Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Read this and weep

Read this and weep: Abuse of Government Power.

some introductory context:

We all need to reflect seriously on what's going on. Not in anger and not in partisanship, but in keeping with our responsibilities as Senators and with an abiding respect for the fundamental values of our democracy.

Richard Clarke did something extraordinary when he testified before the 9-11 Commission last week. He didn't try to escape blame, as so many routinely do. Instead, he accepted his share of responsibility and offered his perceptions about what happened in the months and years leading up to September 11.

now some of the juicy bits:

The retaliation from those around the President has been fierce. Mr. Clarke's personal motives have been questioned and his honesty challenged. He has even been accused, right here on the Senate floor, of perjury. Not one shred of proof was given, but that wasn't the point. The point was to have the perjury accusation on television and in the newspapers. The point was to damage Mr. Clarke in any way possible.

this is all so juicy I had to quote it all:

When Senator McCain ran for President, the Bush campaign smeared him and his family with vicious, false attacks. When Max Cleland ran for reelection to this Senate, his patriotism was attacked. He was accused of not caring about protecting our nation -- a man who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, accused of being indifferent to America's national security. That was such an ugly lie, it's still hard to fathom almost two years later.

There are some things that simply ought not be done – even in politics. Too many people around the President seem not to understand that, and that line has been crossed. When Ambassador Joe Wilson told the truth about the Administration's misleading claims about Iraq, Niger, and uranium, the people around the President didn't respond with facts. Instead, they publicly disclosed that Ambassador Wilson's wife was a deep-cover CIA agent. In doing so, they undermined America's national security and put politics first. They also may well have put the lives of Ambassador Wilson's wife, and her sources, in danger.

When former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill revealed that the White House was thinking about an Iraq War in its first weeks in office, his former colleagues in the Bush Administration ridiculed him from morning to night, and even subjected him to a fruitless federal investigation.

When Larry Lindsay, one of President Bush's former top economic advisors, and General Eric Shinseki, the former Army Chief of Staff, spoke honestly about the amount of money and the number of troops the war would demand, they learned the hard way that the White House doesn't tolerate candor.

This is not "politics as usual." In nearly all of these cases, it's not Democrats who are being attacked.

Senator McCain and Secretary O'Neill are prominent Republicans, and Richard Clarke, Larry Lindsay, Joe Wilson, and Eric Shinseki all worked for Republican Administrations.

The common denominator is that these government officials said things the White House didn't want said.

I don't think our Australian government is as dodgy as this. But when John Howard recently accused Latham of misleading Parliament and the public over the circumstances of his decision a Labor government would withdraw troops from Iraq by Christmas, I thought:

"Is this an old pot calling the shiny new kitchenware black?"

(Despite Howard talking about strengthening defamation laws, I'm still allowed to think, aren't I?)

Does anybody remember Tampa? What about the children that were being thrown overboard, very close to election time? Do we think John Howard didn't know the contrary evidence, despite the fact that the contrary evidence and opinions were given to senior people in his party well before the election (if I recall correctly)?

What about the constantly repeated, assured claims that there were weapons of mass destruction? Do we believe they were 100% genuinely believed opinions based on rational analysis from the available intelligence?

These are all questions, I'm not trying to tell anybody what they should think. I just think: read up on these topics, look at what Bush's government has done, and criticisms of what it has done, especially around the time of the Iraq war. Decide who you believe more, the critics (Clarke, Wilson, O'Neill) or the senior government figures (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, etc.).

Then do the same for Howard's government. Read up on what happened, say with Tampa and then Iraq and maybe the Ethanol affair, getting both sides of the story. Then decide who you believe more, the critics or the senior govenment figures (Howard, Downer, etc.).

That's all I ask.


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