Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

11.19 How DNA Is Reshaping How We See Ourselves—and Our History

11.18 Lobbying Used to Be a Crime: A Review of Zephyr Teachout’s New Book on the Secret History of Corruption in America

Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

11.23 The Piecemeal Assault on Health Care

11.23 NRG Seeks to Cut 90% of Its Carbon Emissions

11.23 Stampeding Black Elephants

11.20 CO2 emissions must be zero by 2070 to prevent climate disaster, UN says

11.20 UK pledges £720m to climate change fund for poor countries

11.19 The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis

11.19 New York snowstorm: Four dead as 'wall of snow' buries Buffalo [video, photos]

11.18 Bottom line on climate change: It’s costing you money

News Media

11.19 Fox News misleads about Jon Stewart: Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the insane new partisanship

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

Justice Matters

11.22 Suffer Little Children

11.21 Icelandic bankers jailed for reckless loans made before crash

11.20 Stripping Neighbors of Money: Pressure Mounts for EU Crackdown on Tax Havens

11.19 Horrific stories about Bill Cosby were out there for years. Why are we only now listening to these women?

US Politics, Policy & Culture

11.23 Grenade launchers, armored personnel carriers, and a military-grade helicopter among the lethal arsenal of police force who helped patrol Ferguson [photos]

11.22 Immigration Enriches You and Me

11.22 The United States of Thanksgiving [Interactive: click '+' sign for full recipes]

11.21 Ferguson Protests Are Coming to Your City

11.21 The U.S. government thinks China could take down the power grid

11.21 Obama on immigration: 'We are and always will be a nation of immigrants'

11.19 Hillary’s Silence on Iran and Immigration Reform

11.19 America Is the Developed World's Second Most Ignorant Country

11.19 Imperfect Union: The Constitution Didn't Foresee Divided Government

11.19 Senate Republicans block landmark NSA surveillance reform bill

11.19 Senate rejects Keystone XL pipeline bill (For Now) [Related 'Cowboys and Indians' alliance]

High Crimes?

11.22 Senate Democrats Clash With White House on C.I.A. Torture Report

11.19 Elephants are being wiped out, but not enough people seem to care

11.18 Modern slavery affects more than 35 million people, report finds

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.23 Top incomes soared as tax rates fell

11.23 Full Show: How Public Power Can Defeat Plutocrats [25:25 video and transcript]

11.22 Bill Black: Why the New York Fed Isn’t Trustworthy

11.22 Elizabeth Warren Blasts New York Fed President William Dudley [12:53 video]

11.22 Attorneys General for Sale

11.20 WSJ Reports: Bank of North Dakota Outperforms Wall Street

11.20 Elizabeth Warren Blasts FHFA’s Mel Watt: “You Haven’t Helped a Single Family” [5:23 video]

11.19 Firestone and the Warlord [1:23:41 video documentary]

International

11.21 We need a new law to protect our wildlife from critical decline

11.20 Putin's Reach: Merkel Concerned about Russian Influence in the Balkans

11.20 The 'Caliphate's' Colonies: Islamic State's Gradual Expansion into North Africa

11.20 Amnesty report reveals desperate plight of Syrian refugees in Turkey

11.20 Teeth and Bones: Mass Abduction Reveals a Decaying Mexican State

11.19 3rd Possibility: Coming Civil War in West Bank/ Jerusalem?

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Bush's Belated Accountability Moment
Newspaper logo

WHICH SCANDALS WILL BE INVESTIGATED?

Bush's Belated Accountability Moment

by ROBERT PARRY
The investigations by John Conyers and Henry Waxman – both armed with subpoena powers – could connect the dots linking Cheney's Energy Task Force, oil companies, Halliburton, pre-war deceptions and poor post-invasion planning.
After securing a second term in November 2004, George W. Bush was asked by the Washington Post why no one in his administration had been held accountable for the problems facing U.S. troops in Iraq. Bush replied dismissively, “We had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 elections.”

The President echoed that sentiment two weeks before this year's Nov. 7 balloting, rejecting the notion that the midterm elections could serve as a check on his administration. Accountability, Bush said, is “what the 2004 campaign was about.”

But it appears Bush may have spoken too soon. With the Democratic sweep of Congress, the White House finds itself confronting the likelihood of a more systematic and more rigorous form of accountability from congressional Democrats newly armed with subpoena powers. Rep. John Conyers, who has been holding investigative hearings into administration wrongdoing from the Capitol basement because the Republican congressional leadership denied him a committee room, now stands poised to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Though handicapped in his earlier investigations, the Michigan Democrat unearthed and documented a staggering array of White House deceptions that led the United States into war, as well as evidence of other abuses such as torture, warrantless domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency, and erosion of civil liberties.
Constitution in Crisis
Conyers's 350-page report, “Constitution in Crisis,” deals with the so-called Downing Street Minutes, which revealed that the Bush administration was “fixing” the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction to justify a pre-ordained policy of war against Iraq.

The “single overriding characteristic running through all of the allegations of misconduct ... has been the unwillingness of the Bush Administration to allow its actions to be subject to any form of meaningful outside review,” the report said.

“Not only were 122 Members of Congress unable to obtain any response to their questions posed regarding the Downing Street Minutes,” the report goes on, “but neither the House nor the Senate has ever engaged in any serious review of the facts surrounding the NSA domestic spying programs.”

That dynamic could change with the new make-up of Congress. Not only will Conyers be chairing the Judiciary Committee, but Henry Waxman, D-California, will be taking over the House Committee on Government Reform.

Complementing Conyers’s investigations into pre-war manipulations of intelligence have been Waxman’s investigations into administration favoritism toward Halliburton, which was formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Texas-based company has profited handsomely by securing no-bid contracts for everything from rebuilding in Iraq, to supplying U.S. troops with food, to repairing government facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina, to building detention facilities in the U.S. [For more information on the latter, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Bush’s Mysterious ‘New Programs.’”]

According to an analysis by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, these no-bid contracts have contributed to the value of Cheney’s Halliburton stock options rising by more than 3,000 percent. In 2005, Cheney’s stock options increased in value from $241,498 to over $8 million.

“It is unseemly,” noted Lautenberg, “for the Vice President to continue to benefit from this company at the same time his administration funnels billions of dollars to it.”

Another issue that could be explored by Waxman’s committee is the content of the Energy Task Force meetings during the early days of the Bush administration. Though ordered by a federal judge to release the task force records completely, the administration heavily redacted the 13,500 pages of documents.

Before turning the records over to the Natural Resources Defense Council as ordered by the judge, the administration removed extensive portions of information. “Some pages were empty,” said the NRDC. “Whole strings of correspondence were stripped to just a few words.”

Nevertheless, the records revealed that energy industry lobbyists played a pivotal role in developing the administration’s national energy strategy, and actually wrote much of it themselves.

“The administration sought the advice of polluting corporations early and often and then incorporated their recommendations into its policy, sometimes verbatim,” according to the NRDC.
Oil Fields
Though most attention on the Energy Task Force has focused on the perceived impropriety of oil companies dictating national energy policy, another concern is that the energy companies may have influenced the administration’s decision to invade Iraq.

In 2004, reporter Jane Mayer disclosed a National Security Council document dated Feb. 3, 2001. It instructed NSC officials to cooperate with Cheney’s Energy Task Force, explaining that the task force was “melding” two previously unrelated areas of policy: “the review of operational policies towards rogue states” and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.”

Mayer’s discovery suggests that the Bush administration in its first days recognized the linkage between ousting the likes of Saddam Hussein and securing oil reserves for future U.S. consumption. In other words, the Cheney task force appears to have had a military component to “capture” oil fields in “rogue states.” [For details on Mayer’s document, see The New Yorker, Feb. 16, 2004.]

The NSC document reinforced allegations made by Bush’s first Treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, who described a similar early linkage between invading Iraq and controlling its vast oil reserves.

In Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty, O’Neill described the first NSC meeting at the White House only a few days into Bush’s presidency. An invasion of Iraq was already on the agenda, O’Neill said. There was even a map for a post-war occupation, marking out how Iraq’s oil fields would be carved up.

O’Neill said even at that early date, the goal of invading Iraq was clear. The message from Bush was “find a way to do this,” according to O’Neill, who was forced out of the administration in December 2002.

Combined with the Downing Street Minutes, O’Neill’s account provides substantial evidence that the Bush administration had decided early on to invade Iraq, and simply decided on weapons of mass destruction as the most convenient pretext for war.
Words of Caution
Another investigation-worthy topic about the run-up to war is how the Bush administration dismissed and rejected words of caution from knowledgeable sources inside and outside the U.S. government.

Although many Bush defenders now claim that no one could have foreseen what a disaster the war would turn out to be, there were those who urged caution before the invasion, including members of Bush’s own administration.

Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser under George H.W. Bush and chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, said a strike on Iraq “could unleash an Armageddon in the Middle East.”

Also, retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, who served as a Middle East envoy for George W. Bush, warned in October 2002 that by invading Iraq, “we are about to do something that will ignite a fuse in this region that we will rue the day we ever started.”

America’s closest ally in the invasion, the United Kingdom, also had strong reservations. Although publicly British officials supported Bush’s calls to forcibly “disarm” Iraq, behind the scenes, they worried that the war was poorly conceived, possibly illegal and potentially disastrous.

Internal government documents disclosed in 2005 by British journalist Michael Smith indicate that British officials foresaw a host of problems, including weak intelligence on Iraq, lack of public support for war and poor planning for the aftermath of military action.

The investigations by John Conyers and Henry Waxman – both armed with subpoena powers – could connect the dots linking Cheney's Energy Task Force, oil companies, Halliburton, pre-war deceptions and poor post-invasion planning.

The results of that investigation might shock the American people, adding to public pressure for impeachment.
Off the Table?
Though incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has declared impeachment of Bush and Cheney “off the table,” it's unclear what would happen if the White House chooses to stonewall congressional oversight or if investigations turn up damaging evidence of grave abuses of power.

Already, there are those such as former Nixon administration counsel John W. Dean who argue that Bush-Cheney’s crimes are worse than Richard Nixon’s and are grounds for impeachment.

There is also a fledgling grassroots movement for impeachment that could gather force in the coming months, emboldened by the Democratic victory. In Philadelphia, activists, lawyers and a former member of Congress held a forum this weekend to launch a new movement for impeaching Bush and Cheney.

Pelosi’s own constituents in San Francisco voted decisively on Election Day to endorse Bush and Cheney’s removal from office. Proposition J, which called for impeachment, passed with the 59 percent of the vote.

In his presidential news conference the day after the election, Bush was asked if he was “prepared to deal with the level of oversight and investigation that is possibly going to come from one chamber or two in Congress?” Bush replied that the Democrats “are going to have to make up their mind about how they’re going to conduct their affairs.”

If it is left up to the likes of Conyers and Waxman, who seem to have already made up their minds, Bush might finally learn what an “accountability moment” really means.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.' This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.


Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on November 13, 2006.
 


Public Service Ads: