Saturday, May 15, 2004

 

Finally Waking Up?

Are people finally seeing the Bush Administration as the secretive, disembling, incompetent bunch that they are?

There is renewed hope.

The International Brotherhood of Police Officers, a police union that backed President Bush in the 2000 election, is backing John Kerry.

Police Union Rejects Bush, Backs Kerry

WASHINGTON - Presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry (news - web sites) on Friday collected the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, a police union that backed President Bush (news - web sites) in the 2000 election.

"After three and a half years of disappointing leadership under George Bush, we need to change course in November and elect a president with a real record of supporting police officers and a lifetime of standing with law enforcement," IBPO President David Holway
said in a statement provided by the Kerry campaign.

Mike Glover, Associated Press

And Fred Kaplan, over at Slate writes a very interesting article.

In it, he quotes a 12 May 2004 Baltimore Sun article by Mark Matthews in which Colin Powell goes on record saying that he...

"...kept the president informed of the concerns that were raised by the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and other international organizations as part of my regular briefings of the president, and advised him that we had to follow these issues, and when we got notes sent to us or reports sent to us ... we had to respond to them, and the president certainly made it clear that that's what he expected us to do,"

In short, not only did Colin Powell put Mr. Bush in the loop about the International Committee of the Red Cross's allegations, and kept him informed.

But more than that, Mr. Powell says that Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld...

...kept Bush "fully informed of the concerns that were being expressed, not in specific details, but in general terms."

So, it seems, once again, that Mr. Rumsfeld was not being totally honest at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Let me be clear: I failed to recognize how important it was to elevate a matter of such gravity to the highest levels, including the president and the members of Congress.

Mr. Kaplan has this to say about Mr. Powell's statements.

So much for Rumsfeld's protective claim, at last week's hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, that he had failed to bring the matter to the president's attention. No wonder Bush, in turn, rode out to the Pentagon and praised his servant-secretary for doing a "superb" job.

Can I just ask at this point, does Mr. Bush or Mr. Rumsfeld have ANY credibility left?

At any rate, Mr. Kaplan goes on to look at the Abu Musab Zarqawi stories that I discuss below as they relate to Mr. Bush's handling of the War On Terrorâ„¢. Needless to say, Kaplan seems to think that the stories bring up a issues.

But the problem, from Bush's perspective, was that this was the only tangible evidence of terrorists in Iraq. Colin Powell even showed the location of the camp on a map during his famous Feb. 5 briefing at the U.N. Security Council. The camp was in an area of Iraq that Saddam didn't control. But never mind, it was something. To wipe it out ahead of time might lead some people--in Congress, the United Nations, and the American public--to conclude that Saddam's links to terrorists were finished, that maybe the war wasn't necessary. So Bush let it be.

In the two years since the Pentagon's first attack plan, Zarqawi has been linked not just to Berg's execution but, according to NBC, 700 other killings in Iraq. If Bush had carried out that attack back in June 2002, the killings might not have happened. More: The case for war (as the White House feared) might not have seemed so compelling. Indeed, the war itself might not have happened.

One ambiguity does remain. The NBC story reported that "the White House" declined to carry out the airstrikes. Who was "the White House"? If it wasn't George W. Bush--if it was, say, Dick Cheney--then we crash into a very different conclusion: not that Bush was directly culpable, but that he was more out of touch than his most cynical critics have imagined. It's a tossup which is more disturbing: a president who passes up the chance to kill a top-level enemy in the war on terrorism for the sake of pursuing a reckless diversion in Iraq--or a president who leaves a government's most profound decision, the choice of war or peace, to his aides.

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