, post-operative Ashcroft to get him to sign an authorization to continue the illegal eavesdropping -- illegal because it was an end-around the FISA court established by law to adjudicate warrant requests for such domestic surveillance. Here are the money quotes about Cheney-Bush having kept their own Attorney General in the dark about the legal justifications for the data-mining program:
"According to his notes, [FBI Director Robert] Mueller arrived at the hospital at 7:40 p.m., 20 minutes after receiving a call from Comey saying that Gonzales and Card were en route to the hospital and requesting Mueller's presence in order to 'witness the condition of the Attorney General.' By the time Mueller arrived, Gonzales and Card had already left. Mueller's notes of the subsequent conversation between Comey, Ashcroft and Mueller reveal that the top law enforcement officer of the United States may have been prevented from reviewing the wiretapping program that had already been put in place by the president.
"In his notes, Mueller says that Ashcroft 'reviewed for Gonzales and Card the legal concerns relating to the program. The AG also told Gonzales and Card that he was 'barred from obtaining the advice he needed' on the program by the strict compartmentalization rules of the White House'." (Italics added by author Matt Renner.)
Needless to say, Ashcroft's replacement was a guaranteed "loyal Bushie," (wait for it!) Alberto Gonzales.
Down In The Bunker
Summing up: These guys, at least those few who remain with Cheney, Addington, Gonzales, Hadley and Bush down in the White House bunker, are getting nervous about their criminal liability as more of their high crimes and misdemeanors are revealed to the public. They would be even more anxious if an impeachment process were to begin.
So far, the Democrats have shied away from taking on Cheney-Bush frontally with impeachment hearings and arrest warrants for Administration officials who have refused to honor subpoenas to appear and testify and/or provide requested documents. (Remember that the failure to produce subpoenaed documents was one of the three impeachment charges against President Richard Nixon.)
It is possible that as more reports about the thugs in charge of the White House appear in both the internet and via the filter of a somewhat more courageous corporate news media, the public will come to understand how Cheney-Bush forces are effectively destroying the Constitution and expanding already-begun wars and preparing to initiate new ones, thus putting both the economy and America's national-security interests at risk.
At that point, if and when we reach it, the dam holding back red-hot Democratic and even mainstream Republican anger will break, and the public will demand that Congress act to save the country from further ruin by initiating impeachment hearings ASAP. Recent polls indicate the American public is moving inexorably toward that tipping point. The question is: Will they move quickly enough?
It's long since time for the Cheney-Bush Bunker crew to be forced to defend themselves in such impeachment hearings in Congress and, later, in front of criminal and civil juries both here and abroad.
Do I hear an amen?
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle for two decades, and currently is co-editor of The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment: [email protected]
First published by The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 8/21/07.
Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner.
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