Iraq war and occupationwar in Iraq." It need not be repeated again that this is yet another Bush lie. (Mother Jones)
Iraq war and occupation(Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton; he still receives deferred payments from the corporation and owns almost a half million dollars' worth of stock.) The contract also awards KB&R sole supplier status for American troops and personnel in the Gulf. As the US presence in Iraq continues, the cost has tripled to over $214 million and counting. The administration later claims that the no-bid contract is justified because, at this time, plans to invade Iraq are still secret, and KBR is the only company qualified to handle the oil well fires, a claim that is patently false. KBR is also given the exclusive rights to "provide for the continuity of operations of the Iraqi oil infrastructure," which included "operation of facilities and distribution of products." In essence, the Bush administration awards control of Iraq's oil industry to the vice-president's former company. By May 2003, Iraqi oil fields will pump 125,000 barrels of oil a day, none of which is being sold in conjunction with, or for the benefit of, the Iraqi people. Neither was the Halliburton/Iraqi oil sold to pay for the costs to the American taxpayer for the Iraqi war and occupation. The oil is purely for Halliburton/KBR profits. (Trueopolis, Kevin Phillips, T. Christian Miller)
Iraq-Niger scandal"This particular case is outrageous," he says. "We know a lot about the uranium business in Niger, and for something like this to go unchallenged by the US government is just simply stupid," he says, noting that "a couple of phone calls" could have unearthed the truth about the allegations. "All this stuff is open. It's a restricted market of buyers and sellers. ...[I]t taints the whole rest of the case that the government is trying to build against Iraq.... The US government should have or did know that this report was a fake." Wilson's statements are provocative. Wilson has become a frequent guest on the cable news broadcasts, lambasting the Bush administration for its ramp-up to war and accusing it, rightly enough, for wishing to invade Iraq as the first step towards "the imposition of a Pax Americana on the region and installation of vassal regimes that will control restive populations," as he wrote for The Nation. But Wilson has not yet revealed his trip to Niger on behalf of the CIA and Bush officials. Although he did not sign a nondisclosure agreement, he feels constrained not to reveal what he considers may be classified information. That will change. Nevertheless, it will not be until March 14 that a reporter actually asks a single question about the forged documents that are the basis of the Niger claim.
Bush's foreign policiesAdministration officials let it be known that if Mexico didn't vote for the US resolution authorizing force against Iraq, that it would take steps to "stir up feelings" against Mexicans living in the US. They compared their situation to that faced by Japanese-Americans during World War II, and asked if Mexico really "wants to stir the fires of jingoism during a war." President Bush himself indirectly threatens Mexico over the vote, warning them that many Americans' harsh negative sentiment currently manifesting against the French could also be directed towards Mexico. Bush also states that if Mexico or other countries oppose the United States, "there will be a certain sense of discipline." A firestorm of reaction flares up in Mexico against Bush's threat of "discipline," and Bush officials have spent much time and effort trying to backpedal and restate Bush's words in a less threatening manner. After noting that Dennis Hastert, current Speaker of the House, has been busy stirring up anti-French sentiment in the US, it's not hard to understand that Mexico refuses to be so easily mollified. Author Paul Krugman sums his story up: "[M]y most intense reaction to this story isn't anger over the administration's stupidity and irresponsibility, or even dismay over the casual destruction of hard-won friendships. No, when I read an interview in which the U.S. president sounds for all the world like a B-movie villain -- 'You have relatives in Texas, yes?' -- what I feel, above all, is shame." (International Herald Tribune/CommonDreams)
Iraq-Niger scandalWilson is unforgiving, saying that it is an embarrassment to the US intelligence community that it couldn't determine this for itself. "It would have taken a couple of phone calls," he says. "We have had an embassy there since the early '60s. All this stuff is open." Wilson also says that he is sure the Bush administration has long been aware that the Niger documents are fakes. Wilson later writes in his book, The Politics of Truth, that he believes this CNN appearance prompts the "workup" meeting between top Cheney aides that led to the administration's smear campaign against himself and his wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. (Mother Jones)
Conservative hate speech and intoleranceSavage is known for his hateful and crude attacks on homosexuals, minorities, foreigners, liberals, and anyone else who draws his ire, including his dismissal of child victims of gunfire as "ghetto slime," his referring to non-white countries as "turd world nations," calling homosexuality "perversion" and asserting that Latinos "breed like rabbits." MSNBC says Savage's show is "a legitimate attempt to expand the marketplace of ideas," and says in a formal statement: "By bringing our viewers a wide range of strong, opinionated voices, MSNBC underscores its commitment to ensuring that its perspective programming promotes no one single point of view. We encourage debate and we would neither expect, nor want, our audience to agree with everything on our channel."
Iraq war and occupationNote that the decision to invade was made in July 2002 and possibly far earlier. She also asserts again that the US has intelligence proving connections between Iraq and al-Qaeda; the information is from a single source, captured terrorist Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who has been considered unreliable by US intelligence since February 2002. All of al-Libi's information was only given after torture, and in 2004 the CIA will recall all intelligence estimates and analyses based on al-Libi's statements. (ABC/Buzzflash, Mother Jones)
Iraq war and occupationIn the days after the attacks, only 3% of Americans believed Hussein played a part in the planning. Political satirist Al Franken notes, "This idea came from somewhere." Indeed it did; it came from Karl Rove's office. Of course, after the occupation is well underway, the right-wing media claims that administration officials never made any assertions of the connections between Hussein and al-Qaeda, a claim that is false on its face. On December 9, 2001's Meet the Press, Dick Cheney made specific and sensational claims that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague months before the attacks, a claim that, though quickly debunked, garnered tremendous media play. On another Meet the Press edition, on September 14, 2003, Cheney will claim that a successful mission in Iraq would mean that "we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially after 9/11." And on the eve of the invasion, Bush wrote to Congress saying that invading Iraq was "consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." The links between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 were made frequently and deliberately, sometimes explicitly, as quoted above, but more often implicitly, leaving media pundits and Americans to connect the dots. On March 14, 2003, the Christian Science Monitor will write, "In his prime-time press conference last week, which focused almost solely on Iraq, President Bush mentioned September 11 eight times. He referred to Saddam Hussein many more times than that, often in the same breath with Sept. 11." How many times did Bush mention Osama bin Laden during that speech? Zero. How many times in the entire year of 2003 did Bush publicly mention bin Laden? Four. And those four were only when directly asked. (CBS/Christian Science Monitor/Al Franken)
Iraq war and occupationThis report is later proven to be false by a statement released by Rumsfeld's office, which acknowledges that Iraq had no warheads with any capability for delivering chemical submunitions, and no evidence that any such delivery systems had ever been tested. On the same day, State Department officials claim that "Inspectors discovered cluster bombs and submunitions that appeared designed to deliver chemical or biological agents. Contrary to initial Iraqi statements, a number of bombs and over a hundred submunitions were found." This is later proven to be false by the same statement from Rumsfeld's office, and is widely believed to be an effort to discredit UN weapons inspector chief Hans Blix. (Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
Iraq war and occupationThe reporter, Judith Miller, is unknown to Rotkoff, but Rotkoff is told the order to embed Miller comes "straight from the top." Miller is the least of Rotkoff's worries -- he doesn't have anywhere near the manpower, funds, or equipment to carry out the task of locating the 946 supposed WMD sites all through Iraq and neutralize the chemical, biological, and nuclear WMDs he is told are there. Rotkoff, like Marks, has come to doubt if any of the sites have any WMDs at all. Rotkoff had a bad experience with another Times reporter, Michael Gordon, who is a skilled and experienced military affairs reporter but came across to Rotkoff as aloof and self-important. Rotkoff has no idea of Miller's connections with the neoconservatives in Bush's White House, and with Ahmad Chalabi's INC. (Bob Woodward)
Neoconservatives"Before 9/11, this group...could not win over the president to this extravagant image of what foreign policy required. After 9/11, it was able to benefit from the gigantic eruption of political capital, combined with the supply of military preponderance in the hands of the president. And this small group, therefore, was able to gain direct contact and even control, now, of the White House. ...This group, what I call the tom-tom beaters, have set an agenda and have made the president feel that he has to live up to their definitions of manliness, their definitions of success and fear, their definitions of failure." (ABC News)
Iraq war and occupationLike the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberators." Days later, Dick Cheney says, "We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." And it is true in some areas, particularly the Kurdish-controlled north. But in many areas, as ABC's John Donvan will report after the invasion begins, the civilians are more resentful than appreciative. "We learned," Donvan will report, "that just because the townsfolk don't like Saddam, it doesn't mean that they like the Americans trying to take him out.... They were angry at America, and said US forces had shot at people in the town. They were also angry because they needed food, water, and medicine, and the aid promised by President Bush had not appeared.... They asked why the United States was taking over Iraq, and whether the Americans would stay in Iraq forever. They saw the US-led invasion as a takeover, not liberation." (Common Cause, David Corn)
Iraq war and occupationHe shares something of his needs for serious funding with the reporters, telling them, "What we need to do up front is pay the people in the ministries, be able to pay the army and be able to pay the law enforcement agencies and the court system." He says his plan is only to stay in Iraq a few months, largely because Iraq is in better shape than Afghanistan. "In Iraq, you do have a somewhat more sophisticated country and a somewhat more structured country than you do in Afghanistan...it has the structure and mechanisms in there to run that country and run it fairly efficiently." Asked about Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, the neoconservatives' choice to run Iraq after the overthrow of Hussein, Garner says of Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, "We're not trying to hire any of them right now. Okay? ...We haven't gone out to hire people from the INC." That evening, Garner gets a phone call from a distraught Douglas Feith, who tells Garner that he's damaged the credibility of Chalabi and the INC. "Doug, number one, I don't have a candidate" for who should run Iraq after the invasion, he replies. "And by the way, your boss doesn't have one either. I've heard Rumsfeld say two or three times, 'I don't have a candidate. The best man will rise.'" Feith isn't mollified. Garner has little respect for Feith, viewing him as bright but disorganized. Feith continues to complain, telling Garner that he has really screwed up, created problems for everyone, and that the senior officials at the Pentagon are unhappy with him. Garner snaps back, "Look, Doug, there's an easy answer to your problem. Fire me. Hell, I'll go back to my company [L-3, a defense contractor] tomorrow. You don't have to settle for me. Go get somebody else." Feith says, "We can't do that now."
Attack on civil libertiesNoting the Reagan-era plans to impose martial law and detain tens of thousands of American citizens in case of national emergency, and noting that because Bush has sealed Reagan's presidential papers, no one knows just what those plans entail, McDermott says, "I come from a state [Washington] where in 1941 under executive order by the President, 9661, we rounded up all the Japanese Americans in this country and put them in concentration camps. We have set in place the mechanism to do that again and we must not, we cannot sacrifice the Constitution in this rush to war that we are doing in Iraq." (Jim McDermott)
Iraq war and occupation"Don't wait until the bombs start falling," he says at a press conference. "If you know the public is being lied to and you have documents to prove it, go to Congress and go to the press." Ellsberg says his plea was prompted by a report that the US intends to spy on UN delegates in order to gain an advantage in the UN debate on Iraq. (UPI/Common Dreams)
Conservative media slantPaul Krugman of the New York Times believes that TV news coverage helped "sell" the link: "suddenly, it was Osama, Osama, Osama...Saddam, Saddam, Saddam...and the networks -- the broadcast media -- simply picked that up [and] transferred our feelings of alarm and anger from one villain to another." He observes the lengths that American TV news broadcasts have gone to in order to "sell" the American people on the war: "They use essentially the kind of logos, martial music, and so on that we saw after Gulf War One had started. So, from the point of view of the American public, Iraq is already the enemy; we're already at war." Media critic and journalist Howard Kurtz says, "The European media, by contrast, have been very skeptical of the war, very aggressive of covering the anti-war movement, and some people think they have a strain of anti-Americanism -- or at least anti-George Bush." (CNN)
"The Pentagon still has not given a name to the Iraqi war. Somehow 'Operation Re-elect Bush' doesn't seem to be popular." -- Jay Leno, quoted by Frank Rich, March 12
"Isn't it more likely that antipathy toward the United States in the Islamic world might diminish amid the demonstrations of jubilant Iraqis celebrating the end of a regime that has few equals in its ruthlessness?" -- Republican senator John McCain, quoted by Frank Rich, March 12
HalliburtonHe left Halliburton in 2000 to be George W. Bush's running mate, and opted to take his severance package in payments over the next five years. An aide to Cheney says, "This is money that Mr. Cheney was owed by the corporation as part of his salary for the time he was employed by Halliburton and which was a fixed amount paid to him over time." The aide says that the payment was insured so that Cheney would receive it even if Halliburton were to go bankrupt, so as to ensure no conflict of interest. "Also, the vice president has nothing whatsoever to do with the Pentagon bidding process," the aide adds. Halliburton is one of five large US corporations, including the Bechtel Group, Fluor Corp, Parsons Corp, and the Louis Berger Group, invited to bid for hugely lucrative contracts in the Iraq rebuilding process. Halliburton will eventually receive large contracts from the US government without bidding at all. (Guardian)
US allegations of tortureBybee is the author of the August 2002 "Bybee memo," sometimes called the "Torture Memo," a Justice Department memo interpreting the statutory term of "torture" as defined in federal law that twists the term into virtual meaningless, with such opinions as "physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death," and that for mental pain and abuse to constititute torture, it "must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years." Bybee's memo, co-written by his deputy, John Woo, says that international laws prohibiting torture might be "unconstitutional." Bybee is also known for law journal articles attacking abortion and gay rights. Veteran journalist Robert Scheer writes, "Frighteningly, the Bybee memo is not some oddball exercise in moral relativism but instead provides the most coherent explanation of how this Administration came to believe that to assure freedom and security at home and abroad, it should ape the tactics of brutal dictators." (Wikipedia, Nation)
Iraq war and occupationGarner and his staff meets with Rumsfeld the next morning, with Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and the top brass from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including JCS chairman Richard Myers, Vice Chairman Peter Pace, General George Casey, and a dozen others in attendance. Garner does not know that Bush is about to issue an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, ordering him to leave Iraq within 48 hours or have his country invaded -- an ultimatum everyone knows will be ignored. One of Garner's staffers, controversial former ambassador Barbara Bodine, brags, "I'm the mayor of Baghdad," a comment Garner finds stupid and ill-advised. The next morning, March 15, Garner meets Rumsfeld alone. Rumsfeld apologizes for not having given Garner, in charge of the entire Iraqi reconstruction program, enough time to consult with him before the offensive. "Quite frankly, I just have been so engulfed in the war that I just didn't have time to focus on everything that you're doing. I tried to keep abreast of it, but I wasn't able to give it the time it needed." Rumsfeld then voices his objections to the people Garner has slated to take over Iraq's 23 ministries. Most are not from Defense. "I think they all should be from DOD," Rumsfeld says. Garner is aghast. Why is Rumsfeld trying to make such sweeping changes on the eve of the invasion? "We can't do that," Garner retorts. There are clearly functions that belong to other agencies more than DOD." Bush's executive order, NSPD-24, clearly made Garner's an interagency planning office. Rumsfeld insists that everyone should come from Defense -- Rumsfeld's own bailiwick. The executive order mandated that Defense should be in charge. "We just can't agree on this," Garner says. Both men are immovable, but Rumsfeld has the ultimate authority.
"But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" -- Barbara Bush, on her refusal to watch the news from Iraq, on Good Morning America, March 13, quoted by the New York Times
Iraq war and occupationTwo days before, Beers met with his friend, former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, to discuss his decision. As Clarke recalls in his book Against All Odds, Beers told him, "They still don't get it. Instead of going all out against al-Qaeda and eliminating our vulnerabilities at home, they wanna f*ckin' invade Iraq again. We have a token US military force in Afghanistan, the Taliban are regrouping, we haven't caught bin Laden, or his deputy, or the head of the Taliban. And they aren't going to send more troops to Afghanistan to catch them or to help the government in Kabul secure the country. No, they're holding back, waiting to invade Iraq. Do you know how much it will strengthen al-Qaeda and groups like that if we occupy Iraq? There's no threat to us now from Iraq, but 70% of the American people think Iraq attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. You wanna know why? Because that's what the administration wants them to think! I can't work for these people. I'm sorry, I just can't." (Richard Clarke/Bill Katovsky)
Iraq war and occupationLike many congressional Democrats, Rockefeller had voted in December 2002 to authorize force against Iraq, basing his vote on the allegations of Iraq WMDs promulgated by the admininstration. Now, Rockefeller writes, "There is a possibility that the fabrication of these documents may be part of a larger deception campaign aimed at manipulating public opinion and foreign policy regarding Iraq." Rockefeller urges Mueller to find the source of the forgeries, the motives of those responsible, and "why the intelligence community did not recognize the documents were fabricated." The investigation will never be successfully concluded; a senior FBI official says, "This story could go several direction. We haven't gotten anything solid, and we've looked. ...[S]omebody's hiding something, and they're hiding it pretty well. ...[S]omething as bizarre as Niger raises suspicions everywhere."
Iraq war and occupationIt warns that truly democratic elections could well result in the rise of an Islamic theocracy with a powerful hatred for the US. Noting that "Iraqi political values and institutions are rooted in a tortured history that must be understood before it is possible to consider the rehabilitation of Iraqi society," the report summarized hundreds of years of Iraq's violent tribal history, and concludes, "The establishment of democracy or even some sort of rough pluralism in Iraq, where it has never really existed previously, will be a staggering challenge for any occupation force." Both this report and an earlier US Army War College report (previously noted) warn that any Iraqi democracy, even assuming one can be created, may well not be friendly to the United States. As usual, both reports are ignored by Bush war planners. (Los Angeles Times/Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Conservative media slantA protester, Robert Jerelski, holding a sign that reads "Stop Bush" outside the UN building in New York is assaulted by an ABC technician who did not want him and his sign interfering with their shot of Eyewitness News reporter Joe Torres. Jerelski is shoved into a metal barricade by the technician, which results in injuries requiring emergency room treatment. Jerelski is currently suing the network, bolstered by videotape filmed by an ABC cameraman of the incident. (Mark Crispin Miller)