Status of American Politics: July 2003 Archives

by David Remer --PoliWatch.Org--

There is a pattern here? I saw the following from the AP this morning and bells immediately went off.

SEOUL, South Korea - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Sunday he would take full responsibility if an inquiry ruled that his government had indirectly contributed to the suicide of a former U.N. weapons inspector caught up in a dispute over the Iraq war.

But the premier insisted he had no intention of resigning, despite the death of David Kelly and the ongoing row over the government's use of intelligence in the buildup to war.

And notice President Bush's words Friday:

Well, first, I take responsibility for putting our troops into action. And I made that decision because Saddam Hussein was a threat to our security, and a threat to the security of other nations.

Striking isn't it? Taken straight out of Watergate history texts? Note this from President Nixon:

President Nixon, after accepting the resignations of four of his closest aides, told the American people last night that he accepted full responsibility for the actions of his subordinates in the Watergate scandal.

They say they take responsibility, and like P.M. Tony Blair, in the same breath, say, they will not accept the consequences. Responsibility without consequences is NOT responsibility. Wikipedia states the following:

Responsibility involves the obligation to answer for actions (the etymology of the word ultimately relates to Latin respondere (to reply).

But let us not forget the etymology of the last half of the word responsibility, ibility, coming from the word Ability, meaning 'having the capacity'. Thus, the word Responsibility literally means 'having the ability to respond appropriately to the task assigned or action undertaken and being answerable for the appropriateness of that action or task'.

Therefore, as Nixon, Bush and Blair state they 'take responsibility' for their decisions, they are, in fact, inviting the public assessment of the appropriateness of their decisions. Was it appropriate for Nixon to use the power of the office of President to authorize criminal activity to gain political advantage over the Democrats? The Constitution of the United States clearly indicates it is not appropriate and posits the authority for that determination in the House of Representatives which has the power to impeach.

Was it appropriate for Prime Minister Blair and President Bush to commit to the expenditure of billions of tax payer dollars and the deaths of hundreds of its citizens in the military based on intelligence that was at least five years old and based on their guess that Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction and intended to use them upon U.S. or British lands, assets, or persons? Clearly, Bush and Blair had the power to make those decisions since the U.S. congress and the British Parliament, granted each of them that power. And herein, lays the crux of the matter.

The Parliament and Congress, which represent the authority of the citizens of their respective countries, granted the power to war on Iraq based on information presented to them by the President and the Prime Minister. Clearly, in the case of the U.S., the information that was provided the Congress and the American people as justification for obtaining and exercising the power to war, was different from the facts that have since come to light regarding the threat that Iraq posed toward the U.S. and Great Britain. Note the following excerpt from The Star Tribune:

The overall findings of last October's intelligence "estimate" served as the foundation for many of the general assertions made by Bush and other administration officials in the run-up to the war: that Saddam was making chemical and biological weapons, was rebuilding his nuclear-weapons program and had illegal long-range missiles that could reach as far as Israel.
None of those assertions has been validated by postwar findings in Iraq.

This discreprency between the facts now and the evidence presented before the war, is not, I repeat, is not, the issue. If Blair and Bush provided faulty intelligence to their Parliament and Congress to justify going to war without knowing it was faulty, they have not violated their roles of office.

The issue is, did Bush and Blair know the intelligence was faulty prior to presenting the evidence to the public and prior to the invasion of Iraq? The answer to that question now appears to be clear. Follow this chain of events.

[July 19, 2003, Baltimore Sun] The White House declassified portions of an October 2002 intelligence report to demonstrate that President Bush had ample reason to believe Iraq was reconstituting a nuclear weapons program.
... "Claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are ... highly dubious," said a State Department addendum included among the declassified material.
In the declassified documents, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research concluded: "The activities we have detected do not ... add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing ... an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons."
In his State of the Union address, [January 28,2003] Bush asserted, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Secretary of State Colin Powell had voiced skepticism about such allegations. For that reason, he told reporters recently, he did not include the material in his lengthy presentation to the U.N. Security Council in early February. [2003]
And this from the NYTimes on July 19, 2003 is more damning:
As part of today's briefing, the White House declassified part of its main prewar intelligence summary on Iraq's weapons programs. The document, a National Intelligence Estimate, encompasses the findings of the main intelligence agencies. The document noted reports that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium in Africa but included a warning from the State Department that the reports were "highly dubious."
White House officials said the document was one of those drawn on by speechwriters as they put together the State of the Union address. The official who gave the briefing today said Mr. Bush was unaware of the State Department's skepticism.
The president "is not a fact checker," the official said.
The document also noted that the intelligence agencies had "low confidence" in some of its conclusions, including when Saddam Hussein might use weapons of mass destruction, whether he would try to attack the United States and whether he would provide chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda. Administration officials had cited all those possibilities in building a case for the war.

The President has stated he is responsible for the decision to send Americans into harm's way. Among normal citizens, ignorance is no defense under the law. If the President was responsible for the making the decision, he then, is also respsonsible for verifying or, at least testing the reliability of, the information which he personally uses to make the awesome decision to go to war.

The President may not, in good faith, blame the persons he appoints to collect information and write his speeches if, in fact, he is responsible. To do so, makes his claim of being responsible, a lie.

He has the same responsibility to the American people to truthfully present the State of the Nation in the speech of the same name. He is responsible for that speech and its content. Blaming speech writers or the CIA or the British Intelligence makes a mockery of his claim to being responsible for his decisions.

It is clear from above, that the President probably knew the evidence for his claim of imminent threat by Iraq toward the U.S. due to a nuclear capability was in doubt. It is clear the President either asked, or should have asked the CIA about the reliability of their intelligence. If he asked, then he lied to Congress and the American people. If he did not ask, then, he clearly failed his responsibility as a President making the decision to go to war.

The President thus was lying, or incompetent, when making the case for war. And now, like Nixon, he blames and will let fall, if necessary, those below him to save face. All while publicly stating he is responsible. Such a contradiction will not ultimately stand.

Responsibility is the ability to respond appropriately, and clearly, one way or the other, the President failed his responsibility. To err is human. To lie, blame others and otherwise coverup one's errors when asked if one is responsible, is unethical and immoral at least. Where the awesome power of the presidency is concerned, such behavior should rise to meet the test for bipartisan investigation at the very least. To lie is not a crime. To lie under oath before a congressional investigation is a crime called perjury. With the President's party in control of the Congress, the only loser will be the truth.

by David Remer, July 3, 2003 -- PoliWatch.Org

In Texas this week is a highlighted example of what is wrong with a two party system. Namely, that it is about to become a one party system. This leaves the voters with NO CHOICE at the polls. Sound familiar? The Iraqi's had no choice in their last election either.

Texas, for decades in the 20th century, was a one party Democrat state. The governors were Democrat, both houses of Congress were Democrat, and most of the judges were Democrat. Republicans have been making inroads, since the time of Ronald Reagan, to the seats of power by garnering support from the corporations in the big cities and the ranchers in the rural areas. In the last 12 years, the Republicans have managed to take the governorship, both houses of congress and a host of judge seats. Texas is again a one party state.

But the Republicans, recognizing the Democrat's one party stronghold was temporary, now seek to insure their stranglehold becomes permanent. They are in special session as I write these words, redrawing congressional districts to eliminate Democrat incumbent districts and to gerrymander in such a way as to eliminate the last remaining districts supporting Democrats.

It is NOT that the people have changed from Democrats to Republicans; large cities in Texas remain Democrat. The Republicans are carving up the cities on the district maps so that a small portion of a city becomes a part of a large rural Republican district. In this way they will be able to nullify the Democrats votes at the polls in 2004 by overwhelming a small portion of a city's Democrat vote with a large number of rural area Republican votes. This will insure a Republican majority for that district in 2004 and eliminate the Democrat district altogether.

Note that this gerrymandering is not without a price tag for the tax payer. Where the state redrew districts in the past every 10 years in accordance with shifts in the national census, the Republicans in Texas are envisioning this redistricting process occur every 2 years, if necessary, to insure their hold on government. That means the cost for redistricting could jump 500% for tax payers in a 10 year period. The most vocal outcry against such taxpayer cost increases is coming from the cities where the greatest concentration of voters are. However, when all is done, their voices will be of little concern to the government. The Republican government will have eliminated the voting power of those concentrations of voters.

This is what is wrong with a two party system. Eventually, one party is able exercise its temporary majority status to change laws and districts so as to perpetuate a one party system, their own. The Green Party and Libertarian Party are growing as American voter dissatisfaction with both the major parties also grows. All of the third party platforms in the year 2000 contained some reference to eliminating or reinventing the Federal Elections Committee (FEC). The FEC is run by the Democrats and Republicans and currently works against third parties in various ways.

In 2004, a third party has no chance of winning the presidency or any majority in either house of Congress. However, if, independents and all other voters who have lost faith in the two major parties were to go vote third party candidates, a great many Republican and Democrat incumbents could be replaced, and the vibrancy and hope of a multi-party democracy would mushroom in this new century.

I for one am no longer concerned about the short term consequences of voting third party. The problem is the dominance of two parties in America. And the solution is to increase the number of 3rd party candidates winning offices in the next 3 or more election cycles. Once that is accomplished, the FEC can be restructured to provide equal access and equal treatment in the election system.

Most third parties also recommend taking back the public airways and granting media supported access to the public by all qualifying parties during an election cycle. That is the goal; giving the American people real choices at the voting booth. A government that is made up of multiple parties will diminish the concentration of power in the hands of a few political bosses over all the diverse people of this great land. Consider voting 3rd party in 2004, it will be good for our democracy.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Status of American Politics category from July 2003.

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