Viewpoint: Bush effort to hide reality of war

We are witnessing the crumbling of the Bush administration from internal rot. While a turf war rages on inside the executive branch, Bush is trying to control external factors that might drop his performance ratings even lower.

The Washington Post reports the president has told the Pentagon to block any coverage of U.S. casualties from Iraq as the bodies arrive in our capital.

Reporter Dana Milbank wrote for The New York Times: “Since the end of the Vietnam War, presidents have worried that their military actions would lose support once the public glimpsed the remains of U.S. soldiers arriving at air bases in flag-draped coffins.

“To this problem, the Bush administration has found a simple solution: It has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers’ homecomings on all military bases.”

In addition to a gross violation of the First Amendment, Bush’s edict shows the true character of this administration. They seem to care nothing about those sent to fight and die in Iraq and not much more about their families.

Back in the Carter administration, President Carter attended memorial ceremonies at a Delaware air base when casualties were returned from the failed effort to rescue the hostages held in Iran.

President Reagan pinned medals on the coffins of U.S. Marines who fell in El Salvador and was present at memorials for the 241 Marines killed in Beirut in a barracks bombing.

George Bush the elder paid homage to our military killed in Panama and Lebanon and had elaborate ceremonies conducted at both domestic American air bases and some abroad.

With the death toll of American soldiers in Iraq nearing 350, Gee Dubya has yet to attend a single funeral or memorial service. He has been much too busy playing fighter pilot and landing on aircraft carriers and using massed troops as a backdrop for his photo ops appearances. So much for the “compassionate conservatives.”

Back in 1999, Gen. Henry Shelton, then chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said any foreign intervention by this country would have to pass the “Dover test,” a reference to public reaction to images of coffins coming off military transport planes at the Dover, Del. air base.

In craven fashion, Bush and his accomplices decided they would not stand that test. Rather, they are rapping the news media for reporting the daily litany of attacks and casualties in Iraq. Instead, they insist the media should focus on alleged accomplishments in Iraq, such as issuing new currency.

At Fort Stewart, Ga., where Bush staged one of his hokey appearances, some 600 wounded and injured reservists are being denied prompt medical care and are housed in abysmal conditions in old WWII cinderblock barracks without running water or air conditioning. The wounded, many on crutches, must walk 30 yards to a bug-infested latrine. They must buy their own toilet paper.

When this state of affairs was revealed to the media, the wounded troops—about 400 of them—were lined up and told by senior officers to keep their mouths shut or punishments would be meted out.

For Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, as for Halliburton, Bechtel, ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips, these mostly working class young people are expendable. Just a down payment in blood for what they hope will be windfall profits from the seizure of Iraq’s oil fields and looting of the U.S. treasury through massive deficit spending and grossly inflated “reconstruction” contracts.

Speaking of Halliburton, the national press just discovered what some of us have known for months, namely that Vice President Dick Cheney is still collecting a bundle from his old firm in the form of “deferred compensation.” Halliburton is the biggest hog at the Iraqi trough.

A woman working with a church group in Iraq observed: “Every other person we meet seems to have an engineering degree, and they are impressive builders. I have no doubt that Iraqis have no need of Halliburton and Bechtel to rebuild their country at inflated U.S. costs paid in oil. These are the people who can take simple mud and stone and create buildings that have lasted since the dawn of civilization.”

Maggie Burns, reporting for the Progressive Populist, found Halliburton is using a back-door approach to swell Cheney’s bank accounts.

She found Cheney’s financial disclosure forms showed the VP has at least $18 million invested in the Vanguard Group, a leading mutual fund. Vanguard is the 10th largest shareholder in Halliburton. It owns 7.6 million shares valued at about $176 million. Any contract that pumps Halliburton’s bottom line also fattens Cheney’s bank balance.

Chris Floyd, a writer for the Moscow Times, snapped: “Secret deals with pals and patrons, secret profits that can’t be traced, mutual funds to launder the money, and plenty of cannon fodder to do the wetwork and take the blowback: Bush has turned America into a den of thieves.”

Judicial Watch, a public interest law firm, has been suing Cheney over release of Energy Task Force documents. The firm has at last received some documents. They were provided by the Commerce Department.

Judicial Watch said the documents contain a map of Iraqi oil fields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects. The documents are dated March 2001.

At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear to those in the know that it is Cheney, not Bush, who is guiding our foreign policy.

The Asia Times commented: “…hints that Cheney—a Republican right-winger surrounded by neo-conservatives, many with close ties to Israel’s Likud Party—is the dominant figure in Washington’s diplomacy have become too plentiful to ignore.”

Some say Cheney is trying to thwart congressional pressure to reduce Pentagon control over Iraq policy and to fire several senior Pentagon chickenhawks, starting with Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy. He may become the scapegoat for the bogus intelligence that was disseminated.

Al Martin, well-known whistleblower and former member of the Reagan administration, said: “The Bush hacks are losing control of the Ambassador Wilson leak story and the connection to Karl Rove.”

Administration apologists have tried to sell the story that Wilson exposed an administration lie about Iraq and uranium from Niger. They charge Wilson made the claim that Karl Rove, Bush’s senior political adviser, leaked the name of his wife and that she was a CIA officer, because he is a loyal Democrat and wanted to get back at Bush.

Martin said Wilson always was considered apolitical and had been an ambassador in the administration of the senior Bush, receiving a letter of commendation from George H. Bush.

Rove, on the other hand, has done this leaking of info before. The elder Bush fired him for feeding classified information to a syndicated columnist named…Robert Novak. That was in 1991.

Martin stated further: “Rove is being put in a box and there’s no way that the administration is going to be able to save him. The problem they have with Rove is that this exposure of the CIA officer is a Class B felony, and there’s no way he can get out of the mandatory jail term.”

Martin added one more statement that prompts some concentrated thought about the future: “If Rove is the designated scapegoat, then Rove is going to burn everybody–given that Rove’s family connections go back to the late 1930s.”

Do you suppose Rove may have an “accident” as happened so often to President Clinton’s opponents?

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