Burt Hall: Open Letter to Chris Matthews
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Burt Hall
The tone of your Hardball program seems to have changed! Have you been co-opted by your recent visit to the White House? I must have been lucky -- I never got beyond the White House mess.
Your big deal is that Bush took a huge gamble on democracy in Iraq. Actually, Bush never planned on free elections in Iraq until he was cornered and had to rejustify the war. And, neither the public nor Congress authorized an Iraqi democracy with its enormous humane and fiscal costs.
In desperation, Bush stole the democracy idea from previous presidents. Was extending democracy one of his 2000 campaign issues? No! In fact, he opposed nation building. Was advancing democracy an issue in Bush's 2001 and 2002 State of the Union speeches? No! Was there any serious public debate about democratizing Iraq during the run up to war? No! Earlier presidents have done a lot to advance democracy in other countries, but never by provoking war, killing thousands of people and spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.
You'll find lots of things you didn't know in our recent book, "Misuse of Power." You'll see that our country has been on a destructive path every since Bush came into Office. As a result, we are in big trouble on every major issue of the day and are heading toward fiscal bankruptcy (Chp. 6).
You'll also find that President Bush was grossly negligent pre-9/11. Why do you suppose he blocked all efforts to find out how and why the disaster occurred? Wasn’t it his duty as Commander-in-Chief to get answers to those questions? The reason for his stonewalling is simple -- fear that the public would discover his monumental disregard for terrorist warnings. For example, the intelligence we received from a number of other nations warned of suicide attacks, using hijacked aircraft. But, Bush did nothing to protect commercial aircraft (pp.72-79). That action alone might have prevented the catastrophe. So far, Bush has been lucky to escape any and all accountability because Commission members got embroiled in presidential politics (pp. 80-84), but history will catch up with him someday. Maybe you will too!
As for Iraq, Bush invaded without letting international inspectors finish their work. He also failed to send in some of our own people to help. Remember, Saddam even invited the CIA in. It would have been fascinating to watch CIA personnel on the ground checking out their own assessments of the threat. Despite excellent cooperation from Iraqi officials and tips from us, the inspectors were finding nothing when Bush invaded. In fact, El Baradi (the Nobel Prize winner) had already reported the absence of a nuclear program (pp. 106-7).
I hope you didn’t fall for Bush's overused line that the whole world thought Saddam had WMDs too. Before the invasion both Germany and France were discounting specific U.S. intelligence and even England raised questions. The UN and major countries, like China and Russia, saw no reason to go to war. Our own Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee (Bob Graham), was suspicious when he had to use special authority to compel White House submission of intelligence data for congressional review. Unfortunately, this data did not include the various dissents within and outside our government.
Most nations had enough sense to hold out for the actual facts before agreeing to sign on to a preemptive war. Since Bush was dragging the American people into war against the advice of the UN and much of the world community, it was his responsibility to get the facts straight and be sure of his position. The ongoing inspections provided him that opportunity.
If the media had asked the tough questions after 9/11 and before the war, we wouldn't be in this fix today (pp. 114-119). Nevertheless, Bush bears responsibility for his words and decisions as well as those of the top people he appointed.
The most remarkable thing about Bush's tenure is that, after escaping accountability for the predicted 9/11 terrorist attacks, he exploited the tragedy for personal gain. He used it to sell an unnecessary war, to gain control of Congress and to further his own reelection.
While the quoted conclusion below from a recent article about Bush may seem harsh, an increasing number of people here and around the world are feeling the same way. Are you sure you want to defend him?
When I think of Bush, I do not think of liberty and courage, compassion and justice. No, I think of arrogance, greed and lies. He is a thug, a buffoon and a coward. Not only is he incompetent, he is corrupt.
He is of a kind with the dictators; a strutting, sanctimonious buffoon who talks democracy but acts like Saddam Hussein. Bush might differ in degree from Hussein, not having been in power as long, but in behavior, with torture and the corruption of government, they are of a kind.
While al-Qaida is an enemy of the values and principles of the United States and Western civilization and must be confronted, it can do no more than kill people and destroy property.
Bush can subvert our principles and institutions. He is the greater enemy.
What kind of man is Bush? (Tim Abbott, roanoke.com)
Happy New Year,
PS. You seem anxious to debate on your program who will be the probable 2008 presidential candidates. Here’s a prediction. The American people have had enough of incompetence and dirty politics, and will not be fooled again (anytime soon). The next president of the United States will be a moderate with demonstrated performance, who is intellectually honest, will do the right thing regardless of politics and will operate a relatively clean campaign. Like, Kennedy, he will read voraciously. Do you know someone who fits that bill.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
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Burt Hall is a
retired government analyst who served as group director for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). He is coauthor, with Ed Asner, of
Misuse of Power: How the Far Right Gained and Misuses Power, reviewed by BuzzFlash in September, 2005. At the GAO, Mr. Hall became an expert in the procurement field and was instrumental in creating the Truth in Negotiations Act, the modernized and unified federal procurement statute and the initial government-wide policy on acquisition of major weapon systems. He is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program of Harvard University.