Tuesday, February 07, 2006

To Impeach or to live in Realityland

The following is a response to an email I received after the Bush Landon Lecture. There are a number of good hearted liberals that have bad tendencies to believe the Mainstream Press and the Left-Wing loons. (sometimes a bit difficult to tell apart) Comments are welcome, I have many non-Conservative friends of all stripes and I try to keep ahead of their leaps of fantasy.

I’m glad to hear from you again, and would be more than happy to try in my own small way to shed a little light on this subject. Sometimes the Forces of Ignorance are a bit free with the truth and need a bit of rationality, so I’m going to try to respond to each one of the arguments listed in your email, why they’re wrong, and how to gently respond with a question in a way that should drive true Bush-haters into a frothing frenzy, and ordinary thinking liberals like you into long thoughtful pauses.

I do differentiate between the two, because the Bush-haters will never change their opinion, their minds are made up and no fact can influence them. The others are capable of rational thought.

1) Bush lied to (fill in the blank) about the reasons for invading Iraq: This supposes that the President has such amazing mental powers that he was able to make the intelligence agencies of every major power, every news agency, the UN inspectors, the countries around Iraq, and Saddam himself all believe that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, and that he would be willing to use them against…anybody. This also supposes that the vast collection of mass graves we have found were locations of mass suicides, that the empty chemical artillery shells and rockets that we have found were meant to be filled with flowers, that the terrorists that were in Bagdad were only there for the sights, and that they managed to sneak into the country and collect paychecks from the dictatorial regime by pretending to be French tourists. This includes such notable tourists as Abdul Rahman Yasin who was involved in the first World Trade Center bombing, and Abu Abbas who participated in the murder of Leon Klinhoffer during the Achille Lauro hijacking, later captured there by American Forces and Abu Nidal who died in Baghdad in 2002. (see Husseinandterror.com )

Pre-9/11 we probably would have left the murderous dictator of Iraq to bribe his way out of sanctions and resume his brutal rule over a frightened populace, hoping that he would contain his activities within his own borders. For many years that was his plan, as the Oil-For-Bribes scandal assisted the slow ratcheting up of international pressure to this goal. Post-9/11 increased the hazard of that course of action to unacceptable levels.

The Question(s): In 1998 President Bill Clinton bombed the heck out of Iraq for three days in Operation Desert Fox to degrade Saddam’s WMD program. Did Saddam have chemical and biological weapons back then, or did Clinton lie to the American people? Follow-up: If Saddam had WMD back then, and didn’t have them in 2003, and was unable to show the UN Inspectors that they were destroyed, then where were they moved?

Admittedly this is a cheap shot, because the same people who fervently believe Bush Lied would never admit that Clinton even shaded the truth in the slightest. It’s just so fun to watch these people tie themselves up in knots.

2) Bush conducted illegal wiretaps of American citizens. First of all, the electronic intercepts were supposedly made between persons inside the US borders and suspected terrorists outside the borders. Secondly, these intercepts were made for reasons of foreign intelligence, such as attempting to discover terrorists within our borders who are taking orders from terrorists outside our borders, not for domestic criminal cases. Thirdly, the electronic intercepts were supposedly made with keyword/phrase searches, not by the traditional method of wiretapping involving a dark van full of FBI agents and tape recorders. So the initial premise is wrong on three levels.

This is an area known as Foreign Intelligence, a responsibility of the Executive branch (read President), with Congressional oversight. By all reports, the program in question was vetted by the Justice department, and regular reports were made to members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees, which would be a strange way of committing a crime. The US has been spying on communications crossing our borders since its inception when Benjamin Franklin was a member of the Committee of Secret Correspondence in 1775, which had among its many activities the authorization for the opening of private mail, with a few hiccups here and there (see Historynet.com ), later to evolve into the State Department. This spying accusation is not a slam-dunk in the Conservative arena of ideas (see TigerHawk )
because many Conservatives are also worried about their civil liberties and restricting the reach and power of the Federal Government.

The Question: How did President Clinton keep tabs on foreign terrorists on US soil? And President Reagan? And President Carter? (Hint: They all used programs much like this one, and kept them highly classified. You know, classified. That means the person who leaks them to the press is guilty of a Felony.)
Second Question: If Hillary/Al Gore/whoever is elected, will they be using a program very much like this in order to track communications between foreign terrorists and people within the borders of the US? How about if you became President? (answer: Yes, they just will not admit it, or they’re deluded.)
Third Question: If a third country (such as Brussels) were using this type of evesdropping on international calls by terrorist suspects, would it be legal? If they were to pick up a call with information involving an imminent threat on US soil, should they tell the US?
Fourth Question: (Yes, I like this one) Should foreign terrorists be free to operate a telemarketing campaign into the US without fear of being overheard by the Government? “Hi, I’m from AlQeuda in Quash, and we’re taking a survey. Could you take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and answer a few questions for us about that nuclear power plant in your back yard? Would you care to make a contribution to keep your neighborhood safe?”

3. Bush violated International Law by invading a sovereign country for illegal purposes. Well, not being an International Lawyer, lets stack up the facts and look at them. Firstly, there were an endless string of UN resolutions issued after Saddam invaded Kuwait, giving the US and coalition partners full authority to use military force against Iraq. Then was never an end to the first Gulf War, simply a cease fire (what is commonly known as a Negotiated End of Hostilities) where Saddam agreed to withdraw his few surviving army from Kuwait, and to destroy all weapons of mass destruction under the supervision of the UN weapon inspectors. This “peace” was promptly violated by the dictator when he used helicopter gunships to suppress riots (in plain language, this means using military firepower indiscriminately on unarmed civilians), resulting in Iraq no-fly zones, where US pilots were shot at every single day for ten years. He failed to destroy a great number of his weapons and production facilities under UN observation, cheated on the terms of the treaty for ten years, and in that time attempted an assassination attempt on former President Bush with members of his security forces. Then after 9/11, President Bush got a resolution from the UN Security Council, and approval from Congress before he started the war. I do not believe in all history that there is a country that has been invaded with such reluctance, such care to avoid civilian causalities, and such concentration on leaving a functioning respectable government when we leave.

Questions: Did Saddam break International Law by invading Kuwait? Did Clinton break International Law by conducting 3 days of bombing during Operation Desert Fox in 1998? What UN Resolution or Congressional Approval did Clinton get before bombing Serbia? Didn’t Russia and China veto the military intervention in Serbia thereby making it an Illegal War too?

4) Bush violated the Geneva Convention by torturing prisoners of war. A bit fuzzy, since the Geneva Convention covers members of an armed force fighting for a nation. (see the text at www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org ) And the vast majority of the captured insurgents/rebels/(fill in name of guys with guns) are not in uniform, or fighting for a recognized nation ever since about the first week of the war. There have been some very bad instances with our soldiers, which we see because of the publicity around their court-martials. I would argue that this shows our attention to making this as sensitive and as legal a war as we have ever fought.
How about this entry in the Geneva Convention? Sound a little like a terrorist?:
Art. 5 Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.
Question: Which side would you rather be captured by?

5) Bush was negligent in his slow response to American suffering
caused by Hurricane Katrina.
First of all, the original reporting from LA was horribly warped, from the tall tales of rape gangs in the Superdome, to the reports of cannibalism in the city and scores of floating bodies. Almost no attention was paid by the MSM to the hundreds of locals who got their own boats out and went to help their neighbors, or the Navy helicopter carrier that was off the harbor within 24 hours carrying out search and rescue operations.

True, the blame on the response to Katrina is sufficient that a good thick layer can be smeared on every link in the chain. From the Democratic Mayor, to the Democratic Governor, to bureaucracy in FEMA, up to the President. But compare the Katrina response in LA to the response in TX to the same hurricane, where the local and state level response was excellent. Response to disasters is bottom-up, not top-down. And when you put thousands of poor people living below sea level in a hurricane zone, all of them expecting The Government to save them, you have a recipe for disaster. It would be completely stupid to put those people back in their underwater homes, but it will probably happen. Just look at the people who rebuilt in the hundred year flood plain in Manhattan after 1993. My sole light of hope in this is the number of news reports from the area, all bemoaning the fact that, for some strange reason, people have been a bit reluctant to move back below sea level under the damaged levees.

6) Bush feels contempt towards our Constitution and our democratic ideals. Strange that somebody who feels such contempt to our founding documents takes such great care to nominate judges who are strict constructionalists. I would argue that the Democrats are the ones that feel contempt to the Constitution, from the laundry list of things that they see in there that you can not find written down, and from the inconvenient things that they do find there that they try their darndest to ignore. (Right to bear arms? Naa, they can’t have meant that :)

Question: What Article and Section of the Constitution has Bush violated? (Most Liberals will flounder here, having no idea what an Article or Section is.)

Mind you I don’t agree with everything this President has done, but he has done a heck of a lot better job than I thought when he was first elected. (which he was, despite your previous email. In 2000, he won the original machine count in Florida, he won the recount, and he won the manual recount. And he won the statewide manual recount that the MSM did that took months.) Then to top it, he won a greater percentage of the electorate in 2004 than any President since Reagan. Every time I think of how President Gore would have reacted to 9/11, or the economic effect of President Kerry cranking up taxes, I give a relieved sigh. And get a little worried about how President Hillary would rule.