United States News Digest
Addington, Cambone Reject Geneva Conventions in New Manual
The Los Angeles Times reported on June 5 that the Defense Department has decided to omit a key provision of the Geneva Conventionsthat banning humiliating and degrading treatmentfrom the revised Army Field Manual on Interrogations. If made final, this would violate the McCain-Warner-Graham anti-torture amendment voted up almost unanimously by the U.S. Senate last year, which President Bush asserted that he was not obliged to follow, in a "signing statement" for the defense bill.
It was reported months ago that Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Stephen Cambone was in charge of the revision; the Los Angeles Times reported June 5 that Cambone and officials from the Office of the Vice President, particularly Cheney's now-chief of staff David Addington, pressed the hardest in opposition to the State Department and uniformed military lawyers who want to maintain the provision, known as Common Article 3, since it is part of all four of the postwar Geneva Conventions. Common Article 3 bans "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of all persons in a war zone, whether or not they have formal POW status.
The War Set the Conditions for the Haditha Massacre
A retired Army Ranger, and a long-time activist on veterans issues, told EIR June 5 that the Bush Administration, with its war in Iraq, "set the conditions" for the Haditha massacre to occur. He cited limited and ambiguous rules of engagement and lack of leadership as factors, "but the story that no one wants to write," he said, is that the particular Marine unit has been in Iraq repeatedly, including in both Fallujah battles in 2004, and has suffered heavy losses. "You can only have 9/11 so many days in a row before people are going to break. Yes, a crime was committed, which is inexcusable; however, who is managing the war, managing the rotation of troops, who is conducting the face-to-face clinical encounters after these soldiers are involved in traumatic events, and who is monitoring the medication that they're on? All of these things are parts of the story that haven't been told." He added that, "These soldiers are in survival mode. Foreign policy is so bad, and the situation is so bad, that the only way they think they can get out of there is to kill people."
After being briefed on Lyndon LaRouche's proposal that Iraq war veterans, especially the wounded, be part of an expansion of the Army Corps of Engineers, he said, echoing LaRouche on this very point, that having the ability to draw on a force of people that can respond to infrastructure demands (such as following a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina) is probably a good idea and that's a good place for them.
Maine Democratic Party Votes To Impeach Cheney, Bush
A resolution voted up by the Maine Democratic Party's state convention, on June 4 calls for a Congressional investigation of "allegations of high crimes and misdemeanors" committed in office by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and urges Congress "to initiate impeachment proceedings against them," if warranted. The resolution accuses the regime of withholding information during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, allowing the torture of detainees, illegally "spying on Americans," and "betray[ing] their oaths" of office, among other charges.
The resolution also calls on the state legislature and Maine's Congressional delegation to push for investigations of Bush and Cheney. Should just one state legislature pass an impeachment resolution, the U.S. House of Representatives would be bound to launch an impeachment investigation.
The convention's resolution came after recent calls for impeachment by Democratic committees in South Portland, and in Hancock, Waldo, and Kennebec counties. The latter is the county of the state capital, where the convention was held June 2-3.
On June 5, ImpeachPAC, a Federal political action committee which funds pro-impeachment candidates for Congress, announced it is endorsing its first candidate for the U.S. Senate, Jean Hay Bright of Maine, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe this fall. "I could not believe my ears when I heard that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said a few weeks ago that the current impeachment talk is just a 'pointless distraction' and would be 'off the table' if the Democrats manage to regain majority status after the November elections," Bright said. On June 1, Bright received the endorsement of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio.
Democrats Make No Major Gains in State Elections
Absent the clear programmatic leadership offered by Lyndon LaRouche, Democrats running in eight state elections June 6 garnered no significant victories, despite the collapsing approval ratings and disarray in the GOP. The "Gore tradition" still prevails, LaRouche commented, and Democrats are trying their best to lose, ignoring the population's demands for something other than talk of the "culture of corruption." One political analyst commented that the Republicans were lucky "to duck a bullet" this time around.
The most closely watched race was the special San Diego election for the seat vacated by Duke Cunningham, now serving a jail term for bribery and other crimes. There, the GOP's Brian Bilbray won over Democrat Francine Busby, 49% to 45%. Although Dems claimed this was a "moral victory," because Busby surpassed John Kerry's 2004 percentage in the Presidential elections there, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee Tom Reynolds, crowed that the results show "that nothing has happened to alter the notion that House elections are about a choice between local personalities focussed on local issues." Busby campaigned largely on "corruption" and "ethics reform," and emphasized Bilbray's work as a "lobbyist." Voter turnout was very low.
Also in California, Dem State Treasurer Phil Angelides beat out State Comptroller Steve Westly 48% to 44%, and will face Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in November.
Zinni Politely Trashes Cheney's War in Iraq
Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni (ret.), in a broad-ranging discussion held at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, on June 7, called for a complete reassessment of the U.S. role in the world, an assessment that needs to come from within the U.S. "It has to be major and drastic," he said, and it has to include a restructuring of our government to deal with the world as it is. He argued that the government is still based on Cold War structures dominated by stovepipe, bloated bureaucratic structures. "The 9/11 Commission found the problem," he said, "but the response was to create more bloated bureaucracy," which he described as a feudal system of barons that don't talk to each other. "That kind of stovepipe, layered bureaucracy would never survive on the battlefield," he said.
As for Iraq, Zinni was asked by the moderator what were the most important lessons he could bring to the war in Iraq from his experiences in his two tours in Vietnam. Zinni noted that during his first tour, he was sent in as an advisor to the South Vietnamese Marines, after having been trained to speak the language, and that he rarely saw other American troops. From this perspective, "I saw the war through the eyes of the Vietnamese people. They didn't understand what we were asking them to die for. They were just trying to survive. We were selling them an ideal that they didn't see in their government," he said. He invoked Colin Powell's "pottery store" doctrine of "you broke it, you own it." "What we don't understand," he said, "is that when we intervene and become the occupying power, we own it." The problem with the U.S. intervention in Iraq is that we went in with too few troops, with no understanding of the culture, or the security, reconstruction and other issues. "I saw this as a plan to do it on the cheap, which would result in disaster," he said.
Is Pentagon Blocking Letters to Congress from Gitmo Prisoners?
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on June 5, demanding to know if the Pentagon has a policy of blocking letters to Members of Congress from detainees being held at Guantanamo, the Burlington Free Press reported June 8. Leahy said that this was brought to his attention by a Vermont lawyer representing a detainee, who had been told that a letter that a detainee sent to 98 members of Congress had been blocked. "If true, this would be yet another unilateral action by the Bush-Cheney administration to withhold information from Congress, without consultation with Congress," Leahy spokesman David Carle said.
Jefferson Forced Off Ways and Means Committee
The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, under the leadership of House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), voted 33-7 to force Rep. William Jefferson (D-La), who is black, off the House Ways and Means Committee. The African American members of the committee strongly objected, arguing that this is the first case of a member who is under investigation, but not indicted, being forced out, and that it smacks of racism.
The Black Caucus used a rule to force a postponement of the vote by the full Democrat Caucus until next week. The Congressional Quarterly reported June 9, however, that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) talked to Jefferson personally, urging him to step down, but that Jefferson refused.