Viewpoint: Bush White House bereft of ethics, morals

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Will Rogers once said he wasn’t really a comedian because he could not compete with the professionals in Washington, D.C. President George W. Bush recently presented an example of the truth in that statement.

The president hilariously has directed the White House staff to attend classes about ethics and the general handling of classified material. His memo said he expects his staff to follow the “spirit as well as the letter” of existing ethics laws and rules.

If there’s anybody who needs instruction in ethics, it’s George W. Bush, followed by Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Alberto Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove. It’s too late for Mr. Libby.

More and more, it is being revealed that commodity—if it can be called such—is in short supply within the Bush White House. The recent indictment of Cheney’s former chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, is a case in point. Now, a second federal grand jury is open for business, and the first witness may be Susan Ralston, Karl Rove’s chief of staff. That fact emphasizes that Rove, sometimes called “Bush’s brain,” remains under investigation.

‘As we know, the investigation of Rove and Libby is in connection with the disclosure of the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA operative. Another example of the lack of ethics and morality at the upper levels of this administration has just come to light: namely, the operation by the CIA of a string of secret prisons in Europe where detainees held by this country are tortured.

Now, investigative reporter Wayne Madsen reveals these prisoners are being shipped around Eastern Europe in cages like so much freight, loaded in C-130 aircraft, which can land and take off on short runways. That’s useful at some of the remote locations where these planes must go.

Madsen reports that a strategically placed intelligence source told him these prisoners are kept in “dog-sized” cages, and that the transfer operation began after the revelations about Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and Camp Bucca at Umm Qasr, Iraq.

Along the way, the source said, these prisoners were subjected to brutal interrogation by U.S. military or contractor personnel—in some cases they were ex-KGB members—Stasi, or other members of security services in Eastern Europe.

Madsen related that he was told by this intelligence operative that the man personally witnessed preparations for establishing what are known as “black sites” in several countries. Speaking under a guarantee of anonymity, the source said these locations, among others, were in Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, Macedonia, Romania, Republic of Georgia, Albania, Bulgaria and Moldova.

The use of cages for transporting prisoners is reminiscent of the Vietnam War when “tiger cages” were used to hold political prisoners. Flying these unfortunates—many of whom Madsen has learned are Buddhists and anti-war activists—to what members of the military Judge Advocate General’s office termed “law-free zones,” is another example of the lack of any ethics on the part of this administration.

The Plame investigation is bringing whistleblowers out of the woodwork. Evidence of brutish conduct and dishonesty on the part of Bush and company goes back well before the present morass of amoral conduct. In 2002, a shipment of binary VX nerve gas was allegedly made to Turkey.

Madsen alleges this shipment was meant to be transported into Iraq and hidden, later to be “discovered” as evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Valerie Plame’s network was involved in trying to prevent the spread of WMD. The group was part of the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division.

When the CIA learned of the shipment, Plame’s group intercepted it and prevented it from reaching Iraq. Intelligence sources told Madsen that was a major reason the White House targeted Plame for retaliation. The sources said the first shipment of VX nerve gas to Iraq was between 1988 and 1989. The gas was allegedly shipped by The Carlyle Group.

Carlyle Group members included: George H.W. Bush, James Baker III, Frank Carlucci, former Secretary of Defense, and, until 9/11, members of the bin Laden family.

In addition to such sterling examples of ethics and morals, we have witnessed the use of white phosphorous weapons against civilians at Fallujah, sodomizing of teen-age prisoners, the disappearance of $30 million in Iraq reconstruction funds, rigging of elections and the deliberate erosion of our civil rights.

Very recently, we have the example of Vice President Richard Cheney demanding exemptions from any torture ban while, at the same time, he and President Bush deny that we torture prisoners. In many cases we don’t, we subcontract it.

The bottom line is that torture does not work. It did not work on John McCain, the U.S. Senator from Arizona, who was a prisoner in North Vietnam, and it does not work now. Frank Ford, former counter-intelligence agent in Iraq, told a Veterans’ Day audience in Washington that he received more than 100 intelligence reports from Iraqis daily when he first went to Iraq. After torture of Iraqis began, these reports dropped off to nothing.

When Ford reported torture to higher military authorities, he was attacked physically and taken to a psychiatrist. Military brass told him he was imagining things. Later, he was flown out of Iraq. We don’t practice torture, you know.

From the Nov. 16-22, 2005, issue

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