Category Archives: Bush Administration

A Bush Administration Legacy

If you’re like me you’ll remember all the many hundreds if not thousands of times someone in the waning days of the failed Bush Administration told us “history will prove Bush was right” or, “history will remember Bush well.”

We heard this a lot from Republicans who couldn’t bear the idea of anything else. Remember: conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed! And, barring that, we just need a 50-year perspective!

Well, four years isn’t a lot of history but we’re already seeing a bit of the Bush legacy: a near-allergic reaction to war. I mean, who would ever have predicted that the real Bush legacy was to forge an alliance among the liberal doves, the Libertarian isolationists, and the rank-and-file Obama-hating Republicans? That leaves Senators Cranky “Bomb-Bomb-Iran” McCrankypants and Lindsay Graham off in the weeds by themselves trying to get their former hawks interested in a little war action in Syria.

I know we on the internet love to become instant experts on everything, and I’m sorry but I just haven’t had a chance to do that in regards to Syria. I’ve heard some claims that this chemical weapons attack is based on bogus intelligence, and I’m waiting for the UN inspectors’ report later this week. I don’t know shit about Syria or the civil war there, who’s allied with whom, etc. etc. Sounds like both sides are equally bad, and there are no good guys. But what do I know — nothing. I’m hearing a lot of chatter and I’m not educated enough about this to separate the wheat from the chaff here, so I’ve largely shut up about it.

I do think America needs to stop bombing Middle Eastern countries, especially unilateral actions. I don’t want to hear about another American military action in this part of the world, I just don’t.

What I do find a little interesting is all of the chortling about President Obama “dithering,” as if bombing Syria would have been okay a year ago but now, fuhgeddaboutit! Snooze you lose, no launch codes for you!

You know, Republicans always spoke of the Iraq War as a moral, justified action. Saddam Hussein was a horrible dictator and tyrant who “gassed his own people,” he’d do it again, heck, he’ll do it to us! That was the argument, yes?

So, okay, apparently Assad ain’t exactly humanitarian of the year either, he “gassed his own people” on August 21. So now it’s three weeks later and there’s dithering going on? How many months did it take the Bush Administration to get their authorization? Maybe I’m missing something here. Anyway, I’m glad we have a president who isn’t such a trigger-happy cowboy his first knee-jerk reaction to every incident is to launch missiles. I like having a president who wants to check the intel and the facts on the ground first. I think the rest of the country is, too. That’s why there’s so little support for U.S. military action in Syria.

Also, I’m surprised to hear Republicans say Obama should have just launched a Tomahawk missile or two into Syria the way he did with Libya. Wasn’t that an international action, though? And didn’t Republicans use this attack as justification to draft articles of impeachment? Yes, they did. So, get y’all’s stories straight, here, folks. You don’t have any more credibility on the war talk than anyone else.

Anyway, if Assad did use chemical weapons on a civilian population, and if we are looking at a human rights atrocity, I think it’s really sad that the world doesn’t seem inclined to do anything at all. There are always options other than war. [UPDATE: Here’s a good one. Fingers crossed.]

That’s a pretty sad state of affairs. And I have to wonder if that isn’t yet another Bush legacy: that the world is so soured on war that they’ll just stand by and let someone attack civilians.

From my observers’ perspective, I see President Obama making a moral case to the world to do something about a human rights violation. Folks may want to mock him and his Nobel Peace Prize but I do see a consistency here. And I have to wonder if, when it comes to legacies, Obama won’t fare better than his predecessor. Trying and failing to act against genocide is a lot better than launching a protracted invasion and occupation of a country for completely bogus reasons.

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Filed under Bush Administration, peace

War Crimes

[UPDATE]:

Salon.com has more….

—————————————

I know, I know … the Bush Administration’s war crimes are so passe. Who cares! Get over it, hippie! So, just as Curveball’s latest confession that he completely fabricated the Saddam Hussein-WMD story has caused nary a ripple in the U.S. media’s constant election coverage, I’m sure the largely-unredacted release of Philip Zelikow’s 2006 torture memo won’t register, either. Zelikow was a senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a strong critic of the Bush Administration’s authorization of torture. You can read his full memo warning that the use of torture is illegal here.

From the story:

Zelikow wrote that a law passed that year by Congress, restricting interrogation techniques, meant the “situation has now changed.” Both legally and as a matter of policy, he advised, administration officials were endangering both CIA interrogators and the reputation of the United States by engaging in extreme interrogations — even those that stop short of torture.

“We are unaware of any precedent in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or any subsequent conflict for authorized, systematic interrogation practices similar to those in question here,” Zelikow wrote, “even where the prisoners were presumed to be unlawful combatants.”

Other “advanced governments that face potentially catastrophic terrorist dangers” have “abandoned several of the techniques in question here,” Zelikow’s memo writes. The State Department blacked out a section of text that apparently listed those governments.

“Coercive” interrogation methods “least likely to be sustained” by judges were “the waterboard, walling, dousing, stress positions, and cramped confinement,” Zelikow advised, “especially [when] viewed cumulatively.” (Most CIA torture regimens made use of multiple torture techniques.) “Those most likely to be sustained are the basic detention conditions and, in context, the corrective techniques, such as slaps.”

The Obama Administration doesn’t get a pass on any of this, either, coming to the same conclusion as the Bush Administration regarding torture. I find this interesting:

Zelikow’s warnings about the legal dangers of torture went unheeded — not just by the Bush administration, which ignored them, but, ironically, by the Obama administration, which effectively refuted them. In June, the Justice Department concluded an extensive inquiry into CIA torture by dropping potential charges against agency interrogators in 99 out of 101 cases of detainee abuse. That inquiry did not examine criminal complicity for senior Bush administration officials who designed the torture regimen and ordered agency interrogators to implement it.

“I don’t know why Mr. Durham came to the conclusions he did,” Zelikow says, referring to the Justice Department special prosecutor for the CIA torture inquiry, John Durham. “I’m not impugning them, I just literally don’t know why, because he never published any details about either the factual analysis or legal analysis that led to those conclusions.”

Here’s a wild-haired tinfoil hat conspiracy theory for you: I have a friend who is convinced that the Obama Administration cut a deal with the Republican Party. The deal was that the GOP would not field any viable presidential candidate in 2012. In return, the Obama Administration wouldn’t prosecute any Bush Administration officials over the faulty intelligence that led to the Iraq War, their use of torture against detainees, etc.

Sounds crazy, I know — especially when you remember that Mitt Romney could easily win in November, what with all of the voter intimidation tactics, the river of money buying this election, the shaky economy, etc. But it’s an interesting theory.

The Bush Administration set the bar to a new low regarding human rights. This is a legacy we’ll be living with for a long, long time. I think this is one of those things they’ll be making movies about in 50 years, the way we look back with horror on the McCarthy hearings. The fact that no one seems interested in even discussing it right now strikes me as a collective admission of guilt by the American people. We know we were wrong, let’s just sweep it all under the rug. No need to worry our beautiful minds about it … yet.

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Filed under Bush Administration, Condolezza Rice, Iraq War, torture

>Memory Hole, Economic Stimulus Edition

>Here’s a little reminder of the Republican Party’s last great economic stimulus idea: the great Economic Stimulus Act of 2008:

The package will pay $600 to most individual taxpayers and $1,200 to married taxpayers filing joint returns, so long as they are below income caps of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples. There is also a $300 per child tax credit.

The rebates will put about $120 billion in the hands of individuals in the hope that they will spend it and boost a faltering U.S. economy.

Yes, that worked so well, didn’t it?

Here’s a little reminder: this was not a gift. It was a rebate. You have to declare it on your 2008 taxes.

Bill’s due April 15, suckaz!

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Filed under Bush Administration, economic stimulus, Republican Party

>WTF?

>Talk about your security breaches: A New Zealand man bought a used MP3 player for $15 only to discover it came with 60 pages of sensitive U.S. military data:

The files Ogle found on the MP3 player contain the names and personal details of US soldiers, including some who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are no details on exactly how many personal records are contained within the documents (most of which date back to 2005), but they also have information on mission briefings and equipment deployment.

This incident is probably not the worst breach of military data in recent memory. […] Still, Ogle’s situation is a bit bizarre in that no one knows how or why this sensitive information was stored on an iPod, or how that MP3 player slipped out to a used hardware vendor. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), some of the phone numbers from the MP3 player’s records still work, and the identified individuals indeed picked up on the other end.

“The more I look at it, the more I see and the less I think I should be [seeing],” Mr Ogle told ABC. He says he will hand the player over to the US Defense Department should it ever ask.

WTF? You mean, they haven’t asked?

For the past eight years the Bush Administration used “national security” as the excuse for all sorts of bizarre decisions, from refusing to strengthen federal whistleblower protections to censoring a quote from the Supreme Court to–I shit you not–withholding transcripts of a World Trade Organization agreement related to online gaming.

Yet military secrets are stored on an iPod and its sold for $15 to some schlub in New Zealand who just wanted to listen to some tunes.

Strange.

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Filed under Bush Administration, national security

>Wingnut Logic Escapes Me

>CNN’s American Morning interviewed Mike Meehan, the guy behind that tasteless 9/11 billboard in Florida.

I found this quote rather enlightening:

“I believe 9/11 could have been prevented if we’d had a Republican president at the time,” Meehan said Wednesday on CNN’s “American Morning.”

Before we get all hysterical, let me clarify that Meehan is referring to the years before the 9/11 attacks. He is well aware that 9/11 occurred on Bush’s watch and knows Bush is a Republican. But, he claims President Bush “inherited” the problem of terrorism from Clinton.

You can read a transcript of the entire interview here . However, here’s the nut of his argument:

MIKE MEEHAN, BEHIND CONTROVERSIAL BILLBOARD: Well, the bigger picture, John, that I’m trying to convey to Americans is a reminder of terrorism that is still here. And it was during the Democrat Party of President Clinton that America was first attacked at the USS Cole killing many Americans. Our U.S. embassy in Africa, and even our trade towers in New York were first all attacked by the terrorists on Bill Clinton’s watch. And, of course, George Bush pretty well inherited this problem and we had the catastrophe of the trade towers falling.

Wow, it’s like he forgot every previous terror attack that ever occurred. His world is a clean slate that begins in the Clinton years. How … odd.

I don’t know about you, but I remember when reports of airline hijackings were a regular part of the nightly news. I remember the American hostage crisis back in the 70s. We all put yellow ribbons around our trees back then. I remember IRA bombings in London. I remember the Munich Olympic Games. I remember a lot of terrorism during both Republican and Democratic presidencies. If you ask me, Mike Meehan is a moron.

However, he’s not the only one. This “Bush inherited Clintons problem” thing is a popular wingnut fantasy. So let’s just look at a handy timeline of some major attacks on U.S. targets:

October 23, 1983: Beirut Barracks Bombing. Suicide bombers attack French and American barracks in Beirut. U.S. death toll: 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and 3 Army soldiers. Who was president then? Ronald Reagan.

December 12, 1983: Kuwait City Bombings. Suicide bombers attack the French and American embassies in Kuwait, as well as a desalination plant and Kuwait’s main oil refinery. In all, six people are killed, none Americans. Who was president then? Ronald Reagan.

August 8, 1985: RheinMain Air Base bombing. A car bomb explodes at the U.S. Air Force/NATO base in Frankfurt, Germany. Two American soldiers are killed, 20 are injured. Who was president then? Ronald Reagan.

October 7, 1985: Hijacking of the Achille Lauro. Palestinian terrorists hijack a cruise ship off the coast of Egypt. A wheelchair-bound American passenger is thrown overboard and drowns. Who was president then? Ronald Reagan.

December 21, 1988: Lockerbie bombing, aka, the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 103. Death toll: 270 people, including 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie. 189 of the victims were American. Who was president then? Ronald Reagan.

February 26, 1993: First World Trade Center Bombing. A car bomb detonates beneath Tower One. Death toll: six. Who was president then? Bill Clinton. He had been inaugurated one month prior, on January 20, 1993.

June 25, 1996: Khobar Towers Bombing. A fuel truck is detonated inside the residential complex housing U.S. Air Force personnel in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Death toll: 20, 19 of them American soldiers. Who was president then? Bill Clinton.

August 7, 1998: U.S. Embassy Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Simultaneous car bomb attacks kill hundreds at the United States embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. Death toll: In Nairobi, about 212 (12 of them American). In Dar es Salaam, 11 (none Americans). Who was president then? Bill Clinton.

October 12, 2000: USS Cole Bombings. Suicide bombers attack the U.S. Navy destroyer the USS Cole while in Yemen. Death toll: 17 U.S. sailors. Who was president then? Bill Clinton.

September 11, 2001: the 9/11 Attacks. Who was president then? George W. Bush. He was inaugurated January 20, 2001.

Now, what can we infer from all of this? For one thing, one could argue that Ronald Reagan left as much of a legacy of terrorism as Bill Clinton did. I won’t argue that however, because terrorism has been around forever, and it’s just as silly to claim Ronald Reagan didn’t lick it as it is to blame Bill Clinton for not eradicating it. Mike Meehan is right: terrorism is still here. Guess what: it will be here long after this election is a dim memory in Meehan’s dimentia-addled brain.

But here’s another thing I never understood. Wingnuts love to blame Clinton for not doing anything about terrorism because the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993–one month after he was inaugurated. In that case, how come George W. Bush gets a pass on 9/11, since he was in office a full nine months? Even if you buy into the argument that President Clinton didn’t do enough, what the heck was Bush doing for nine whole months, besides ignoring Presidential Daily Briefings titled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.?

President Bush knew about the 1993 World Trade Center attack, he knew about the USS Cole. It’s not like anyone erased the U.S. history tape as soon as Bush came into office. They knew everything the Clinton Administration knew. They didn’t do anything either. Why does Bush get a pass and Clinton doesn’t?

That just never made any sense to me.

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Filed under Bush Administration, Clinton Administration, Ronald Reagan, terrorism

>Scott McClellan, Administration Tool

>[UPDATE 2]:

Hilarious:

Bush-Cheney eCampaign Director Mike Turk, 16 hours ago on his Twitter feed:

Feeling for Scott McLellan. Nice getting savaged for saying what everyone knows to be true anyway.

I really don’t understand this whole “Republican loyalty” thing. Scott McClellan was a loyal Bushie who kept his mouth shut and did what he was told. Now he’s come out with his book, the partisans are criticizing him for …. being a loyal Bushie who kept his mouth shut and did what he was told. But if he’d spoken up at the time, he’d have received the Joseph Wilson treatment.

Note to Republicans: you’re coming off as very cult-like. It’s kinda creepy.

(h/t Atrios)
————————

[UPDATE]:

Predictably, the White House and its enablers are portraying McClellan as “disgruntled”:

“Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House. For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad — this is not the Scott we knew,” said current press secretary Dana Perino.

Of course, we’ve heard this tune before.
————————

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has a memoir coming out, and it promises to be a doozy:

In his “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” (Public Affairs, $27.95), McLellan writes about the war in Iraq that President Bush “and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.

[…]

The White House “spent most of the first week in a state of denial” after Hurricane Katrina, McLellan writes. “One of the worst disasters in our nation’s history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush’s presidency. Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush’s second term. And the perception of this catastrophe was made worse by previous decisions President Bush had made, including, first and foremost, the failure to be open and forthright on Iraq and rushing to war with inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath.”

Uh, yeah. That’s not exactly stop-the-presses news to those of us on the left who were screaming at the top of our lungs about this stuff at the time. Let’s replay a medley of McClellan’s greatest hits, shall we?

On Hurricane Katrina:

“This is not a time for finger-pointing or politics. … Flood control has been a priority of this administration from day one.”

On the Dick Cheney shooting incident:

Why was the White House relying on a Texas rancher to get the word of Cheney’s hunting accident out over the weekend, asked Gregory, accusing McClellan of ‘ducking and weaving.’

‘David, hold on! the cameras aren’t on right now,’ McClellan replied. ‘You can do this later.’

‘Don’t accuse me of trying to pose to the cameras,’ the newsman said, his voice rising somewhat. ‘Don’t be a jerk to me personally when I’m asking you a serious question.’

On the outing of Valerie Plame:

MR. McCLELLAN: Let’s talk about this. The subject of this investigation is whether someone leaked classified information. That’s what this is about. And there are some that are trying — some that see this as a political opportunity to attack the White House, and so they’re talking about all sorts of other issues. The issue here is a very serious matter, and it needs to be pursued to the fullest, and we want to get to the bottom of it. The President expects everyone in his administration to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. That is the tone he has set in his administration. That is the tone he has set here in Washington, D.C. And if someone leaked classified information, we want to know, and appropriate action should be taken against that person.

Wow, he should have got an award for that performance. Actually, not really: we all knew he was lying. McClellan was supremely bad at his job, which is why he didn’t last very long.

There’s more, so much more but my all time favorite must be this one:

Go ahead, Jeff.

Yes, that would be Jeff Gannon, of “Talon News.” In fact, MediaMatters documented that McClellan turned to the reporter/male prostitute for the softball treatment whenever things got a little too heated in the press gaggle.

I have little patience for former Bush Administration staffers who lied, cheated, and put partisan politics above the interests of this country and are trying to cash in now that it looks like the GOP’s fortunes have turned. Suck it up, folks. You made your bed, now lie down in it.

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Filed under Bush Administration, Scott McClellan

>Corrupted By Politics

>This stuff is old hat by now:

Sitting just feet from the courtroom table where he had once planned to make cases against military detainees, Air Force Col. Morris Davis instead took the witness stand to declare under oath that he felt undue pressure to hurry cases along so that the Bush administration could claim before political elections that the system was working.

[…]

Davis told Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred, who presided over the hearing, that top Pentagon officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England, made it clear to him that charging some of the highest-profile detainees before elections this year could have “strategic political value.

We’ve seen this time and time again from the Bush Administration. Everything is political, nothing has a purpose or function beyond manipulating public opinion, winning elections and keeping the Republican Party in power.

“Oh, but Democrats do it to,” you may say. Not like this, I answer.

Not like this.

This is the inevitable result of handing the reins of government to a group of people whose entire philosophy is that government doesn’t work. They don’t know how to make it work. All they know how to do is manipulate public opinion so they can hold onto power.

You know, it’s a neat trick turning “government” into a dirty word and telling people to vote for you, year after year and decade after decade, so you can get rid of “government.” Like it’s a flea infestation or something. If you hate government so much, what the hell are you doing making a career out of it?

Lewis Black once said something to the effect of, “government isn’t a building somewhere. It’s people.”

At least, that’s how a former president–a Republican president–saw it, back in the day: “Of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Not anymore. Now it’s just of the privileged, by the cronies, for the sheeple.

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Filed under Bush Administration, electoral politics, Guantanamo, politics, Republican Party

>She Was Lying

>We know this because her lips were moving:

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Filed under Bush Administration, Condolezza Rice, torture

>1-2-3-4, What Are We Fighting For?

>Karl Rove finally admitted it last weekend.

TBS bleeped out one of the lyrics in the final verse, to save our sensitive ears. The real obscenity isn’t in the words of a rock song, though, which I why I’m reprinting the entire verse here. Somehow seems appropriate, in light of this move from the Bush Administration:

You got the farms in Argentina
Making fuel from sugar cane
You got the bastards in Washington
Afraid of popping that greed vein
‘Cause the money’s in the pipeline
And the pipeline’s running dry
And we’ll be the last to recognize
Where there’s shit there’s always flies

Thank you, Sheryl Crow, for pointing out what has been obvious to us all from the beginning. Iraq forever, y’all.

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Filed under Big Oil, Bush Administration, Iraq War, Sheryl Crow