How can anyone continue to lend credence to statements made by this administration? An article in The Sunday Times, 5/19/05 (www.timesonline.co.uk) states that, although diplomatic efforts were said to be ongoing, “The air war had begun six weeks earlier and the spikes of activity (so called by General Tommy Franks) had been underway for five months.” The nation was led to believe that diplomatic efforts were being pursued and that, having failed, the invasion of Iraq became unavoidable and that somehow it was a response to the attacks on 9/11.
Iraq has now became a center for terrorist activity, which was not the case before our invasion. The president is about to begin a public relations effort to build support for the war because Iraq is a “center for terrorist activity” – – the sort of circumlocution that passes for logic in this administration. He also trumpets the fact that we are engaging the terrorists far from our shores – – something that probably goes unappreciated in Iraq as the civilian death toll mounts there.
Similarly, the president likes to take credit for shifts in The Middle East that have little to do with his policies and everything to do with particularized events – – such as the assassination of Hiriri in Lebanon and the death of Palestinian leader Arafat, or developments that had been in the works for years as in the case of Libya or the murmurings of democratic reforms in Iran.
Vice President Cheney says the insurgency is in its “last throes”; others say we should double our forces. Both Cheney and Representative Hunter from California have suggested recently that Guantanamo is a well-run, delightful facility for the detainment of a population of uncertain origins and culpability. A new prison is to be built that some have suggested will resemble a resort overlooking the ocean and, guess what, Halliburton has the contract to build it.
Yesterday on Meet the Press, Senator McCain said he had supported Bush in the last election because, of course he’s a Republican, but also because he felt Bush was the best person to fight the war on terrorism. Suggesting that our current foreign policy has been in any way effective in fighting the war on terrorism is a troubling analysis from someone who really should know better.
Last week, Republican Senator Sessions talked about how the rules of war don’t apply to unlawful combatants, and Republicans insist that no-one has died or been seriously injured in captivity, something most of us know to be untrue. And Rush Limbaugh laughingly said on his radio show that incidents such as prisoners being chained and forced to lie in their own excrement did not amount to torture or maltreatment because that’s what “those people” do anyway. Ah the struggle to win those hearts and minds…
Representative Shays went all emotional on the House floor the other day over a portion of The Patriot Act that allows agents to obtain information from libraries and book stores about patrons. ‘Let’s stop terrorist acts before they happen not just prosecute them after the fact’, he said. But there are those of us who get emotional about having our reading habits become grist for some intelligence mill.
What seems increasingly to be the case, as Senator Russ Feingold said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing the other day, is that we now have “an administration that doesn’t feel it has to play by the rules.” He might have added, they seem to make the rules up as they go along.
In one instance recently, if they don’t like what is being said they can just cut speakers off in mid-sentence, adjourn a meeting, march off gavel in hand and have committee members’ mikes turned off. That was how House Judiciary Committee Chairman Sensenbrenner chose to behave at a recent Patriot Act hearing. It would make a great comedy routine if it weren’t so infuriatingly arrogant and so disrespectful not only of witnesses and the other committee members but of that democratic institution called Congress.
Senator Biden just announced that he will be running for president, and while he doesn’t vote as one would hope on every issue, he holds the promise of speaking the truth more often than not and speaking in a manner that is straightforward and coherent, something we haven’t seen for some time now.

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