Who ever advised President George Bush to escape the storm of criticism he faces over Hurricane Katrina, Iraq, and the Libby CIA case by flying to Argentina for a free trade summit should be sent in chains to Guantanamo.
Bush’s venture was an embarrassing diplomatic failure and the most humiliating fiasco faced by a US leader America since Vice President Richard Nixon got mobbed in 1958. Bush was left looking isolated and confused, while his nemesis, Venezuela’s boisterous merengue-marxist leader, Hugo Chavez, rallied Latinos to his side and gleefully mocked the US president.
Now, Bush has returned to Washington rent by factional warfare, growing outrage over Bush-Cheney’s defense of torture, and new polls showing a majority of Americans believe the president deceived the US into war.
The long-simmering conflict between America’s national security establishment and neoconservative extremists burst into public with the criminal indictment of VP Dick Cheney’s powerful neocon chief of staff, Lewis Libby, for perjury and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame CIA case.
The FBI’s Libby investigation could produce a blizzard of embarrassing evidence of how the White House’s neocon Praetorian Guard engineered the US into war. So bad is the mood in Washington, a member of CIA’s founding families calls the neocons "fifth columnists."
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff for 16 years, publicly charged a "cabal" of neocons had "hijacked" US foreign policy and had driven the nation into a trumped up war — what this column has said since 2001. Wilkerson branded the Bush Administration dangerously incompetent,
The "cabal," claimed Wilkerson, included Cheney, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, and former Pentagon desk warrior neocons Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle. These figures are the front men for a web of neocon lobbyists, think tanks, institutes and media outlets in Washington.
Gen. William Odom, former chief of the ultra secret National Security Agency, and a leading military thinker, called Bush’s Iraq adventure "the biggest disaster in the history of the US."
Even more shockingly, Republican elder statesman, Gen Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor to Bush’s father, accused Bush Jr. of being "wrapped around the little finger" of Israel’s PM Ariel Sharon.
Scowcroft has finally said aloud what no one in official Washington or the media dared to utter. His accusation helps explain much about the Bush Administration’s foreign policies and why they seem so often to damage rather than promote US interests.
While I was recently in London, leaked cabinet documents shockingly revealed that shortly before Bush invaded Iraq, he actually told PM Tony Blair he "wanted to go beyond Iraq" by occupying Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This is the first time we have concrete evidence that two key US allies were in the White House’s crosshairs.
Meanwhile, the FBI, intensifying its war against the neocons, is investigating two senior officials of the Israel lobby, one of Washington’s most sacred cows, and a neocon Pentagon analyst for passing national security secrets to Israel. Washington neocons are making frantic efforts to suppress these investigations and depict them as minor mischance rather than the beginning of a major spy scandal.
CIA is deeply split between professional officers furious national intelligence was corrupted by Cheney and his neocons to sell the Iraq war, and a minority eager to tell the White House whatever it desires. This column has reported for a decade how patriotic CIA officers were being demoted or fired for daring to oppose the lies being sold by pro-war neocons.
Moreover, Bush and Cheney now face a Republican and Pentagon revolt over their disgraceful defense of torture, and possible trouble from the Supreme Court.
"We do not torture," Bush insisted from Panama, which his father invaded in 1989. Of course not, Mr. President. You call it "forceful interrogation."
Meaning: being kidnapped, drugged, stripped naked, thrown into a refrigerated, lightless underground cell, starved, deprived of sleep (a favorite KGB technique) and sensory contact, covered with urine and excrement, severely beaten, anally raped, subjected to mock executions, given hideously painful electrical shocks, and strapped onto a special board and immersed in water until confessing or drowning.
This is what suspects are enduring in America’s secret, outsourced prisons around the world. Abu Ghraib’s horrors were only a foretaste. Adding to the sense of moral disgrace that hangs over Bible-Belt Republicans, they are now trying to launch their own criminal investigation of who leaked reports of secret US prisons in Eastern Europe — most likely Romania, Poland and Bulgaria — instead of demanding they be shut down at once.
Sen. John McCain, an American war hero, is leading efforts in Congress to ban torture and compel observance of the Geneva Conventions — which form part of existing American law.
When I was a US GI, we were taught the Conventions were sacred. They protected all at war, as CIA’s renowned former chief in Afghanistan, Milt Bearden, so brilliantly observed in a recent article.
Bush actually threatened to veto McCain’s bill. Cheney keeps advocating torture. Even KGB would have been embarrassed. Americans will one day look back on this period with the same revulsion and shame as they do on McCarthy’s era.