Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like A Coverup, All Through The White House

Each time an allegation of improper conduct by the Bush administration comes to light, I find myself wondering if it will be the one that brings the Bush presidency crashing to the ground. As the story of the destruction of CIA tapes depicting the interrogation of al Qaeda suspects comes into focus, it seems like things may have reached critical mass. The truth is, they should have happened a long time ago.

For those of you keeping score at home, here's a brief recount of the improprieties involving this latest scandal.

1) The interrogations were conducted in secret prisons abroad. This avoided a law that prohibits this kind of treatment of prisoners on U.S. soil.

2) The tapes are reported to depict interrogation techniques that are widely viewed as torture and which violate the Geneva Conventions, specifically Article 3 which prohibits, "Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;" The administration contends that waterboarding does not amount to cruel treatment.

3) In June 2005, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy ordered the administration to safeguard "all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay."

4) The administration failed to comply on the grounds that the tapes were not made at Guantanamo Bay. However, the existence of CIA secret prisons was not widely known until November of 2005.

Every step of the way, the administration has attempted to justify its egregious behaviour by way of technicality and to date it's gotten away with it. This time, however, things may be different.

As news of the tapes' destruction broke, the administration assumed a defensive position. First Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused to cooperate with Congressional requests for information. Then, the administration warned off both Judge Kennedy and congressional investigators on the grounds that their inquiries would interfere with a joint Justice Department/CIA investigation. Both have decided to continue their investigations.

And, now for your consideration, the tipping point . . .

The New York Times reported today that four senior Bush lawyers including Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers participated in discussions between 2003 and 2005 on the destruction of the tapes. The White House had previously denied such extensive conversations.

Sing along kids: "It's beginning to look a lot like a cover-up, all through the White House!"

And if history is any teacher, the public will not stand for a cover-up or even the hint of one. It took down Richard Nixon, it hurt the Reagan Administration and it paralyzed Bill Clinton's presidency. It may well take down George W. Bush, and it's about damn time.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mitt Romney, The Latest Republican Model In A Long Line Of Lemons

I have no doubt that presidential candidate Mitt Romney considers himself to be a man of faith. Today he made his pitch to the American people as to whether his being a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) should be something on which he is evaluated as a presidential candidate. The truth be told, he made his pitch to conservative Christians who for so long have had a strangle hold on the Republian party. It's sad that we live in a time where he feels that he has to. But it isn't religion that is the problem with Mitt Romney as a candidate, it's the man himself.

There's a big difference between being a Mormon and being a moron. Unfortunately, Romney doesn't seem to know it.

Without a doubt, Mr. Romney looks Presidential. He's tall, good looking and has impeccible hair. When on message, his voice sounds commanding. But that's where it stops. When asked a direct question his answers are too often vague, evasive or just plain wrong.

When directly asked in the recent YouTube debate if he supported homosexuals openly serving in the military, he dodged the question saying, "this isn't that time." When asked by another questioner if waterboarding meets his definition of torture, he said, "I don't think it's wise for us to describe specifically which measures we would and would not use." When asked by a questioner holding a Bible, "Do you believe every word of this book?," he danced again saying, "I believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely. And I try to live by it as well as I can, but I miss in a lot of ways. But it's a guide for my life and for hundreds of millions, billions of people around the world. I believe in the Bible." When pressed by moderator Anderson Cooper, Romney said, "You know -- yeah, I believe it's the word of God. The Bible is the word of God. I mean, I might interpret the word differently than you interpret the word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the word of God. I don't disagree with the Bible. I try to live by it."

Three direct questions. Three direct dodges

It supports the criticisms that Mr. Romney has no true moral center, but rather that his beliefs are fluidly forged by whatever he perceives as the politically expedient position.

But there are some things about Romney that are not so murky. For example, his feeling on habeous corpus. When debating torture during the debate he tipped his hand a little, saying, "I don't want the people that are carrying out attacks in this country to be brought into our jail system and to be given legal representation in this country."

In his speech this morning, he demonstrated a profound lack of understanding of our founding principles. Said Romney, “The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation ‘Under God’ and in God, we do indeed trust." Well not exactly. Mr. Romney implies that the ideas of "One nation under God" and the slogan that adorns our coinage, "In God We Trust" have direct lineage to the founders. It's what the Christian right wants to hear, but it's patently false. "One Nation Under God" was adopted as a national slogan in 1954 and "In God We Trust" didn't appear on a coin until 1864.

As George Bush has demonstrated, a person who is vague with the facts can be a dangerous person indeed!

And maybe that's what Mr. Romney is, a better looking model of George Bush. And George Bush was a better looking model of Dan Quayle. When you look under any of these hoods all that's there is an empty hampster wheel.

You've been warned, America.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wrong Again, Naturally

Where weapons are concerned, it seems that George Bush just can't get anything right. After leading us to war in Iraq based on bad or manufactured intelligence, it now seems that all of his assertions about Iran's nuclear capabilities are also incorrect. In light of the most recent national intelligence estimate, which represents the consensus of all intelligence agencies, one might think that it's time to ratchet down the rhetoric. Maybe have a cooling off period, find a time to talk and dare I say, perhaps even find some common ground.

To quote Steve Martin's Saturday Night Live character, Theodoric of York . . . "NAAAAAHHH!"

Said the President, "Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon." In other words, in spite of the current evidence, not only does the President believe that Iran continues to develop a program but he continues to entertain the possibility of pre-emptive military action.

No weapons? No problem!

If there's one thing that can be said about George Bush, it's that he's consistent. It's a hallmark of his administration. If politics were a sport, his consistency might put him in a hall of fame. Statues and monuments might be built and commemorative coins issued in his honour.

But there will be no hoopla or fanfare for Mr. Bush. Because unfortunately, where consistency is concerned, Mr. Bush is consistently wrong.