To the New York Times 3/26/04
Regarding the Editorial "Assessing the Blame for 9/11[March, 25]: The Times is correct to point out that many of Mr. Bush's advisor's at the beginning of his administration were former cold warriors who remained loyal to the agenda of the gulf war era of the early 1990's. The argument could be made that not only did this mind-set not allow for extranational threats, such as al-Quaeda, but also left the U.S. particularly vulnerable during the EP-3 spy plane incident in 2001 when the administration relied almost solely on Ambassador Prueher, a Clinton appointee, to negotiate with the Chinese government over the release of the crew and the return of the United States' most sophisticated intelligence gathering instrument. The embarrassing back-down then, allowing the EP-3 to be cut into pieces and crated back to us, looms large now. China will soon have an ICBM that can reach New York. The first major intelligence failure of this administration might potentially be more disastrous then the second.
To the Washington Post: 3/24/04 ( This letter actually got published but the link is gone.)
Regarding the Editorial “The 9/11 Debate”[March,24]: The Post clings to the irrational premise that, “Iraq was an indisputable threat” when Mr. Bush took office…” Whether the Clinton administration agreed with this fact before Bush or not, Colin Powell clearly did not when he said in February of 2001," He (Saddam) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." Obviously, Iraq wasn’t a threat to the U.S. mainland either; certainly not like Al-Quaeda was and clearly still is. Expanding the war on terrorism to rogue nations that might supply weapons to terrorists rather than focusing on the actual group that attacked us on 9/11 is a prescription for another disaster.
To the Washington Post: 3/23/04
The Post is correct to point out Israel's assassination of Sheikh Yassin "should give the administration pause," concerning Mr. Sharon's new initiative. [Mr. Sharon's Solution;Opinon,March,23] The fact that, according to Condoleezza Rice, "Mr. Sharon had not warned the White House in advance" about the attack, should raise many questions regarding the reliability of such an ally. Why should we have to expect other such "surprises" to "follow?" We hardly need more trouble in the Middle East from our supposed "strategic ally." It might be time to re-evaluate our considerable financial and political support to Israel if it continues to make reckless policy decisions that negatively effect the security of the United States at home and abroad without any warning whatsoever.
To the Washington Post: 3/22/04
In her Op-ED "9/11: For The Record" [March,22] Condoleezza Rice continues to claim “Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles.” There is, however, ample evidence to the contrary. An article in the Washington Post by Steve Fainaru [Clues pointed to changing terrorist tactics, May 19 2002] reported that Abdul Hakim Murad, a Pakistani national, told Philippine authorities in the mid-nineties he would “crash a light aircraft loaded with explosives into CIA headquarters at Langley.” The article also says that during the Genoa summit in July of 2001 “…the Italian government closed airspace over Genoa and mounted antiaircraft batteries based on information that Islamic extremists were planning to use an airplane to kill President Bush.” Other examples of terrorist plots employing airplanes as missiles that should have been known to Ms. Rice have been cited to the National Commission on Terrorism Attacks Upon the United States. This one example and all the other highly dubious statements by Condoleezza Rice on pre-9/11 intelligence should be investigated and she should be held to account. The families of those who died in the 9/11 attacks and the American people deserve no less.
To NPR's All Things Considered: 3/19/04
In Nina Totenberg's report [March, 18, ATC] on the conflict of interest controversy regarding Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's duck hunting trip with vice-President Dick Cheney, she failed to mention that the host of this trip was Wallace Carline, the owner of Diamond Services Corp., an oil services company in Amelia, La. Since we don't know whom Dick Cheney met with during these meetings to formulate energy policy; is it beyond the realm of possibility to think Wallace Carline might not have been a participant, or if not, at the very least, have had an interest in the outcome of these meetings? This would tend to increase the skepticism some have about the ability of Justice Scalia in these upcoming proceedings to rule fairly. Federal law states, "Any justice or judge shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might be questioned." Justice Scalia's impartiality has been questioned and he should recuse himself in this case.
To the Miami Herald: 3/17/04
Robert Steinback is entirely correct to ask the question, "Why should anyone believe that regime change in Baghdad has made any other nation safer? [Spain Tests Bush War Doctrine, March, 17] Clearly, the Spanish people, who are familiar with 30 years of ETA attacks, are savvy enough to understand the invasion of Iraq was a diversion away from the real enemy; Al-Quaeda. This is why 90% of Spaniards opposed our war in Iraq. Terrorists win by not losing and we cannot win this "war on terror" by going it alone. The "Bush Doctrine" has proved to be a disaster for Iraq, Spain, and ultimately for us, at the cost of over 550 soldiers killed and billions of dollars lost.
To the Washington Post: 3/16/04
The Post says [The Spanish Response, Editorial, Tuesday, March 16, 2004] prime minister Jose Maria Aznar “courageously supported the Iraq war even when polls showed the Spanish public was overwhelmingly against it.” Is president Chavez in Venezuela also courageous then, for bravely defying the will of his people? The Spanish have a right to vote for whatever type of government they may choose; it doesn’t make them appeasers or cowards. They after all, along with most other people in the world, believed al-Quaeda was more of a threat than Saddam Hussein in Iraq ever was. The Post may say now, “Whatever the prewar situation, Al-Qaeda's tactics now have made explicit the connection between the continuing fight in Iraq and the overall war on terrorism;” but that doesn’t explain away the fact that George Bush took us into a country that had no connection to terrorism and turned it into a hotbed of terrorists; while at the same time diverting manpower and resources away from the true enemy. Al-Quaeda is back with a vengeance. The whole world now sees we’re very much more in danger than we were before invading Iraq. “Such sentiments” will “prevail,” so the next administration will have no other choice but to work with our allies. More unilateralism will only lead to more disasters.
To the Washington Post 3/05/04
The Post turns logic on its head accusing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez of plotting a coup. [“Coup by Technicality,”Editorial,March 5] Calling the referendum to recall Mr. Chavez an “extraordinary civic exercise” is utter non-sense. The only extraordinary thing about this recall referendum is the amount of money the U.S. government is giving to the opposition through an organization called the National Endowment for Democracy. Sumate, the group leading the recall, has received $50,000 in funding from the U.S. along with over a million dollars going to other groups involved in the ouster of a democratically elected president After the coup attempt on Mr. Chavez in 2002 the State Department's Inspector General's office found that the NED had "provided training, institution building and other support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved in the brief ouster of the Chavez government.” If anyone is to be accused of plotting a coup in Venezuela it would have to be the Bush administration. The issue isn’t Mr. Chavez denying his people a democratic vote; the third largest importer of oil to the United States threatening a cut-off is the real technicality here.
To the New York Times
The article "Iraqis Receive U.S. Approval of Constitution" [March 2, 2004] reports that in the new Iraqi interim constitution "Islam will be described only as ""a source" of legislation among others, not "the primary source" of law, as some Iraqi leaders wanted. Apparently, this stipulation was necessary for American approval. Isn't it ironic that at the same time we're insisting on a non-Islamic fundamentalist constitution in Iraq, president Bush is proposing a fundamentalist Christian one at home; beginning with an amendment to ban gay marriage.
In the article "Iraqis hail compromise on interim constitution" (3/2/04),
it is reported that an Iraqi governing council member stated that the
new Iraqi interim constitution would not endorse the right to bear arms.
Senators Frist and Hatch should urge the president to demand that Iraqis
have the right to a gun! Doesn't every Iraqi man have the same right as
any American to protect his family from criminals, foreign occupiers and
domestic tyrants? Certainly, if concealed weapons are good enough for
Washington D.C., they're good enough for Baghdad!
To the New York Times:
Thomas Friedman says, "Maybe the Iraq war made America new enemies. But it's certainly triggered a new discussion." [Look Who's Talking, 2/19/04] I'm sure that will comfort the families of the 548 soldiers who have died so far in Iraq to protect us from a threat that didn't exist. If the U .S. hadn't been supporting all those Arab dictatorships in the first place-- including Saddam while he was "gassing his own people"- maybe the Arab people could have had their discussion long ago without the loss of so much life and treasure.
To the Washington Post
In the editorial "Mr. O'Neill and Iraq" [Jan. 15] the Post presents a wonderful example of the Bush "smear and defend" tactic. In fact, its so close to the White House line taken on Paul O'Neill's new book "the Price of Loyalty" one wonders if Karl Rove isn't giving helpful hints to the editorial board. (Subrosa, naturally) After attacking the democratic presidential hopefuls one by one for quoting the book, it gets down to impugning Mr. O'Neill's reputation and questioning his memory. Known for being a "loose-cannon" around Washington for his "wild remarks;" how could anyone possibly believe this claptrap? Certainly, Donald Rumsfeld has never displayed any loose cannon-like behavior. All that stuff about Germany being like Cuba and "old Europe," the WMD being northeast of Baghdad "somewhat," all of this should be taken for what it is; well reasoned and thought out policy statements. Remember, Clinton bombed Iraq too, so what's the big deal? The difference, of course, is the bombing done under the Clinton administration was mainly defending against Iraqi radar targeting US warplanes. Strategic bombing aimed at taking out the regime's ability to defend itself during an invasion is another matter. (Maybe, that's the reason the T.V. media was so disappointed with the no-show "shock and awe" extravaganza. There was nothing left to bomb.)A full year before the invasion of Iraq there was already a massive air campaign going on, just read the New York Times; it's all there in black and white. Probably though, the Post was too busy re-reading its own reports from January 2001 on Iraq policy being discussed by the administration but being "divided on the right course." Needless to say, the most secretive White House in history would be more likely to tell the Post what it was planning rather than a member of the cabinet who was also on the National Security Council. The Post does its readers no favors writing an unsurprising and dubious editorial saying more about the prejudices of the Washington Post than about the democratic candidates or Mr. O'Neill.
To All Things Considered:
Vicky O'Hara's report on new files declassified about the USS Liberty disaster in 1967 suggested transcripts of radio messages between Israeli commanders and helicopter pilots "tended to support" the Israeli contention that they mistook the US spy ship for an Egyptian transport ship. This could only be believed if one is to overlook the fact that the Liberty was three times the size, had an American flag flying overhead, and the Egyptian Vessel in question, the El Quseir, was docked in Alexandria at the time. It's impossible to believe, in fact, Israel's intelligence could be that bad. Dean Rusk, then Secretary of State, refering to the Iraeli explaination of error in his 1990 memoir writes, "I didn't believe them then and I don't believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous." No congressional investigation was ever conducted into the Liberty attack, as had been done for every other peacetime disaster. It's time to give the 34 dead and the 170 wounded along with their families the chance to find out what really happened on June 8, 1967.
To the Washington Post
Sunday's editorial "Truth or Consequences" [editorial, Jan. 11] suggests, "There is no reason to believe that the president fabricated the case against Iraq." Certainly, the president himself did not fabricate the case against Iraq. He did however instruct his top officials at the very beginning of his administration to arrange the over-throw of Saddam Hussein, according to the former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. It is now clear vice-president Cheney took this mission to heart, setting up a back channel from his office to the pentagon through the Office of Special Plans to provide the kind of intelligence the CIA wouldn't. This might tend to explain the "deeper concern" the Post feels for how the "U.S. intelligence agencies could have been so wrong as they apparently were about a target as important as Iraq." The U.S. intelligence agencies were ignored when they gave assessments that were contrary to what the vice-president wanted to hear, including doubts about the information being provided on Iraqi WMD capabilities by Ahmad Chalabi and his band of misfits. The editorial attempts to excuse the administration's "exaggerations" by stating, "The conclusion that Iraq was hiding chemical and biological weapons and aspired to rebuild its nuclear program was also reached by the Clinton administration and a number of other Western governments, including several that opposed the war." Colin Powell apparently didn't share this opinion in February 2001 when he said, "He (Saddam) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." This is not about "exaggerations," however, or a matter of politics embarrassing to president Bush. This is a matter of a president sending young men and women to die in Iraq for a threat that didn't exist. Accountability here is crucial to preserving the ability of the president to retain the trust of the American people. This is a task all the king's men and all the king's horses may not be able to put back together again.
To the L.A. Times:
LA Times President Bush has created a new Task Force on Iraq to be headed by Condoleezza Rice. The idea is all matters pertaining to the reconstruction of Iraq will be coordinated from Dr. Rice's office. What assurance should anyone have, based on her past record, that anything will be handled any better than is has been so far? To recap: She didn't tell the President about the numerous threats, she was well aware of, regarding Al Quaeda using planes to attack U.S targets until days before the attacks. She cited evidence of a nuclear threat from Iraq repeatedly invoking the image a mushroom cloud, when the C.I.A. , the IAEA, and other intelligence agencies were cautioning there was no such evidence of a Iraqi nuclear threat. When the issue of the Niger uranium and the "16 words" came to a head she blamed the Georege Tenet and everyone under the sun for why she didn't know about it. She hasn't been able to coordinate or contain the inter-agency bickering and leaking going on under her nose since the beginning of this administration. She is uniquely incapable of doing the task the President has given her. One wonders whether this is even an issue for George Bush as he himself seems unable to be held accountable for anything he or his administration does.
To Howard Pincus:
In today's edition the article "Wilson: Bush Not Party To Leak," there is a reference to the Kay report citing the discovery of a vile of botulinum in a scientists refridgerator. This has been refered to by Bush as evidence that the Iraqis were prepared to have prohibited biological weapons. I would like to direct your attention to an article in the Oct. 2nd edition of the Fiancial Times by Mark Huband part of which reads, '"There is a very clever use of language in the report," said Glen Rangwala, a weapons expert at Cambridge University, who has been a strong critic of claims that Iraq had an WMD arsenal. Mr Rangwala cited the example in the report of botulinum being found in a vial at the house of an Iraqi scientist. The particular strain discovered at the house was botulinum C, which he said is mostly used to vaccinate cattle and does not have the virulence of the A and B strains. "The C strain isn't suspicious, but the report falls short of saying so," Mr Rangwala said. "The lack of material in the report to make that crucial step up, and to allow you to say that this was for use in weapons, is marked."' This is the same Glen Rangwala who exposed the first British dossier, which was found to have plagerized a number of articles from the internet and a graduate student's thesis, as a fraud. I wanted to point this out to you because I feel the media tends to just report what the administration says is true without doing too much checking around itself to make sure what they're saying is really true. In this case, Mr. Bush has once again claimed there is proof of weapons based on nothing, as in the case of the mobile weapons factories, which seem to be helium filling stations for artillary balloons.
To the New York Times:
In James Risen and Judith Miller's column "No Illicit arms found in
Iraq, U.S inspector tells congress," I note the use of the same slippery
language of the report used in the article to spin the impression that
concealment is some how proof of possession. In the article it's stated;
"He(Dr. Kay) noted that precursor biological agents are small and easily
hidden, and that one example of an item that should have been reported
last year was a vial of live C. botulinum Okra B., from which a biological
agent can be produced. This vial was hidden in the home of an Iraqi biological
weapons scientist." One might get the impression there's some funny business
going here, unless you read yesterday's Financial Times and read this
by Mark Huband; '"There is a very clever use of language in the report,"
said Glen Rangwala, a weapons expert at Cambridge University, who has
been a strong critic of claims that Iraq had an WMD arsenal. Mr Rangwala
cited the example in the report of botulinum being found in a vial at
the house of an Iraqi scientist. The particular strain discovered at the
house was botulinum C, which he said is mostly used to vaccinate cattle
and does not have the virulence of the A and B strains. "The C strain
isn't suspicious, but the report falls short of saying so," Mr Rangwala
said. "The lack of material in the report to make that crucial step up,
and to allow you to say that this was for use in weapons, is marked."'
As you see, that particular strain of biological agent is used to vaccinate
cows and is not used for weapons. Your writers failed to either look into
this or question the assertion. I would hope in the case of such an important
subject as reasons for going to war, you might be a little more careful
about your sources and not just parrot the government's line. Remember,
these are the same people who brought you the imfamous "16 words" in the
State of the Union address.
To the Washington Post
The republicans in congress and their right wing pundit allies seem
intent on continuing the attacks on Joseph Wilson's reputation even as
the rest on the nation is digesting the idea that soneone in the White
House outed a CIA agent in an either, amazingly stupid or arrogant attempt
at petty revenge. Casper Weinberger is quoted yesturday as saying Wilson
was "an ambassador with less than a stellar record." Weinberger's own
stellar reputation is somewhat in question after that little affair called
Iran-Contra. Richard Perle, never at a loss for venomous charactor assassinations,
says," I don't know that his objectivity can be assumed in this case."
We all know we can count on Perle's. This is about endangering people's
lives and national security. The republicans need to drop their partisan
attacks and demand an answer from their president as to who did this and
who authorized it!
To Trent Lott:
Dear minority leader Lott, I see today in the Washington Post you quoted as saying you felt debating and passing a resolution of war on Iraq as being some sort of aid to Saddam. It would be like saying,"Mr. Saddam Hussein, we're coming, we're coming, get ready." Are you saying Congress should shirk it's constitutional duty to declare war? Are you suggesting he didn't have any idea we were coming after six months of "Desert Shield?" Did the narrowly passed resolution in 1991 some how undermine our effort in the Gulf War? You've said a lot of ludicrous things in the past, but this takes the cake. If you can't do your duty as a Senator, if you can't bring yourself to take responsibility for sending hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops into harms way, I would suggest you resign. Maybe, you can get some golf in with Bernie Ebbers before he goes to jail. There are all those articles yet to write for the Southern Partisan, too. How goes it in the confederacy today, by the way?
To senator Bill Nelson of Florida:
Dear Senator Nelson,
I heard you today at the Committee hearings saying you were proud some high-tech equipment, that might be used in Iraq, was being made in Melbourne. You also brought up the red herring of the pilot who was shot down in 1991. This, from what I heard, was the only input you had for this very serious issue of invading Iraq. I hope your interest in a full scale war in Iraq goes beyond helping a company in Florida. Sir, I voted for you, before I moved out of Florida. I'm not very impressed with your grasp of international relations so far. I would be more interested in what you think this war would mean for the entire middle east region. The fact that Iraq might become another Afghanistan, after Saddam is gone, with various religious groups and factions fighting it out in a disintegrated country, with Turkey possibly land-grabbing from the north and Jordan being destabilized from the spillover in the south, would tend, I hope, to keep a person in your position up at nights. I really hope all of you give this issue some deep thought before you pull out the rubber stamp. The American people might generally support getting rid of Saddam, but I doubt they've given any thought to the possible long term consequences of this. George W. will be long out of office before this whole mess will have shaken itself out. As far as this issue of the pilot goes, by the way, if he is still alive, why after 11 years hasn't anyone heard anything about him being alive? Is our intelligence so bad? I should think an American pilot would be a little difficult to hide for over a decade. If the Iraqis wanted to use him for some political gain they would have done so in some past bombing campaign over the past 11 years. I doubt Saddam is dumb enough to think one pilot would hold back an entire invasion. The whole idea is absurd. The people who keep hammering away at this issue tend to have some other motive in mind and I think it's disgusting that they would torture the flyer's family with this constant "is he, isn't he" question. The Pentagon determined he was killed in action long ago. Under political pressure from some rogue political appointees, this has become an issue again. I would urge you to focus on what this war will mean for all Americans and our country as a whole. This is your constitutional duty, to declare war. I hope you make the right decision. Thank you for your time Senator. Note: See Senator Nelson's ongoing obsession with this issue.