Chu: Yucca no longer option for nuclear waste

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Thursday the proposed Yucca Mountain site in Nevada no longer is an option for storing highly radioactive nuclear waste, brushing aside criticism from several Republican lawmakers.

Instead, Chu said the Obama administration believes the nearly 60,000 tons of waste in the form of used reactor fuel can remain at nuclear power plants while a new, comprehensive plan for waste disposal is developed.

Chu’s remarks touched off a sometimes testy exchange with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Obama’s rival for president last year, and provided the most definitive signal yet that the government’s attempt to address the commercial nuclear waste problem is veering in a dramatically new direction.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gECUYBUKRfAXEInCMaMKbUHnWkcwD96O36982

US denies funding coup in Iran

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

The US State Department denies reports that group of Iranians arrested in Tehran on charges of planning a coup have links to Washington.

“Any charge against an Iranian that he or she is working with the United States to overthrow the Iranian government is baseless,” the US State Department said in a Tuesday statement.

“In the past, Iran has used similar charges to falsely accuse and detain civil society activists and Iranians working to enhance understanding between our two countries,” the statement added.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=82237&sectionid=351020101

Bush-Cheney Deserve Censure for Declaring War Against The Constitution

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Before Inauguration Day, the 111th Congress should pass a forward-looking resolution censuring President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for executive aggrandizements or abuses that have reduced Congress to vassalage and shredded the rule of law. The resolution should express a congressional intent to prevent repetitions by the President-elect Barack Obama or his successors. The objective is not Bush-Cheney bashing, but to restore a republican form of government in which “We the People” are sovereign, and the president is checked and publicly scrutinized by Congress and the courts. The Bush-Cheney duumvirate won an undeclared war against the Constitution. Most troublesome, they captured the power to initiate war from a spineless Congress. The Founding Fathers were unanimous in denying the president that constitutional authority. They knew that presidents would chronically deceive Congress and concoct excuses for war to control public information, benefit political friends through government contracts, quell dissent, assert emergency powers and enjoy the intoxicating thrill of, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

By wielding the threat of international terrorism, the Bush-Cheney team put the nation on a permanent war footing – the first time in history that war has been undertaken against a tactic. They maintained that the entire post-9/11 world is an active battlefield where United States military force may be used to kill suspected members of al Qaeda irrespective of international boundaries.

They claimed executive privilege and state secrets to conduct secret government – thereby circumventing political and legal accountability. This included directives to former White House officials Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to flout congressional subpoenas for testimony. They detained hundreds of people (including American citizens) as enemy combatants without accusation or trial. They authorized torture (waterboarding and extraordinary rendition), abductions, secret prisons and illegal surveillance of American citizens.

Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Dick Cheney has publicly confessed to ordering war crimes. Asked about waterboarding in an ABC News interview, Cheney replied, “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared.” He also said he still believes waterboarding was an appropriate method to use on terrorism suspects. CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed that the agency waterboarded three Al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003.

U.S. courts have long held that waterboarding, where water is poured into someone’s nose and mouth until he nearly drowns, constitutes torture. Our federal War Crimes Act defines torture as a war crime punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.

Under the doctrine of command responsibility, enshrined in U.S. law, commanders all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief can be held liable for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates would commit them and they did nothing to stop or prevent it.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/12/19

Graphic: The Peabody Octopus Cyclops on Black Mesa

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Graphic: The Peabody Octopus Cyclops on Black Mesa

The Peabody Cyclops on Black Mesa. Special thanks to Another Walker on the Good Red Road, for this original graphic to illustrate today’s Censored News editorial, “A Call for Whistelblowers, Cyclops in the Closet:”

realtipof5451http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2008/12/graphic-peabody-octopus-cyclops-on.html

Black Mesa opponents meet with OSM officials

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

DENVER, Colo. – The Black Mesa Water Coalition under the leadership of Wahleah Johns, Enie Begay, Lillian Hill, Kelvin Long, Gordon Isaac and other concerned members of the Navajo and Hopi tribes traveled to Denver Dec. 8 to meet and talk with officials from the Office of Surface Mining (OSM).

Before a packed audience on the 33rd floor of the OSM building, many Native voices were heard. Many strong words, testimonials were expressed concerning the Black Mesa Project’s final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The audience was informed by OSM officials that the EIS was already finalized and that the “record of decision” would be released by Dec. 15.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement officials included Allen Klein, Southwest Regional Manager; Dennis Winterringer, Project Leader/Permitting Coordinator; Grace Sage, Community Liaison; Elaine Ramsey, Southwest Manager and Jim Wood, hydrologist.

http://navajohopiobserver.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=7416

New Evidence Contradicts White House Assertions on Uranium Claim

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

New Evidence Contradicts White House Assertions on Uranium Claim

By: House Oversight Committee

Dec. 18, 2008 – New evidence obtained by the Oversight Committee indicates that the CIA rejected White House efforts to insert the claim that Iraq sought uranium from Africa into two speeches by President Bush prior to the 2003 State of the Union address, contradicting assertions made to Congress by then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales on behalf of then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

MEMORANDUM

December 18, 2008

To: Members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Fr: Chairman Henry A. Waxman

Re: The President’s Claim that Iraq Sought Uranium from Niger

Next month, I will be leaving the Oversight Committee to chair the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Before I depart, I want to report to you on the most significant information I have learned from the Committee’s investigation into the basis for President Bush’s claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

On January 6, 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales sent a letter on behalf of Condoleezza Rice, who was then the National Security Advisor, to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, writing that “Dr. Rice has asked me to respond” to questions raised by the Committee about the uranium claim. Mr. Gonzales informed the Committee that the CIA “orally cleared” the uranium claim “for use by the President” in both a September 12, 2002, speech to the United Nations and a September 26, 2002, speech in the White House Rose Garden.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence relied on these representations and adopted the White House’s statements almost verbatim in its 2004 Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. As a result, the Senate report created the impression that the President’s use of the uranium claim in the State of the Union address could be blamed in large part on the CIA and its clearance of the claim in the earlier speeches.

The information the Oversight Committee has received casts serious doubt on the veracity of the representations that Mr. Gonzales made on behalf of Dr. Rice. Contrary to Mr. Gonzales’s assertions, the Committee has received evidence that the CIA objected to the uranium claim in both speeches, resulting in its deletion from the President’s remarks. In the case of the September 26, 2002, speech, the former Deputy Director of Intelligence at the CIA told the Committee that she personally warned Dr. Rice not to use the uranium claim.

The President’s September 12, 2002, speech to the United Nations contended that Iraq was in breach of United Nations sanctions. During an interview with the Committee, John Gibson, who served as Director of Speechwriting for Foreign Policy at the National Security Council (NSC), stated that he tried to insert the uranium claim into this speech at the request of Michael Gerson, chief White House speechwriter, and Robert Joseph, the Senior Director for Proliferation Strategy, Counterproliferation, and Homeland Defense at the NSC. According to Mr. Gibson, the CIA rejected the uranium claim because it was “not sufficiently reliable to include it in the speech.” Mr. Gibson stated that the CIA “didn’t give that blessing,” the “CIA was not willing to clear that language,” and “[a]t the end of the day, they did not clear it.”

On September 26, 2002, President Bush delivered remarks in the White House Rose Garden urging Congress to authorize the use of force in Iraq. During an interview with the Committee, Jami Miscik, the Deputy Director of Intelligence at the CIA, stated that NSC officials “wouldn’t take [the uranium claim] out of the speech.” As a result, she was asked to explain directly to Dr. Rice “the reasons why we didn’t think this was credible.” Ms. Miscik stated that “[i]t was clear that we had problems or we at the most fundamental level wouldn’t have been having the phone call at all.” According to Ms. Miscik, the CIA’s reasons for rejecting the uranium claim “had been conveyed to the NSC counterparts” before the call, and Dr. Rice was “getting on the phone call with that information.” Ms. Miscik told Dr. Rice personally that the CIA was “recommending that it be taken out.” She also said “[i]t turned out to be a relatively short phone call” because “we both knew what the issues were and therefore were able to get to a very easy resolution of it.”

During his interview with the Committee, Mr. Gibson was asked about the White House assertions that the CIA had cleared the inclusion of the uranium claim. He stated that the White House assertions were “incorrect.” He told the Committee that “the CIA had never cleared” the use of the uranium claim. During her interview with the Committee, Ms. Miscik made the same point, stating that the White House assertions were “not accurate” and “misleading.” She explained further: “We had not cleared on this speech until the discussion that Dr. Rice and I had.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Rice resisted efforts by the Committee to obtain her testimony about these matters. Thus, I am not able to report to you how she would explain the seeming contradictions between her statements and those of Mr. Gonzales on her behalf and the statements made to the Committee by senior CIA and NSC officials.

Background

On January 28, 2003, President Bush delivered his State of the Union address in which he made the case for going to war with Iraq. As part of his effort to justify his conclusion that war was necessary, President Bush stated that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

On March 7, 2003, Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported to the U.N. Security Council:

Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents – which formed the basis for reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger – are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded.

On March 17, 2003, two days before U.S. troops invaded Iraq, I wrote a letter to President Bush to express concern that “a key piece of evidence … cited regarding Iraq’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons is a hoax” and that “the Central Intelligence Agency questioned the veracity of the evidence at the same time [the President] and other Administration officials were citing it in public statements.”

On June 10, 2003, I wrote to Dr. Rice in her previous position as National Security Advisor to the President. In my letter, I asked her to explain how the uranium claim got into the State of the Union address and who in the Administration had information about the uranium intelligence. She never responded to this letter.

On July 6, 2003, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson made public the details of his trip to Africa and the questions he had raised about the uranium claim. Based on this additional information, I wrote to Dr. Rice again on July 29, 2003, with detailed questions about her knowledge about the uranium claim and how it became a key piece of evidence in the President’s justification for the Iraq War. She never responded to this letter.

When I became chair of the Oversight Committee, I wrote to Secretary Rice on March 12, 2007, requesting a response to my letters from June and July 2003. After receiving no response, I sent a letter to Secretary Rice on March 30, 2007, inviting her to testify before the Oversight Committee on April 18, 2007. When she failed to appear at the hearing, the Committee voted 21 to 10 to issue a subpoena for her testimony. On May 11, 2007, the Committee received a letter from the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs stating that Secretary Rice would be unable to attend the hearing. To accommodate her schedule, I postponed the hearing until June 19, 2007.

On June 12, 2007, I wrote to inform Secretary Rice that the Committee would postpone her testimony “in order to allow additional time for the Committee to conduct interviews and review documents.” As I stated in that letter:

The Committee was conducting interviews and depositions of senior government officials with knowledge of prewar intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program, including George Tenet, former Director of Central Intelligence; John McLaughlin, former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence; Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell; and Carl Ford, former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research. The Committee plans to conduct additional interviews over the coming weeks. In addition, the CIA and State Department have begun to provide important documents to the Committee.

The Committee continued its investigation, reviewing documents and interviewing officials from the CIA and NSC. On October 31, 2008, I wrote to the White House to request the production of information the White House had previously produced to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence relating to the uranium claim. On November 12, 2008, the White House produced a letter sent on January 6, 2004, from White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The United Nations Speech

On September 12, 2002, President Bush delivered a speech to the United Nations making the case that Iraq had violated United Nations sanctions by pursuing weapons of mass destruction. As part of the Committee’s investigation, staff conducted a two-part interview on August 2 and October 11, 2007, with John Gibson, who previously worked for Dr. Rice at the National Security Council as Director of Foreign Policy Speechwriting.

Mr. Gibson told the Committee that he was asked to draft the United Nations speech in order “to make the case that … Iraq is not in compliance with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions and that the world community should not accept this noncompliance.”

According to Mr. Gibson, on September 11, 2002, the day before the speech, Michael Gerson, the chief White House speechwriter, and Robert Joseph, the Senior Director for Proliferation Strategy, Counterproliferation, and Homeland Defense at the National Security Council, approached him about including a reference to “evidence that purported to show that Iraq had attempted to purchase enriched uranium or uranium from an African country, Niger.”

Mr. Gibson explained that Mr. Joseph “came across” information about the uranium claim that he considered “interesting,” and as a result, “there became interest to put it in the speech.”

According to Mr. Gibson, he inserted the uranium claim into the speech and sent it to the CIA for review. Mr. Gibson told the Committee that while the CIA was reviewing the speech, there was further discussion at the White House regarding the uranium claim, but he emphasized that they were “still waiting for clearance” from the CIA and that “if the agency didn’t stand behind it, it would not be included.”

Mr. Gibson informed the Committee that the CIA rejected the inclusion of the claim in the President’s speech. He stated that Mr. Joseph “relayed to me that we’ve got to pull it, the agency is just not comfortable with it.” According to Mr. Gibson, Mr. Joseph stated that the CIA raised specific concerns that the uranium claim “was from a single foreign source” and “was not sufficiently reliable to include it in the speech.” The uranium claim was then removed and was not referenced by the President in the United Nations speech.

The account Mr. Gibson provided to the Oversight Committee directly contradicts the account the White House provided to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. On January 6, 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales wrote a letter to Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. According to this letter, the White House was asked to provide “examples of references to Iraq’s efforts to acquire uranium that was [sic] cleared by CIA for use in various Presidential remarks or White House communications.” Mr. Gonzales wrote:

Dr. Rice has asked me to respond to your letter dated October 30 requesting information that you believe is necessary to assist in your review of U.S intelligence on the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

With respect to the United Nations speech, Mr. Gonzales stated: “On September 11, 2002, CIA officials orally cleared [the uranium claim] for use by the President.” Mr. Gonzales also stated:

The language cleared by the CIA was identical to the language proposed for clearance by the White House staff, except that it appears that CIA may have suggested the addition of the words “up to” in the third sentence.

The report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence appears to have relied on this assertion and adopted it almost verbatim. The Senate report stated:

In a written response to questions from Committee staff, the White House said that on September 11, 2002, National Security Council (NSC) staff contacted the CIA to clear language for possible use in a statement for use by the President. The language cleared by the CIA … was identical to the text proposed by the White House except that the CIA had suggested added “up to” before 500 metric tons.

The Committee asked Mr. Gibson whether the assertions by the White House were accurate. In response, Mr. Gibson stated that they were “incorrect because it was my understanding that the CIA had never cleared” the language on the uranium claim. Mr. Gibson stated that the uranium claim “was not ultimately blessed” by the CIA “for inclusion in the speech.”

Mr. Gibson acknowledged that a lower-level CIA staffer without authority to clear the speech may have “suggested the inclusion of the words ‘up to’” as part of the process of getting “the language as clean and right as they could.” But Mr. Gibson stated that ultimately the CIA leadership “didn’t give that blessing,” the “CIA was not willing to clear that language,” and “[a]t the end of the day, they did not clear it.”

The Rose Garden Speech

On September 26, 2002, President Bush delivered remarks in the White House Rose Garden in an effort to persuade Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq. As part of the Committee’s investigation, staff conducted a two-part interview on June 14 and August 21, 2007, with Jami Miscik, the former Deputy Director of Intelligence for the CIA.

During her interview, Ms. Miscik informed the Committee that there was a dispute between the National Security Council and the CIA about whether to include the uranium claim in the speech. Ms. Miscik told the Committee that CIA staff “needed my help” because officials who worked for Dr. Rice at the NSC “wouldn’t take [the uranium claim] out of the speech.” According to Ms. Miscik, the CIA officials asked her to call Dr. Rice directly to explain “the reasons why we didn’t think this was credible.” Ms. Miscik explained that these CIA officials were “really wanting this information not to be used, because we didn’t think it was credible.”

Ms. Miscik acknowledged that it would “not be typical” for the Deputy Director of Intelligence to call the National Security Advisor to remove a line from the President’s draft speech, but that it became necessary because Dr. Rice’s staff continued to resist the CIA’s requests to remove the claim. According to Ms. Miscik, “It was clear that we had problems or we at the most fundamental level wouldn’t have been having the phone call at all.”

Ms. Miscik told the Committee that she prepared for her call with Dr. Rice by familiarizing herself with the reasons the CIA was requesting the claim be removed from the President’s speech. According to Ms. Miscik, those reasons included the fact that Iraq already had stockpiles of uranium and would not need to acquire yellowcake; that the uranium mines in Niger were “run by” the French; and that that some of these mines were “underwater.”

Ms. Miscik stated that she spoke with Dr. Rice directly over the telephone on September 24, 2002. Ms. Miscik explained that the CIA’s reasons for requesting that the removal of the uranium claim “had been conveyed to the NSC counterparts” before the call began and that she and Dr. Rice “were getting on the phone call with that information.” According to Ms. Miscik, it was clear to her during the call that the CIA’s concerns already “had been discussed on both sides.”

Ms. Miscik stated that Dr. Rice began the conversation by stating, “I understand we have an issue on the speech.” Ms. Miscik then relayed to Dr. Rice that the CIA had “concerns” about including the uranium claim in the President’s speech and that the CIA was “recommending that it be taken out.”

Ms. Miscik informed the Committee that “[i]t turned out to be a relatively short phone call.” As she told the Committee, “we both knew what the issues were and therefore were able to get to a very easy resolution of it.” At the end of the call, Ms. Miscik explained, “I think she just then said, well, why don’t we just remove the sentences? And I said, that would be fine. And that’s what happened.” When the President delivered the Rose Garden speech, he did not reference the uranium claim.

The account Ms. Miscik provided to the Oversight Committee directly contradicts the account the White House provided to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Writing on Dr. Rice’s behalf on January 6, 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales addressed the uranium claim in the Rose Garden speech. He asserted: “On September 24, 2002, CIA officials orally cleared the [uranium claim] for use by the President.” Mr. Gonzales wrote:

The language cleared by CIA was identical to the language proposed for clearance by White House staff, except that it appears that CIA may have suggested that the second sentence read “in the process” rather than “of the process.”

Again, the Senate report appears to have adopted the White House assertion. The report states:

In response to questions from Committee staff, the White House said that on September 24, 2002, NSC staff contacted the CIA to clear another statement for use by the President. … The CIA cleared the language, but suggested that “of the process” be changed to “in the process.”

When the Committee asked Ms. Miscik whether the White House assertions were correct, she responded that they were “not accurate” and agreed that they were in fact “misleading” because they stated that the CIA had cleared the uranium claim. According to Ms. Miscik:

We had not cleared on this speech until the discussion that Dr. Rice and I had. And when she said that the information could be removed, at that point we then cleared on the remainder of the speech.

The Cincinnati Speech

On October 7, 2002, President Bush delivered a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, discussing the case for war against Iraq. White House officials have conceded previously that during the process of vetting this speech, the CIA warned Dr. Rice and her staff at the National Security Council on multiple occasions to remove the uranium claim.

The report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence appears to accurately report these warnings, including (1) a memorandum sent on October 5, 2002, to Dr. Rice’s deputy, Stephen Hadley, (2) a second memorandum sent on October 6, 2007, to the White House, and (3) a personal telephone call from CIA Director George Tenet to Mr. Hadley directing him to remove the claim.

On June 5, 2007, the Committee conducted a deposition of George Tenet, the former Director of Central Intelligence. In his deposition, Mr. Tenet provided new details about the explicit nature of these warnings. According to Mr. Tenet, his staff at the CIA approached him and asked him to intervene. They stated:

[W]e need to get this stuff out. We don’t believe this. We need to get it out of the speech. It’s not coming out. Can you call Mr. Hadley?

Mr. Tenet explained that he called Mr. Hadley to direct him to remove the language. He told the Committee:

[S]taff came down to say there was specific language that they wanted out and, essentially, I called Mr. Hadley up. It was a very short conversation. And I said Steve, take it out. We don’t want the President to be a fact witness on this issue.”

Mr. Tenet stated further: “The facts, I told him, were too much in doubt.”

According to Mr. Tenet, the President’s speech in Cincinnati did not include the uranium claim because the CIA had explicitly informed the White House that it was not cleared for a Presidential speech. Mr. Tenet stated: “We sent two memos to Mr. Hadley saying, this is why you don’t let the President say this in Cincinnati.”

Conclusion

One of the President’s core arguments for going to war against Iraq was that Saddam Hussein was seeking to build nuclear weapons. We now know that one of the pillars of this argument was illegitimate. For more than five years, I have been seeking answers to basic questions about why the President made a false assertion about such a fundamental matter.

As the President’s National Security Advisor at the time, Condoleezza Rice asserted publicly that she knew nothing about any doubts the CIA had raised about this claim prior to the 2003 State of the Union address. And former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales asserted to the Senate – on her behalf – that the CIA approved the use of the claim in several presidential speeches.

The Committee has obtained evidence that just the opposite is true. Officials who were directly involved at both the National Security Council and the CIA have reported to the Committee that the CIA rejected the use of the uranium claim in all three of the President’s speeches before the State of the Union address in which its use was considered. One of these officials also told the Committee that she spoke with Dr. Rice personally about this issue and that Dr. Rice was fully aware of the CIA’s warnings to stop using the claim.

http://yubanet.com/usa/New-Evidence-Contradicts-White-House-Assertions-on-Uranium-Claim.php

In fact, there is now evidence that at least four top officials at the National Security Council – Dr. Rice; Stephen Hadley, Deputy National Security Advisor; Robert Joseph, Senior Director for Proliferation Strategy, Counterproliferation, and Homeland Defense; and John Gibson, Director of Foreign Policy Speechwriting – had been warned by the CIA to stop using the uranium claim.

This evidence would appear to raise serious questions about the veracity of the assertions that Mr. Gonzales made to Congress on behalf of Dr. Rice about a key part of the President’s case for going to war in Iraq.

‘Shoe-icide Attack’ at the White House, 12.17.08

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Code Pink and others honor the courage of Iraqi journalist and shoe-tosser Muntader Al-Zaidi at the White House.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju0VpP4oUyM

Roberto Rodriguez: Why Bush Will Walk

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Roberto Rodriguez: Why Bush Will Walk

COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS
DEC 16, 2008
AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM: JUSTICE WE CAN BELIEVE IN OR WHY BUSH WILL WALK
BY ROBERTO DR CINTLI RODRIGUEZ

The President ducked two shoes in Iraq recently, just as he will
inexplicably also be able to walk away from his office, without the
worry of ever having to duck Nancy Pelosi’s heels – without ever
having to face impeachment by a complicit Congress.

The mind-boggling reason she continues to give regarding why
“impeachment is off the table” is that she claims that Democrats are
not out for revenge. Somehow, she seems to be oblivious to her
Constitutional duties to defend the Constitution, rather than engage
in political calculus (regarding who will control Washington).

Given a different set of circumstances, president George W. Bush and
his War Cabinet would not only be impeached, but they would also
undoubtedly face war crime tribunals for promoting and authorizing an
illegal war and occupation against Iraq – a war that is responsible
for the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and the displacement of
4-5 million others.

Chances are likely that Bush will also not have to duck the Obama
administration as all indications are that Obama will not show Bush
his soles. Instead, he will seek to “move forward” (Washington-speak
for ignoring the crimes of fellow politicians) and attempt to govern
from the middle. Governing from the middle is more Washington-speak
for ignoring the pursuit of justice.

Perhaps it will be up to history to deliver a verdict against a
president that has not simply run circles around the Constitution –
while ignoring international treaties and agreements – but that is
actually responsible for both, Iraqi and U.S. casualties, which number
in the tens of thousands.

Despite the glaring evidence that the president consistently lied to
Congress and the American public to be able to invade and occupy Iraq,
and despite the clear evidence of his approval of torture (claiming
that the Geneva Conventions of War were irrelevant) and illegal
spying, the question then is, what has been preventing his impeachment
and/or imprisonment?

It’s called American exceptionalism.

It’s the ability to look at the world, not the way it is or ought to
be, but rather, through U.S.-rose colored eyes.

Despite the obvious, U.S. politicos and government officials believe
that the United States has created the highest form of democracy – a
shining example to the rest of the world. Here, no one is above the
law. In fact, it is loudly proclaimed that “we are a nation of laws.”
We heard this most loudly when former president Bill Clinton lied to
Congress about his trysts with Monica Lewinsky.

But there’s also a backside to this idea of American exceptionalism:
the United States can do no wrong, or in this case, the president and
his underlings can do no wrong. In this case, president Bush
authorizing a war that never should have been fought is pedaled not as
a crime against humanity, but rather, simply as a policy difference –
no matter the hundreds of thousands of casualties – no matter that
thousands of Americans have died and that tens of thousands have been
permanently disabled. In the eyes of the U.S. body-politic, that’s
less a crime – or no crime at all – because it led to the ouster of a
tyrant.

Yet, there’s even an exception to this idea; if a president or
politico does something immoral –something that offends
Western/Christian sensibilities – such as lying to Congress about
having sex, having an abortion or trying to extort money or political
favors in exchange for a Senate seat – that is considered unforgivable
and unpardonable. This is true, more so than starting a destructive
and catastrophic war under false pretenses.

Where does this logic and morality come from? Perhaps from the same
logic that says it is permissible to kill a thousand innocents to save
one sinner or the medieval idea that found it permissible to kill
thousands of non-Christians in the Americas, while seeing it as “a
great service to God.”

Reaching back to the Dark Ages may seem like stretch, yet, where else
can we find an answer that permits a president to war on a weak
nation, claiming that God told him to do it – and then Congress
inexplicably absconding from its Constitutional and moral duties and
obligations, not simply to protect the U.S. Constitution and the rule
of law, but to protect the world from a dangerous and delusional
president.

Yet, neither does Pelosi or Obama have the last word on this matter.
Thirty years after the fact, Chile’s dictator, Agusto Pinochet, and
the Argentine generals that waged a “dirty War” in their country,
found this out.

(c) Column of the Americas 2008

Rodriguez, a research associate at the University of Arizona, can be
reached at: XColumn@gmail.com

Column of the Americas – PO BOX 85476 – Tucson, AZ 85754

http://web.mac.com/columnoftheamericas/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html

Is a US-Iran Deal on the Middle East Possible?

Is a US-Iran Deal on the Middle East Possible?

by Gareth Porter

TEHRAN – Would a negotiated agreement between Iran and the Barack Obama administration be feasible if Obama sent the right signals? The answer one gets from Iranian officials and think-tank analysts is, “Yes, but…”

The Iranian national security establishment has long salivated over the prospect of an agreement with Washington. But there’s a big difference between Iranian and U.S. ideas of what such an accord would look like.

Washington is fixated on what it would take to get Iran to agree to stop enriching uranium. On the other hand, Iranians interviewed here indicate that an agreement would only be possible if it represented a fundamental change in the U.S.-Iran relationship. Iranian officials and analysts see the problem of U.S.-Iranian relations as a seamless web of issues on which agreement must be reached as a whole. And in addition to the bilateral issues of normal diplomatic and economic relations, they see a new U.S.-Iranian understanding on the Middle East as essential.

The problem for Iran, they observe, is that it feels it must base its policies across the entire region on the assumption of U.S. hostility. “As long as there is a lack of understanding between the United States and Iran, any move by the United States worries us,” said Hamid Reza Dehghani, director of the Center for the Persian Gulf and Middle East at the Iranian foreign ministry’s think-tank, the Institute for Political and International Studies.

On the other hand, Iranian officials appear to recognize that the United States and Iran do have some objective interests in common in the region – especially opposition to al-Qaeda and related Islamic terrorists. Despite past U.S. policies that threaten Iranian interests, therefore, they see potential opportunities for U.S.-Iranian cooperation in the region.

“If there is a chance for finding commonalities with the United States,” said Dehghani, “it will be found in the Middle East.”

An adviser to the foreign ministry who asked not to be named, because he is not authorized to speak to foreign journalists, told IPS that a “grand bargain” – an agreement on all the issues that both sides wish to raise – is possible, based on a joint recognition of the threat from al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups.

He added that U.S.-Iran understandings on both Iraq and Afghanistan would be “central” to any such agreement.

Iran has long been willing to deal directly with the United States on both Afghanistan and Iraq, having participated in a series of secret meetings with U.S. diplomats in Geneva from late 2001 to spring 2003 before the George W. Bush administration cut them off.

Dehghani explained the Iranian eagerness to deal with the United States on Iraq now as a function of relatively greater Iranian capabilities and leverage. But he also admitted Iranian officials are concerned over whether the United States will abide by the agreement it has reached with the Iraqi government to withdraw all of its forces by 2011.

Despite President-elect’s Obama’s campaign pledges on troop withdrawal and the U.S. commitment to Iraq to withdraw completely by the end of 2011, Dehghani said, “I’m doubtful about it.” He cites factors that are favorable to U.S. withdrawal: the fact that the U.S.-Iraqi withdrawal agreement was imposed on an unwilling U.S. government by Iraqi public opinion, and factions in the Iraqi government “friendly to Iran” – an obvious reference to Iraqi Shia political parties which had long enjoyed Iranian patronage and are now part of the Nouri al-Maliki regime in Baghdad.

What worries Iranian strategists are elements of the Iraqi regime they view as responsive to U.S. interests. “Iraqi government security and military forces were established directly by the United States,” said Dehghani, “and the heads of these systems are not friendly to Iran.”

But Dehghani denied the Bush administration charge that it has been “favoring special groups in Iraq, regardless of the central government.”

If the U.S. and Iran reached a broader agreement to end their hostility, Dehghani said, it would make a complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq “more feasible,” implying that the main U.S. interest in keeping troops in Iraq now is to contain Iranian influence.

On Afghanistan, Iranian officials appear to view the brief period of U.S.-Iran cooperation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda after 9/11, which was terminated as a result of a neoconservative initiative in Washington, as the template for what should occur in the future. Dehghani hinted that Iran is more concerned about the danger of rising Sunni extremist power in Afghanistan than it is with Obama’s intention to increase U.S. troop strength there.

He said nothing about U.S. troops in Afghanistan except that they were suffering more casualties than those in Iraq. Instead, Dehghani made it clear Iran opposes peace negotiations with the Taliban, as proposed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

U.S. support for a “dialogue” with the Taliban, he said, “would be a great mistake.”

Europeans and Arab states may be supporting an accommodation with the Taliban, said Dehghani, but the “the real policymakers in the U.S. are not.” He suggested that such an accommodation “cannot be supported by the U.S. public.”

Dehghani thus implied that Iran and the United States both oppose the same enemy – Sunni extremism – in Afghanistan, providing an objective basis for a broader regional accord.

Perhaps the most politically sensitive issue for both sides in any broad U.S.-Iran negotiations, apart from Iran’s nuclear program, would be Iran’s relations with Hezbollah and other anti-Israel organizations.

A secret May 2003 Iranian proposal offered to support the Saudi-sponsored Arab League plan for a peace settlement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would result in Iranian recognition of Israel if the plan were carried to completion. But, as opponents of engagement with Iran have noted, the U.S. State Department’s Near East Bureau doubted that the proposal represented anything more than the position of the Mohammad Khatami administration’s reformist faction, which they believed was too weak to carry out such an agreement.

It was conservative editor and political strategist Amir Mohebbian, a longtime supporter of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who suggested in an interview that a U.S.-Iran accord could “help the United States solve the Israel-Palestinian issue.”

Cutting through Iranian propaganda on Israel aimed largely at appealing to Arab populations across the region, Mohebbian said Iranian policy toward Israel has to be viewed as a two-level operation. “As a slogan,” he told IPS, “Iran says we can’t accept the reality of Israel, but we have slogans and we have action. There is a difference between the two.”

According to the foreign ministry’s top official on U.S. affairs, Ali Akbar Rezaie, the main obstacle to a broad U.S.-Iran agreement is not conflicts over objective interests, but U.S. concern with Iran’s status as a “great power in this region.”

“The only way for the United States to reverse this vicious circle is to agree to coexist with this greater status of Iran,” said Rezaie. “Sooner or later they will have to recognize this.”

realtipof5445http://www.antiwar.com/porter/?articleid=13911

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