President justifies war to parents of dead

President justifies war to parents of dead

WASHINGTON - President Bush defended the war in Iraq on the most personal level Saturday, telling grieving parents of U.S. soldiers who died there that their loss is the cost of keeping America safe.

Steve Bell cartoon
Steve Bell

''It's essential that I explain this properly to the parents of those who lost their lives,'' Bush said in a rare television interview. ``Saddam Hussein was dangerous, and I'm not just going to leave him in power and trust a madman.''

Steve Bell cartoon
Steve Bell

In excerpts from an hour long interview taped for NBC's Meet the Press for broadcast this morning, Bush also voiced support for CIA Director George Tenet, whose agency is under fire for prewar intelligence reports that seemed to overstate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Steve Bell cartoon
Steve Bell


Bush took issue with suggestions that the commission he appointed Friday to investigate intelligence failures was structured to limit any political damage to him. The nine-member panel, which Bush created by executive order, will not issue its report until next March -- well after the November election.

Steve Bell cartoon
Steve Bell

The reason why we gave it time is because we didn't want it to be hurried. This is a strategic look, kind of a big-picture look about the intelligence-gathering capacities of the United States of America,'' he said. "There is going to be ample time for the American people to assess whether or not I made good calls, whether I used good judgment, whether or not I made the right decision in removing Saddam Hussein from power.''

Steve Bell cartoon
Steve Bell

Bush's decision to sit down for the question-and-answer session underscored the unease at the White House over the potential political fallout from the war, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and record federal budget deficits. For the first time since he took office, the president's approval rating slipped below 50 percent last week, and several polls show that if the election were held today, Bush would lose to Democratic front-runner Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's gonna happen? . . . It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" - Barbara Bush, 3/18/2003

Polls indicate that Americans have become increasingly skeptical about the administration's case for war. David Kay recently resigned as the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq after concluding that Hussein did not have any stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons and had not actively been seeking nuclear weapons. ''It turns out that we were all wrong, probably, in my judgment,'' Kay told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Steve Bell cartoon
Steve Bell

Although Kay remains convinced that the war was justified, his finding on weapons of mass destruction undermined a key element of Bush's rationale for the invasion.


''For the parents of the soldiers who have fallen who are listening, David Kay, the weapons inspector, came back and said in many ways Iraq was more dangerous than we thought,'' Bush said in the interview. "We are in a war against these terrorists who could bring great harm to America, and I've asked these young ones to sacrifice for that.''

Steve Bell cartoon
Steve Bell

Bush, who said Tenet's job at the CIA is ''not at all'' in jeopardy, pledged full cooperation with the commission that is looking into intelligence failures.

Intelligence Agencies Are NOT the Problem

''I will be glad to visit with them. I will be glad to share with them knowledge. I will be glad to make recommendations, if they ask for some,'' Bush said.

"God told me to strike at al Qaeda, and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East" - George W. Bush - Ha'aretz (Israel)

Bringing Up the Past or Proof What Comes Around, Goes Around
by Dahbud Mensch

Bush's Impending Watergate

By Harvey Wasserman
May 23, 1991

George Bush should be impeached. Whether he will be impeached depends on the intestinal fortitude of Congress. But the evidence is clearly sufficient to begin proceedings.

The grounds for impeachment rest in the now-familiar circumstances around the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis. The story has circulated since the mid 1980s, but in recent weeks has gained startling new confirmation.

The circumstances are worth repeating: On November 4, 1979, radical Iranian students seized some 55 American citizens and began a crisis that lasted until the moment Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as president 444 days later.

Future historians may well blame President Jimmy Carter for the inception of the crisis. He ignored warnings that it could happen and stumbled badly once it began. Some may also wonder if he exploited the situation to deflect a challenge to his renomination from Sen. Edward Kennedy.

But by October of 1980, one thing was clear: If the hostages were released prior to the election, Carter would be re-elected. If not, Ronald Reagan would win. All major polls -- including one by the primary Republican pollster, Richard Wirthlin -- showed a 10 percent swing on just that issue.

In early October, word spread through the world media that Carter had negotiated a deal for the hostages' release. It was widely believed that he had agreed to unfreeze some $4 billion in assets claimed by the deposed Shah, and to supply spare parts to the American-made arms inherited by the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolutionary regime. The hostages were due home by mid-October, in ample time to assure Carter's re-election.

Then, mysteriously, the deal was off. The hostages weren't coming home after all. What happened?

The Iranians were known to detest Jimmy Carter. Despite his advocacy of human rights, Carter had befriended the brutal, repressive Shah. Conceivably, the Muslim fundamentalists tantalized Carter with the hostages' possible release and then, just for the hell of it, left him hanging.

There were other theories. Columnist George Will suggested that Iran responded to Reagan because he had threatened to use nuclear weapons if the hostages weren't released, something the pacifistic Carter would not have done.

But two years later, Barbara Honegger, a member of the Reagan campaign team, angrily left the White House staff, leveling charges of sexual discrimination. She then asserted that during the 1980 campaign a special "October Surprise" Committee had operated with a mandate that appeared focused on sabotaging Carter's arrangements and guaranteeing that the hostages remain in Teheran until after the 1980 election.

Honegger claimed no direct proof, but she recalled being told that the hostages would not be coming home because October Surprise Committee member Richard Allen (later chief of Reagan's National Security Council) had "cut a deal" to keep them in Teheran. Future CIA director William Casey may have masterminded the sabotage, Honegger said.

Honegger was dismissed by Reagan-Bush staffers as a "low-level munchkin." But her allegations were given powerful confirmation in 1985 by Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, president of Iran at the time of the crisis. According to Bani-Sadr, George Bush, then candidate for vice president, may personally have flown to Paris on a crucial weekend to convince the son of the Ayatollah "that the hostages should not be released during the Carter administration." Instead, Bani-Sadr said, "they should be released when Reagan became president. So, in return, Reagan would give them arms."

Indeed, Iran was desperately needed weapons to carry on its holy war with Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Hostilities had begun in September, and they were short on guns and cash. There was little doubt they would trade whatever "assets" they had for the arms they needed -- including the American hostages.

The story became common knowledge among top Middle Eastern operatives, including Bassam Abu Sharif, number two man in the Palestine Liberation Organization (assassinated during the recent Gulf War) and Mansour Rafizadeh, a former CIA operative and head of the Shah's dreaded SAVAK secret police.

"The deal was made to release the hostages exactly the moment Ronald Reagan was president," Rafizadeh told the Other America's Radio Network. "It was promised for the arms," said Rafizadeh. "The moment Ronald Reagan was president, they signaled the plane [with the hostages aboard], they took off. After, the shipment of the arms started from Tel Aviv."

Despite repeated denials from the Reagan-Bush team, the story gained some media prominence during the 1988 election, including a story in the Advocate, a major feature co-authored by activist Abbie Hoffman (now dead by an alleged suicide) in Playboy, and an op-ed in the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.

Just prior to the election, a self-proclaimed former CIA operative named Richard Brenneke claimed to have personally flown Bush to Paris to negotiate the deal. Producers from CBS' 60 Minutes were preparing a feature on Brenneke, who was in jail in Colorado, when questions about his credibility were raised and the feature was canceled. The Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and other major publications carried stories concluding there was insufficient evidence to confirm or deny the deal occurred.

Recently, Brenneke was cleared of perjury charges stemming from his claimed connection to the Paris trip. And the assertions have resurfaced with new power. Former Carter security adviser Gary Sick, after a two-year investigation, has released a book arguing the likelihood that an "arms for no hostages" deal was, in fact, made. Bani-Sadr has issued a new book asserting the same thing. Bill Moyers' Frontline devoted an entire program to it. Bush's denials -- issued just before his recent heart problems -- that he ever flew to Paris during the 1980s campaign made front-page news across the nation.

But does the story really turn on that? White House spokesperson Marlin Fitzwater says all of Bush's time can be accounted for. Bush has vehemently denied ever going to Paris during the 1980 campaign. Yet the official log of Bush's whereabouts on the crucial weekend -- when he is alleged to have made the deal -- has a hole big enough for him to have flown to Paris, negotiated the deal and then flown back.

The idea that the vice presidential candidate would have flown abroad to negotiate a deal that amounts to treason might seem absurd. Bush, after all, was formerly head of the Central Intelligence Agency, and a master of plausible deniability. It was clearly out of character to expose himself in such a direct manner to what could ultimately be a scandal of truly epic proportions.

On the other hand, the Iranians could well have demanded Bush's personal presence. It was well-known that the Ayatollah's cabal put little faith in the American electoral system. Like many Iranians, they believed that the true power in U.S. politics rested not with elected officials, but with the secret police, i.e. the CIA. As the CIA's former head, they believed Bush to be the true power in the Reagan-Bush campaign, and may well have demanded his personal approval for any trade of their hostage "assets."

Even so, the question of Bush going to Paris may be a red herring. The circumstances pointing to the likelihood of a deal being made are overwhelming. That Carter had all but secured their release is well-known. That there was a Reagan-Bush October Surprise Committee run by Allen and Casey is undeniable, as is the fact that the hostages were released precisely at the moment that Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President. It is also well-known that large quantities of American-sponsored arms began flowing through Israel in March 1981.

As for the question of Iranian motive, although Khomeini profoundly hated Jimmy Carter, he had no reason to like Reagan more, and would hardly have bothered to spite one representative of the "Great Satan" over another. In Iran's jihad with Saddam Hussein, however, the hostages were an asset to be traded, a bargaining chip to go to the highest bidder. Carter was deeply disinclined to send Iran large quantities of arms; once in office, Reagan did just that.

Thus, the evidence suggesting that George Bush actually flew to Paris to negotiate the deal is ultimately irrelevant. As the number two man on the ticket and the former head of the CIA, no such deal would have been cut without Bush's approval, whether he flew to Paris or not.

And that means high treason and public crimes of the highest order. The ideal that the nominees of a major party could have knowingly prolonged the agony of American citizens in exchange for weapons is about as low as one could imagine any politician sinking.

In fact, the sabotage may even have preceded the October negotiations. Earlier in 1980, Carter set out to free the hostages with "Operation Eagle Claw," built around a surprise helicopter landing and secret assault on the building where they were held in Teheran.

The mission proved disastrous. At least two American helicopters crashed into each other in the desert long before they made it anywhere near Teheran. Eight Marines were killed. Carter looked ineffectual and frustration with the hostage crisis escalated.

Unfortunately, the operatives in charge of Desert Claw may not have been loyal to Carter -- or to the U.S. Carter held deeply alienated a broad range of CIA operatives by trying to clean up the Agency when he first came to power. Admiral Stansfield Turner, the tough but honest Navy man Carter put in charge at the CIA fired some 600 "spooks" soon after taking command. Many were deeply loyal to former Director George Bush and to the "Old Boy" network that serves as the Agency's true infrastructure.

That loyalty may have carried over to sabotage of Operation Eagle Claw. For the man who served as chief mission planner was none other than Richard Secord, who later surfaced as a major kingpin in the shady arms dealings between the Reagan White House and the contras of Nicaragua. A top staffer at a key base in Eagle Claw's catastrophic helicopter support operation was none other than the legendary Colonel Oliver North. Working closely with him as a logistical planner was Albert Hakkim, who later sat by Secord's side at the Congressional Iran-contra hearings and wept of his love for Oliver North.

As historian Donald Fried has put it "Precisely the people in the intelligence community commissioned to develop some kind of rescue for the hostages were those elements of covert action close to William Casey and hostile to Carter."

Casey, of course, later became Reagan's CIA chief. But higher up in the chain at the time of the failed rescue mission was Donald Gregg, a member of Carter's National Security Council who later surfaced as s high-level Bush operative. Gregg's close personal ties to Bush became a serious issue in light of his extensive dealings with key contra figures tied both to the Iran-contra scandal and illegal drug shipments coming from Central America. Gregg is now Bush's ambassador to South Korea.

In a recent interview Carter specifically implied that Gregg might have betrayed key security items to Bush during the 1980 campaign. Students of the affair, including author Gary Sick, also wonder if Gregg might have fed the Reagan-Bush team key items in the dealings between Carter and the Iranians.

At this point with Bush's popularity so high on the heels of a much-desired military victory millions of Americans would not want to believe such a story could be true. The U.S. triumph over Saddam Hussein clearly filled a psychological void plaguing Americans since Vietnam. It allowed for a military triumph where the most recent memory had been of defeat. And it gave Americans the opportunity to do penance for the mistreatment of Vietnam veterans by showering those who fought the brief Gulf War with a heroes' welcome outstripping anything since World War II and way out of proportion for the size and duration of the Iraqi massacre.

Nonetheless, there is nothing in the character of the Reagan-Bush regimes that indicates a moral incapability of cutting such a deal. More than 200 members of the administration were indicted during their eight-year tenure, including Attorney General Edwin Meese and close Reagan counselors Michael Deaver and Lyn Nofziger. By all accounts, the Reagan-Bush administration were the most corrupt since the short term of Ulysses S. Grant.

The idea that Ronald Reagan and George Bush could have conspired to prolong the torment of U.S. hostages dwarfs the miasma that was Watergate on both a moral and political scale. Ultimately its impact will depend on the willingness of Congress to investigate the facts and act on what it finds. It is time for Congress to once again assume its role in the balance of powers. Impeachment means bringing to trial. The evidence is clearly sufficient to begin the process.

At presstime, Congress had launched a preliminary staff investigation into the Reagan-Bush 1980 campaign and whether there had been negotiations with Iran to delay the release of the American Hostages.

At the end of the cartoon/article above there is a line that says, "Intelligence Agencies Are NOT the Problem Sealed IRAN/CONTRA Documents ARE !".

The link (associated with that line) would normally take one to all public files on IRAN/CONTRA, which I can no longer find [They have been moved.].

Here is some background information to go with the above article:

October Surprise X-Files
By Robert Parry

The Russian Report

On Jan. 11, 1993, Russia's Supreme Soviet sent a secret cable to the U.S. Congress. The cable claimed that Russian national security files held evidence that two U.S. Presidents and two CIA directors had committed an act of treachery with Iran's radical Islamic government in 1980.

The Ladies' Room Secrets

Stored away in a converted Ladies' Room on Capitol Hill, dusty boxes contained startling evidence of Republican dirty tricks in the 1980 presidential campaign -- and of a bipartisan cover-up that continues to this day.

Bill Casey's Iranian

Iranian banker Cyrus Hashemi was a mystery man of the 1980s, a nexus point for scandal, from accessing vaults of the corrupt BCCI to opening doors to the Iran-Contra Affair. But for years, the FBI withheld key wiretaps of Hashemi's secret conversations.

Follow the Money

An intimidating array of individuals and forces wanted President Carter ousted from the White House in 1980. Some were driven by ambition; others by money; and still others by revenge. Together, they were over-powering.

Saddam's 'Green Light'

In 1980, Iraq's Saddam Hussein was suddenly a bigtime international 'player,' invited to the gaudy palaces of the Saudi Arabian monarchy. But there was an ulterior motive behind the flattering invitation: Saddam's army was the new protector of the petro-rich against the Iranian hordes.

Where's Bill Casey

In 1991-92, the October Surprise investigation was like a worldwide Where's Waldo game, trying to locate Bill Casey on crucial days in 1980. Two national magazines and a House task force claimed success, thus disproving that Casey sabotaged the Iran hostage talks. The game was over; Casey and the Republicans were innocent.

Bush & a CIA Power Play

The CIA Old Boys were reeling. In the 1970s, exposure of their dirty games and dirty tricks made the Cold Warriors look sinister -- and silly. Then, President Carter ordered a housecleaning that left scores of CIA men out in the cold.

In 1980, the CIA men wanted back in and their champion was former CIA director George Bush. With Bush and Ronald Reagan in power, the old spies could resume their work with a vengeance. The temptation was to do to Jimmy Carter what the CIA had done to countless other world leaders -- overthrow him.

Lies Spun into History

Better than Democrats, Bob Dole and other Republicans grasped the value of defending heroes, even imperfect ones. So the GOP battled the charges that Bill Casey and other Republicans played a nearly treasonous dirty trick to win in 1980.

The defense required enforcing absurd alibis, bullying investigators and massaging the facts. But it worked. The Democrats acquiesced and the Republicans proved that they respected history enough to falsify it.

October Surprise: Time for Truth? Part 2

The diciest part of the October Surprise saga remains the allegations of secret Paris meetings between Republicans and Iranians in fall 1980. According to some of those alleging that the GOP sabotaged President Carter's pre-election hostage negotiations, the Paris meetings followed earlier contacts between William Casey and Iranians in Madrid; in effect, the Paris talks cemented the deal.

Complete articles located at links.

In conclusion I am also reminded of the following:

"The Bush administration deliberately, not inadvertently, helped to arm Iraq by allowing U.S. technology to be shipped to Iraqi military and to Iraqi defense factories," Gonzalez said. "Throughout the course of the Bush administration, U.S. and foreign firms were granted export licenses to ship U.S. technology directly to Iraqi weapons facilities despite ample evidence showing that these factories were producing weapons." - Henry Gonzalez, July 27, 1992

"The president misled Congress and the public about the role U.S. firms played in arming Iraq." - Speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, House Banking Committee chair Henry Gonzalez

Closing Thought:

What if Laura Welch had not killed Mike Douglas?

Would the world be a better and safer place today?

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!