A Legacy of Fear and Lies

Below is commentary written by the former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council for the Bush administration and some links to more information.

Bush legacy: Setting a standard in fear-mongering article published last week in The Philadelphia Inquirer: 

By Richard A. Clarke

When I left the Bush administration in 2003, it was clear to me that its strategy for defeating terrorism was leaving our nation more vulnerable and our people in a perilous place. Not only did its policies misappropriate resources, weaken the moral standing of America, and threaten long-standing legal and constitutional provisions, but the president also employed misleading and reckless rhetoric to perpetuate his agenda.

This week’s State of the Union proved nothing has changed.

Besides overstating successes in Afghanistan, painting a rosy future for Iraq, and touting unfinished domestic objectives, he again used his favorite tactic – fear – as a tool to scare Congress and the American people. On one issue in particular – FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) – the president misconstrued the truth and manipulated the facts.

Let me be clear: Our ability to track and monitor terrorists overseas would not cease should the Protect America Act expire. If this were true, the president would not threaten to terminate any temporary extension with his veto pen. All surveillance currently occurring would continue even after legislative provisions lapsed because authorizations issued under the act are in effect up to a full year.

Simply put, it was wrong for the president to suggest that warrants issued in compliance with FISA would suddenly evaporate with congressional inaction. Instead – even though Congress extended the Protect America Act by two weeks – he is using the existence of the sunset provision to cast his political opponents in a negative light.

For this president, fear is an easier political tactic than compromise. With FISA, he is attempting to rattle Congress into hastily expanding his own executive powers at the expense of civil liberties and constitutional protections.

I spent most of my career in government fighting to protect this country in order to defend these very rights. And I know every member of Congress – whether Democrat or Republican – holds public office in the same pursuit.

That is why in 2001, I presented this president with a comprehensive analysis regarding the threat from al-Qaeda. It was obvious to me then – and remains a fateful reality now – that this enemy sought to attack our country. Then, the president ignored the warnings and played down the threats. Ironically, it is the fear from these extremely real threats that the president today uses as a wedge in a vast and partisan political game. This is – and has been – a very reckless way to pursue the very ominous dangers our country faces. And once again, during the current debate over FISA, he continues to place political objectives above the practical steps needed to defeat this threat.

In these still treacherous times, we can’t afford to have a president who leads by manipulating emotions with fear, flaunting the law, or abusing the very inalienable rights endowed to us by the Constitution. Though 9/11 changed the prism through which we view surveillance and intelligence, it did not in any way change the effectiveness of FISA to allow us to track and monitor our enemies. FISA has and still works as the most valuable mechanism for monitoring our enemies.

In order to defeat the violent Islamist extremists who do not believe in human rights, we need not give up the civil liberties, constitutional rights and protections that generations of Americans fought to achieve. We do not need to create Big Brother. With the administration’s attempts to erode FISA’s legal standing as the exclusive means by which our government can conduct electronic surveillance of U.S. persons on U.S. soil, this is unfortunately the path the president is taking us down.

So it is no surprise that in one of Bush’s last acts of relevance, he once again played the fear card. While he has failed in spreading democracy, stemming global terrorism, and leaving the country better off than when he took power, he did achieve one thing: successfully perpetuating fear for political gain.

Sadly, it may be one of the only achievements of his presidency.

Richard A. Clarke is former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council, and the author of “Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror.” E-mail him at [email protected].

Links to More Information

Impeachment: An instrument of regeneration article by Raoul Berger from Harper’s Magazine

The Case for Impeachment article by Scott Horton from Harper’s Magazine

Republicans block stimulus bill article from Yahoo! News / The Associated Press

The Omniscient Wisdom of O’Reilly article from Populist America

Why does he constantly try to be one of the poster boys for birth control?

Hillary Hopes You’ve Forgotten – Have You? article from Rense.com:

“Quite a resume, isn’t it? Sounds more like an organized crime family.”

The Senate’s FISA agreement article from Glenn Greenwald from Salon News:

“UPDATE II: Terrorism expert Richard Clarke has a superb Op-Ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, lambasting Bush’s fear-mongering rhetoric on FISA, explaining that “On one issue in particular – FISA – the president misconstrued the truth and manipulated the facts” and:

The case isn’t that hard to make for those who want to make it.” 

Study Claims FEMA Ignored Toxic Findings article from The New York Times

“WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency manipulated scientific research in order to play down the danger posed by formaldehyde in trailers issued to hurricane victims, according to an investigation by congressional Democrats released Monday.

FEMA ”ignored, hid and manipulated government research on the potential impact of long-term exposure to formaldehyde” on Katrina and Rita victims now living in FEMA trailers, Democrats on a House Science and Technology subcommittee wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. FEMA is part of the Homeland Security Department.”

The Official 9/11 Story Is Falling Apart article and video from InfoWars

Eavesdropping 101: What Can The NSA Do? article from NSA Watch

A lot of interesting (and disturbing) information about the National Security Agency.

Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln, How Was the Play? – LATimes Reports ‘Few Election Glitches, Except For Independents’ article and video from Brad Blog

C.I.A. Destroyed Tapes as Judge Sought Interrogation Data article from The New York Times:

Here’s another shocker (NOT!). The head of the CIA lied to a judge. Of course, that has been the central theme of this administration.

“WASHINGTON – At the time that the Central Intelligence Agency destroyed videotapes of the interrogations of operatives of Al Qaeda, a federal judge was still seeking information from Bush administration lawyers about the interrogation of one of those operatives, Abu Zubaydah, according to court documents made public on Wednesday.

The court documents, filed in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, appear to contradict a statement last December by Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, that when the tapes were destroyed in November 2005 they had no relevance to any court proceeding, including Mr. Moussaoui’s criminal trial.

It was already known that the judge in the case, Leonie M. Brinkema, had not been told about the existence or destruction of the videos. But the newly disclosed court documents, which had been classified as secret, showed the judge had still been actively seeking information about Mr. Zubaydah’s interrogation as late as Nov. 29, 2005.”

Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: Bush Likely to Attack Iran, Impeachment a Must article from AlterNet:

“The American public and media have not picked up on the urgency surrounding a pending war with Iran.

Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower, fears that before the Bush administration leaves office, it will try to attack Iran.

Indeed, Ellsberg’s argument gained merit as George W. Bush increased his rhetoric against Iran when he delivered his final State of the Union Address. Bush accused Iran of training militia extremists in Iraq and emphasized the United States will confront its enemies.

In a wide-ranging interview with Truthout, Ellsberg uses insight from his experience as a Pentagon analyst under the Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon administrations to discuss Bush’s plans to begin a war with Iran, the role of the press to give whistleblowers exposure and how American democracy can be restored.”

White House Writes Pre-Emptive Signing Statement on Exclusivity article and video from EmptyWheel FireDogLake:

Details on the letter written by Attorney General Mukasey and DNI (that’s Director of National Intelligence, not Delusional Neoconservative Idiot) McConnell written regarding the ongoing FISA debate.

“Feingold: The DNI envisions a government where, if it were technologically feasible, would listen in on every, every international phone call made by its citizens. And read every, every international email. Now that’s a police state, Mr. President, not the United States of America.

The letter from Mukasey and McConnell to Congressional leaders is basically a laundry list of FISA amendments with the Administration’s opinion on those amendments. Here’s the quick summary.”

Romney suspends presidential campaign – Fears a fight to the convention would make Democratic victory more likely article and video from MSNBC News / The Associated Press:

“BOSTON – Former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney is suspending his presidential campaign, effectively ceding the Republican nomination to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington Thursday, Romney talked of Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama retreating in Iraq and declaring defeat.”

Funny how he talks about Clinton or Obama retreating in Iraq and declaring defeat — fails to mention the fact that the war was illegally started with intentional lies and deceptions, no leadership or planning to prepare for what would happen after the occupation ended, or the fact that bushel of BS is about to get blown wide open too as the blood shed and lives of too many Americans and left us more vulnerable to attack here in the ‘homeland.’ This has been one of the biggest, most intentional cluster-you-know-whats designed to profit a few and screw the rest has left us ‘defeated’ for entirely too long now.

DNI: Attack on White House planned article from The Washington Times

And the desperation to pass unconstitutional laws continues…

Official: al-Qaida Near Tipping Point? article from RedWoodAge.com:

“Al-Qaida’s embrace of violence may be undermining the terrorist group’s support in the Muslim world, the nation’s top intelligence official said Thursday.

“The question becomes, are we reaching a tipping point to witness the decline of this radical behavior?” said Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell at a House Intelligence Committee hearing. “We don’t know but we are watching it very closely.”

Most victims of al-Qaida bombings and attacks are Muslims, McConnell said. In Iraq, the violence perpetrated against Iraqis by insurgents associated with al-Qaida pushed local tribes to turn against the group and has led to improved security, he said, adding that the same pattern may take hold elsewhere.”

HOMELAND INSECURITY – Terror alerts manufactured? – FBI agents say White House scripting ‘hysterics’ for political effect article from World Net Daily News:

Some things never change:

“Intelligence pros say the White House is manufacturing terrorist alerts to keep the issue alive in the minds of voters and to keep President Bush’s approval ratings high, Capitol Hill Blue reports.

The Thursday report said that the administration is engaging in “hysterics” in issuing numerous terror alerts that have little to no basis in fact.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t made a lot of progress against al-Qaida or the war on terrorism,” one FBI agent familiar with terrorism operations told CHB. “We’ve been spinning our wheels for several weeks now.”

Other sources within the bureau and the Central Intelligence Agency said the administration is pressuring intelligence agencies to develop “something, anything” to support an array of non-specific terrorism alerts issued by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.”

Terror Warning Timing Questioned article from The Washington Post

Truth or Terrorism? The Real Story Behind Five Years of High Alerts article from Rolling Stone

Mukasey Admits Bush Administration Cannot Investigate Itself article from Daily Kos:

“Today, Attorney General Michael Mukasey is appearing before the House Judiciary Committee chaired by John Conyers. In his testimony today, the Washington Post reports Mukasey rejects a criminal probe into waterboarding.

“Waterboarding, because it was authorized to be part of a program … cannot possibly be the subject of a Justice Department investigation,” Mukasey said…

“That would mean that the same department that authorized the program would now prosecute someone for taking part” in it, he said.”

Talking Points Memo – Mukasey: The Law Is What The Justice Department Says It Is article from TPMMuckraker

Surprise, Surprise! The new Attorney General refuses to stand in the way of the Bush Administration. Wonder what will happen if and when this ever reaches the ‘Supreme’ Court since they’re responsible for the travestly known as the Bush administration to begin with.

Question for the presidential candidates: What exactly do you plan to do about all the illegal activities and cover-ups of the ‘Justice’ Department and the rest of the administration?

FISA Fight: Thumb twiddling article from Daily Kos:

“Let’s make it as simple as possible.

The telcos are not patriotic heroes. They broke the law. And when they stopped being paid for it, they stopped being “patriotic.” They don’t deserve protection.

If domestic spying was really so critical to the nation’s security, the government would have kept paying for it.

The administration is hellbent on protecting the evidence of their illegal spying on American citizens by not allowing lawsuits against the telcos that helped them.

The administration is still hellbent on spying on American citizens with or without cause.

That about sums it up. Except for this:

This is not about national security. It’s about politics.”

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