Archives: January 2004
Sat Jan 31, 2004
United States Central Intelligence Agency FREEDOM FIGHTER'S MANUAL
In the early 80's the CIA published a sabotage manual and distributed it throughout Nicaragua. The anti-Sandanista pamphlet is full of tips on bringing down the infrastructure of the country. "The Freedom Fighter's Manual" is illustrated with childlike cartoons and brief captions. your tax dollars at work!
how to be lazy
how to be wasteful
set the cows free!
screw up things at work
wrecking lights, windows and books
phone lines, alarms, and a nifty toilet trick
graffitti and mayhem
fun with vehicles (part one)
fun with vehicles (part two)
fun with vehicles (part three)
fun with vehicles (part four)
telephone lines, truck tires
arson and the ever-popular molotov coctail
wasting and burning up fuel - parting text
Yes, I took this stuff from here: http://www.smog.net/curiosities/sabotage/index.php?aID=29
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Thu Jan 29, 2004
If your heart is not...
"Pro-Vietnam War parade" New York City 1968, Mary Ellen Mark
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Letters to the Editor.. 9/11 investigation
1) Newsday -- Letter to the Editor from Elizabeth & Stephen Alderman who lost their son Peter: "We are sick to death of the Bush administration wrapping itself in the stars and stripes and invoking national security at the drop of a hat."
Philadelphia Daily News Editorials:
2) A 9/11 COVER UP? "...you won't need Democrats to spin and spin the fact that the administration has something to hide, something big."
3) 9/11 Investigation -- Truth be told "The irony is that the administration itself slowed the process, particularly its refusal to trust the commission with certain classified documents."
4) NY Daily News - Editorial - 1/29/04 -- Get the job done "Whining about Democratic spin is disingenuous when you're doing everything in your power to invite it. When you stood atop the still-smoking wreckage of the World Trade Center, Mr. Bush, you redefined your presidency. If you want to win reelection, that must be the image you promote - not one of a chief executive afraid of the truth."
Letter to the Editor from Parents of 9/11 Victim.
Newsday January 26, 2004
In response to "Bush Opposes Extension of 9/11 Probe": We are sick to death of the Bush administration wrapping itself in the stars and stripes and invoking national security at the drop of a hat.
Yet when its own political gain conflicts with the security of our country, there is no contest: Political expediency wins every time. It is in the grand tradition of this country to appoint blue ribbon commissions, giving them the time, power and money to explore the reasons for national catastrophes.
The Bush administration did not want an independent commission investigating the failures leading to the Sept. 11 attacks. It did not cooperate with the commission. And now it will not allow the commission to complete its investigation. To prevent Sept. 11-related controversies from emerging during the heat of the presidential campaign, the Bush administration seems willing to sell short this country and its national security.
Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman
Editor's Note: The writers' son, Peter Alderman, died in the World Trade Center.
Posted on Thu, Jan. 29, 2004
A 9/11 COVER UP? WHY WON'T BUSH COOPERATE WITH INVESTIGATORS?
THE WHITE House doesn't want to give the commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the 60 more days that it says it needs to finish its report.
Republicans are worried that a two-month extension would inject - shudder - politics into the Sept. 11 tragedy. The report would be released in July, in the middle of the presidential campaign.
As a shocked, but unidentified Republican congressional aide told the New York Times, "The Democrats will spin and spin."
Where is the Republican convention scheduled?
Uh, New York?
Aug. 30-Sept. 2, later than most political conventions, but as close as possible to the third anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center.
And wasn't that President Bush framing his entire State of the Union address around the warning that "It is tempting to believe that the danger [of a terrorist attack on our soil] is behind us"?
Of course, the president's answer was an exhortation to not "turn back" and to re-elect him to keep us safe.
It apparently is not to find out once and for all what mistakes were made that allowed Sept. 11 to happen in the first place - and what changes in policies and procedures should be made to prevent it from happening again.
It was the Bush administration, remember, that resisted mightily the creation of this commission and then appointed the wildly inappropriate Henry Kissinger to be its chair. When Kissinger was forced to withdraw for a gazillion conflicts of interest, the well-respected Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey and a Republican, took over.
Then the Bush White House proceeded to stonewall, not turning over documents until subpoenaed.
But why? Do they know something about the runup to Sept. 11 that we don't know?
It's already clear that the commission has found evidence to suggest that the terrorist attacks were not inevitable. Members of Congress who oppose extending the deadline need to explain why they don't want the whole story.
Otherwise, you won't need Democrats to spin and spin the fact that the administration has something to hide, something big.
Posted on Thu, Jan. 29, 2004
Editorial | 9/11 Investigation Truth be told
Wouldn't you know it? Just as the independent commission probing the 9/11 terror attacks starts flexing some muscle, President Bush and congressional Republican leaders are getting impatient.
The commission looks serious about naming names and assessing responsibility for the horrific attacks. Commission chairman Thomas H. Kean contends the terrorists could have been stopped.
This week the commission revealed that border and diplomatic officials failed dismally in detecting the terrorists' moves. Meanwhile, federal airport security procedures permitted nine of the 19 hijackers to board planes despite specific warnings about each of the killers.
With such heat coming, Bush and GOP leaders want the commission to finish its work. If it's a rush job, apparently that's not their concern.
So they suggest there is no need to grant the commission more time beyond its May 27 deadline to produce a report on the attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the plane crash in Pennsylvania.
Well, Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor, has the right idea. Along with his equally distinguished Democratic vice chairman, former Indiana congressman Lee H. Hamilton, Kean on Tuesday called at least for a two-month extension.
Kean said "much work remains." The commission has yet to receive key documents requested from the Bush administration. It is still seeking arrangements for testimony by top Bush officials. The commission could seek to question the President and Vice President Cheney.
The irony is that the administration itself slowed the process, particularly its refusal to trust the commission with certain classified documents.
Bush officials also dragged out the commission's work by their insistence that government employees be interviewed with minders present from the workers' agency or the Justice Department. It was a repugnant policy that suggested the Bush folks were concerned first and foremost about covering themselves politically, rather than discovering the lessons of 9/11.
So now the timing is awkward. Another two months' work by the commission will mean its report lands smack in the middle of the presidential election. Shouldn't some White House adviser have thought of that?
Chances are good Bush's Democratic opponent would be tempted to use any critiques of the President as campaign fodder. Then again, the administration could come out with flying colors, bolstering its homeland security credentials.
If America hopes to prevent another attack, one of the best strategies is an unblinking examination of the events surrounding Sept. 11, 2001. Congress and the White House should give their approval to extend the commission's life - in the interest of national security.
NY Daily News - Editorial - 1/29/04
Get the job done
The commission probing the 9/11 terror attacks is seeking a bit more time to complete its investigation. Instead of filing its report May 27, the deadline mandated by Congress, the panel would like an extension at least until July. Does anyone have a problem with that? We want a complete report, right? Well, uh....
The problem, people, is politics. Republicans fear that the commission would give the Democrats ammunition with a report that puts the Bush administration in a less-than-flattering light. So the light should be dimmed? That would be unconscionable.
The commission - headed by former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, a Republican - appears committed to a full, fair investigation. The White House should be its chief supporter, instead of strewing the path with obstacles. But obstacles have been strewn. For example, the administration has yet to commit to testimony from Condoleezza Rice and other officials. That's one reason more time is needed.
Whining about Democratic spin is disingenuous when you're doing everything in your power to invite it. When you stood atop the still-smoking wreckage of the World Trade Center, Mr. Bush, you redefined your presidency. If you want to win reelection, that must be the image you promote - not one of a chief executive afraid of the truth.
To the Editor:
"9/11 Commission Says It Needs More Time to Complete Report'' (front page, Jan. 28) points to a troubling reality in Washington, and illuminates the rather stark hypocrisy with the post-9/11"patriotism'' flowing out of the White House.
Those who were so gleeful and aggressive in their support for an independent investigation into former President Bill Clinton's sex life did not even want an independent commission to be formed to investigate the atrocity of Sept. 11, which killed my brother David, among many others.
Now they do not want to extend the commission's deadline, afraid that the release of its report will coincide more closely with the Republican National Convention in New York City in August.
How is it patriotic to place one's re-election worries before the need of the American people and the 9/11 families to know what mistakes were made leading up to the worst attack on American soil?
ANDREW M. RICE Oklahoma City, Jan. 28, 2004
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Mon Jan 26, 2004
The Yes Men
'Here is the true story of how Andy and Mike—a couple of semi-employed, middle-class (at best) activists with only thrift-store clothes and no formal economics training—posed as spokespeople for the World Trade Organization.'
It's pretty funny
And there's a documentary about them that's coming out soon.. Made by U of Iowa alum Chris Smith (who also made the great great great 'American Movie')
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Sun Jan 25, 2004
How lucky I was........and thanks for the memories...
'It's Just Wrong What We're Doing'
By Doug Saunders
The Globe and Mail
Saturday 24 January 2004
In an exclusive interview, repentant Vietnam War architect Robert McNamara breaks his silence on Iraq: The United States, he says, is making the same mistakes all over again.
'Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why."
With those words, written nine years ago, Robert McNamara began an extraordinary final phase of his career -- devoted to chronicling the errors, delusions and false assumptions that turned him into the chief architect and most prominent promoter of the Vietnam war.
No historic figure has put so much effort into self-examination: At the age of 87, he has now written three very detailed and analytical books, and starred in one very good movie, devoted to the fundamental mistakes that led the United States into the most politically costly and least successful war in its history.
What, then, does he think about Iraq? Until now, the former secretary of defence has avoided comment on the actions of that job's current occupant, Donald Rumsfeld. The two are often compared to each other in their autocratic leadership styles and in their technocratic, numbers-driven approaches to war. And their wars, of course, are often likened. But Robert McNamara has insisted in staying out of the fray.
He decided to break his silence on Iraq when I called him up the other day at his Washington office. I told him that his carefully enumerated lists of historic lessons from Vietnam were in danger of being ignored. He agreed, and told me that he was deeply frustrated to see history repeating itself.
McNamara's 11 Lessons
In 1995, former U.S. secretary of defence Robert McNamara published In Retrospect, the first of his three books dissecting the errors, myths and miscalculations that led to the Vietnam War, which he now believes was a serious mistake. Nine years later, most of these lessons seem uncannily relevant to the Iraq war in its current nation-building, guerrilla-warfare phase.
We misjudged then -- and we have since -- the geopolitical intentions of our adversaries . . . and we exaggerated the dangers to the United States of their actions.
We viewed the people and leaders of South Vietnam in terms of our own experience. . . . We totally misjudged the political forces within the country.
We underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die for their beliefs and values.
Our judgments of friend and foe alike reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.
We failed then -- and have since -- to recognize the limitations of modern, high-technology military equipment, forces and doctrine. . . . We failed as well to adapt our military tactics to the task of winning the hearts and minds of people from a totally different culture.
We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of a large-scale military involvement . . . before we initiated the action.
After the action got under way and unanticipated events forced us off our planned course . . . we did not fully explain what was happening and why we were doing what we did.
We did not recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient. Our judgment of what is in another people's or country's best interest should be put to the test of open discussion in international forums. We do not have the God-given right to shape every nation in our image or as we choose.
We did not hold to the principle that U.S. military action . . . should be carried out only in conjunction with multinational forces supported fully (and not merely cosmetically) by the international community.
We failed to recognize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions. . . . At times, we may have to live with an imperfect, untidy world.
Underlying many of these errors lay our failure to organize the top echelons of the executive branch to deal effectively with the extraordinarily complex range of political and military issues.
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Sat Jan 24, 2004
Dick Cheney — Lying Sack of Shit?
Cheney's Latest Distortions
By The Center for American Progress
Friday 23 January 2004
In January 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney did a round of media interviews with NPR and others in which he reinforced his claims of a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. To back these claims up, he cited documents already discredited as “inaccurate” by the Bush Administration.
SADDAM-AL QAEDA CONNECTION
CHENEY CLAIM: "There's overwhelming evidence there was a connection between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I am very confident that there was an established relationship there." - Vice President Cheney, 1/22/04
FACT: According to documents, "Saddam Hussein warned his Iraqi supporters to be wary of joining forces with foreign Arab fighters entering Iraq to battle U.S. troops. The document provides another piece of evidence challenging the Bush administration contention of close cooperation between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda terrorists." [NY Times, 1/15/04]
FACT: "CIA interrogators have already elicited from the top Qaeda officials in custody that, before the American-led invasion, Osama bin Laden had rejected entreaties from some of his lieutenants to work jointly with Saddam." [NY Times, 1/15/04]
FACT: "Sec. of State Colin Powell conceded Thursday that despite his assertions to the United Nations last year, he had no 'smoking gun' proof of a link between the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and terrorists of al-Qaeda.'I have not seen smoking-gun, concrete evidence about the connection,' Powell said." [NY Times, 1/9/04]
FACT: “Three former Bush Administration officials who worked on intelligence and national security issues said the prewar evidence tying Al Qaeda was tenuous, exaggerated and often at odds with the conclusions of key intelligence agencies.” [National Journal, 8/9/03]
FACT: Declassified documents “undercut Bush administration claims before the war that Hussein had links to Al Qaeda.” [LA Times, 7/19/03].
FACT: "The chairman of the monitoring group appointed by the United Nations Security Council to track Al Qaeda told reporters that his team had found no evidence linking Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein." [NY Times, 6/27/03]
FACT: "U.S. allies have found no links between Iraq and Al Qaeda.'We have found no evidence of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda,' said Europe's top investigator. 'If there were such links, we would have found them. But we have found no serious connections whatsoever.'" [LA Times, 11/4/02]
CHENEY CLAIM: "Abdul Rahman Yasim arrived back in Iraq and was put on the payroll and provided a house, safe harbor and sanctuary. So Saddam Hussein had an established track record of providing safe harbor and sanctuary for terrorists." – Vice President Cheney, 1/22/04
FACT: "Even if the new information holds up — and intelligence and law enforcement officials disagree on its conclusiveness — the links tying Yasin, Saddam and al-Qaeda are tentative." [USA Today, 9/17/03]
CHENEY CLAIM: "You ought to go look at an article that Stephen Hayes did in the Weekly Standard here a few weeks ago, that goes through and lays out in some detail, based on an assessment that was done by the Department of Defense and forwarded to the Senate Intelligence Committee some weeks ago. That's your best source of information" to justify the Saddam-Al Qaeda claim. – Vice President Cheney, 1/9/04
FACT: "Reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate. Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal." [DoD, 11/15/03]
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Fri Jan 23, 2004
The truth comes out?
"We're on an international manhunt for those who would do harm to
America, or for anybody else who loves freedom. (sic)"
[ "sic" from the transcript]
January 22, 2004, President Discusses Americaís Leadership in Global
War on Terror, Roswell Convention and Civic Center, Roswell, New Mexico
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Prisoner made arts and crafts for sale
While looking for images of happy families on the web for work (dont' ask) I came accress this:
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Thu Jan 22, 2004
SOTU Speech - Talking Points
by Phyllis Bennis
Institute for Policy Studies
21 January 2004
* Bush's speech was about politics not policies, driven by electoral
concerns. It reflected a far-right agenda designed to appeal to the
wealthy and social conservatives with "faith-based initiatives," gay
marriage, drugs in sports, abstinence.
* Bush's policies - both domestic and international - are STILL
reckless, unsafe, unfair.
* Bush continues to rely on ratcheting up the fear factor - fear is a
key component in Bush's plan to gain support for the 2004 election.
The speech was characterized by serious omissions, denials, and lies.
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UPI: 9/11 director gave evidence to own inquiry
By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
Published 1/15/2004 7:16 PM
WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The panel set up to investigate why the United States failed to prevent the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, faced angry questions Thursday after revelations that two of its own senior officials were so closely involved in the events under investigation that they have been interviewed as part of the inquiry.
Philip Zelikow, the commission's executive director, worked on the Bush-Cheney transition team as the new administration took power, advising his longtime associate and former boss, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, on the incoming National Security Council.
"He came forward (to answer questions) in case he might have useful information," said Al Felzenberg, the commission spokesman.
The news was greeted with dismay by many of the relatives of the victims who campaigned for the commission to be set up.
"This is beginning to look like a whitewash," Kristen Breitweizer, who lost her husband Ron in tower two of the World Trade Center, told United Press International.
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my character is upright. my memories are intact. barry i love you!
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War College Report: Iraq War an 'Error
By BOB JOHNSON
(AP) United States soldiers with the 1st Infantry Division patrol through a palm grove while looking for...
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A report published by the Army War College calls the Bush administration's war on terrorism unfocused and says the invasion of Iraq was "a strategic error."
The research paper by Jeffrey Record, a professor at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, said the president's strategy "promises much more than it can deliver" and threatens to spread U.S. military resources too thin. Record also wrote that Saddam Hussein's Iraq did not present a threat to the United States and was a distraction from the war on terrorism.
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Stolen off Bushflash.com
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Wed Jan 21, 2004
what was up with that steroids mention in the state of the union? here's my speculations...
My guess on this bizarre inclusion was preparing for an "i told you so" of sorts. In the event that the BALCO/Conte case goes to trial, there will be an incredible amount of documentation of who took what. That it will involve a number of extremely famous people means that it will dominate the news. By being proactive on this issue, Bush has aligned himself for the righteous path of goodness and can stake a magical claim on future coverage.
The grand jury investigating BALCO and Conte will likely begin handing out indictments within the month.
Just remember you heard it here first on the spoerts rant!
Also, I would like to stake a claim for calling out the next fashion trend soon to hit the streets - Hobbit Hair!!
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CJR Campaign Desk
Columbia Journalism Review's new politics blog -http://campaigndesk.org/ focused on correcting distortions in the media. They have been particularly good at revealing Drudge's lies.
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Mon Jan 19, 2004
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Rock and Roll Won't Save Yer Soul
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Thu Jan 15, 2004
17 THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT HOWARD DEAN:
He's a hardheaded penny-pincher, she's a publicity-shy doctor. PEOPLE magazine sat down with Democratic Presidential candidate Howard Dean, 55, and his wife, Judy, 50, for their first joint interview. Read 17 things we learned about him, then peruse the exclusive transcript.
1. He calls his wife "sweetie"; she calls him "Howie."
2. He wore his prom tuxedo to one of President Clinton's White House state dinners to save money, but coughed and split his pants and had to be escorted home by state troopers covering his posterior.
3. His staff forced him to buy a new suit at Paul Stuart in New York for the campaign (it cost $800). "It nearly killed me."
4. He always turns off the lights when he walks out of a room. He used to get into fights with his wife about turning up the heat in the winter, so now she pays the bill so he doesn't have to see it.
5. The last sitcom he watched was All in the Family in its original run.
6. He is compulsive about recycling. Once he picked up every newspaper off an airplane at the end of a flight and hauled them to a recycling center. He also does recycling inspections of his staffer's bins.
7. He insists that paper in his office be printed on both sides.
8. He likes Outkast and Wyclef Jean (his son's music) as well as Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead.
9. He fixes the toilet at home; plumbing is his "therapy."
10. He never takes taxis or limos. In New York City he takes the subway.
11. Asked his favorite food indulgence, he responds: fish. (He later amends this to chocolate chip cookies.)
12. He drinks generic ginger ale and snacks to save money.
13. He plays the guitar and harmonica. He sings '60s folk tunes (see: Peter, Paul and Mary above.)
14. Despite his reservations about cost, he was finally persuaded to take his shirts to the dry cleaner last year. He used to just throw them in the wash.
15. As the governor of Vermont, he drove himself and pumped his own gas.
16. He has been known to tape his shoes together.
17. He wears '70s-style gold-rimmed glasses that he won't update; his wife carries a purse covered in pen marks. They are both devoted discount shoppers
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The Manchurian Candidate II
XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX WED JAN 15, 2004 11:28:25 ET XXXXX
WES CLARK MADE CASE FOR IRAQ WAR BEFORE CONGRESS; TRANSCRIPT REVEALED
Two months ago Democratic hopeful Wesley Clark declared in a debate that he has always been firmly against the current Iraq War.
"I've been very consistent... I've been against this war from the beginning," the former general said in Detroit on October 26.
"I was against it last summer, I was against it in the fall, I was against it in the winter, I was against it in the spring. And I'm against it now."
But just six month prior in an op-ed in the LONDON TIMES Clark offered praise for the courage of President Bush's action.
"President Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt," Clark wrote on April 10, 2003. "Can anything be more moving than the joyous throngs swarming the streets of Baghdad? Memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the defeat of Milosevic in Belgrade flood back. Statues and images of Saddam are smashed and defiled."
Even the most ardent Clark supporter will question if Clark's current and past stand on the Iraq war -- is confusion or deception, after the DRUDGE REPORT reveals:
TWO WEEKS BEFORE CONGRESS PASSED THE IRAQ CONGRESSIONAL RESOLUTION WESLEY CLARK MADE THE CASE FOR WAR; TESTIFIED THAT SADDAM HAD 'CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS'
Less than 18 months ago, Wesley Clark offered his testimony before the Committee On Armed Services at the U.S. House Of Representatives.
"There's no requirement to have any doctrine here. I mean this is simply a longstanding right of the United States and other nations to take the actions they deem necessary in their self defense," Clark told Congress on September 26, 2002.
"Every president has deployed forces as necessary to take action. He's done so without multilateral support if necessary. He's done so in advance of conflict if necessary. In my experience, I was the commander of the European forces in NATO. When we took action in Kosovo, we did not have United Nations approval to do this and we did so in a way that was designed to preempt Serb ethnic cleansing and regional destabilization there. There were some people who didn' t agree with that decision. The United Nations was not able to agree to support it with a resolution."
Clark continued: "There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat... Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He's had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001... He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn't have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we."
More Clark: "And, I want to underscore that I think the United States should not categorize this action as preemptive. Preemptive and that doctrine has nothing whatsoever to do with this problem. As Richard Perle so eloquently pointed out, this is a problem that's longstanding. It's been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this."
Clark explained: "I think there's no question that, even though we may not have the evidence as Richard [Perle] says, that there have been such contacts [between Iraq and al Qaeda]. It' s normal. It's natural. These are a lot of bad actors in the same region together. They are going to bump into each other. They are going to exchange information. They're going to feel each other out and see whether there are opportunities to cooperate. That's inevitable in this region, and I think it's clear that regardless of whether or not such evidence is produced of these connections that Saddam Hussein is a threat."
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Mon Jan 12, 2004
SHout out to my peeps on all the coasts keepin' it real for the mothership. WORD.
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You're no Adolph Hitler, Mr. President!
The Bush Hitler Thing
t r u t h o u t | Reader Submission
Friday 09 January 2004
My family was one of Hitler's victims. We lost a lot under the Nazi occupation, including an uncle who died in the camps and a cousin killed by a booby trap. I was terrified when my father went ballistic after finding my brother and me playing with a hand grenade. (I was only 12 at the time, and my brother insisted the grenade was safe.) I remember the rubble and the hardships of 'austerity' - and the bomb craters from Allied bombs. As late as the 1980s, I had to take detours while bombs were being removed - they litter the countryside, buried under parking lots,buildings, and in the canals and rivers to this day. Believe me, I learned a lot about Hitler while I was growing up, both in Europe and here in the US - both my parents were in the war and talked about it constantly, unlike most American families. I spent my earliest years with the second-hand fear that trickled down from their PTSD - undiagnosed and untreated in those days.
I'm no expert on WWII - but I learned a lot about what happened in Germany - and Europe - back in those days. I always wondered how the wonderful German people - so honest, decent, hard-working, friendly, and generous - could ever allow such a thing to happen. (There were camps near my family's home - they still talk about them only in hushed conspiratorial whispers.) I asked a lot of questions - we were only a few kilometers from the German border - and no one ever denied me. My relatives had obviously spent a lot of time thinking about the war - they still haven't forgotten - I don't think anyone can forget such a horrible nightmare. Among the questions I asked:
Why didn't you do anything about the people in the camps?
Everyone was terrified. People 'disappeared' into those camps. Sometimes the Nazis came and lined everyone up, walking behind them - even school children - with a cocked pistol. You never knew when they would just shoot someone in the back of the head. Everyone was terrified. Everyone was disarmed - guns were registered, so all the Nazis had to do was go from house to house and demand the guns.
Didn't you see what was happening?
We saw. There was nothing we could do. Our military had no modern weapons. The Nazis had technology and resources - they just invaded and took over - we were overwhelmed by their air power. They had spies everywhere - people spying on each other, just to have an 'ace in the hole' in case they were accused - and anyone who had a grudge against you could accuse you of something - just an accusation meant you'd disappear. Nobody dared ask where you had gone - anyone who returned was considered suspicious - what had they said, and who did they implicate? It was a climate of fear - there's nothing anyone can do when the government uses fear and imprisonment to intimidate people. The government was above the law - even in Germany, it became 'every man for himself'. Advancement was possible by exposing 'traitors' - anyone who questioned the government. It didn't matter if the people you accused were guilty or not - just the accusation was enough.
Did anyone know what was going on?
We all knew. We imagined the worst because the Nazis made 'examples' of a few people in every town and village. Public torture and execution. The most unspeakable atrocities were committed in full view of everyone. If this is what happened in public, can you imagine what might be going on in the camps? Nobody wanted to know.
Why didn't the German people stop the Nazis?
Life was better, at first, under the Nazis. The war machine invigorated the economy - men had jobs again, and enough money to take care of their family. New building projects were everywhere. The shops were full again - and people could afford good food, culture, and luxuries. Women could stay home in comfort. Crime was reduced. Health care improved. It was a rosy scenario - Hitler brought order and prosperity. His policies won widespread approval because life was better for most Germans, after the misery of reparations and inflation. The people liked the idea of removing the worst elements of society - the gypsies, the homosexuals, the petty criminals - it was easy to elicit support for prosecuting the corrupt 'evil'people poisoning society. Every family was proud of their hometown heroes - the sharply-dressed soldiers they contributed to his program - they were, after all,defending the Fatherland. Continuing a proud tradition that had been defeated and shamed after WWI, the soldiers gave the feeling of power and success to the proud families that showered them with praise and support. Their early victories were reason to celebrate - in spite of the fact that they faced poorly armed inferior forces - further proof that what they were doing was right, and the best thing for the country. The news was full of stories about their bravery and accomplishments against a vile enemy. They were 'liberating' these countries from their corrupt governments.
These are some of the answers I gleaned over the years. As a child, I was fascinated with the Nazis. I thought the German soldiers were really something - that's how strong an impression they made, even after the war. After all, they weren't the ones committing war crimes - they were the pride of their families and communities. It was just the SS and Gestapo that were 'bad'. Now I know better -but that pride in the military was a strong factor for many years, only adding to the mystique of military power - after all, my father had been a soldier too, but in the American army. It took a while to figure out the truth.
Every time I've gone back to Europe, someone has taken me to the 'gardens of stone' - the Allied cemeteries that dot the countryside. With great sadness, my relatives would stand in abject misery, remembering the nightmare, and asking 'Why?'. Maybe that's why they wouldn't support the US invasion of Iraq. They knew war. They knew occupation. And they knew resistance. I saw the building where British flyers hid on their way back to England - smuggled out by brave families that risked the lives of everyone to help the Allies. As a child, I had played in a basement, where the cow lived under the house, as is common there. The same place those flyers hid.
So why, now, when I hear GWB's speeches, do I think of Hitler? Why have I drawn a parallel between the Nazis and the present administration? Just one small reason -the phrase 'Never forget'. Never let this happen again. It is better to question our government - because it really can happen here - than to ignore the possibility.
So far, I've seen nothing to eliminate the possibility that Bush is on the same course as Hitler. And I've seen far too many analogies to dismiss the possibility. The propaganda. The lies. The rhetoric. The nationalism. The flag waving. The pretext of 'preventive war'. The flaunting of international law and international standards of justice. The disappearances of 'undesirable' aliens. The threats against protesters. The invasion of a non-threatening sovereign nation. The occupation of a hostile country. The promises of prosperity and security. The spying on ordinary citizens. The incitement to spy on one's neighbors - and report them to the government. The arrogant triumphant pride in military conquest. The honoring of soldiers. The tributes to 'fallen warriors. The diversion of money to the military. The demonization of government appointed 'enemies'. The establishment of 'Homeland Security'. The dehumanization of 'foreigners'. The total lack of interest in the victims of government policy. The incarceration of the poor and mentally ill. The growing prosperity from military ventures. The illusion of 'goodness' and primacy. The new einsatzgrupen forces. Assassination teams. Closed extralegal internment camps. The militarization of domestic police. Media blackout of non-approved issues. Blacklisting of protesters - including the no-fly lists and photographing dissenters at rallies.
There isn't much doubt in my mind - anyone who compares the history of Hitler's rise to power and the progression of recent events in the US cannot avoid the parallels. It's incontrovertible. Is Bush another Hitler? Maybe not, but with each incriminating event, the parallel grows -it certainly cannot be dismissed. There's too much evidence already. Just as Hitler used American tactics to plan and execute his reign, it looks as if Karl Rove is reading Hitler's playbook to plan world domination - and that is the stated intent of both. From the Reichstag fire to the landing at Nuremberg to the motto of "Gott Mit Uns" to the unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq to the insistence that peace was the ultimate goal, the line is unbroken and unwavering.
I'm afraid now, that what may still come to pass is a reign far more savage and barbaric than that of the Nazis. Already, appeasement has been fruitless - it only encourages the brazen to escalate their arrogance and braggadocio. Americans support Bush - by a generous majority - and mass media sings his praises while indicting his detractors - or silencing their opinions completely. The American people seem to care only about the domestic economic situation - and even in that, they are in complete denial. They don't want to hear about Iraq, and Afghanistan is already forgotten. Even the Democratic opposition supports the occupation of Iraq. Everyone seems to agree that Saddam Hussein deserves to be executed -with or without a trial. 'Visitors' are fingerprinted. Guilty until proven innocent. Snipers are on New York City rooftops. When do the Stryker teams start appearing on American streets? They're perfectly suited for 'Homeland Security' - and they've had a trial run in Iraq. The Constitution has been suspended - until further notice. Dick Cheney just mentioned it may be for decades - even a generation, as Rice asserts as well. Is this the start of the 1000 year reign of this new collection of thugs? So it would seem.
I can only hope that in the coming year there will be some sign - some hint - that we are not becoming that which we abhor. The Theory of the Grotesque fares all too well these days. It may not be Nazi Germany - it might be a lot worse.
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Okay, so I guess we forge ahead without Trotsky's assassin.
January 13, 2004
The Awful Truth
By PAUL KRUGMAN
People are saying terrible things about George Bush. They say that his officials weren't sincere about pledges to balance the budget. They say that the planning for an invasion of Iraq began seven months before 9/11, that there was never any good evidence that Iraq was a threat and that the war actually undermined the fight against terrorism.
But these irrational Bush haters are body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freaks who should go back where they came from: the executive offices of Alcoa, and the halls of the Army War College.
I was one of the few commentators who didn't celebrate Paul O'Neill's appointment as Treasury secretary. And I couldn't understand why, if Mr. O'Neill was the principled man his friends described, he didn't resign early from an administration that was clearly anything but honest.
But now he's showing the courage I missed back then, by giving us an invaluable, scathing insider's picture of the Bush administration.
Ron Suskind's new book "The Price of Loyalty" is based largely on interviews with and materials supplied by Mr. O'Neill. It portrays an administration in which political considerations — satisfying "the base" — trump policy analysis on every issue, from tax cuts to international trade policy and global warming. The money quote may be Dick Cheney's blithe declaration that "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." But there are many other revelations.
One is that Mr. O'Neill and Alan Greenspan knew that it was a mistake to lock in huge tax cuts based on questionable projections of future surpluses. In May 2001 Mr. Greenspan gloomily told Mr. O'Neill that because the first Bush tax cut didn't include triggers — it went forward regardless of how the budget turned out — it was "irresponsible fiscal policy." This was a time when critics of the tax cut were ridiculed for saying exactly the same thing.
Another is that Mr. Bush, who declared in the 2000 campaign that "the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum," knew that this wasn't true. He worried that eliminating taxes on dividends would benefit only "top-rate people," asking his advisers, "Didn't we already give them a break at the top?"
Most startling of all, Donald Rumsfeld pushed the idea of regime change in Iraq as a way to transform the Middle East at a National Security Council meeting in February 2001.
There's much more in Mr. Suskind's book. All of it will dismay those who still want to believe that our leaders are wise and good.
The question is whether this book will open the eyes of those who think that anyone who criticizes the tax cuts is a wild-eyed leftist, and that anyone who says the administration hyped the threat from Iraq is a conspiracy theorist.
The point is that the credentials of the critics just keep getting better. How can Howard Dean's assertion that the capture of Saddam hasn't made us safer be dismissed as bizarre, when a report published by the Army War College says that the war in Iraq was a "detour" that undermined the fight against terror? How can charges by Wesley Clark and others that the administration was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq be dismissed as paranoid in the light of Mr. O'Neill's revelations?
So far administration officials have attacked Mr. O'Neill's character but haven't refuted any of his facts. They have, however, already opened an investigation into how a picture of a possibly classified document appeared during Mr. O'Neill's TV interview. This alacrity stands in sharp contrast with their evident lack of concern when a senior administration official, still unknown, blew the cover of a C.I.A. operative because her husband had revealed some politically inconvenient facts.
Some will say that none of this matters because Saddam is in custody, and the economy is growing. Even in the short run, however, these successes may not be all they're cracked up to be. More Americans were killed and wounded in the four weeks after Saddam's capture than in the four weeks before. The drop in the unemployment rate since its peak last summer doesn't reflect a greater availability of jobs, but rather a decline in the share of the population that is even looking for work.
More important, having a few months of good news doesn't excuse a consistent pattern of dishonest, irresponsible leadership. And that pattern keeps getting harder to deny.
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