Wednesday, November 23, 2005
At every turn Saddam insisted that there were no weapons or remaining programs. Former UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter insisted that there were no weapons or programs since shortly after the Gulf War. Hans Blix, UN weapons inspector on the ground in Iraq up to the time of the US invasion, said before the UN in February of 2003, “How much, if any, is left of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programmes? So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions, which should have been declared and destroyed.” As a matter of fact, on February 24, 2001 Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Cairo, Egypt, “[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.” Yet on March 19th 2003, George Bush determined that the time had come to employ “the last resort” and take military action against Iraq. Did George Bush listen to or even acknowledge a dissenting voice in the run up to the invasion? Did he and Dick Cheney have some specific knowledge that inspectors on the ground could not have? We may never know because Dick Cheney now says, “We never had the burden of proof...”
I’m not sure where Dick Cheney thinks he is but in the America where I grew up, the burden of proof rested on the accuser, not the accused. Certainly this is most imperative in the case of preemptive war. To be preemptive means that you are attempting to prevent something from occurring. To be successful in that endeavor, one should then produce evidence that he actually prevented something. In the case of Iraq, we were told Iraq had the capability to do harm to our country if we did not invade. Where now is the evidence that justifies the use of preemptive force? We have seen Saddam’s proof. Where is Dick Cheney’s?
The burden of proof is a heavy load. As of today, some 2097 Americans have died in Iraq. They have carried the burden. Some 30,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of bullets, bombs, lack of medicine, fresh water, electricity, and security. They too have carried the burden. 15,000 Americans have returned from Iraq having lost limbs, eyesight, mental capacity, and probable hidden illness from exposure to depleted uranium. They continue to carry the burden. The only people who have not carried any burden are the members of the Bush administration who ordered a preemptive invasion of Iraq based on erroneous intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. Isn’t it time for some burden sharing?
Chad (The Left) Shue
Thursday, November 17, 2005
The counter offensive goes like this: 'When it counted, you stood with us. Now that things appear to be headed in the wrong direction, you seek political advantage by criticizing the very policies you voted for.'
This is where the chickens come home to roost. When many of us were cringing at the thought of a presidential ticket where both members had voted for abdicating war powers, we were told, "They only voted to send the issue to the UN." or, "It was Bush who abused the authority he was granted by the resolution." When we openly gasped at John Kerry's fumbled opportunity to recant his vote to authorize force during the campaign, we were told, "It would have been a sign of weakness to indicate he may have been duped by the Bush Administration." It is truly a sad day when honesty is considered weakness. Of course now we are treated to op-eds by John Edwards and floor speeches by John (don't watch my vote - listen to my speech) Kerry, not to mention so many other of the heretofore "Stay the Course" Democrats stating that they were misled and would take back their vote if only they could.
In the end, it will be the American people who lead and stop the death and destruction in Iraq. Hopefully, they will require a reversal of the whole policy of preemption but we will have to wait and see on that. It will also be up to the American people to decide about the sincerity of the politicians who put us in this position in the first place.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Americans Killed: 2,080
Iraqis Killed: 30,380
WMD Found: 0
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
After a (much delayed) conference call with Gov. Dean where he spoke about the outline of the Democratic agenda for the upcoming election cycle and about DNC efforts in encouraging grassroots party building, we went around the room to introduce ourselves and discuss the issues that are most important to us. Gov. Dean spoke about a 5 item list that will be the basis of the Democratic agenda: Honesty in government, a firm and ethical national defense/foreign policy, universal healthcare, real education reform, and jobs that will stay in the country (he believes many of these jobs will be created through developing alternative energy resources). The chairman also talked quite a bit about grassroots party building and, while congratulating those who have chosen to run for office, continued to encourage more of us to do the same.
In our group, Iraq was the issue on top of most people's lists. Most of the group talked about ending the occupation and bringing the troops home sooner rather than later. We talked about the economy and the negative effects of the Bush tax scheme along with the massive deficit being created with the bloated military budget. Much of the conversation, however, was centered on party building and recruitment. County Chair, Mark Hintz expressed concern about recent efforts to bring PCOs into the party only to have them disappear back into the woodwork after the nominating conventions.
I believe that the PCSCD should play a major part in recruiting and motivating PCOs into the Democratic Party. If we are to succeed in moving a Progressive agenda forward, we are going to need numbers. As opposed to candidates or single-issue groups, we Progressives can offer prospective PCOs the incentive of constant challenge and activism to the people that we recruit. I left the meeting last night very encouraged that we will go out and do just that. I hope that I am not alone in that feeling.
To be continued.................
Chad (The Left) Shue
Saturday, November 05, 2005
"Published: Saturday, November 5, 2005
Cheney urges torture ban exception
WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to Republican senators this week to allow CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terror suspects in U.S. custody, according to participants in a closed-door session."
Apparently Dick doesn't get it. Maybe spending so much time in that secret bunker has kept him too far away from reality or maybe that pacemaker has really replaced his heart.
"Cheney told his audience that the U.S. doesn't engage in torture, the participants added, even though he said the administration needed an exemption from any legislation banning "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment in case the president decided one was necessary to prevent a terrorist attack.".... or in case the interrogators at Abu Ghraib get bored. (?)
This plea to allow the use of torture coming on the heals of the recent disclosure that the CIA has been sending "terror suspects" to secret prisons in Europe does tend to make one wonder if he is trying to protect certain activities that may be uncovered in those prisons. It's not like there aren't already some prisons (or gulags) in eastern Europe that are already set up for that type of thing.
One aspect of this story that might go to the nature of Dick Cheney as a human being is that, in making this plea, he had to look into the face of Senator John McCain. Apparently that posed no great hurdle for our Vice President. Please look again at the headline of the AP story; "Cheney urges torture ban exception". Ask yourself if you ever thought an official representative of the United States, especially at the highest level, would ever have a headline like that associated with his or her name. This cannot stand without loud and repeated dissent!
Americans must demand an end to this. This is not bleeding heart liberalism or even sympathizing with the enemy. There is a reason we should not condone torture as a legitimate tactic. If we become what we despise most in our enemies, we lose the moral high ground. We endanger our soldiers and any who would represent us around the world. We must send a message to Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, George Bush, and the US Congress; Americans will not tolerate a policy of torture and those would seek to loosen that standard should simply move to a country that might be more to their liking.
Chad (The Left) Shue
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Statement by Senator Reid
Troops and Security First
This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of the I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and a senior Advisor to President Bush. Libby is the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years. This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant. The decision to place U.S. soldiers in harm’s way is the most significant responsibility the Constitution invests in the Congress. The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions. As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administration’s mistakes in prisoner abuse scandal, Hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies. And, unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on all of these issues. Let’s take a look back at how we got here with respect to Iraq Mr. President. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized these attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq. The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made the case for attacking Iraq. There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. Administration statements on Saddam’s alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples of how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts. The American people were warned time and again by the President, the Vice President, and the current Secretary of State about Saddam’s nuclear weapons capabilities. The Vice President said Iraq “has reconstituted its nuclear weapons.” Playing upon the fears of Americans after September 11, these officials and others raised the specter that, left unchecked, Saddam could soon attack America with nuclear weapons. Obviously we know now their nuclear claims were wholly inaccurate. But more troubling is the fact that a lot of intelligence experts were telling the Administration then that its claims about Saddam’s nuclear capabilities were false.
The situation was very similar with respect to Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda. The Vice President told the American people, “We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda organization.”The Administration’s assertions on this score have been totally discredited. But again, the Administration went ahead with these assertions in spite of the fact that the government’s top experts did not agree with these claims. What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administration’s manipulation of intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq? Basically nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight? No. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions? No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.Unfortunately the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities is not limited to just Iraq. We see it with respect to the prisoner abuse scandal. We see it with respect to Katrina. And we see it with respect to the cronyism and corruption that permeates this Administration.Time and time again, this Republican-controlled Congress has consistently chosen to put its political interests ahead of our national security. They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican Administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why. There is also another disturbing pattern here, namely about how the Administration responded to those who challenged its assertions. Time and again this Administration has actively sought to attack and undercut those who dared to raise questions about its preferred course.For example, when General Shinseki indicated several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq, his military career came to an end. When then OMB Director Larry Lindsay suggested the cost of this war would approach $200 billion, his career in the Administration came to an end. When U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix challenged conclusions about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, the Administration pulled out his inspectors. When Nobel Prize winner and IAEA head Mohammed el-Baridei raised questions about the Administration’s claims of Saddam’s nuclear capabilities, the Administration attempted to remove him from his post. When Joe Wilson stated that there was no attempt by Saddam to acquire uranium from Niger, the Administration launched a vicious and coordinated campaign to demean and discredit him, going so far as to expose the fact that his wife worked as a CIA agent. Given this Administration’s pattern of squashing those who challenge its misstatements, what has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress? Again, absolutely nothing. And with their inactions, they provide political cover for this Administration at the same time they keep the truth from our troops who continue to make large sacrifices in Iraq. This behavior is unacceptable. The toll in Iraq is as staggering as it is solemn. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives. Over 90 Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice this month alone – the fourth deadliest month since the war began. More than 15,000 have been wounded. More than 150,000 remain in harm’s way. Enormous sacrifices have been and continue to be made. The troops and the American people have a right to expect answers and accountability worthy of that sacrifice. For example, 40 Senate Democrats wrote a substantive and detailed letter to the President asking four basic questions about the Administration’s Iraq policy and received a four sentence answer in response. These Senators and the American people deserve better. They also deserve a searching and comprehensive investigation about how the Bush Administration brought this country to war. Key questions that need to be answered include:o How did the Bush Administration assemble its case for war against Iraq?o Who did Bush Administration officials listen to and who did they ignore?o How did senior Administration officials manipulate or manufacture intelligence presented to the Congress and the American people?o What was the role of the White House Iraq Group or WHIG, a group of senior White House officials tasked with marketing the war and taking down its critics?o How did the Administration coordinate its efforts to attack individuals who dared to challenge the Administration’s assertions?o Why has the Administration failed to provide Congress with the documents that will shed light on their misconduct and misstatements?Unfortunately the Senate committee that should be taking the lead in providing these answers is not. Despite the fact that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee publicly committed to examine many of these questions more than 1 and ½ years ago, he has chosen not to keep this commitment. Despite the fact that he restated that commitment earlier this year on national television, he has still done nothing. At this point, we can only conclude he will continue to put politics ahead of our national security. If he does anything at this point, I suspect he will play political games by producing an analysis that fails to answer any of these important questions. Instead, if history is any guide, this analysis will attempt to disperse and deflect blame away from the Administration. We demand that the Intelligence Committee and other committees in this body with jurisdiction over these matters carry out a full and complete investigation immediately as called for by Democrats in the committee’s annual intelligence authorization report. Our troops and the American people have sacrificed too much. It is time this Republican-controlled Congress put the interests of the American people ahead of their own political interests.
Please feel free to pass this statement on and, by all means SAY SOMETHING to Senator Reid: http://reid.senate.gov/email_form.cfm . You might also ask Senator Cantwell (firstname.lastname@example.org) if she supports this demand for an investigation into the manipulation of intelligence.
Chad (The Left) Shue