United States News Digest
Bush and Hu Keep Up Appearances
China's President Hu Jintao and U.S. President George W. Bush held a press availability April 20 which could be described as keeping up the appearance of the great relationship between the two countries. There was no breakthrough on the currency issue, or in getting China to back sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program. The only agreement reached between the two Presidents was on restarting six-party talks with North Korea.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, greeted Hu with a front-page article featuring Bush Administration preparations for future military conflict with China. Pentagon circles redeploying U.S. military assets into the Pacific, and pressing Japan to rearm and join the U.S. against China, present this as a "hedging strategy" against a possible coming conflict.
Rep. Miller E-Hearing: Reversing Raid on Student Aid
Rep. George Miller of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, is holding an "e-hearing" on "Reversing the Raid on Student Aid." The e-hearing, launched on the website of the Democratic members of the committee April 17, will run for two weeks. Miller is asking for testimony from students and experts in the education field. Miller and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill) have put forward a bill to halve the interest rates charged for student loans, from 6.8% to 3.4%. Miller's e-hearing has six co-sponsors now. The website is: http://edworkforce.house.gov/democrats/
Murtha Renews Call To Withdraw from Iraq
"You can't win this war.... It's time for us to redeploy," Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa) said in an interview April 19 on the CBS "Early Show."
"I measure success by the economic side of it.... Here's the facts: 60% unemployment, electricity below pre-war levels, water is 30%....
"The military commanders have said for over a year we cannot win this war. Forty-seven percent of the Iraqis say it's all right to kill Americans. Our troops are caught in a civil war...."
In response to the a question on whether Rumsfeld should resign, Murtha replied that the President should have accepted the Defense Secretary's resignation offer at the time of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Asked if the criticism of Rumsfeld is really aimed at the President, he replied, "Well, certainly it's aimed at the President. It's aimed at the war itself."
Justin Frank Cited on Bush's 'Cruel, Sadistic Streak'
Writing for OpEdNews.com April 19, Doug Thompson, who describes himself as a recovering alcoholic (nearly 12 years sober), confirmed the assessment of Dr. Justin Frank, author of Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, that Bush is an unreconstructed drunk. "Bush demonstrates many of the traits of a drinker who has relapsed: An inability to focus, moments where he goes 'blank' and can't respond, incoherent sentences and flashes of anger when challenged."
From Thompson's article: "The boy who tortured cats, Dr. Frank says, grew up into an alcohol-abusing bully who strikes out at anyone who opposes him.
"All one has to do is confront the President and the bully emerges.
"'To actually directly confront him in a clear way, to bring him out, so you would really see the bully, and you would also see the fear,' he says.
"Dr. Frank also believes Bush, an alcoholic who brags that he gave up booze without help from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, may be drinking again. 'Is he still drinking?' Frank asks. 'And if not, is he impaired by all the years he did spend drinking? Both questions need to be addressed in any serious assessment of his psychological state.'
"A drunk: That's the title George W. Bush deserves most. He is a drunk even if he doesn't get blasted on booze. He's drunk with power and that's the most dangerous kind of drunk. When a drunk who gets high on power sits in the White House, the rest of us wake up with the hangover."
Bush Must Seek Congressional Approval for Iran Attack
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has sent a letter to President Bush reminding him that he is constitutionally bound to seek Congressional approval for any military action against Iran. DeFazio is also planning to introduce a resolution to this effect and seeking support from among other House members. In addition to citing the Declare War clause (Article I, Section 8) and the Commander-in-Chief clause (Article II, Section 2) of the Constitution, DeFazio argues that neither the Authorization of Force Resolution (Public Law 107-40) to go after those responsible for 9/11, nor the Authorization of Force Resolution (Public LAW 107-253) to go to war with Iraq, extends to military action against Iran over its nuclear program.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has also written a letter to Bush, in which he states: "Any military deployment to Iran would constitute an urgent matter of national significance. I urge you to report immediately to Congress on all activities involving American forces in Iran."
Niger Docs Known To Be Forged Before State of Union
The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), identified the Niger documents, cited by President Bush in his 2003 State of the Union message, as a "forgery" on Jan. 12sixteen days before the speech, Truthout.com reported April 17. The forged documents alleged that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium yellowcake from Niger.
The INR revelation appeared in a just released, de-classified memo on Ambassador Joseph Wilson's Niger trip, that was given to the fanatic neo-con New York Sun under FOIA. Butit has backfired against Bush and Cheney. After writing in the National Intelligence Estimate in October 2002 that INR opposed the credibility of the Niger uranium purchase story, this memo, dated July 7, 2003, from INR head Carl Ford, Jr. to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, says, "On January 12, 2003, INR 'expressed concerns to the CIA that the documents pertaining to the Iraq-Niger deal were forgeries.'"
Ex-NSC Officials: No Viable Military Option vs. Iran
Two former National Security Council counterterrorism officials, Richard Clarke and Steven Simon, say there is no viable military option against Iran, but the Bush Administration is proceeding with war plans anyway. Their report is in a New York Times op-ed April 16. Clarke and Simon recount that the Clinton Administration contemplated military action against Iran after the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia by Iran-backed terrorists in 1996. After thoroughly reviewing military options and the likely global blowback, "the highest levels of the military could not forecast a way in which things would end favorably for the United States." Instead of a bombing campaign against Iran, the Clinton Administration, they write, "responded with a chilling threat to the Tehran government and conducted a global operation that immobilized Iran's intelligence service. Iranian terrorism against the United States ceased."
They argue that the situation today is identical, and that Iran could retaliate against American air strikes in three ways: attack oil flows from the Persian Gulf, driving prices well over $80 a barrel; conduct global terrorist attacks against U.S. and allied targets; and launch a major escalation of attacks against American and British forces inside Iraq. They say that an escalating campaign of attacks against Iran "would guarantee the regime decades more of control."
The authors say that Bush Administration actions today go well beyond threats or mere contingency planning, and parallel its behavior before the Iraq invasion. "Congress did not ask the hard questions then," they write. "It must not permit the administration to launch another war whose outcome cannot be known, or worse, known all too well."
Rumsfeld's Errors Fuelled the Iraq Insurgency
New York Times reporter Michael Gordon, co-author with Gen. Bernard Trainor (ret.) of the book Cobra II, in a news analysis piece on the generals' revolt against Rumsfeld in the April 16 New York Times, pointed to two disastrous Rumsfeld decisions in 2003, that fueled the Iraqi insurgency. First, according to Gen. Tommy Franks, the CENTCOM commander at the time of the invasion, Rumsfeld cancelled the deployment of the First Cavalry Division into Iraq, immediately after the invasion, thereby leaving American forces undermanned to secure Baghdad. Second, Rumsfeld signed off on the order to dismantle the entire Iraqi Army in May 2003, according to Paul Bremer, the U.S. viceroy in Iraq, who implemented the decision. In a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2004, Gen. Peter Pace (USMC), the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed that the decision had been made by Rumsfeld without consulting with the Chiefs.
Gordon also reported that "no active-duty military commanders have openly associated themselves with the criticism by the retired generals. But the criticism clearly reflects a current of opinion among serving officers. 'Most people I know think these retired officers are right and wish they had done it while they were in uniform,' said one Army colonel who served in Iraq and who was granted anonymity because he was concerned about hurting his military career."