Highlights of This Page
Bush admits to authorizing illegal wiretaps on Americans. Frist, Hastert sneak in legislation that protects vaccine manufacturers from injury, death claims.
See my Update Information page for an explanation of why this and other pages between September 2004 and September 2006 are not yet complete.
- December: In 2005, $243 billion in "petro-dollars" is collected from Americans at the gas pumps, and in heating and electric bills, every dime of which has left the country for foreign coffers and corporate offshore bank accounts. Instead of implementing an unpopular gasoline tax to fund his binge spending, Bush has allowed what might be considered an indirect tax on gasoline through OPEC's $50+ price per barrel of crude oil, which translates roughly into a dollar per gallon rise in gas prices. "Think of the gas pump price spike as a war tax," writes investigative journalist Greg Palast. Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing nations take the money we spend on gas and oil, and lend that money back to us at exorbitant interest rates. Meanwhile, foreign governments such as China have bought $311 billion in US debt, every dime spent by Bush. The administration has, on a net basis, borrowed the entire increase in Treasury debt, in what Palast calls the "petro-dollar cycle." Thusly the entire occupation spending, the huge increase in military spending, the enormous tax cuts, aren't directly paid for by taxes, but merely tacked on to an ever-rising national debt. (Greg Palast)
- December: The US trade deficit with China balloons from zero in 1985 to $202 billion in 2005. By the end of Bush's second term, the trade deficit is expected to break $1 trillion. (Greg Palast)
- December 1: Former Democratic president Jimmy Carter is interviewed by Air America's Al Franken about Carter's new book, Our Endangered Values. Carter, who calls himself a traditional evangelical Christian, is frank about the state of American Christianity and its impact on current politics. "...I have become so intensely concerned in the last five years about two major trends in our country and their merger that I decided finally to write this book," Carter says. "I describe fundamentalism as one of the root causes of the problem, but also one of the results. As I define it in my book on just one page, fundamentalists have always been men, the leaders, they always consider themselves to be superior and they feel an overwhelming inclination to dominate other people, particularly women. They subjugate women to men, and make them subservient to their husbands. They consider themselves to be uniquely related to God and endowed with insight that other human beings of an inferior nature don't have. Therefore they have to be 100% right and anyone who disagrees with them has got to be wrong and by extension, inferior. It's impossible for them to ever admit that they have made a mistake. They consider it to be a violation of their principles to negotiate or mediate or compromise or even cooperate with people who differ from them. This is the case in both extreme Christianity and extreme Islam and other religions.
- "But it also spills over into the political realms, and I think it's that fundamentalist inclination that now permeates politics in Washington. And it has been one of the causes of dramatic changes in what used to be a harmonious and relatively cooperative attitude among Democrats and Republicans. Between Democrats and Republicans it's now an attitude of 'I am right and you are wrong and therefore we cannot cooperate.' In top circles in our country, you are either with us or against us and there is no way to reach out and form a cooperative team. So that is the essence of fundamentalism and unfortunately in the last five years or so, we have seen an increasing inclination for the ultra-right, and funamentalists in religious circles, to combine their efforts and form alliances in politics. And this has broken down what I consider to be a historic and even religious characteristic in America.
- "I happen to be a Christian.... Jesus taught, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's. Thomas Jefferson said we must build a wall between the church and state. Well, in the last few years that wall has been deliberately broken down, not secretly but ostentatiously and openly. These are things that have caused me concern and they've led to a series of other basic political changes in our country."
- Carter tells Franken, "I happen to worship the Prince of Peace; I don't worship the Prince of Pre-emptive War." (Air America Playbook)
- December 7: In his first statement about Iraqi reconstruction efforts, Bush grudgingly acknowledges that "reconstruction has not always gone as well as we had hoped." A day later, Army brigadier general Bill McCoy says that the US "never intended to completely rebuild Iraq." (T. Christian Miller)
- December 7: At a speech to the Republican House leadership, Bush continues the tough talk about Iraq, saying the US isn't leaving Iraq until he says the war has been won: "We're not leaving if Laura and Barney [his wife and his dog] are the only ones who support me." He receives unquestioning support from the Republican leaders, who emphasize that Bush must counteract the "cut and run" strategy advocated by the Democrats, and the message that is put out to the media must be controlled. (Bob Woodward)
- December 10: An angry, truculent Bush accuses those who leaked the fact he had authorized wiretaps on hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans without judicial warrants, of having compromised US security. Bush contends that the Constitution and the Congressional resolutions authorizing military action against Afghanistan and Iraq give him the legal power to bypass laws that required approval from a special court for wiretaps by the NSA on Americans. Insisting that the NSA spying has been essential in the war against terrorism, Bush shrills, "It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war. ...The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy." Bush makes, again, the specious claim that the Foreign Intelligence Service Act of 1978, and the secret FISA court created by that legislation, is too slow and cumbersome for use in the war on terror: "We've got to be fast on our feet. It is legal for us to do so. I swore to uphold the laws and legal authority is derived from the Constitution. I just want to assure the American people that I have the authority to do this." (Sydney Morning Herald)
"I mean, there was a serious international effort to say to Saddam Hussein, you're a threat. And the 9/11 attacks extenuated that threat, as far as I'm concerned." -- George W. Bush, December 12, 2005
- December 12: Defending Vice President Cheney's assertion that the US would be welcomed in Iraq as liberators, Bush tells an NBC interviewer, "I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome." (AllHatNoCattle)
- December 12: Patricia Hughes and her boyfriend Jeremy Dunahoe try to bomb an abortion clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, with an incendiary device similar to a Molotov cocktail. The Hope Medical Group for Women was not damaged. Hughes and Dunahoe have been charged with several crimes in relation to the attempted bombing. (AP/KATC-TV)
- December 15: Some 11 million Iraqi voters, around 70% of the country's electorate, turns out to vote for members of the National Assembly, who will serve for four-year terms. Little violence occurs on Election Day. Bush and his officials are elated. "There's a lot of joy," Bush says. He tells the Iraqi ambassador to the UN, "I think it was a turning point, and the beginning of the end of terrorism in Iraq." But the violence continues, with over 2.500 insurgent attacks in Iraq in December. Later that month, during a meeting in the Situation Room, Donald Rumsfeld observes glumly, "We don't have any more elections." (Bob Woodward)
- Mid-December: Dick Cheney, fielding media questions about the administration's program of warrantless wiretapping, is asked about his views on executive power. His response is the first time in years he has publicly mentioned Iran-Contra. "If you want to refer to an obscure text, go look at the minority views that were filed with the Iran-Contra Committee" in November 1987, he says. (Cheney was the leader of the Republican minority on that committee.) "Nobody has ever read them, but we -- part of the argument in Iran-Contra was whether or not the president had the authority to do what was done in the Reagan years. And those of us in the minority wrote minority views, but they were actually authored by a guy working for me, for my staff, that I think are very good in laying out a robust view of the president's prerogative with respect to the conduct of especially foreign policy and national security matters. It will give you a much broader perspective. I served in the Congress for ten years. I've got enormous regard for the other body, Title I [sic] of the Constitution, but I do believe that, especially in the day and age we live in, the nature of the threats we face, it was true during the Cold War, as well as I think what is true now, the president of the United States needs to have his Constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will, in terms of the conduct of national security policy."
- Cheney's former committee colleague, Bruce Fein, disagrees with his former boss. Fein sees a "chasm of difference" between Iran-Contra and the current secrecy of Bush-Cheney. "Then it was part of the democratic process," he says. "The way you debate the process, it allows for self-correction. This is the essence, the lifeblood of democracy." Whereas the Iran-Contra committee forced a certain level of disclosure, there is virtually none now. "They think that democracy ends if you win elections," Fein says. (Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein)
Bush admits to authorizing illegal wiretaps on Americans
- December 17: Bush admits to authorizing -- over 30 times -- illegal wiretaps against American citizens, in the name of combating terrorism. In a radio address, Bush claims that the illegal wiretapping is used to "intercept the international communications of people with known links to al-Qaeda and related terrorist organizations." He also says, "I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks." Later evidence shows the illegal wiretapping program is far more widespread than Bush will admit. (White House/OhMy News [link to video])
- December 18: During a prime-time speech, Bush brags about the large turnout of voters in the Iraqi elections of December 15, delineates what he considers the successes of the US occupation, then, almost as an aside, admits that "we didn't find those weapons" of mass destruction. Addressing the idea that the US occupation is "creating more problems than we're solving," Bush waxes harsh. "Defeatism may have its particular uses," he intones, "but it is not justified by the facts. ...To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor, and I will not allow it." To his critics, Bush says that for "those of you who did not support my decision to send more troops to Iraq, I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt. Yet now there are only two options before our country -- victory or defeat. And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party, because the security of our people is in the balance. I don't expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request. Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom. ...I see the consequences of [my] decisions when I meet wounded servicemen and women who cannot leave the hospital, but summon the strength to look me in the eye and say they would do it all over again. I see the consequences when I talk to parents who miss a child so much -- but tell me he loved being a soldier, he believed in his mission, and, Mr. President, finish the job." (Bob Woodward)
Frist, Hastert sneak in legislation that protects vaccine manufacturers from injury, death claims
- December 20: Late at night, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, both Republicans, sneak language into the 2006 Defense Department spending bill that could be worth billions to a small group of major drug manufacturers. The provision grants vaccine manufacturers almost complete immunity from lawsuits that might result from injuries or deaths from their drugs in the case of a viral pandemic, such as an outbreak of avian flu. Even cases involving gross negligence are covered. The provision is inserted late at night, after after House and Senate conferees had agreed the provision would not be included in the bill. According to the Capitol Hill newsletter Roll Call, the brazen move is completely unprecedented. Even more interestingly, vaccine-industry lobbyists essentially wrote the provision themselves. According to the Tennessean, "Vaccine industry officials helped shape legislation behind the scenes that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist secretly amended into a bill to shield them from lawsuits, according to e-mails obtained by a public advocacy group. E-mails and documents written by a trade group for the vaccine-makers show the organization met privately with Frist's staff and the White House about measures that would give the industry protection from lawsuits filed by people hurt by the vaccines. The final language of the provision was exactly what the vaccine manufactures requested in thier emails and meetings." The vaccine manufacturers are hefty contributors to Republican campaigns; increasing their effectiveness is the fact that the vaccine industry was represented by a team of lobbyists that included three former Frist staffers and Dennis Hastert's son, Joshua Hastert. (Roll Call [truncated article], Think Progress)
- December 21: Bush states the necessity for hand-picking the leaders of the newly elected Iraqi government in an NSC meeting, saying that "It's one thing to influence the voters in an election. And it is another thing to influence government formation." He tells the US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, participating via a secure video connection from Baghdad, that "we need to work with the Brits not to dictate outcomes or choose personalities, but to shape a government." It is classic Bush doublespeak -- we don't want to dictate the government, but we want to "shape" it. Whoever becomes the Iraqi government leaders must pass White House muster. (Bob Woodward)
- December 26: The Pensito Review's Jon Ponder makes the following interesting comparison. In 1995, the Republican chairman of the House's Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Dan Burton, investigated whether taxpayers were paying for stationery and postage used for the fan club of Socks, the presidential cat. Burton finally determined that taxpayers were not paying for Socks's letters to kids. Two weeks ago, Bush admitted he willfully flouted a law that requires him to get warrants before wiretapping US citizens. In reaction, Republicans in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee have announced that they are planning "oversight" hearings into the matter. Ponder writes, "The president has admitted he broke the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) hundreds of times. Isn't it a bit late for 'oversight?'" Ponder and everyone else do not know, yet, that no such oversight hearings will ever take place. (Pensito Review)