War with IranThe Iranians, who had only had one official communication with the US government since Iranian radicals seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, are coming to the Americans almost as supplicants, begging for talks. Dazed and frightened by the speed in which the American military had swept through Afghanistan and Iraq, and with relative moderates in power, Iran now want to open talks with the US about de-escalating tensions between the two countries. The Iranians approach the Americans through the auspices of Swiss ambassador Tim Guildemann, and offer sweeping concessions on their nuclear policy, on its policy towards Israel and Iran's support of the anti-Israeli organization Hezbollah, and to swap al-Qaeda prisoners -- including al-Qaeda's chief of operations, Saif al-Adel, and Osama bin Laden's own son, Saad bin Laden -- for homegrown Iranian terrorists of the Mujahedeen e Khalq (MEK) in American custody. MEK is an Iranian exile group that has operated, with Saddam Hussein's blessing, in Iraq since 1986. After the fall of Baghdad, the US had disarmed MEK's thousands of fighters and taken custody of the group's heavy military equipment, including 2000 tanks, artiller pieces, armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles provided by Hussein. MEK is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, and is known to have killed several Americans in Iraq, including CIA officers based there during the Shah's regime. In other words, one of the three nations Bush had designated a member of the "axis of evil" now wants to come in out of the cold, and help stabilize the region, reduce tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, and provide the US with key sources of information about al-Qaeda terrorism. It would have been a triumph for the US in the region, and, if the negotiations could have been completed, would have led to a major easing of tensions in the entire Middle East. For many US officials, including Bush, it sounds like a good deal. Bush gives his preliminary approval for the exchange.
US intelligencePentagon falsified or exaggerated evidence of Iraq weapons of mass destruction for its own ends before the invasion. Various spokesmen, including Rumsfeld, have backtracked on previous claims, and asserted that Iraq may have destroyed all of their weapons of mass destruction before American forces arrived. (CCR)
Attack on civil libertieslocal law enforcement agencies to keep an eye on anyone who "expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the US government." The San Francisco Chronicle notes: "If police vigorously followed this advice, millions of Americans could be added to the official lists of suspected terrorists." The advisory is sent to law enforcement agencies and is not meant to be public knowledge, though many corporations are given the same information. (San Francisco Chronicle, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Penn State CentreDaily)
Prewar intelligence on Iraqfabricate evidence of Iraqi WMDs, is named the head of Iraq's nuclear industry by the Pentagon. In 1995, Hamza's evidence of nuclear weapons programs in Iraq was thoroughly discredited by the IAEA and the UN, and he was found to have grossly inflated his own experience and background. In February 2003, Hamza and a disproportionate number of defense contractor SAIC employees are named to the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council. (Baltimore Independent Media Center)
Bush's foreign policiesSpecial Plans in the Pentagon, is stripped of his security clearance after the FBI link him to a Lebanese-American businessman under investigation by the FBI for weapons trafficking. A handgun registered to Maloof had been found in the possession of his friend Imad al-Hage, who is suspected of dealing arms. Investigators begin to seek to learn whether Maloof's alleged contacts with Hage and a hard-line former Lebanese general, Michel Aoun, may have been part of a back-channel effort to destabilize Syria, which has occupied Lebanon for nearly two decades. (Boston Globe/Veterans for Peace/Daily Kos)
Attack on civil libertiesFBI agents are conducting illegal surveillance of students and faculty at the University of Massachusetts. New Mexico teachers and guidance counselors have been suspended for displaying student work taking a stand against the Iraq invasion. In Alberquerque, a guidance counselor was suspended for posting a speech by Senator Robert Byrd in his office. A teacher at the same school was suspended for refusing to take down students' posters the principal didn't think were "sufficiently pro-war." And there's more repression coming down the pike.
Oil profiteering and the "oiligarchy"Oil and Fluor, takes the position of "shadow minister" of Iraq's oil ministry, largely to ensure that Paul Bremer and his fellow neoconservatives do not go through with their plan to privatize and sell off Iraq's oil industry piecemeal. Further information on Carroll's tenure in Iraq, and the foiled plans to break up and sell off Iraq's oil industry, can be found in the long writeup of March 19, 2003, following the entry about the invasion of Iraq. (Greg Palast)
Iraq-Niger scandaldisproved the administration's allegations that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger for nuclear weapons, and has tried repeatedly within channels to get the administration to admit that the allegations were wrong, mentions his mission and his findings during a talk about Iraq at a political conference in suburban Washington sponsored by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof receives Wilson's permission to write about Wilson's Niger trip in a column. Months later, on July 6, Wilson himself will write a scathing op-ed about his trip, his conclusions, and the administration's refusal to accept the reality of the situation, in the Times. "I gave them months to correct the record," says Wilson of the White House, "but they kept on lying." (Seymour Hersh)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOP(The jet, temporarily named "Navy 1" and with the phrase "George W. Bush Commander in Chief" stenciled below the cockpit, dramatically buzzes the carrier twice before making an exciting high-speed landing; camera angles are carefully planned so that live audiences can see the jet's new monikers as the pilot and Bush exit the plane. Bush later tells a sycophantic Fox News interviewer that he actually flew the jet that took him to the Lincoln: "Yes, I flew it. Yeah, of course I liked it." Bush's statement is a lie; for one, he is accompanied in the very cramped four-seater plane by another pilot and a Secret Service agent, and it's reasonable to assume that the second pilot occupied the co-pilot's seat; for another, it would be completely illegal for the pilot to turn over control of the plane to Bush just as it would be to allow any other civilian, regardless of previous flight training, to pilot the craft. Reporter Bob Woodward later confirms that Bush rode in the co-pilot's seat and never actually controlled the plane.) Author Mark Crispin Miller calls the entire exercise "a moment of Neronian self-indulgence." Referencing Clinton's infamous airport haircut of 1993, Miller writes, "Clinton would have had to put a hot tub on Air Force One and frolicked in it for a week at LAX to outdo Bush's inconsiderate stunt."
Iraq war and occupationDeclares Combat Operations Have Ended in Iraq." On August 19, the Cursor will notice that the site has been altered. Now the headline reads, "President Bush Declares Major Combat Operations Have Ended in Iraq." This is part of the administration's attempt to back off on Bush's original declaration that the war is "over." (The Memory Hole)
Conservative media slantThe Washington Times's Susan Fields writes, "The president has to meet a testosterone standard that appeals to women but does not offend men. ...George W. Bush succeeds with both and that drives Democrats crazy. They've made fools of themselves with their churlish criticism of his landing on the deck of the USS Lincoln, but they can't let it go. George W. was a hottie in his flight suit. He was the victorious commander, and most of all he looked at home with himself. He glowed with the pride born of authenticity, declaring the war over and thanking all those appreciative sailors on the decks of the Lincoln." The Wall Street Journal's Lisa Schiffren writes, "I turned on the news. And there was the president, landing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, stepping out of a fighter jet in that amazing uniform, looking -- how to put it? -- really hot. Also presidential, of course. Not to mention credible as commander in chief. But mostly 'hot,' as in virile, sexy and powerful." Schiffren goes on to praise Bush for using "overwhelming military force to vanquish a truly evil foe," and for "facing down balking former 'allies,'" and finds it hard to believe that "he is not taken seriously as a foreign-policy president." CNN's Kyra Phillips and Miles O'Brien go virtually gaga over Bush's stunt, giving their audience the following exchange: "He looks like a fighter pilot!" "Yes. He's got the look, doesn't he? Yeah! That's --" "He sure does! Look at the stroll!" "I'm telling you, that's the fighter pilot strut if I ever saw it. He's got it going!" "Tom Cruise! [a reference to the movie Top Gun] Look at him!"
"At the age of four with paper hats and wooden swords, we're all generals. Only some of us never grow out of it." -- Peter Ustinov
Iraq war and occupation"As I watched the president's fighter jet swoop down onto the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, I could not help but contrast the simple dignity of President Lincoln at Gettysburg with the flamboyant showmanship of President Bush.... To me, it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the president to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech. I do not begrudge his salute to America's warriors aboard the carrier Lincoln...but I do question the motives of a deskbound president who assumes the garb of a warrior for a speech." (Ian Williams)
Iraq war and occupation"Two wars took place in Iraq. ...In the real war, there were devastated communities, overcrowded and underequipped hospitals, dead and dying victims of US bomb attacks. Anguished families dealt with personal losses. It was gruesome and heart-wrenching. Pain and suffering starred in this war. Then there was the fake war -- the one Americans saw on TV. In this war, there were almost no victims. The United States overran a whole country, destroyed a foreign army, engaged in street-to-street combat and intense aerial bombing, rescued a brave young woman from enemy hands -- and barely saw a victim. The American flag starred in this war." She cites a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism that examined 40.5 hours of war coverage and 108 reports from embedded reporters by the mainstream television media -- ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox -- and not one time was a wounded soldier or civilian shown. This despite the fact that about half of the embedded reporters were with combat units. Goodman notes that it took very little coverage of wounded soldiers and civilians in Vietnam to galvanize public outrage against the war; analysis of the coverage from Vietnam shows that only a little over 3% of the televised footage of that war showed actual violence.
Conservative media slantBush's team will now begin to distance themselves from the event, going so far as to blame the crew of the aircraft carrier for the idea behind the "Mission Accomplished" banner: Bush says, "They asked us to do the production of the banner and we did. They're the ones who put it up." General Wesley Clark quips in response to Bush's backpedal, "I guess the next thing we are going to hear is that the sailors told him to wear a flight suit and prance around on the aircraft carrier." (New York Times/The Boston Channel/Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
"[The Bush administration] believed we would find an oil-rich, functioning country, that we'd be met by cheering crowds, that all we had to do was sweep out the top Baathist layers, implant our favorite exiles and watch democracy take root as the bulk of the troops returned home by Christmas." -- Senator Joseph Biden, September 2003
Iraq war and occupationAfghanistan. However, Rumsfeld's announcement is premature, as heavy military operations continue in that country through at least the spring of 2007. (Wikipedia)
Iraq war and occupationBut then he begins preparing for a new shift, saying, "But what we're going -- the world will find is, the man had a program to develop weapons of mass destruction." The line is now programs for the development of WMDs, not WMDs themselves. (White House, Democratic Underground, Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
"Now that the combat phase of the war in Iraq is officially over, what begins is a debate throughout the entire US government over America's unrivaled power and how best to use it." -- CBS reporter Joie Chen on May 4, quoted by Dave Zweifel
HalliburtonThis is part of a $7 billion &umbrella& contract Halliburton has with the Department of Defense for affairs in Iraq, by far the single largest contract awarded to a corporate entity involved in the rebuilding program. (Online Journal)
Iraq war and occupation"I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We're just getting it just now." Contrast this to the dozens of statements before the war that flatly asserted the evidence was already in hand. Additionally, Rumsfeld says, "We never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country." The New York Times reports that Bush's "senior aides, in interviews in recent days, had begun to back away from their prewar claims that Mr. Hussein had an arsenal that was loaded and ready to fire. They now contend that he developed what they call a 'just in time' production strategy for his weapons, hiding chemical precursors that could be quickly loaded into empty artillery shells or short-range missiles. But no evidence has been found that he did so, and Mr. Bush's comments [that it will take time to find the WMDs] reflected a growing concern in the administration that opponents of the war would claim that the United States exaggerated the evidence against Iraq in order to justify an attack that was intended to depose Mr. Hussein." Some Bush officials are saying privately that WMDs may never be found. After a relatively strong grilling by a reporter during a press conference on May 7, press secretary Ari Fleischer is forced to admit on the issue of WMDs, "Well, we don't have anything concrete to report on that." (State Department, Defense Department, David Corn)
Bush foreign policy"Get your nuclear weapons quickly, before the Americans do to you what they've done to Iraq, because North Korea shows once you get the weapons, you're immune." (New York Times Magazine/Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Iraq war and occupation"Ten-year old Saad Sammir offers a tour of his little cemetery on the grounds of the Al-Aksari hospital. 'Here is a small mound of dirt: this is for a baby I buried. He was very little. Here is the biggest mound of dirt, a momma and her baby died together. She was holding him very tight, and we could not pry them apart, so we put them in the same hole.' Saad is here because many schools are still closed in the wake of the war. He guesses that he has helped dig 100 graves. The cemetery is temporary. There are only 150 graves, only 64 of them are still occupied. The graves are no more than two feet deep, and some are simply at ground level, with dirt from a nearby hole piled on top. Hands stick out the sides of some, and feet out of others. Saad smiles. He is paid 1,000 dinars for each body that he buries or reburies. For the first few weeks, that means as much as 1,000 dinars a day, or about $2 at the old rate." (Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson)
Global warming and the environmentSecretary of the Interior Gale Norton declares that her department has no interest in setting aside any wilderness lands in the future. (New York Times/Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Military-industrial complexIt is organized by William Loiry, head of Equity International. Attendees include corporate leaders, aid officials, foreign diplomats, and representatives of 21 federal agencies including US Aid, the Department of Defense, and the State Department. Republican Representative Christopher Shays and Under-Secretary of State Lincoln Blommfield are among the speakers. Blommfield claims that this conference "couldn't have come at a better time." The most frequent question is how can private companies sign contracts with governmental agencies and with companies already in Iraq, including Halliburton, KBR, and Bechtel. (Truthout)
Bush's foreign policiesLed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, the Cabal has succeeded in changing the direction of American intelligence gathering. American intelligence was critical in convincing American citizens of the necessity of invading Iraq, even though the "facts" presented to bolster this necessity have largely turned out to be false and in many cases manufactured. The Cabal works primarily out of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, headed up by Abram Shulsky, a scholar whose mentor is right-wing iconoclast Leo Strauss. Shulsky has thirty years of experience and connections with previous Republican administrations. The OSP itself is directed by retired naval captain William Luti, whose official post is Undersecretary of Defense. Luti has always been a powerful advocate of military action against Iraq, and, as the Administration moved toward war and policymaking power shifted toward the civilians in the Pentagon, he took on increasingly important responsibilities. Patrick Lang, the former chief of Middle East intelligence at the DIA, says, "The Pentagon has banded together to dominate the government's foreign policy, and they've pulled it off. They're running [Iraqi exile Ahmad] Chalabi. The DIA has been intimidated and beaten to a pulp. And there's no guts at all in the CIA." An aide to Luti says, "The intelligence community is still looking for a mission like they had in the Cold War, when they spoon-fed the policymakers." A Pentagon adviser who has worked with Special Plans dismisses any criticism of the operation as little more than bureaucratic whining: "shulsky and Luti won the policy debate," the adviser says. "They beat 'em -- they cleaned up against State and the CIA. There's no mystery why they won -- because they were more effective in making their argument. Luti is smarter than the opposition. Wolfowitz is smarter. They out-argued them. It was a fair fight. They persuaded the President of the need to make a new security policy. Those who lose are so good at trying to undercut those who won."
Iraq war and occupationMany Iraqis are resentful and angry at the decision. Bush also formally announces the selection of Paul Bremer as the "presidential envoy" to Iraq, essentially the US viceroy of the country until the US allows the country to determine its own government. Bremer later writes that Bush makes it clear to both Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell that Bremer is directly subordinate to Bush himself, not either of the secretaries, but three days later, Bush appoints Bremer as his envoy to Iraq "reporting through the Secretary of Defense." Bremer is in charge of everyone except Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks.
Iraq war and occupationprogram of Saddam Hussein -- because he had a weapons program." (White House)
Iraq war and occupationReporter Bob Woodward writes, "Hughes was very excited, believing he had stumbled on an opportunity to get the former Iraqi army on the coalition's side and help them retain some honor. It was what General Grant had done in the Civil War after Lee's surrender at Appomatox, he thought. For $20 a head -- less than $3 million for all 137,000 soldiers on the list -- they could offer parole to part of the Iraqi military, and get them invested in the post-Saddam society." Hughes never gets the money; instead, new administrator Paul Bremer will soon order the disbanding of the Iraqi army, a disastrous move. (Bob Woodward)
Iraq war and occupation"There are indications that the US government souped up intelligence, leaned on spooks to change their conclusions and concealed contrary information to deceive people at home and around the world." Kristof goes into some detail about the bogus charges surrounding Iraq's supposed attempts to buy uranium from Niger, writing in part, "I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former US ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the CIA and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged. ...The envoy's debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted -- except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway."