Thursday's must-reads


Geraldine Sealey
June 17, 2004 5:27PM (UTC)

Grey lady to Bush: Say you're sorry
The 9/11 commission has convinced the New York Times editorial board. Bush misled America about a connection between Saddam and al-Qaida -- and continues to this week, along with his vice president -- and should apologize.

"This is not just a matter of the president's diminishing credibility, although that's disturbing enough. The war on terror has actually suffered as the conflict in Iraq has diverted military and intelligence resources from places like Afghanistan, where there could really be Qaeda forces, including Mr. bin Laden."

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"Mr. Bush is right when he says he cannot be blamed for everything that happened on or before Sept. 11, 2001. But he is responsible for the administration's actions since then. That includes, inexcusably, selling the false Iraq-Qaeda claim to Americans. There are two unpleasant alternatives: either Mr. Bush knew he was not telling the truth, or he has a capacity for politically motivated self-deception that is terrifying in the post-9/11 world."

Cheney change story? "Hell no!"
Administration officials say Dick Cheney has no intention to stop linking the war in Iraq to a nonexistent relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, Reuters reports.

"A White House official said Cheney's assertion, which he repeated this week, that the ousted Iraqi leader had long-established ties to al Qaeda, were based on 'facts.' 'Hell no!' another administration official said when asked if Cheney would retract his statements after the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks found no evidence that Iraq aided al Qaeda attempts to strike the United States."

"Officials said Cheney asserted on Monday that there were links between Saddam and al Qaeda, not that Saddam helped al Qaeda carry out attacks against the United States, although critics say Cheney and other officials at times created the impression that Saddam was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks."

"'It's not surprising people make that connection,' Cheney said at one point as polls showed most Americans believed Iraq was involved."

Blair cites "permissive atmosphere"
Downing Street will not back down on the al-Qaida Saddam link, either, The Guardian reports. There need not be evidence of a working relationship between the two, a spokeswoman for Tony Blair said. That Saddam created a "permissive environment" for terrorists was enough of a reason to go to war. (This moving of the goalpost is particularly unpersuasive given the 9/11 panel's citing of new evidence that Iran cooperated with al-Qaida.)

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"No 10 said it was not claiming a direct link but a spokeswoman said: 'The prime minister has always said Saddam created a permissive environment for terrorism and we know that the people affiliated to al-Qaida operated in Iraq during the regime.'"

"'The prime minister always made it clear that Saddam's was a rogue state which threatened the security of the region and the world.'"

Rumsfeld gave order
In violation of international law, Donald Rumsfeld ordered military officials to hold a man suspected of being a senior Iraqi terrorist at a high-level detention center but not list him on the prison's rolls to hide him from the Red Cross, New York Times reports.

"Pentagon and intelligence officials said the decision to hold the detainee without registering him -- at least initially -- was in keeping with the administration's legal opinion about the status of those viewed as an active threat in wartime. Seven months later, however, the detainee -- a reputed senior officer of Ansar al-Islam, a group the United States has linked to Al Qaeda and blames for some attacks in Iraq -- is still languishing at the prison but has only been questioned once while in detention, in what government officials acknowledged was an extraordinary lapse."

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"'Once he was placed in military custody, people lost track of him,' a senior intelligence official conceded Wednesday night. 'The normal review processes that would keep track of him didn't.'"

Scholars make case for impeachment
"More than 400 legal scholars from across the country urged Congress Wednesday to consider impeaching President Bush and any high-level administration officials who approved the Iraqi prisoner abuses," the AP reports.

"In a letter released by two Harvard Law School professors, scholars asked Congress to identify everyone who should be held accountable for the torture at Abu Ghraib prison, and determine what sanctions are appropriate. The sanctions, they said, could include 'impeachment and removal from office of any civil officer of the United States responsible.'"

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"But Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., meeting with the professors, declined to specifically address the impeachment issue. He instead said the best way to correct the matter is to 'elect John Kerry' president.' He said Democratic senators are trying to round up enough support for a vote Thursday to subpoena the Justice Department for memos that could have laid the legal groundwork for justifying the prisoner abuse. Attorney General John Ashcroft has declined to make public the Justice Department memos, written in 2002."

Never so isolated, feared, distrusted
The bipartisan group of envoys and military officers who call themselves "Diplomats for Change" and are calling for regime change in Washington in November issued their statement at a press conference yesterday. It's pretty powerful.

"Never in the two and a quarter centuries of our history has the United States been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and distrusted. No loyal American would question our ultimate right to act alone in our national interest; but responsible leadership would not turn to unilateral military action before diplomacy had been thoroughly explored."

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"... The Bush Administration has shown that it does not grasp these circumstances of the new era, and is not able to rise to the responsibilities of world leadership in either style or substance. It is time for a change."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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