"If the president claims extraordinary wartime powers, and we fight undeclared wars with no beginning and no end, when if ever will those extraordinary powers lapse? Since terrorism will never be eliminated completely, should all future presidents be able to act without regard to Congress or the Constitution simply by asserting, 'We're at war'?" -- Republican congressman Ron Paul, June 15, quoted by Buzzflash
Karpinski confirms Sanchez ordered Abu Ghraib torture
- June 15: Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the former commander of Abu Ghraib, confirms that she believes the orders to torture and abuse prisoners came from General Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander of American forces in Iraq. Karpinski says she is being made into a "convenient scapegoat" for the prison scandal, and says Sanchez ought to be asked about his knowledge of the torture. Karpinski says military intelligence took over part of the Abu Ghraib jail to "Gitmoize" their interrogations, or make them more like what was happening in the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. She says current Iraqi prisons chief Major General Geoffrey Miller, who was in charge at Guantanamo Bay, visited her in Baghdad and said: "At Guantanamo Bay we learned that the prisoners have to earn every single thing that they have. He said they are like dogs and if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them." Sanchez recently recused himself from the ongoing investigations into prisoner abuse and requested a higher-ranking officer lead the investigations. Karpinski believes the soldiers did not take the pictures of abused prisoners of their own accord. "I know that the MP [military police] unit that these soldiers belonged to hadn't been in Abu Ghraib long enough to be so confident that one night or early morning they were going to take detainees out of their cells, pile them up and photograph themselves in various positions with these detainees," she says. "How it happened or why those photographs came to the Criminal Investigation Division's attention in January I think will probably come out very clearly at each individual's court martial." (BBC)
- June 15: Discredited US ally Ahmad Chalabi is rebuilding his power base in Iraq, trying to re-establish ties to the Shi'ite majority in Iraq along with his allies in the government of Iran. "The one thing you can say for sure about Chalabi is that you can never count him out," says Ghassan Attiya, a former Iraqi exile and one-time supporter of the Iraqi National Congress, the political party Chalabi led. "He's an incredible political survivor...an incredible charmer." Chalabi still has friends within the US government and the conservative establishment, particularly Richard Perle, the former Defense Policy Board, and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, who insists that Chalabi's conviction in Jordan of massive bank fraud "has never been documented." (Christian Science Monitor)
- June 15: House Republicans, led by Tom Davis, block the testimony of five Halliburton whistleblowers, refusing to allow them to testify as to the abuses and overcharges they witnessed. The allegations include: lodging of 100 workers in a five-star Kuwaiti hotel at a charge of $10,000 a day, while the Pentagon wanted them to stay in tents, like soldiers, at $139 a day; abandoning $85,000 trucks because of flat tires or other minor problems; paying $100 to have a 15-pound bag of laundry cleaned in Kuwait as part of a million-dollar contract, when the same laundry could have been done inside Iraq for $28; bought 37,200 cans of soda in Kuwait at $1.50 a can, 24 times higher than the contract price; and knowingly paying subcontractors twice for the same bill. Statements by the whistleblowers and the government's own audit report of other Halliburton mismanagement "portray a company and a contracting environment that has run amok," Democrat Henry Waxman writes in a letter protesting the GOP blocking of the whistleblowers' testimony. Halliburton insists that the charges are politically motivated. Waxman charges that since House Republicans won't let the whistleblowers testify, the congressional oversight committee is "not fulfilling its obligation to protect the taxpayer from waste, fraud and abuse." Committee Republicans say they simply haven't had enough time to corroborate and investigate the whistleblowers' claims. "While the Bush administration failed to adequately plan for the safety of our troops -- as proven by its failure to provide sufficient body armor -- it made certain that Halliburton would make a killing long before the war began," says HalliburtonWatch project coordinator Jim Donahue. (Knight-Ridder/CommonDreams, CommonDreams)
- June 15: The General Accounting Office reveals that the Pentagon broke the law in awarding no-bid oil contracts to Halliburton. Testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform hearing confirms that Bush administration political appointees overruled career contracting officials in the Pentagon by giving Halliburton the oil-related task order months before the invasion of Iraq. Today's hearing came two days after Pentagon officials admitted that Pentagon political appointees notified Vice President Cheney's chief of staff of the decision to award Halliburton a no-bid contract to repair Iraq's oil infrastructure. (CommonDreams)
- June 15: California has set new standards for electronic voting that mandate a voter-verified paper trail. The standards come six months after Secretary of State Kevin Shelley mandated that all new e-voting machines purchased in the state produce a paper trail by July 2005. Shelley has been concerned over proof that California's e-voting machines can easily be hacked, and two months ago decertified all California e-voting machines until the concerns over tampering and voter verification could be resolved. "California is making sure that voters will be able to verify that their votes are being counted correctly," Shelley says. "I call upon [federal election officials] to follow my lead and establish nationwide testing and qualification standards for [paper-trail verified] systems as soon as possible." There are currently no federal standards to test a machine that produces a paper trail. (Wired)
- June 15: Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says Attorney General John Ashcroft is breaking the law by trying to classify FBI translator Sibel Edmonds' Senate testimony as "state secrets:" he says Ashcroft's actions are "clearly intended to keep her from bringing out in public information that could lead...to criminal indictments and possible convictions of major political figures." Ellsberg says that if Edmonds' allegations are confirmed, Ashcroft could be judged obstructive and share the fate of former Attorney General John Mitchell, who in Ellsberg v. Mitchell tried to squelch Ellsberg's 1971 revelations, and served prison time over the affair. "John Ashcroft may well sleep eventually in the same cell as John Mitchell," Ellsberg says. "Certain investigations were being quashed, let's say per State Department's request, because it would have affected certain foreign relations [or] affected certain business relations with foreign organizations," says Edmonds. She also says that the FBI's intelligence translation service had been penetrated by a criminal, semi-legitimate intelligence group not linked to any government. Her measured words hint at politically explosive connections between non-terrorist criminal networks and the 9/11 attacks. Since October, 2002 Edmonds has been bound by provisional gag orders while awaiting an opportunity for a full hearing and a definitive ruling. The recent moves in the case arose from a government bid to exclude her testimony from a class action lawsuit by families of 9/11 victims. "I'm not an expert on all this," admits Ellsberg. "But I am increasingly open to the explanation that people in the administration did see this coming...and may have indeed reduced some obstacles...or opened the door, in effect. I haven't been absolutely convinced on that, but it does seem to me to be an open question that deserves investigation. Now beyond that...it seems to me quite plausible that -- plausible, that's all I'd say -- that Pakistan was quite involved in this, and that many Saudis were well informed on this." Ellsberg continues, "To say Pakistan -- is to me, to say CIA. Because I think the relations between the Pakistan ISI [intelligence service] and CIA were very close from the beginning. And it's hard to say that the ISI knew something that the CIA had no knowledge of. So if you say, do I accept confidently, and do I rely on the official interpretation? Certainly not. But, I wouldn't say that I have been yet been thoroughly convinced by any alternative. I can add one thing though -- from my own experience, that's relevant. Is it possible...that an American president could have...welcomed an attack on America that he would interpret [as] justifying an invasion of another country? Well, that's more than possible, that happened -- under a president that I served. Lyndon Johnson did put American destroyers in harms way, deliberately provoking an attack...in the Tonkin Gulf. Not only in August of '64, but in February of '65. ...There was an attack on August 2nd, and that was not unwelcome to the United States at that point." (Break For News)
- June 15: A federal appeals court tosses a lawsuit brought by former representative Bob Barr against former president Bill Clinton, Clinton's political advisor James Carville, and publisher Larry Flynt, saying the three years Barr had to pursue the lawsuit had already expired. Barr alleges that the three conspired to slander his reputation by making public information that Barr, a vehement pursuer of the Watergate indictments, had an affair of his own in the mid-1980s. Barr, an outspoken anti-abortion advocate, also drove his wife to an abortion clinic to have their child aborted. Part of the problem with Barr's lawsuit is that he was unable to dispute the truth of the allegations. (Washington Post)
- June 15: Liberal pundit Bernard Weiner writes, "Conveniently buried in the all-Reagan-all-the-time news coverage last week was the smoking-gun revelation, in the so-called torture-memos, that the Bush Administration was actively engaged in setting up a governmental system where Bush becomes the sole law of the land. In this set-up, no court, no legislature, nobody can touch him. He is to be the Supreme Leader. There's no other way to say this, even though it pains me to acknowledge it: What is revealed in these torture memos are the foundations for a kind of fascist rule in America. The object was (and is) to establish Bush as an extra-constitutional dictator, under cover of 'law.'" Weiner is referring to the decision by White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez and other legal experts that Bush is not bound by either the Geneva Conventions or international laws against torture of prisoners if he so chooses. "It is by leaps and bounds the worst thing I've seen since this whole Abu Ghraib scandal broke," says Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. "It appears that what they were contemplating was the commission of war crimes and looking for ways to avoid legal accountability. The effect is to throw out years of military doctrine and standards on interrogations."
- Weiner also references a report from the State and Justice Departments that twists the law to give legal cover for US torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and other detention facilities. (The State Department refused to back the report's conclusions.) Weiner writes, "To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Bush issue a 'presidential directive or other writing' that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is 'inherent in the President.' ...In short, American torturers, and those who authorized the torture, would not be violating any law because, under this theory, whatever Bush authorizes cannot be unlawful, because he IS the law. This claim reminds one of the theory espoused by President Richard Nixon -- later struck down by the courts -- which claimed that when a president takes any action, because he is the president, by definition his actions are not illegal. Under the philosophy in this memo, Bush's actions are legally protected not only in attacking the enemy and extracting information from captured 'enemy combatants,' but also in dealing with those suspected of aiding the enemy domestically, including American citizens. (Several U.S. citizens already have been arrested and held, without charge, for months and years.) In short, in this view, no court, no Congress, nobody can legally interfere with these Commander-in-Chief functions." Though Bush officials now claim these reports and memos are merely "working drafts," and that no such policies on torture were ever officially implemented, their denials are specious. Bush officials have been working diligently for a year and a half to craft these decisions, and these policies were well known, and acted upon, by commanders in the field. "If anyone in the higher levels of government acted in reliance on this advice, those persons should be impeached. If they authorized torture, it may be that they have committed, and should be tried for, war crimes. And, as we learned at Nuremberg, 'I was just following orders' is NOT (and should not be) a defense," writes law professor Michael Froomkin.
- Human rights lawyer Avi Cover observes, "The breadth of authority in the [memo] report is wholly unprecedented. Until now, we've used the rhetoric of a president who is 'above the law,' but this document makes that [assertion] explicit; it's not a metaphor anymore." Weiner continues, "What is being discussed here is not the torture of detainees or prisoners in the 'war on terror.' That is an important issue all its own, one that flows naturally from the philosophy being advanced in the leaked memos. ...What IS being examined here is the proclaimed right of this Administration to torture anyone, to imprison anyone, to invade any country, simply because (it is claimed) as Commander-in-Chief in a war, he has the sole right to decide who should be prosecuted, imprisoned, tortured, invaded, killed." (Crisis Papers)
Torture at Abu Ghraib proven to have been authorized at highest levels of Pentagon
- June 16: In the following days, the Red Cross will release documents proving that torture and abuse of prisoners was authorized at the highest levels of the Pentagon. According to lawyers familiar with the Red Cross reports, they will contradict previous testimony by senior Pentagon officials who have claimed that the abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison was an isolated incident. "There are some extremely damaging documents around, which link senior figures to the abuses," says Scott Horton, the former chairman of the New York Bar Association, who has been advising Pentagon lawyers unhappy at the administration's approach. "The biggest bombs in this case have yet to be dropped." A string of leaked government memos over the past few days has revealed that Bush was advised by Justice Department officials and White House lawyer Alberto Gonzalez that Geneva Conventions on torture did not apply to "unlawful combatants," captured during the war on terror. Members of Congress are now demanding access to all White House memos on interrogation techniques, a request so far refused by the United States attorney-general, John Ashcroft. "It's now clear to everyone that there was a debate in the administration about how far interrogators could go," says a legal adviser to the Pentagon. "And the answer they came up with was 'pretty far.' Now that it's in the open, the administration is having to change that answer somewhat." Documents have already been released that reveal General Ricardo Sanchez, the senior US officer in Iraq, approved the use of dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns and sensory deprivation for prisoners whenever senior officials at the Abu Ghraib jail wished. A memo dated October 9, 2003 on "Interrogation Rules of Engagement," which each military intelligence officer was obliged to sign, set out in detail the wide range of pressure tactics they could use -- including stress positions and solitary confinement for more than 30 days.
- The White House has ordered a damage-limitation exercise to try to prevent the abuse row undermining President Bush's re-election campaign. Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, has ordered that all deaths of detainees held in US military custody are to be reported immediately to criminal investigators. Deaths in custody will also be reported to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, and to Rumsfeld himself. The Pentagon has also announced an investigation into the condition of inmates at Guantanamo Bay, where more than 600 prisoners suspected of links with al-Qaeda are being held. The inquiry will be led by Vice-Admiral Albert Church, who has been ordered to investigate reports that extreme interrogation techniques "migrated" from Guantanamo to Iraq. "This is not going to be a whitewash," says the Pentagon adviser. "The administration is finally realizing how damaging this scandal could become." A new investigator has also been appointed to lead the inquiry into abuse at Abu Ghraib. General George Fay will be replaced by a more senior officer. Fay, according to US military convention, did not have the authority to question his superiors. His replacement indicates that the Abu Ghraib inquiry will now go far beyond the activities of the seven military police personnel accused of mistreating Iraqi detainees. Legal and constitutional experts have expressed astonishment at the judgments made by administration lawyers on interrogation techniques. In one memo, written in January 2002, Gonzalez told President Bush that the nature of the war on terror "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." Scott Silliman, a former US air force lawyer and the director of the Center for Law Ethics and National Security at Duke University, says, "What you have is a culture of avoidance of law rather than compliance with it." A separate memo, written by Pentagon lawyers in March 2003, stated that "the infliction of pain or suffering per se, whether it is physical or mental is insufficient to amount to torture. [The pain] must be of such a high level of intensity that it is difficult for the subject to endure." (Daily Telegraph)
"...I suspect that the day a person gives up on the Geneva Convention is the day a person gives up on the human race." -- Sarah Vowell
- June 16: Iran announces its intention to form an oil trading market for Middle East and OPEC oil producing nations that may threaten the dominance of London's International Petroleum Exchange. A contract to design and establish a new platform for crude, natural gas and petrochemical trades is expected to be signed with an international consortium within days. Top oil producing countries are determined to seize more control of trading after being advised that existing markets such as the IPE and NYMEX in New York are not working in their favor. Three years ago a former compliance director accused the IPE of manipulating prices, although these allegations were dismissed after an investigation. The Tehran oil bourse is scheduled to open in 2005, according to its architect, Mohammad Javad Asemipour, who is a personal adviser to the Iranian energy minister. "We are in the final stage of choosing a concession for what is going to be a very big development for us and the region," he says.
- The expected winner of the contract is a consortium of Iranian and international companies known as Wimpole, which is understood to include PA Consulting and a former director of Nymex. Some industry experts have warned the Iranians and other OPEC producers that Western exchanges are controlled by big financial and oil corporations, which have a vested interest in market volatility. The IPE, bought in 2001 by a consortium that includes BP, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, is unwilling to discuss the Iranian move. Many of the contracts for crude oil being exported from producers such as Iran and Saudi Arabia are linked to prices for the UK North Sea Brent blend. The Middle East producers would like to establish a rival Persian Gulf blend contract alongside hedging mechanisms that could operate around the new bourse. The regional initiative is significant but not entirely new. The Dubai Mercantile Exchange recently tried to develop an oil trading market with the help of NYMEX, but it collapsed through lack of interest. The Tehran bourse is considered to be more likely to succeed because Iran exports 2.7 million barrels a day and produces 13 million tons of petrochemicals every year. The country has the second biggest oil reserves in the world behind Saudi Arabia. Asemipour said the new project is in tune with both Islamic and local constitutional law and has been given the go-ahead by government and parliament as part of the country's five-year plan. (Guardian)
- June 16: Pentagon officials verify that Donald Rumsfeld ordered the detention of an Iraqi prisoner "off the books" late last year, hiding the prisoner from the International Red Cross and anyone else. Such a maneuver violates international law. The prisoner, a suspected member of terror group Ansar al Islam, was originally detained in July 2003, later flown to an undisclosed location by the CIA, and returned to Iraq at the end of October after the CIA was informed by the Justice Department that holding the prisoner outside Iraq might be a violation of international law. Rumsfeld then ordered General Ricardo Sanchez to see to it that the prisoner was held "off the books." The Taguba investigation concluded that such detentions were "deceptive" and "a violation of international law." The Pentagon claims that the prisoner, still in detention, is "lost in the system." Human rights critics call it a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch says, "If they thought he was such a threat that he could not get Red Cross visits, then how come such a threatening prisoner got lost in the system?" Pentagon officials still insist Rumsfeld acted legally, but admit it all depends on how you interpret the law. (MSNBC)
- June 16: Filmmakers Kent Bye and Jennifer Gouvea are preparing a film, currently titled The Echo Chamber, that uses publicly available footage to prove that the US media is complicit in preparing the government's case for invading Iraq. Bye, a former electrical engineer at Northrop Grumman and amateur documentary maker, and his fiancee Gouvea have been fascinated with the US media's slant on Iraq and terrorism ever since 9/11. An August 2002 speech by former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, where Ritter unequivocally said that the Bush administration was going to invade Iraq one way or another, was a turning point for Bye and Gouvea, who began collecting footage from C-SPAN and other sources to document the media's own push for war. The film is in its final stages of preparation, but Bye is not certain when it will be released. (Baltimore City Paper)
Tenet and Rumsfeld revealed to have ordered the secret detention of an Iraqi terrorism suspect, in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions
- June 17: CIA Director George Tenet asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to have an admitted terrorist imprisoned without reporting him to the International Red Cross. Assigning a prisoner number and notifying the Red Cross are required under the Geneva Conventions and other humanitarian laws. The detention was carried out by men under the command of Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of occupation forces in Iraq. Government officials contend it is legal to postpone notifying the Red Cross if revealing a prisoner's identity would compromise ongoing operations. But the prisoner, code-named "Triple X," has remained a so-called "ghost detainee" for eight months. The military calls the illegal detention a mistake, and says the prisoner will be reported to the Red Cross and officially processed "soon." Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman says, "The ICRC should have been notified about the detainee earlier. We should have taken steps, and we have taken the necessary steps to rectify the situation." The suspect is a lieutenant of Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, today the single most wanted man in Iraq because of his many attacks. According to intelligence officials, the prisoner was initially given the same treatment as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other high-level al-Qaeda operatives: transfer to a secret location in another country where he was interrogated by the CIA. But because he was an Iraqi citizen, he was returned to a military prison in Iraq. The CIA asked the military to take custody of the man in October and asked that he not be given a prisoner number or disclosed to the Red Cross while officials determined his status, Whitman acknowledges.
- Military officials questioned the arrangement but those objections did not reach the highest levels in the Pentagon until last month. "Certainly the people that had responsibility for maintaining him in custody knew that they had him, knew their instructions, knew that a disposition hadn't been determined for him and raised concern about it on a couple of occasions," Whitman says. The military claims that, although the prisoner may have important information about future terrorist attacks, he has never been interrogated since October. As of this writing, the Red Cross has still not been notified about the prisoner. The Red Cross and other humanitarian groups have criticized the United States for keeping some prisoners in secret. This is the first acknowledgement by the Pentagon of a specific prisoner who was improperly held in secret. Major General Antonio Taguba, in his report on the abuses at Abu Ghraib, called the detention of "ghost" prisoners "deceptive, contrary to army doctrine, and in violation of international law." The Bush administration contends that terrorist suspects are "enemy combatants" who do not have any protection under the Geneva Conventions. But it has pledged to treat detainees at Guantanamo Bay in the spirit of the conventions. Prisoners of war in Iraq are supposed to be covered by the conventions. Yet another investigation, this one by General Paul Kern, is scheduled to begin. Kern outranks Sanchez and every other officer in Iraq. Meanwhile, the US Senate has voted to make clear that the US will not use torture against detainees, a clear repudiation of Bush administration memos that contend the US is not necessarily bound by international anti-torture laws in its war against terrorism. "The world is watching us," says Democratic senator Richard Durbin, the legislation's sponsor. "They are asking whether the United States will stand behind its treaty obligations in the age of terrorism." The measure says the United States "shall not engage in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment...a standard that is embodied in the U.S. Constitution and in numerous international agreements which the United States has ratified." The legislation, an amendment to a defense spending bill, also would require the secretary of defense to issue guidelines to ensure troops comply with the standards and report to Congress on any suspected violations. There is no equivalent legislation in the House defense authorization bill and the two chambers would have to decide whether to include it in the final version. Memos from Justice Department and White House lawyers argue that a president can order torture or any other interrogation methods as part of his powers as commander in chief of the military. One, an August 2002 memo from then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, says torture "may be justified" in some interrogations of terrorist suspects. Bush refuses to answer direct questions on the subject, refusing either to support torture as an interrogation tactic or to condemn it. (AP/CBS)
- June 17: Flying in the face of the conclusions reached by the 9/11 commission, Bush reiterates his belief that Saddam Hussein had deep and intricate ties with al-Qaeda. "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda," Bush tells reporters. Bush said the contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda provided proof of a relationship, though those contacts have been proven to be with Kurds and Sunnis operating independently of Hussein's government in areas of Iraq uncontrolled by Hussein. The 9/11 report says that all relevant classified information that it reviewed showed that the contacts that took place between Iraq government officials and al-Qaeda officials never led to actual cooperation. In yesterday's hearing of the panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a senior FBI official and a senior CIA analyst concurred with the finding.
- The report disproves one of the Bush administration's main justifications for the war in Iraq. Along with the contention that Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials have often asserted that there were extensive ties between Hussein's government and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. Earlier this year, Cheney said evidence of a link was "overwhelming." Asked about the commission's findings on a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq, Bush says, This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. For example, Iraqi intelligence officers met with bin Laden, the head of al-Qaeda, in the Sudan. There's numerous contacts between the two." Bush fails to note that he and his official did indeed make such explicit connections between Iraq and 9/11, on numerous occasions (many of which are documented within this site). He also fails to mention that the alleged meeting between Hussein officials and al-Qaeda officials in the Sudan produced no agreements. Bush says he had called Saddam Hussein a threat "because he had used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. He was a threat because he was a sworn enemy to the United States of America, just like al-Qaeda. Now, he was a threat because he had terrorist connections, not only al-Qaeda connections but other connections to terrorist organizations."
- Commission chairman Thomas Kean, asked at a news conference about Bush's comments, says the panel did not dispute that there were contacts between Hussein's government and al-Qaeda. But Kean says the panel's staff found "that there is no credible evidence that we can discover, after a long investigation, that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were in any way part of the attack on the United States." Vice chairman Lee Hamilton adds, "I must say, I have trouble understanding the flap over this." The commission's position, he says, is that "we don't have any evidence of a cooperative...relationship between Saddam Hussein's government and these al-Qaeda operatives with regard to the attacks on the United States." The commission's staff report said that bin Laden "explored possible cooperation with Iraq" while in Sudan through 1996, but that "Iraq apparently never responded" to a bin Laden request for help in 1994. The commission cited reports of contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda after bin Laden went to Afghanistan in 1996, adding, "but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al-Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."
- As recently as June 14, Cheney said that Hussein "had long-established ties with al-Qaeda." Bush, asked on Tuesday to verify or qualify that claim, defended it by pointing to Abu Musab Zarqawi, who has taken credit for a wave of attacks in Iraq. In his remarks today, Bush again mentions Zarqawi, a Palestinian born in Jordan who runs the al Tawhid terrorist network. Bush said Hussein had "provided safe haven for a terrorist like Zarqawi, who is still killing innocents inside of Iraq." Bush also cites Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, whose Fatah Revolutionary Council was active in the 1970s and 1980s, as another example of Hussein's terrorist ties. Nidal died under mysterious circumstances in Baghdad a few months before the Iraq war. Presidential opponent John Kerry responds, "The administration misled America, and the administration reached too far," Kerry says. "I believe that the 9/11 report, the early evidence, is that they're going to indicate that we didn't have the kind of terrorists links that this administration was asserting. I think that's a very, very serious finding." Bush, speaking to troops in Tampa on June 16, did not mention an Iraq-al-Qaeda link, saying only that Iraq "sheltered terrorist groups." That was a significantly milder version of the allegations administration officials have made since shortly after the 9/11 attacks. In late 2001, Cheney said it was "pretty well confirmed" that 9/11 mastermind Mohamed Atta met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official before the attacks, in April 2000 in Prague; Cheney later said the meeting could not be proved or disproved. The tale of the meeting has long been debunked. Bush, in his speech aboard an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, asserted: "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al-Qaeda and cut off a source of terrorist funding." In September, Cheney said on NBC's Meet the Press: "If we're successful in Iraq...then we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11." Speaking about Iraq's alleged links to al-Qaeda and the attacks, Cheney connected Iraq to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by saying that newly found Iraqi intelligence files in Baghdad showed that a participant in the bombing returned to Iraq and "probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven." He added: "The Iraqi government or the Iraqi intelligence service had a relationship with al-Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s." Shortly after Cheney asserted these links, Bush contradicted him, saying: "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th." Bush then added: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaeda ties." In January, Cheney repeated his view that Iraq was tied to al-Qaeda, saying that "there's overwhelming evidence" of an Iraq-al-Qaeda connection. He said he was "very confident there was an established relationship there."
- The commission staff, in its report, said that while bin Laden was in Sudan between 1991 and 1996, a senior Iraqi intelligence officer made three visits to Sudan, and that he had a meeting with bin Laden in 1994. Bin Laden was reported to have sought training camps and assistance in getting weapons, "but Iraq never responded," the staff said. The report said that bin Laden "at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan." The staff report did not confirm any Iraqi collaboration with al Qaeda, but it did not specifically address two of the other pieces of evidence the administration has offered to link Iraq to al Qaeda: Zarqawi's al Tawhid organization and the Ansar al-Islam group. In October 2002, Bush described Zarqawi as "one very senior al-Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks." Zarqawi wrote a January 2003 letter to bin Laden's lieutenants, intercepted at the Iraqi border, saying that if al Qaeda adopted his approach in Iraq, he would swear "fealty to you [bin Laden] publicly and in the news media." In March, in a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Tenet described Zarqawi's network as among groups having "links" to al-Qaeda but with its own "autonomous leadership...own targets [and] they plan their own attacks." Although Zarqawi may have cooperated with al-Qaeda in the past, officials said it is increasingly clear that he has been operating independently of bin Laden's group and has his own network of operatives. The other group, Ansar al-Islam, began in 2001 among Kurdish Sunni Islamic fundamentalists in northern Iraq, fighting against the two secular Kurdish groups that operated under the protection of the United States. At one point, bin Laden supported Ansar, as did Zarqawi, who is believed to have visited their area more than once. Tenet referred to Ansar as one of the Sunni groups that had benefited from al-Qaeda links.
- The day after the commission report is released, Bush sends an e-mail that claims the "9-11 Commission Staff Report Confirms Administration's Views of al Qaeda/Iraq Ties." The commission, of course, repudiates the administration's views.
- The Web site One Thousand Reasons writes, "George Bush understands that most Americans don't have the time, energy, or interest necessary to keep up with current events. How else can we explain the paradox of his expanding claims of close connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and the 9-11 Commission's statement on the same day that there were none?" Reuters offers an explanation of Bush's apparent blindness to the commission's conclusions: he is "employing a common campaign tactic, shaping public perception through repetition." In fact, Bush is lying, and expects that the repetition of that lie will drown out the facts of the report. OTR writes, "He is repeating the same lie so many times -- along with Cheney and other members of his staff -- to sow confusion. Eventually, the theory goes, those of us who aren't paying attention will be as likely to believe Bush as the truth. ...If you're caught in a lie, you can apologize and vow to never do it again. Or you can deny the truth and repeat the lie over and over. This is the Bush-Cheney approach, and while it has been effective in the past, we suspect that this week's events will finally give reason for people to look more closely at what Bush is saying. This obvious contradiction between his unsupported claims and the findings of the 9-11 commission needs resolution. And unless Bush finds new evidence, the 9-11 Commission statements, which are clear and emphatic, will eventually overshadow the Bush lies. At least we hope." (Washington Post, Washington Post, One Thousand Reasons)
- June 17: 16 House Democrats send a letter to the Republican head of the Judiciary Committee, James Sensenbrenner, asking him to request from the administration all documentation relating to the White House decision on torture. The letter states that the administration has defined torture "so narrowly as to render it meaningless." (House Judiciary Committee)
- June 17: Republican campaign officials are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into Arizona in efforts to overturn the Clean Elections Law; the officials are tied to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and the Bush re-election campaign. The money is being spent promoting a state constitutional amendment, deceptively titled "No Taxpayer Money for Politicians," that would overturn the law. Evidence shows that the law is having its desired effect. In Arizona and Maine, where Clean Elections have been in effect for a couple of years, more candidates are running and competitiveness has increased. According to a study done by political scientists at the University of Wisconsin in May of this year: "There is no question that public funding programs have increased the pool of candidates willing and able to run for state legislative office. This effect is most pronounced for challengers, who are far more likely than incumbents to accept public funding. In Arizona, the likelihood that an incumbent will have a competitive race more than doubled from 22 percent of all races in 1998 to 45 percent in 2002." The report also notes, "Fears that clean money would be tantamount to an incumbent protection act are unfounded, as are, as near as we can tell, objections that money would be used by fringe candidates who would do nothing but feed at the public trough." The Wisconsin report also notes: "Arizona experienced a significant jump in the number of contested races in 2002, increasing from about 40 percent in 2000 to over 60 percent in 2002. Not only was this increase large, it also reversed the previous trend of uniformly fewer contested elections between 1994 and 2000." According to Public Campaign, the early results for the 2004 election cycle are also impressive. In Maine, which held primaries on June 8, 71 percent of the candidates ran "clean" -- up from 50 percent in 2002 and 31 percent in 2000. Both Republicans and Democrats are enthusiastic about the system, which enables lots of people who would never have been able to afford to run to take a shot at elective office. Columnist Molly Ivins asks, "so who could be opposed to this splendid success in re-sparking a dying democracy? Funny, every one of the donors seems to list 'employer' under 'occupation.' That would include insurance companies, realtors, developers, right-wing front groups, well-known right-wing donors including Bush 'Pioneers' ($100,000 plus) and conservative activists affiliated with the 'Club for Growth' and 'Institute for Justice.' One of the oldest sayings in politics is, 'You got to dance with them what brung you.' What Clean Elections does is fix the system so that when people get elected, they got no one to dance with -- no one they owe -- except us, the people. Of course, if you think millions of dollars in campaign contributions don't buy votes, only 'access,' then you have no stake in this fight. I'm sure you have just as much say in the system, and it is representing your interests just as well as it does General Dynamics and Halliburton." (Working for Change)
- June 17: Iraq expert Michael Schwartz and The Nation's Tom Engelhardt conclude that while the incoming Iraqi government lacks sovreignity on its own merits, and is hardly trusted by the Iraqi people, the US media and many US allies have worked overtime to grant the new government, widely seen as a US puppet regime, legitimacy. Schwartz and Engelhardt say the real story is the victory of the CIA over the White House neoconservatives in installing one of their own, Iyad Allawi, over the neocons' preference of Ahmad Chalabi. Engelhardt writes, "so instead of a neocon administration in Baghdad, we have a CIA one; or put another way, instead of conferring sovereignty on an accused con artist and notorious liar, who reputedly defrauded a Jordanian bank of millions and seems to have stolen reality itself from the Pentagon civilian leadership, the Bush administration conferred it on the head of a former terrorist organization, which committed car bombings in downtown Baghdad back in the days of Saddam Hussein." Schwartz observes, "In his new book Mission Improbable, sociologist Lee Clarke discusses what he calls 'symbolic plans' -- programs of action that, as he said recently in an interview in the Harvard Business Review, 'look good on paper but can be worse than useless when push comes to shove.' Such plans, however carefully written and however sincere their authors, can best be described as 'fantasy documents.' The current commitment to give the Iraqis 'full sovereignty' is, by Clarke's definition, a 'symbolic plan,' and the UN enabling resolution is a 'fantasy document' of the first order. For a government to have sovereignty, it needs three things: a monopoly on the legitimate means of coercion; the material capacity to sustain a country's social and economic infrastructure; and an administrative apparatus capable of overseeing and administering policy. By these measures, the US will retain sovereignty as long as the US maintains its military, monetary, and administrative domination of the country." Schwartz notes that the US retains complete military control over Iraq as well as control over its economy; by those lights, the US remains in control of Iraq -- except for the ever-growing insurgency -- with newly appointed US ambassador John Negroponte inherting control from CPA head Paul Bremer. (TomDispatch)
- June 17: In his new book Gag Rule, Lewis Lapham observes that no matter what the justification or the rationale, virtually every action performed by the Bush administration falls under one of these categories:
- the systematic transfer of the nation's wealth from the union of the poor to the confederacy of the rich, the intention made plain in the various tax bills that reduce or eliminate the burdens on unearned income;
- the easing of environmental regulations in the energy industries in New England, and the opening of the national forests in the Pacific Northwest and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to further expropriation by the oil, gas, mining, and timber industries;
- the persistent issuing of health insurance regulations intended to subvert and eventually overturn the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade, which recognized a woman's freedom to decide whether or not she will give birth to a child;
- the reinforcing of the monopolies held by the big media syndicates on the country's systems of communication;
- the equipping of banks and credit card agencies with the privilege to sell to the highest bidder any and all of the personal data acquired from their customers;
- a series of proposals meant to reduce the national health care costs by denying medical services to people too poor to pay for the upkeep of the insurance companies;
- the putting in place of 'tort reforms' that make it more difficult for state and federal courts to entertain class-action lawsuits on behalf of citizens harmed by corporate swindling or malfeasance;
- the broad expansion of the government's police powers under the USA Patriot and Homeland Security Acts, the Justice Department reserving to itself the right to decide who is and who is not an un-American, and
- the nomination to the federal appeals courts of judges apt to find legal precedents in the pages of the Bible rather than in the articles of the Constitution.
- June 17: Conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly tells his radio audience that the best solution for the problems in the Middle East is to "bomb the living daylights out of them," saying "no more hearts and minds, ain't going to work," and reminds his listeners that the Iraqis are "just people who are primitive." He has previously recommended "leveling" the city of Fallujah and the entire infrastructure of Afghanistan: "the US should bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble -- the airport, the power plants, their water facilities, and the roads" if the Afghani government did not turn over Osama bin Laden. O'Reilly is either unaware or does not care that the Geneva Conventions label the destruction of infrastructure essential to the survival of a citizen populace is a war crime, though he has said repeatedly that anyone who opposes such actions should be labeled an "enemy of the state." (Alternative Press Review)
- June 18: The Iraqi incoming government is considering imposing martial law after the latest car bombings in Baghdad. (Financial Times/Prison Planet)
- June 18: Otto Reich resigns his post as the Bush administration's special envoy to Latin America at the beginning of the week "for personal and financial reasons." Reich is a virulent conservative who spearheaded the Bush administration's efforts to destabilize the Chavez government of Venezuela. He is a Cuban exile and outspoken opponent of Cuba's Fidel Castro. In 2001, Reich was nominated by Bush to become assistant secretary of state for hemispheric affairs. A full floor Senate vote was blocked by Democratic senator Christopher Dodd, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. Dodd opposed Reich's nomination due to Reich's involvement in the Reagan administration's efforts to oust the Nicaraguan Sandinista government and in Iran-Contra. When the Democrats took control of the Senate, Dodd became the subcommittee chairman and refused to hold a vote on the nomination. Failing full Senate confirmation, Bush gave Reich a temporary "recess appointment" to the State Department post. When that yearlong term expired, Bush moved Reich to the White House and made him his special envoy to Latin America, a position that does not require Senate approval. (NewsMax/Havana Journal)
- June 18: Vice President Cheney continues to insist, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that there is "overwhelming" evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, and says that media reports suggesting that the 9/11 commission has reached a contradictory conclusion are "irresponsible." In an interview, Cheney insists, "There clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming. It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts with Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials. The press, with all due respect, [is] often times lazy, often times simply reports what somebody else in the press said without doing their homework." The 9/11 commission concluded that there was "no credible evidence" of any involvement in the 9/11 attacks by Iraq, and that there is "no collaborative relationship" between Iraq and Osama bin Laden, the network's leader. Cheney continues to use examples that have long been discredited, including the tale of an Iraqi intelligence official meeting with al-Qaeda leaders in Sudan; Cheney does not mention that the meeting, though it did take place, resulted in no agreements between al-Qaeda and the Iraq government. Both Cheney and Bush are strongly disputing suggestions that the commission's conclusion that there were no Iraqi fingerprints on the 9/11 attacks contradicts statements they made in the run-up to the Iraq war about links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Bush, who has said himself that there is no evidence Iraq was involved in 9/11, has tried to explain the distinction, saying that while the administration never "said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated" with Iraqi help, "we did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda." Bush fails to mention that he and numerous other administration officials made one assertion after another of direct connections between the two before the Iraq invasion. Cheney insists that it is still unclear whether Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. "What the commission says is they can't find evidence of that," he says. "We had one report, which is a famous report on the Czech intelligence service, and we've never been able to confirm or to knock it down." That Czech report has long been discredited, even by Czech intelligence itself. Asked if he knows information that the 9/11 commission does not know, Cheney replies, "Probably." Remember that Cheney testified to the 9/11 commission; he refused to testify under oath, and no public record of his testimony has ever been made available. (CNN)
- June 18: Michael Mobbs, the special advisor to undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith who steered lucrative no-bid Iraq reconstruction contracts to Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton and its daughter company KBR, testifies before a House Oversight Committee subcommittee. Mobbs testifies about what Cheney's staff knew, and how it was involved in, the process of awarding those contracts to Halliburton/KBR. The overarching question is whether Cheney steered $7 billion in "Restore Iraq Oil" (RIO) contracts to Halliburton. (See the February 26, 2003 related item for more information.) However, Republican committee leaders never allow that question to be directly addressed. If those Republicans took their oversight responsibilities seriously, Mobbs's testimony would have resulted in further testimony before the entire committee, and possibly a serious investigation of Cheney and Halliburton. Authors Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein write, "In a republic with a healthy system of public ethics, a no-bid government contract awarded to a company that was mailing deferred compensation checks to the vice president would itself be a full-blown ethics scandal. This is no longer that republic."
- KBR is the biggest single recipient of government funding for military logistics and reconstruction, and the Army's #1 contractor. Cheney had put the no-bid process into place when he was the elder Bush's Secretary of Defense. Democrats on the Oversight Committee, led by Henry Waxman, want to know if anyone on Cheney's staff had been involved in awarding the contracts. Cheney consider's Waxman's legal and proper inquiries to be nothing more than an intrusion into the power of the executive branch to do as it pleases.
- In September 2003, Cheney had denied having any involvement in landing defense contracts for Halliburton during his time as CEO of that company. He told NBC's Tim Russert that, once he became vice president, he "severed all [his] ties with the company, gotten rid of all [his] financial interests." He denied having any financial connections whatsoever with Halliburton "and haven't now for over three years." Of course, Cheney told Russert a pack of lies, lies that Russert did not challenge.
- Defense officials stay on message for Cheney, repeatedly and falsely telling Waxman the same thing -- that Cheney had nothing to do with the contracts. Then a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative watchdog organization Judicial Watch upsets the applecart. Judicial Watch, after battling DOD in a lawsuit, obtains e-mails and documents that contradict the lies of Cheney and the Defense Department. In one e-mail, DOD contract officer Stephen Browning wrote that Halliburton contracts were "coordinated through the Vice President's office."
- Mobbs testifies behind closed doors and not under oath. But as lying to Congress is a federal offense regardless of whether you swear to tell the truth or not, committee members expect the truth from Mobbs. What they hear is astonishing. "We didn't know anything about Michael Mobbs at the time," one staffer recalls. "Someone even asked if he was the same guy who wrote the Mobbs Declaration that was filed in the Hamdi case, saying Hamdi was a high-profile prisoner and had to be detained. We just knew he was a DOD employee coming up to address the issue of the Browning e-mail." Mobbs, an experienced international trade lawyer, indeed authored the "Mobbs Declaration," and had appeared in court to argue that American citizen Yaser Esam Hamdi should be stripped of all of his constitutional rights and remain in indefinite detention at Guantanamo. Mobbs is a high-level political employee with extensive contacts in both the Defense Department and in private business.
- "We asked Mobbs who, outside the Pentagon, he had spoken to regarding the KBR contracts," says the staff member. "He said he met with the deputies.... He began to name one deputy after another [including Cheney's deputy national security director Stephen Hadley, who chaired the deputies' meeting]. Then we asked him, what about Cheney's office? And he said, yeah, Scooter Libby. ...I don't expect anyone expected to hear that." Libby, until his indictment for lying about the Valerie Plame Wilson outing and his resignation thereafter, was Cheney's chief of staff and one of Cheney's closest political confidantes. They rode to work together, they met several times a day, their families dined together. What Libby knew, Cheney knew. Cheney had lied repeatedly, to Tim Russert and other journalists, about his Halliburton connections. Cheney received almost $180,000 in "deferred compensation" payments from Halliburton through 2003, and owned over $3 million in Halliburton stock through 2005. When he told Russert, "I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now for over three years," he lied.
- Naturally, the White House doesn't want the public to learn either of Cheney's hefty financial ties to Halliburton nor of Cheney's involvement in steering $7 billion in federal contracts to his former company. After Mobbs's testimony, which garners no public attention, the White House and the Pentagon go into full stonewall mode. All information about the contracts from the Army Corps of Engineers, which awarded the contracts, is filtered. Documents are tightly guarded, and members of Congress are denied access to information about the contracts. The White House denies any involvement whatsoever. (Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein)
- June 18: In an upcoming interview with CBS's 60 Minutes, former president Bill Clinton gives a succinct explanation of why he chose to have an affair with intern Monica Lewinsky: "Because I could." Clinton, who recently published his biography entitled My Life, explains: "I think I did something for the worst possible reason -- just because I could. I think that's the most, just about the most morally indefensible reason that anybody could have for doing anything. When you do something just because you could...I've thought about it a lot. And there are lots of more sophisticated explanations, more complicated psychological explanations. But none of them are an excuse.... Only a fool does not look to explain his mistakes." He says it took time and counseling to repair the damage he did to his family, and that it took time for his wife Hillary, now a Democratic senator from New York, to decide to stay with their marriage. He also addresses the impeachment charges he beat, saying he is proud to have fought the charges brought by the Republicans in Congress: "I didn't quit. I never thought of resigning and I stood up to it and beat it back," he tells interviewer Dan Rather. "The whole battle was a badge of honor. I don't see it as a stain, because it was illegitimate." He calls the impeachment "an abuse of power." Clinton says he is most proud of his economic achievements, saying "I kept score, how many people's lives were better off. I think the fact that we were able to have 22 million jobs and record home ownership and lower interest rates...people actually had the ability to do more things than ever before." He is also proud of helping rid Kosovo of dictator Slobodan Misosevic: "The day that Kosovar war ended and I knew Milosevic's days were numbered was a great day. I had a lot of great days." He regrets failing to convince Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to accept a proposal he thought could finally bring peace between Palestine and Israel. (CBS)
- June 18: Joe Conason, co-author of the book The Hunting of the President, which details the Republican attack machine's efforts to unseat and impeach Bill Clinton, says the same machine is now gearing up against John Kerry, and is using many of the same tactics used against Clinton. Conason was recently told by an older gentleman after a speech by Conason, "I'm a Vietnam veteran. I served with John Kerry. I'm supporting him for president, I've campaigned for him -- and I want to tell you, they're trying to do the same thing to him that they did to Bill Clinton." He explained that in recent weeks, a private investigator has contacted many of the vets who served on the Navy's swift boats with Kerry. According to him, the investigator asks insinuating and sometimes outlandish questions about the former lieutenant's wounds, decorations and military operations. Exactly who hired the Kerry-bashing detective is not yet clear, but his queries echo accusations promoted by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a Republican-backed band of Kerry-bashing veterans. Conason writes, "[T]he tactics and attitudes that marred American politics during that scoundrel decade already have returned, with a vengeance." (Salon)
- June 18: Halliburton oil executive Jack Stanley has been fired by the corporation for accepting bribes as part of a multi-billion dollar natural gas project in Nigeria. Stanley resigned last year as chairman of KBR, the subsidiary group of Halliburton, but has continued as a consultant to Halliburton until now. Halliburton fired Stanley, along with another unidentified consultant, weeks after the Wall Street Journal reported that French investigators had found $5 million of suspected bribery money in a Swiss bank account bearing the former chairman's name. Stanley presided over KBR when it was chosen to help build, and later expand, a Nigerian LNG project that ranks as one of the largest in the world. French authorities, now aided by investigators in the US and other countries, are questioning whether a venture partially owned by KBR paid up to $180 million in bribes -- a portion of it kicked back to Stanley -- in order to land the megadeal. (The Street/Truthout)
- June 18: The editors of the political magazine The New Republic repudiate their earlier support for the war in Iraq in an unusual self-examinatory article titled "Were We Wrong?" While defending its original rationale for supporting the invasion, the editors now recognize that, like so many others, they bought into a prettily packaged set of lies and misinformation from the government regarding the supposed WMDs and WMD programs in Iraq: "In retrospect, we should have paid more attention to these warning signs [that the administration's tales were false]. But, at the time, there seemed good reason not to. ...We feel regret--but no shame." The magazine also cites the failure to continue the focus on hunting terrorists in Afghanistan in favor of securing Iraq. Ultimately, the editors say that, although the strategic rationale for an invasion was entirely a fabrication, the moral rationale -- overthrowing an evil dictator -- still stands. "[I]t remained among the ghastliest regimes of our time, a moral cancer at the center of a region whose pathologies were threatening the world." the editors write. Unfortunately, the efforts to secure Iraq for the growth of a new democracy have not borne fruit. They write, "...[I]n our inability to provide democracy's fundamental prerequisite -- security -- we have undermined ourselves. As a result, this war's moral costs have been higher than we foresaw. The deaths of any Americans, and any innocent Iraqis, would have been painful. But, because Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush refused to listen to their generals and send enough troops, hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis have died needlessly. Because Rumsfeld, Bush, and Attorney General John Ashcroft winked at torture, it will take years for America to regain the moral credibility it needs to effectively champion human rights. And, just as incompetence in Somalia led to inaction in Rwanda, the Iraq war could -- in a terrible irony -- turn Americans against intervention the next time innocents are slaughtered.
- In an interesting rejoinder from the more leftist Intervention Magazine that, between the two articles, mirrors the debate on the war between centrists and progressives, contributor Gerald Rellick answers TNR's titular question with a titular answer: "Dead Wrong." Rellick is merciless: "It's painful reading through TNR's pathetic self-defense. It is, to borrow Jonathan Schell's words, 'cognitive torture.' It reeks of intellectual dishonesty and denial. It sounds like the 'but-if-only' defense of the alcoholic.... So it is with the editors at TNR, addicted to their cleverness, their self-importance. They would have had their war, just the way they spelled it out for their readers so cleanly, so crisply, so logically, if only... if only reality hadn't intruded on their chessboard world. And like Dick Cheney defiantly ranting about Saddam's connection to al-Qaeda, in the end they can't own up to their failures. If there is anything good that comes out of the Bush presidency, it will be that many at center stage in American policy and political life, most certainly the media, will come to realize how easy it is to be drawn in by a combination of fear, power, and nationalistic fervor." (New Republic, Intervention Magazine)