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Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.
''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .
''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''
Forty democratic senators were gathered for a lunch in March just off the Senate floor. I was there as a guest speaker. Joe Biden was telling a story, a story about the president. ''I was in the Oval Office a few months after we swept into Baghdad,'' he began, ''and I was telling the president of my many concerns'' -- concerns about growing problems winning the peace, the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army and problems securing the oil fields. Bush, Biden recalled, just looked at him, unflappably sure that the United States was on the right course and that all was well. '''Mr. President,' I finally said, 'How can you be so sure when you know you don't know the facts?''' (New York Times)
9-11 Mysteries Remain: Three Years After Terror Attacks, Public Still Doubts 'Official' Story Three years after the events of 9-11, half of the residents of New York City believe U.S. leaders had foreknowledge and "consciously failed" to act to prevent the disasters, while two in three want a new investigation of the "still-unanswered questions."
In the first survey of public opinion about allegations of U.S. government complicity and whitewashing of the events of 9-11, a Zogby International poll found that fewer than two in five New Yorkers believe the official 9-11 commission "answered all of the important questions about what actually happened on Sept. 11."
One in two New York City residents say that senior government officials “knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around Sept. 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act,” according to the poll of Aug. 24-26, 2004.
Sixty-six percent called for another full investigation, by Congress or Elliot Spitzer (left), New York’s attorney general, to resolve the “unanswered questions.” (American Free Press)
Kennedy has company on airline watch list A second prominent lawmaker said Friday that he's been subjected to extra security at airports because his name appears on a list designed to prevent terrorists from boarding planes (CNN)
Sen. Kennedy Flagged by No-Fly List U.S. Sen. Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy said yesterday that he was stopped and questioned at airports on the East Coast five times in March because his name appeared on the government's secret "no-fly" list.
Federal air security officials said the initial error that led to scrutiny of the Massachusetts Democrat should not have happened even though they recognize that the no-fly list is imperfect. But privately they acknowledged being embarrassed that it took the senator and his staff more than three weeks to get his name removed. (Washington Post)
F.B.I. Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been questioning political demonstrators across the country, and in rare cases even subpoenaing them, in an aggressive effort to forestall what officials say could be violent and disruptive protests at the Republican National Convention in New York (New York Times)
Letter to Thomas Kean from Sibel Edmonds Your report has omitted any reference to this most serious issue, has forgone any accountability whatsoever, and your recommendations have refrained from addressing this issue, which when left unaddressed will have even more serious consequences. This issue is systemic and departmental. Why did your report choose to exclude this information and this serious issue despite the evidence and briefings you received? How can budget increases address and resolve this misconduct by mid-level bureaucratic management? How can the addition of a new bureaucratic layer, "intelligence czar", in its cocoon removed from the action lines, address and resolve this problem? (Asia Times)
9/11 report: Key findings The US 9/11 commission's report has urged sweeping changes to how the intelligence services operate after finding that the government had "failed to protect American people" from the 11 September 2001 attacks.
Here are the key findings of the 576-page report: - Failure to confront -- The report charts how al-Qaeda was allowed to develop into a real danger to the US, concluding that while the attacks "were a shock... they should not have come as a surprise" (BBC)
Extract: 'We have some planes' The report from the bipartisan commission set up to investigate the 11 September 2001 terror attacks describes in detail how the hijackings unfolded, and what is known of the final moments on board the four flights - AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 11 FROM BOSTON TO LOS ANGELES
Among the travellers were Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari, who arrived at the airport in Portland, Maine.
Atta and Omari boarded a 0600 flight from Portland to Boston's Logan International Airport.
When he checked in for his flight to Boston, Atta was selected by a computerised pre-screening system known as Capps (Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-screening System), created to identify passengers who should be subject to special security measures.
Under security rules in place at the time, the only consequence of Atta's selection by Capps was that his checked bags were held off the plane until it was confirmed that he had boarded the aircraft... (BBC)
In-flight cell phones 'worked great' in test The race is on to enable airline passengers to make and receive cell phone calls in flight.
Cell phone company Qualcomm (QCOM) has teamed with American Airlines (AMR) to develop satellite-based air-to-ground cellular service. Several smaller companies are working on rival systems. In-flight cell service could be introduced within two years and become commonplace within four, developers believe.
Last week, American and Qualcomm officials circled over West Texas in a jetliner making calls from their cell phones. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission authorized the flight to test the technology's safety and transmission quality. (USA Today)
Handheld terahertz wand to unmask terrorists TeraView has just begun working with Smiths Detection of Bushey, Hertfordshire, one of the world's largest manufacturers of X-ray security scanners, to develop a hand-held terahertz security wand that will scan passengers. But to avoid privacy concerns, it will not be used to generate an image on a screen. (New Scientist)
The Ties That Blind: How Reagan Armed Saddam with Chemical Weapons On August 18, 2002, the New York Times carried a front-page story headlined, "Officers say U.S. aided Iraq despite the use of gas". Quoting anonymous US "senior military officers", the NYT "revealed" that in the 1980s, the administration of US President Ronald Reagan covertly provided "critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war". The story made a brief splash in the international media, then died.
While the August 18 NYT article added new details about the extent of US military collaboration with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during Iraq's 1980-88 war with Iran, it omitted the most outrageous aspect of the scandal: not only did Ronald Reagan's Washington turn a blind-eye to the Hussein regime's repeated use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and Iraq's Kurdish minority, but the US helped Iraq develop its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.
Nor did the NYT dwell on the extreme cynicism and hypocrisy of President George Bush II's administration's citing of those same terrible atrocities--which were disregarded at the time by Washington--and those same weapons programs--which no longer exist, having been dismantled and destroyed in the decade following the 1991 Gulf War--to justify a massive new war against the people of Iraq.
A reader of the NYT article (or the tens of thousands of other articles written after the war drive against Iraq began in earnest soon after September 11, 2001) would have looked in vain for the fact that many of the US politicians and ruling class pundits who demanded war against Hussein--in particular, the one of the most bellicose of the Bush administration's "hawks", defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld--were up to their ears in Washington's efforts to cultivate, promote and excuse Hussein in the past. - "The US spent virtually an entire decade making sure that Saddam Hussein had almost whatever he wanted... US export control policy was directed by US foreign policy as formulated by the State Department, and it was US foreign policy to assist the regime of Saddam Hussein." -William Blum (Counter Punch)
Controllers' 9/11 Tape Destroyed the tape was never turned over to the FBI and another FAA manager decided on his own to destroy the tape, crushing it with his hand, cutting it into small pieces and depositing the pieces into several trash cans (Washington Post)
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