Archive for category Bush Administration
Here’s the take-away from President Obama’s speech today at the National Defense University at Fort McNair, in Washington DC.
The drone surge may finally be over. By some estimates, 98% of drone strike casualties were civilian noncombatants (50 for every one “suspected terrorist”). The Bureau of Investigative Journalism issued a report detailing how the CIA deliberately targeted rescuers who show up after an attack, and mourners at funerals as a part of a “double-tap” strategy eerily reminiscent of methods used by terrorist groups like Hamas.
In the months and years ahead, drone strikes once conducted by the CIA will become more of a U.S. military responsibility. The rules for launching the strikes will become stricter — there must be a “near certainty” that no civilians will be killed, for instance — and they’ll become less frequent. “To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective,” Obama said… “is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance.”
Yet neither Obama nor senior administration officials ruled out the most controversial aspect of Obama’s counterterrorism measures: so-called signature strikes, in which the CIA does not know the identities of the people it targets, but infers terrorist affiliation based on their observed patterns of behavior.
President Obama says he’s sorry.
Of the civilians who have died in the strikes, Obama said: “For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred through conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Of course, the other guys kill civilians too.
“Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes,” he added.
Via Media Matters.
Conspiracy talk show host Alex Jones is best known for promoting the theory that the 9/11 attacks were really a “false flag” operation by the U.S. government. He said the same thing about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and the recent Boston bombings. Now he is making the claim that the Oklahoma tornado was a secret government plot.
Jones, a longtime proponent of the idea that the U.S. government can manipulate and even produce weather systems like tornadoes and hurricanes, went on to say that if people saw helicopters or small aircraft in the area, then “you better bet your bottom dollar they did this.”
“But, who knows if they did?” he asked. “You know, that’s the thing. We don’t know.”
Jones is being increasingly treated as a serious voice within the right-wing GOP. Republicans in the House, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), actually held a hearing last month to discuss Jones’ theory that that President Obama is trying to buy up all the bullets in the country.
UPDATE: Maddow: Will ‘weather weapon’ talk finally drive GOP away from Alex Jones? In an audio clip, Jones suggests the government is causing tornadoes to convince Americans about climate change:
“Tornadoes are way down. Of course, they lie that they’re way up to get carbon taxes, but I don’t know if this was a weather weapon or not. They can, with the right weather conditions, they can create and steer groups of tornadoes.”
Via Media Matters.
What a shame. It was Candy Crowley who courageously committed an act of journalism in the middle of a presidential debate, daring to fact-check inveterate liar Willard (“Mitt”) Romney in real time. I suppose her standing at CNN has suffered, because truth-telling just isn’t appreciated among the DC media. On CNN right-wing talking points are better than facts, so Crowley is going with the talking points.
The hyper-partisan right-wing Benghazi witch-hunt has produced no new information after NINE congressional hearings, two full-scale investigations, and an SNL parody. Senator John McCain tried to get a select committee established just to re-hash Benghazi. If I were the Senate Majority Leader I would instead assemble a committee to thoroughly investigate the Bush administration’s record on terrorism, starting with the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax letters, and charged with examining the 31 other terrorist attacks on Bush’s watch, including 7 attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates.
Chris Hayes is the first cable host to interview Tim DeChristopher. Rachel Maddow announced such an interview a couple of years ago, but then substituted some hack from EarthJustice who didn’t approve of civil disobedience.
My favorite part is when Tim explains that it’s already too late to avoid the tipping points that trigger drastic climate change, but that makes it even more urgent to reform our political system. The current corrupt regime won’t be able to cope with a planetary emergency.
When President Bush and VP Cheney publicly confessed to criminal acts, the Democrats let it pass. Probably they thought nobody would take impeachment seriously anymore after Republicans made a mockery of it during the Clinton administration. Then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously said impeachment was “off the table.”
Ah, but Republicans view impeachment differently. President Obama wasn’t even inaugurated before Republican politicians were calling for his impeachment. The right spawned a cottage industry of inventing Obama conspiracy theories. Some right-wingers are pretty sure Obama is the Anti-Christ described in the Book of Revelation.
So let’s not be surprised when Utah’s very own Rep. Jason Chaffetz joins in (emphasis added):
Rep. Jason Chaffetz says President Barack Obama’s handling of the government’s response to the Benghazi terrorist attack could be an impeachable offense and vows to continue digging at the “lies of highest magnitude” from the White House.
“It’s certainly a possibility,” the Utah Republican said Monday when asked about impeachment. “That’s not the goal but given the continued lies perpetrated by this administration, I don’t know where it’s going to go. … I’m not taking it off the table.
Never mind that terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomats happened 13 times during the Bush administration, and killed 98 people. Congressman Chaffetz is on a mission to destroy the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton too, if he can. He recently participated in the NINTH congressional hearing on the Benghazi assault, which has also been investigated by the FBI and a State Department Accountability Review Board chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen.
The irony here is that President Obama is actually guilty of impeachable offenses, which the Republicans can’t talk about because it all comes back to Bush and Cheney.
On Wednesday night, CNN’s Erin Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old American widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and her husband. He quite clearly insisted that they could:
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It’s not a voice mail. It’s just a conversation. There’s no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: “No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: “So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”
On Thursday night, Clemente again appeared on CNN, this time with host Carol Costello, and she asked him about those remarks. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that “all digital communications in the past” are recorded and stored. “No digital communication is secure,” said Clemente.
Despite the extreme secrecy behind which these surveillance programs operate, occasionally somebody in a position to know tells us the U.S. Constitution is being violated on an unprecedented scale. So what can we do about it?
With the opening of George W. Bush’s presidential library, the right wing and mainstream media have swung into action with the full scale George W. Bush Rehabilitation Project.
The goal of the project is relatively modest – convince the real world that Dubya wasn’t such a terrible president, that he made bold and enduring decisions that will shape the world for the better for generations to come.
It’s crap. Bush’s presidency was eight years of disasters compounded by his blind ideological governance. Charles Krauthammer this morning at the D-News which begins with a massive lie:
The most common “one sentence” for George W. Bush (whose legacy is being reassessed as his presidential library opens) is: “He kept us safe.”
Except of course for that one time. In September of 2001. You remember that one right?
Bush’s presidency was eight years of disaster, corruption, scandal and failure. I agree with Paul Waldman’s assessment:
Nobody could argue he didnothing good; for instance, he put resources toward addressing the AIDS crisis in Africa, knowing that there was little domestic benefit to be had. And from what one can tell, in person Bush was usually a nice guy. But we shouldn’t let the mists of time make us forget all the awful things he did, too. Presidents have to be judged by their actions and the effects those actions have on the country and the world. Bush’s eight years in office were a string of disasters, and not little ones either. His disasters were grand and far-reaching, from the hundreds of thousands who died in Iraq to the squandering of trillions of dollars to the abandonment of New Orleans during Katrina. A few years later those things may no longer make us boil with rage. But we shouldn’t forget them.
The argument was never he was a bad man (although that is debatable) – a rich entitled jerk, yes, intellectually incurious, self confident in his own judgement to the point idiocy, but he was also a bad president. An honest assessment of his administration has to include the fact that in its ruins were the seeds of the tea party and its attendant lunacies. The Obama administration has failed to clean up all of Bush’s messes, but don’t forget they were Bush’s messes.
Saw this great post at Mano Singham’s place – the video of Chris Hayes is worth the time. Singham’s title may win for most understated condemnation in a while: Thatcher and Bush were just as bad as you remembered them
I like Chris Hayes’ point that some of the “praise” for Bush amounts to “Yeah! He made decisions!” as if making decisions itself is a victory and the consequences are entirely secondary. Bush’s administration was every bit as bad as you thought.
It certainly took long enough. The new 577-page torture report from The Constitution Project’s bipartisan commission concluded (emphasis added):
The question as to whether U.S. forces and agents engaged in torture has been complicated by the existence of two vocal camps in the public debate. This has been particularly vexing for traditional journalists who are trained and accustomed to recording the arguments of both sides in a dispute without declaring one right and the other wrong. The public may simply perceive that there is no right side, as there are two equally fervent views held views on a subject, with substantially credentialed people on both sides. In this case, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that among those who insist that the United States did not engage in torture are figures who served at the highest levels of government, including Vice President Dick Cheney.
But this Task Force is not bound by this convention.
The members, coming from a wide political spectrum, believe that arguments that the nation did not engage in torture and that much of what occurred should be defined as something less than torture are not credible.
Now that a bipartisan blue-ribbon panel has reached the conclusion that President George W. Bush and his top advisers bear “ultimate responsibility” for authorizing torture in violation of domestic and international law, the question becomes what should the American people and their government do.
The logical answer would seem to be: prosecute Bush and his cronies (or turn them over to an international tribunal if the U.S. legal system can’t do the job). After all, everyone, including President Barack Obama and possibly even Bush himself, would agree with the principle that “no man is above the law.”
Interestingly enough, Section 3286 of the USA PATRIOT Act effectively abolished the statute of limitations for torture.
The U.N. Convention Against Torture, signed by President Reagan in 1988, compels all signatories who discover credible allegations that government officials have participated or been complicit in torture to “submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution” (Art. 7(1)).
The disgrace of the American torture regime falls on Bush officials and secondarily the media and political institutions that acquiesced to it, but the full-scale protection of those war crimes (and the denial of justice to their victims) falls squarely on the Obama administration.
Media Matters gives us the short version: Liz Cheney: Get Over 2012 And Start Embracing Romneyism. Of course, it was President George W. Bush who originally said “We ought to make the pie higher.”
Cheney’s Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday un-apologetically recycles just about everything that voters rejected in 2012, and claims, without evidence, that “President Obama is the most radical man ever to occupy the Oval Office.”
This is from someone who was part of the Worst Administration Ever, that brought about truly radical right-wing policies from massive tax cuts for the rich to the torture of detainees and an outright war of aggression in Iraq. The Bush administration came close to wiping out the American middle class when the collapse of the financial sector caused U.S. households to lose about $16.4 trillion of net worth.
Jonathan Chait: Liz Cheney Is Even More Bonkers Than We Suspected
Even after four years of bug-eyed right-wing paranoia, Cheney’s op-ed stands out for its utter dearth of the slightest whiff of perspective or factual grounding.
This stuff is getting old. We had legitimate criticisms of the Bush administration’s actual radicalism, and Republicans dismissed it all as “Bush derangement syndrome.” Now prominent Republicans won’t stop ranting about their imaginary “radical” President Obama despite the fact he’s been center-right all along, even to the point of implementing Republican policies. At last year’s GOP convention Clint Eastwood presented a prime-time portrayal of the right-wing, yelling at an empty chair.
Is it just me, or does it seem that nobody is watching out for us?
Alan Grayson, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are.
Does it seem like this babe is telling the truth?
Of all the people in that video, the only ones to get it right were the ones outside the White House protesting—and they didn’t even get a full sentence of coverage. It’s yet another example of how Iraq represented a complete failure of our political system . . .
I don’t think anyone in America’s political or media establishment has effectively grappled with their personal culpability for the Iraq fiasco. A lot of people who knew better went along. The voices speaking out against the war were ignored and silenced.
Krugman on the dynamic that still plays out in American politics:
The really striking thing, during the run-up to the war, was the illusion of consensus. To this day, pundits who got it wrong excuse themselves on the grounds that “everyone” thought that there was a solid case for war. Of course, they acknowledge, there were war opponents — but they were out of the mainstream.
The trouble with this argument is that it was and is circular: support for the war became part of the definition of what it meant to hold a mainstream opinion. Anyone who dissented, no matter how qualified, was ipso facto labeled as unworthy of consideration. This was true in political circles; it was equally true of much of the press, which effectively took sides and joined the war party.
I’m thinking about systems stuff lately and the Iraq war represented a massive breakdown but it didn’t happen overnight. The Clinton impeachment nonsense was part of the breakdown. The election of 2000 was part of the breakdown. The arrogance and hubris of the followed the first Gulf War was part of the breakdown.