Saturday, August 27, 2005
"Who gives a fuck what the polls say! I'm the President!"
While President George W. Bush travels around the country in a last-ditch effort to sell his Iraq war, White House aides scramble frantically behind the scenes to hide the dark mood of an increasingly angry leader who unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him.
“I’m not meeting again with that goddamned bitch,” Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet again with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. “She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!”
Bush flashes the bird, something aides say he does often and has been doing since his days as governor of Texas.
Bush, administration aides confide, frequently explodes into tirades over those who protest the war, calling them “motherfucking traitors.” He reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore “bullshit protectors” over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to “tell those VFW assholes that I’ll never speak to them again is they can’t keep their members under control.”
White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President’s honesty.
“Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.” ...
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in October 2003 to make public 87 photographs and four videos depicting prisoner abuse in Iraq. The Pentagon originally argued that releasing the images would violate the Geneva Convention rights of the detainees; a supreme irony considering that the US originally denied these very prisoners Geneva Convention protections. The ACLU agreed that the Pentagon could black out "identifying characteristics," but a federal judge in New York ruled last week that DoD must explain publicly why it's concealing the images. "By and large, I ruled for public disclosure," said US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein. A final ruling is expected on August 30.
In court proceedings, General Richard Myers argued that releasing the pictures and videos would give aid to the enemy: boosting Al Qaeda recruitment, destabilizing governments in Iraq and Afghanistan and inciting riots throughout the Muslim world. But a number of high-ranking officers and civil libertarians countered by noting that much of what Myers predicts is already occurring on the ground, fueled in large measure by past and present US behavior. "The attacks will continue regardless of whether the photos and tapes are released," testified former US Army Colonel Michael Pheneger. Myers, he said, "mistakes propaganda for motivation."
Last May members of Congress sat in a dark room and viewed the images. Their responses begged for further elaboration. "It was disgusting," said Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. "There were new ones that we hadn't seen before, and they're bad. I mean there's no doubt about that." Bad enough to show to Congress apparently, but not the American people.
The NewsHour's Ray Suarez said the images reportedly depict "assault, coerced sexual activity, rape, even dead bodies." Some may have originated outside of Abu Ghraib. Rep. Jane Harman said she saw videos of a prisoner banging his head against a wall and a group of men masturbating. "Some of the videos are more disturbing than the still photos that you've seen," added Sen. Bill Nelson.
Far from endangering American national security, the release of the horrific images could provide new impetus to the stalled Congressional investigations into prisoner abuse, and the Pentagon's failure to hold any high-ranking officers accountable for Abu Ghraib. An independent counsel with subpoena power is what's needed most right now to prevent images like these in the future.