Posts Tagged George W. Bush

One Million + Dead & Displaced in Iraq for This?

I can’t tell you anymore than this: The Bush regime’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, based on lies, was illegitimate, unjust, and immoral from the start.  Barack Obama’s announcement yesterday that the “war is over” is wrong on so many levels.  For those on the ground, the millions in Iraq, and the one million US military sent there, it won’t end.

The wealthiest country and military in the world leaves behind billions of dollars worth of trashed equipment, and civil and physical society in shambles.

A young soldier, Bradley Manning, formerly stationed in Iraq, will begin a court martial Friday at Ft. Meade, because the U.S. military claims he released classified information about the war to Wikileaks.

But today, the New York Times reports that 400 pages of classified documents on the interrogation of U.S. Marines about the notorious massacre of civilians in Haditha, in 2006 were

discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

Aftermath of U.S. Marine killing of civilians, Haditha, Iraq, 2006

Shaun Mullen, a columnist for The Moderate Voice comments

That the true story of the 2005 massacre of 20 Iraqi civilians, including an elderly man in a wheelchair and women and children, has finally come out because an Iraqi was using transcripts of secret interviews with the Marines involved to cook dinner is a fitting coda to a nearly nine-year war that officially ended today.

Says Leon Panetta, current Secretary of Defense for the Obama administration about the war on Iraq

“the cost was high — in blood and treasure of the United States, and also for the Iraqi people. But those lives have not been lost in vain — they gave birth to an independent, free and sovereign Iraq.”

Say what? from 7 of the 8 Iraq veterans CNN interviewed who were deployed to Iraq during the war.  Their one sentence pull-outs mirror everything I’ve heard over 8 years:

“I don’t think that the gravity of what we were doing ever really hit me.” Emily Trageser, Army

“We removed one corruption and replaced Saddam with officials who were just as murderous and evil.”  Nicholas Panzera, Army

“I lost everything.  My wife, my place to live, my friends, and the future I had once seen.”  Marc Loiselle, Army

“I have never felt more proud in my life to be a part of something.” Tyler, Army, who is currently in Iraq shutting down bases.

“Although we did depose a dictator, we ruined the country in the process.”  Eric Sofge, Army

“The principle excuse to invade Iraq to discover WMD was a non-starter from the get-go.”  Jeffrey Tracey, biological weapons inspector

“None of us could see a reason why we were still there.  And it just kept going on and on.” Jim Lewandowski, South Dakota National Guard

“I don’t know any soldiers that really have a positive view on any of it.”  Spencer Alexander, Army

It’s not over, people.  The U.S. is ready to send troops back to Iraq, and will keep thousands on the border of Kuwait.  The ceremony is only for public consumption.

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Who Needs the Far Right when you’ve got birth-control obstruction by Obama?

With kudos to Jodi Jacobsen, I’ve grabbed the last line of her piece Wednesday as inspiration for my title.  “As the saying goes, with friends like these, who needs the far right?”

Wednesday, in direct contradiction to the recommendations of the FDA, Kathleen Seblius announced that the administration will not allow women under 17 to get Emergency Contraception (EC, Plan B) without a prescription.  This makes Barack Obama the first president to counter the FDA by executive order.

His action goes against the science.  There is no medical or ethical reason to impede a woman of any age, who, for whatever reason, wants to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.  How does it help the future of that young woman to put her through more hoops, including a doctors’ visit, potentially leaving her vulnerable to all the complications of a pregnancy for a young person?

The New York Times quoted Dr. Susan Wood, a former F.D.A. assistant commissioner who resigned in 2005 to protest the Bush administration’s handling of Plan B, saying  “there were many drugs available over the counter that had not been studied in pre-adolescents and that were far more dangerous to them.”

“Acetaminophen can be fatal, but it’s available to everyone,” Dr. Wood noted. “So why are contraceptives singled out every single time when they’re actually far safer than what’s already out there?”

Jacobsen says

Experts, noted the statement, “including obstetrician/gynecologists and pediatricians, reviewed the totality of the data and agreed that it met the regulatory standard for a nonprescription drug and that Plan B One-Step should be approved for all females of child-bearing potential.”

This is the president who said while campaigning that his administration wouldn’t listen to the climate crisis-deniers and the gay marriage haters.  Many people thought that Obama meant he wouldn’t cave into the right, but how else do you explain this move?

His action goes against the wishes of a majority of people who think that peoples’ access and use of birth control — and abortion — is their own business. Period.  It’s not the business of the Pope, the Council of Bishops (who directly intervened with Obama on this one), some right-wing fanatics in Congress, or their own partners of parents, and not the president business either.

Jodi Jacobsen yesterday,

Apparently the health and rights of women do not matter, but placating the far right does. Because apparently helping teens actually prevent unintended pregnancies isn’t an authentic a goal of this administration. Perhaps it was among the topics on which President Obama came to “understand the concerns of Catholics [read the 281 bishops],” as Archbishop Timothy Dolan assured the New York Times after his private meeting with the president.

This president, this government, just acted against the interests of all of us who are women, or who care about women’s’ lives, in a craven way which will only give encouragement to those on the right who want to enact even worse measures, including bans on abortion and all birth control.

 

 

 

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TIME Surprises with 9/11 Victims Not Usually Seen

In a series of video interviews entitled [Beyond 9/11] Portraits of Resistance, TIME magazine includes the expected 9/11 survivors, first responders, family members of those who were killed.  They include those you’d have to classify as war criminals in the wake of 9/11, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, “Dick” Cheney and General Petraeus; other government and U.S. military personnel.

I found, out of the 40 people interviewed, 3 who are surprising, including two I consider friends and heroes.  They are:

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan, 2011

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan recounts her reaction to George Bush’s announcement that 12 Marines who died in Iraq in August 2005 had died “for a noble cause.”  She didn’t believe her son Casey, a reluctant soldier who was killed in Iraq in 2004, had been sacrificed for anything good.  Cindy’s actions in camping out in front of Bush’s ranch were such that millions cheered her on.

You can find her at Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox.

James Yee

James Yee

James Yee, 2011

James was an Army Captain who became a chaplain for Muslim soldiers in early 2001.  When Rumsfeld opened Guantanamo to house men from dozens of countries as part of the “global war on terror,” James was assigned to be prison chaplain. The prisoners’ conditions, he says, were “not fit for animals.”

Soon, because he spoke up, he was disappeared into a brig in South Carolina, threatened with execution for speaking up against the conditions.  He fought his imprisonment, and eventually won an honorable discharge from the military.  James Yee is now the Executive Director of the New Jersey Chapter of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Ali Abbas

Ali Abbas

Ali Abbas, 2011

Ali was asleep on an Iraqi farm when bombs were dropped on his home by the American military in 2004.

“I lost my arms and my body is burned, and also my family is dead.  We were all asleep, 12 o’clock at night, and we heard the big noise.  The fire was all over us, I heard my family screaming.  I couldn’t see anything, but I could feel everything…I lost my father, mother and my brother, and 13 members of my family.”

Ali Abbas was resettled with a friend in England.

All of them are victims of the Bush regime’s “global war on terror” who have stood heroically against the abuses of illegitimate, immoral, unjust U.S. occupations.  I am glad they are recognized.

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Long View of the Bush Regime: Replace “Dumb” with “Dangerous”

I credit The World Can’t Wait’s founding work to “drive out the Bush regime” in the summer of 2005 with helping to change public perception of George W. Bush from “dumb” to “dangerous.” As the former president will stand at the World Trade Center on Sunday memorializing those killed on 9/11/01, we should keep firmly in mind the truly massive crimes unleashed under the rubric of the “global war on terror.”

A million copies of the Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime went hand to hand that summer, six years ago. Tens of thousands signed it, grabbed by this: “The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.”

November 2, 2005 Convergence to Drive Out the Bush Regime

November 2, 2005 Convergence to Drive Out the Bush Regime

On Thursday, November 2, 2005, on the year-anniversary of Bush’s election, tens of thousands marched around the U.S., inaugurating the effort to drive out Bush and Cheney, and reverse and repudiate the Bush program.

It was the overwhelming intensity with which high school students at more than 200 schools left school and walked out, sometimes for miles, to join organized political protest that stunned everyone.  Bronx kids who had never left the borough somehow made it to Union Square, covered in “drive out Bush” stickers, to march down 14th Street and up to Times Square.

Even then, the middle school students remembered only Bush as president, and only war since 9/11. And now at 18 they’re in the military occupations, or on the streets with not much to do;  some relative few are entering college.

Many more crimes were carried out during the Bush years.  They did indeed set in place a war they predicted would last “generations.”  By 2008, when much of the world heard the name “George W. Bush” they thought “war criminal.”  And this began to happen in the United States as well.

We didn’t succeed at driving out the regime.  Many people who could or should have heeded the call for mass visible protest independent of the Democratic Party did not, and chose instead to confine their actions to voting for Democrats in 2006, and even more in 2008.

So now the United States has a president who not only won’t “look back” at the war crimes and torture carried out by the Bush era officials now gathering in New York City, but who presides over aggressive U.S. wars in six countries.

The mission of World Can’t Wait, post-Bush, is “stopping the crimes of our government.”  Nothing can be more timely, or required, of people living in the United States.

I ask you to:

Become a sustaining supporter of World Can’t Wait

Protest the Bush era war criminals wherever they are

Memorialize the victims of the U.S. “Global war on terror”

Take action on the 10th anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan

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Fitting Tributes to Ronald Reagan

Recently, during a snowy travel delay, a relative gave me John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, her favorite, for stand-by reading.  I did not intend to write about it, but with all the hype around the centenary of Reagan’s birth, I noticed a passage where the protagonist, a Vietnam war resister who settled in Canada, brought the terrible Reagan years back for me:

Just the day before yesterday–January 28, 1987–the front page of The Globe and Mail gave us a full account of President Ronald Wilson Reagan’s State of the Union Message.  Will I ever learn?  …After almost twenty years in Canada, there are certain American lunatics who still fascinate me.

”There must be no Soviet beachhead in Central America,” President Reagan said.  He also insisted that he would not sacrifice his proposed nuclear missiles in space–his beloved Star Wars plan–to a nuclear arms agreement with the Soviet Union.  He even said that ‘a key element of the U.S. Soviet agenda is ‘more responsible Soviet conduct around the world’–as if the United States were a bastion of ‘responsible conduct around the world.’

I believe that President Reagan can say these things only because he knows that the American people will never hold him accountable for what he says; it is history that holds you accountable.

Irving’s character goes on to detail the uprising of protest against Vietnam, as a participant:

Was twenty years ago so long for Americans?…Ronald Reagan had not yet numbed the United States.  But he had put California to sleep; he described the Vietnam protests as ‘giving aid and comfort to the enemy.’

Photo of reaganWe called him Ronnie Ray-gun.  The 80′s was a terrible decade, beginning with Ronald Reagan’s election as the president to repudiate “the 60′s.” Carl Dix, a real-life resister of the Vietnam War, wrote in 1985:

The United States of America appears to have gone totally mad. It screams that its `hesitancies’ and `self doubts’ left over from Vietnam are dispelled. `We won’t be pushed around any more!’ Official America brims with unapologetic self-love.  Amid a reborn worship of `free enterprise,’ the proletarian, the poor, the non-white are openly scorned as `losers’ who have somehow personally failed to take advantage of the `limitless opportunities’ in the `land of the free.’ Classic American know-nothingism is back in vogue. `Traditional social roles,’ especially for women and youth, are exalted and increasingly enforced.  Backwater religious fanatics are handed respectability and influence. Submissiveness, motherhood, unthinking obedience are watchwords of the times.

The overwhelming Reagan defeat of Jimmy Carter was engineered by intense intrigue and the secret Republican plan to block the release of U.S. hostages held in Iran until after the presidential election.  Robert Parry, who’s done as much research on Reagan as anyone, recounts the story in The October Surprise archives on his site.  Reagan’s presidency was marked by U.S. interventions over much of the world and the placement of hundreds of missiles in Europe, threatening nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Reagan sent millions of dollars, secretly, to the pro-U.S. “contras” working to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, through a complicated deal in which Israel supplied weapons to forces in Iran, producing the money Reagan secretly sent to the “contras” to avoid Congressional restrictions.  This was  later known as the “Iran-Contra” affair.  It’s worth reviewing.

There were hearings, and a few people like Oliver North did a little time, but impeachment and charges against those high up in the government were suppressed, providing an example for a later compliant Congress to fail to challenge the George W. Bush regime, even as Bush appointed key players from Iran-Contra such as John Negroponte and Elliot Abrams.

Parry, whose reporting at the time uncovered a lot about Iran-Contra, considers the October Surprise / Iran Contra scandals to be:

the missing link in a larger American political narrative covering the sweep of several decades, explaining how the United States shifted away from a nation grappling with epochal problems, from energy dependence and environmental degradation to bloated military budgets and an obsession with empire.

Interviewed here on Reagan’s legacy, he writes this week  in Ronald Reagan, Enabler of Atrocities of the decade “many atrocities in Latin America and elsewhere that Reagan aided, covered up or shrugged off in his inimitable ‘aw shucks’ manner.”

Amid all the extravagant hoopla and teary tributes to the late president, perhaps some Americans will stop and think of all the decent people in Latin America and elsewhere who died horrible and unnecessary deaths as Ronald Reagan cheerily defended their murderers.

There are other things we can never forget nor forgive:

When thousands were dying of AIDS, Reagan would not say the word until 1987, after 21,000 Americans had died of it, and lowered the federal budget to fight it.

“My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever.  We begin bombing in five minutes.”  Reagan’s chilling “joke,” before a radio broadcast, August 11, 1984

In 1974 Governor Reagan bitterly denounced huge crowds of poor people who excitedly showed up to get free food that the Hearst Corporation had been forced to distribute by the SLA kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Reagan said: ‘It’s just too bad we can’t have an epidemic of botulism.’  see The Crimes and Times of Ronald Reagan.

After getting the nomination in 1980 he praised ‘states rights’ in his first speech–made in Philadelphia, Mississippi, known for the 1964 Klan murder of three young civil rights workers.

Anyone paying attention has been aware that the outrages of U.S. aggression didn’t begin with the Bushes, but it’s important to remind people now that Poppa Bush’s immediate predecessor in the White House has plenty of war crimes to account for, posthumously.

A final fitting tribute to Reagan is Bob Dylan’s song, written well before Reagan’s presidency.

Masters of War

A song by Bob Dylan

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly
Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.
And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

See Robert Parry’s three-book set: Lost History, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep: Let’s Get the Truth Out on the Bushes, and Ronald Reagan.

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G.W. Bush Cancels Europe Speech to Avoid Prosecution, Protest

From the Center for Constitutional Rights comes good news…  G.W. Bush has been forced to cancel a speaking trip in Switzerland next week to avoid being charged in a torture case:

“CCR, with the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), have spent weeks preparing a 2,500 page torture case against Bush that would have been filed on Monday, February 7 – the anniversary of the day, nine years ago, when Bush decided the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to ‘enemy combatants.’ Bush was due to be in Geneva on the 12th, and his presence on Swiss territory is required for the prosecutor to take action.

“The complaint, brought under the Convention Against Torture with the support of 50 NGOs, two former UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and two Nobel Prize winners, was on behalf of two torture victims, one who is still at Guantánamo.

“Whatever Bush or his hosts say, we have no doubt he cancelled his trip to avoid our case. The message from civil society is clear – If you’re a torturer, be careful in your travel plans. It’s a slow process for accountability, but we keep going.”

In the Guardian UK today:

The visit would have been Bush’s first to Europe since he admitted in his autobiography, Decision Points, in November that he had authorised the use of waterboarding – simulated drowning – on detainees at Guantánamo accused of links with al-Qaida. Whether out of concern over the protests or the arrest warrant, it is an extraordinary development for a former US president to have his travel plans curtailed in this way, and amounts to a victory for human rights campaigners.

Reuters reports today in Bush’s Swiss visit off after complaints on torture:

Bush, in his “Decision Points” memoirs on his 2001-2009 presidency, strongly defends the use of waterboarding as key to preventing a repeat of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Most human rights experts consider the practice a form of torture, banned by the Convention on Torture, an international pact prohibiting torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. Switzerland and the United States are among 147 countries to have ratified the 1987 treaty.

Bush was to speak at a Jewish charity function.  McClatchy newspapers report:

“Protest organizers told participants to bring an extra shoe, prompting fears that someone might re-enact an Iraqi journalist’s 2008 assault on President Bush in Baghdad. The reporter hurled his own footwear as a sign of contempt.”

Whether the threat of prosecution or the threat of determined mass protest caused the cancellation of Bush’s visit, it’s a sign that people are paying attention, and acting on the necessity of holding Bush accountable for war crimes.

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United Response to George W. Bush Memoir

With the publication of George Bush’s book, Decision Points, we, the undersigned, set the record straight. Instead of being rewarded with a lucrative book contract and treated by the media as a distinguished statesman, Bush should be indicted and prosecuted for the crime of aggressive war, the supreme crime against peace in occupying Iraq and Afghanistan; devastation of the civilian population and civil society; the institutionalization of torture and denial of due process to detainees; massive illegal spying against people in the U.S.; and perjury before Congress and the people. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been sent to an early grave because of Bush. Thousands of people have endured the most gruesome torture and abuse because of Bush. Tens of thousands of US service members have either died or suffered horrendous physical and mental injuries because of Bush. Trillions of dollars have been spent in the commission of criminal acts, abroad and at home.

It is the responsibility of the people of the United States to demand the investigation, indictment and prosecution of crimes committed by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and other high officials.

It is up to each and every one of us to act. Unless high officials are held accountable for criminal acts, it sends a clear message to future administrations – including the current one — that they are not required to uphold the basic tenets of human rights and international law. Today, in fact, we see that many of Bush’s illegal actions have become codified as a new norm.

George W. Bush is recognized by the people of the world as a criminal. We, inside the United States, understand that too and thus we must demand that Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration uphold the law and appoint a Special Prosecutor for the prosecution of Bush and his principal accomplices. We also encourage individuals to take creative measures to stop Bush’s rewriting of history: speak out at his appearances, go to bookstores and move his book to the Crime Section, and challenge the media to cover our message.  War criminals may write books, but we—the people—must speak the truth.

Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition

Medea Benjamin, Code Pink

Elaine Brower, military mother, World Can’t Wait

Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace

Susan Harman, Code Pink & Progressive Democrats of America

Nancy Mancias, Code Pink

Ray McGovern, Veterans for Peace

Stephanie Rugoff, War Criminals Watch

David Swanson, War is a Crime

Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait

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