United States News Digest
'Death of a Salesman's Merchandise'
Even the "progressive Democratic" opponents of Social Security privatization are starting to figure out that Bush is a lame duck: On a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities conference call June 2, one speaker noted that "since Bush was sent out on the road by Rove and Cheney," misstatements and lies by the White House have multiplied, with Cheney the leading liar.
A clear sign of what's happened to George W. "Beanie" Bush was that while he's been on his never-ending road tour for privatization, the House Republican leadership appears to have dropped it from their legislative agenda. Bush was in Hopkinsville, Ky. on June 2, holding another in his standard "invitation-only roundtable discussions." In Washington, The Hill reported that Tom DeLay's majority whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo) sent out an e-mail to GOP aides and lobbyists, outlining a set of GOP legislative priorities for after the Memorial Day recess; the list did not mention Social Security
"Ever see a lame duck run?" asked Lyndon LaRouche about Bush's road show. When the analogy of Arthur Miller's famous play, Death of a Salesman, with Willie Loman endlessly driving his territory, at the same time that, in the home office, his bosses prepared to fire him, LaRouche commented, "Well, it's the death of a salesman's merchandise."
Pentagon Delays Release of Recruitment Numbers
On June 1, the Pentagon announced that it would be delaying release of the monthly recruiting figures for May, until June 10. A spokesman said that the services wanted more time to analyze the numbers, since the services are hard pressed now to meet recruitment goals, the Washington Times reported June 2. The Army and the Marines have missed their monthly goals this year, and the Army is increasing the enlistment bonuses and offering 15-month enlistments. Army officials are admitting that the Iraq war is making young people reconsider joining the military.
Bush Denounces Senate Request for Documents on Bolton
At his press conference on May 31, President George W. Bush denounced the Senate request for documents relating to John Bolton's nomination as UN Ambassador, as a "stall tactic," designed to prevent an "up or down vote" on Bolton, which the New York Times June 1 reported to be a sign that he will not compromise on the nomination. The Administration is refusing to turn over documents concerning allegations that Bolton made about Syria, which turned out to be grossly distorted, and others relating to the instances where Bolton got National Security Agency wiretap information on "American person identities" (a peculiar term that the Times says, could refer to either an individual or a company).
The Times also reports that last week, the new Director of National Security, John Negroponte, had offered a compromise to the Senate Democrats, offering to partially brief the two Senate leadersthe GOP's Bill Frist (Tenn) and the Democrats' Harry Reid (Nev)on the documents, without revealing the names of the parties about whom Bolton was seeking the information. This was the same restricted information that had been given to Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the two leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Reid refused the offer of this partial information, and a spokesman for Reid told the Times that "the fate" of the Bolton confirmation now "lies with the President."
Bush Line: Charges of Detainee Abuse Are Lies
The emerging line of the Bush Administration, in response to growing accusations of torture and other abuses of detainees, is that anyone who says that there's abuse of detained terrorists is a liar. In an appearance on Larry King Live May 31, Vice President Dick Cheney said that he was "offended" by the Amnesty International report on Guantanamo prison abuse. "For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously," said Cheney.
An AP story May 31 on claims of maltreatment at "Gitmo" cites a May 29 statement by the Pentagon about the training of the Guantanamo detainees to be liars. This is elaborated on in a Washington Times front-page article on administration claims that al-Qaeda has trained its operatives to make false claims of torture, as part of disinformation operations when captured. These claims are said to based on a terrorist war manual seized in a raid on an al-Qaeda cell in Manchester, England. In the same article, White House spokesman Scott McClellan is quoted remarking on this training in response to a question about treatment of detainees, at an unidentified press conference. The article gives more extensive quotes from Rumsfeld spokesman Larry DiRita on the same subject.
Finally, Bicyclist-in-Chief Bush was asked at his press conference today about Amnesty International's recent assertion that the U.S. is running a "gulag" of prisons around the world, and he responded, "It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that ispromotes freedom around the world."
Unreferenced by the Administration spokesmen are the myriad of trials of Armed Forces personnel for mistreatment, including death, of detainees. Amnesty International spokesmen also noted that the Administration has no problem with its accuracy when its reports deals with North Korea, or other "enemies" of the United States.
Was General Demoted Because He Ran Afoul of Rumsfeld?
A U.S. Army three-star general was demoted and given early retirement, apparently, for publicly contradicting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Lt. Gen. John Riggs argued that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, and needed more troops. Riggs last spring was told by superiors that he would be retired, reduced in rank by one star, for infractions considered so minor they were not placed in his official record. (This appears to involve his having assigned a female civilian contractor to perform functions which were to be performed only by government employees.)
"Over the past several decades, generals and admirals faced with far more serious findingsscandals at the Navy's Tailhook Convention, the Air Force Academy and Abu Ghraib prison, for examplehave continued in their careers or retired with no loss of rank, the Baltimore Sun reported May 31. Riggs's supporters argue that the reason for the extreme penalty, was that Riggs, who was in charge of the Army's "transformation task force," contradicted Rumsfeld's analysis of troop strength. "They all went batst when that happened," retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner is quoted as saying. According to the Sun, Riggs gave an interview to the paper in January 2004, which "made him the first senior active-duty officer to publicly urge a larger Armyand the first to publicly take on Rumsfeld and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who had repeatedly told lawmakers that such increases were not necessary."
Conyers Demands Truth About Downing Street Iraq Memo
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich) is out to get 100,000 signatures on his request to President Bush to respond to the revelation of a "Downing Street Memo," recently exposed by the London Times. The memo is actually minutes of a Downing Street meeting disclosing that Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to an Iraqi invasion in July 2002, long before it happened, and even before the President sought authorization from Congress to do so. Conyers notes that already over 1,600 servicemen and women have been killed in Iraq, and that his letter to Bush was co-signed by 88 other members of the House of Representatives, but, so far, his "search for truth" has been "stonewalled" by the President.
Congress Wants Commission To Study Strategic Doctrine
Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio) sponsored a rider to the 2006 Defense Authorization Bill, mandating the creation of a commission to study the implications of the new Bush Administration strategic doctrine, integrating nuclear and conventional weapons, the Washington Post reported May 29. The Hobson commission mandate was framed in the need to "lessen the overall United States dependence on nuclear weapons," but it comes at a time when the Cheney-Rumsfeld crowd in the Bush Administration is pushing for a new generation of mini-nuclear weapons to be integrated into U.S. strategic military operations, targetting countries like Iran and North Korea.
The Hobson rider, which passed the House on May 25 as part of the overall DOD appropriation, calls on the Secretary of Defense to appoint a 12-person commission, that would take the next 28 months to study the issue of new strategic doctrine and weapons systems, and then another year to produce a final report. The Post noted that there is widespread confusion over the Administration's policy on future use of strategic weapons, both nuclear and conventional. The Administration asked for $9.4 million for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program at the National Nuclear Security Administration, under which the Administration appears to be pushing the development of a new generation of mini-nukes, while Congressional opponents seek to assure no resumption of U.S. nuclear weapon testing. Last week, the Congressional Research Service issued a report on the RRW program, in which Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters, Steve Henry, made it clear that the Administration did not rule out resumption of nuclear testing on a new generation of post-Cold War nuclear weapons that would "relax" the "Cold War design requirements for high nuclear yields."