February 6, 2006
|MAUREEN FARRELL ARCHIVES|
Top 10 'Conspiracy Theories' about George W. Bush, Part 1
by Maureen Farrell
"It is incumbent upon journalists, I think, to distrust
conspiracy theories. But the problem with the conspiracy theory of the
machine that lifted
George 'Dubya' Bush to high office is that it never lets you down. .
"This is a government takeover and Bush and Cheney are running it."
In the aftermath of Sept. 11, a friend sent me an obscure book featuring predictions by a blind Native American shaman. It was a thoughtful, but annoying, gesture. For all I knew, this "seer" could merely be a James Frey-sized figment of the author's imagination and these so-called prophecies could be nothing more than a patchwork of hunches. A prediction that the Red Sox would win the World Series would have been impressive. But wars? Economic downturns? Environmental disasters? Yawn.
This was the age of forged Nostradamus quotes and apocalyptic visions, however, and, with debunking in mind, I plodded ahead. Some predictions, which were reportedly made in 1982, were decidedly silly. Others, however, don't exactly ring foolish. Among the more noteworthy:
Whether or not this list is the result of guesswork, fabrications or something else, nearly a quarter of a century later, such musings have gone from the fringe to the forefront. Police state predictions? Check. Rumors of wars? Check. Clandestine agreements between nations? Check. Discoveries of government duplicity and cover-ups? Triple check.
Predictions are not the same thing as conspiracy theories, of course,
but both can occur simultaneously. Sept. 11 commission co-chair Lee Hamilton's
that another terrorist
attack is all but certain, for example,
when combined with concerns about George
W. Bush's imperial ambitions,
creates the kind of speculation the founding fathers engaged in, long before
FOX News was there to pooh-pooh concerns about tyrannical designs.
Some theories, however, have Tina Turner-strength legs. For your consideration:
10. A Second Terror Attack Will Allow the Bush Administration to Complete the "Coup" that Began on Sept. 11, 2001
"September 11, 2001, played into neoconservative hands exactly as the
1933 Reichstag fire played into Hitler's hands. Fear, hysteria, and national
emergency are proven tools of political power grabs. Now that the federal
are beginning to show some resistance to Bush's claims of
power, will another terrorist attack allow the Bush administration to
complete its coup?"
"The 9-11 attacks provided the rationale for what amounts to a Bush
family coup against the Constitution."
Six years ago, anyone suggesting that the Bush administration would use terror to achieve pre-packaged goals would have been laughed out of Dodge. The signs were there, however, going all the way back to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld's stints in the Ford administration through their participation in Reagan-era Doomsday drills.
Initially, there were vague murmurings over foreign airways. "There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government," a mysterious American told the BBC in Nov. 2001, regarding allegations that the FBI was told to "back off" the bin Ladens. "Unnamed sources" eventually morphed into real people, however, and by the time Pentagon insider Karen Kwiatkowski came forward with revelations about what she called "a coup, a hijacking of the Pentagon," and respected journalist Seymour Hersh proclaimed that "cultists" had "taken the government over," this theory gained traction.
Despite attempts to discredit true believers as "full-mooners," revelations continued. And now that a former Bush administration official is saying that a "cabal" led by Rumsfeld and Cheney "hijacked US foreign policy" and a former Reagan administration official is saying that America is now an "incipient dictatorship," the ideology of Loon Land is capital T Truth to some very smart people.
Gen. Tommy Franks, you might recall, famously predicted that another terror attack will militarize our society and obliterate the Constitution, former White House counsel John Dean has warned of "constitutional dictatorship" and Paul Craig Roberts has openly wondered if another terror attack will lead to a total usurpation of constitutional government and "allow the Bush administration to complete its coup."
Roberts, who served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald Reagan, also believes that a "Jacobin coup" took place after Sept. 11 and that a "police state" is fast approaching. Joining the host of others raising concerns about questionable elections and a Supreme Court poised to give the executive branch unprecedented power, he sees "America's descent into dictatorship" as the "result of historical developments and of old political battles." But, he also contends that President Bush "is unlikely to be aware that the Constitution is experiencing its final rending on his watch."
Others are not so certain.
9. President Bush is Trampling the Constitution and Turning America into a Dictatorship
"The danger is not abstract or merely symbolic. Bush's abuses of presidential power are the most extensive in American history... There is a name for a system of government that wages aggressive war, deceives its citizens, violates their rights, abuses power and breaks the law, rejects judicial and legislative checks on itself, claims power without limit, tortures prisoners and acts in secret. It is dictatorship." -- The Nation, Jan. 9, 2006
"After September 11, we did not, for example, change from a democracy to a dictatorship, from a nation of laws to a nation in which one man endows himself with the authority to act above the law, immune to its dictates and limitations. We are not that country. We must never become that country. However, to hear President Bush, we are that country already." -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dec. 20, 2005.
To understand the origins of this theory, one would have to go back to America's founding, when James Madison wrote that the accumulation of power in any one of the three" separate and distinct" branches of government was the "very definition of tyranny." Fast forward to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld's dream of "restoring the imperial presidency," George W. Bush's jokes about an American dictatorship, and arguments regarding the "Unitary Executive Theory of the Presidency," and suddenly Thomas Jefferson's observation that tyranny is the natural progression of all governments seems frighteningly apt.
Similar conspiracy theories were circulated during the Clinton years, too, you might recall, and when the Village Voice's Nat Hentoff called President Clinton a "serial violator of the Bill of Rights," he was tapping into an authoritarian trend that diehard Democrats preferred to ignore. (Republicans who gladly ignore the Constitution and rule of law are also guilty of putting power over principle.)
But even so, under Bush, authoritarianism thrived. "According to Bush doctrine, there are no checks and balances in American government anymore. A president can do what he pleases in the name of national security, and neither Congress nor the judiciary can stop him. At the end of the day, that is the real threat to American democracy," the Minneapolis Star Tribune explained.
Just how much of a threat? In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Bush installed a shadow government and restricted access to presidential records. Posse Comitatus, the law forbidding the military from being used to police US citizens, is on its last legs, -- and a new provision in the Patriot Act will create a federal police force with unprecedented power. A former Bush White House insider has described "decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a democracy," and the Supreme Court is poised to further tilt the balance of powers towards the executive branch. Need more proof that the idea of "representative government" is an illusion? Since 9/11:
Before his death in 1989, All the King's Men author Robert Penn Warren predicted that the day might come when an America president would possess too much power. "Well, it'll probably be someone you least expect under circumstances nobody foresaw," he said. "And, of course, it'll come with a standing ovation from Congress."
8. President Bush Planned to Go to War with Iraq before 9/11
"A SECRET blueprint for US global domination reveals that President
Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure
even before he took power in January 2001. The blueprint, uncovered by
the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a 'global Pax Americana'
was drawn up for Dick Cheney
(now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz
(Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby
of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences:
Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written
in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the
New American Century
"Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential
candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political
according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with
then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.
'He was thinking about
invading Iraq in 1999,' said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz.
'It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being
seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.'. .
In 2001, the Onion ran a satirical inauguration speech, wherein Bush promised to run up the deficit, tear down the wall between church and state, and "engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years." Truth is often stranger than satire, however, and it was later discovered that well before Bush's selection as president, plans for war in Iraq had been drawn up and were waiting in the wings. "For nearly a decade a group of people exiled from power during the Clinton years had been making plans," Ed Vulliamy wrote, referring to the cast of characters tied to the Project for a New American Century, whose memos and documents signaled a hunger for battle and foretold a future of wars on multiple fronts. (And possibly even a reinstatement of the draft.)
Yes, long before George Bush vowed to uphold the Constitution, plans were in the works -- going back to the last Gulf War, when the realists in George H.W. Bush's administration felt that unseating Saddam would bog the U.S down in an un-winnable guerilla war, and the neoconservatives disagreed to the point of obsession.
This turmoil was evident in 1992, when the radical Wolfowitz Doctrine, which called for a "go-it-alone" military strategy and a policy of preemption, was leaked to the press. And by 1998, right about the time George H.W. Bush was explaining why his administration did not remove Hussein from power, Paul Wolfowitz was testing the "cakewalk theory" before Congress, shilling for the Iraqi Liberation Act and promising that the U.S would not need to send major ground forces into Iraq to do the job.
How did George W. Bush, who promised a "humble" foreign policy during the 2000 campaign get mixed up in this? Mickey Herskowitz, Bush's ghost writer on A Charge To Keep, says that Governor Bush began talking about invading Iraq in 1999, in part, he believes, due to a Reagan-era credo ascribed to Dick Cheney: "Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade."
"'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it," Bush told Herskowitz in one of two taped interviews. "If I have a chance to invade . . . if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."
PBS' highly informative War Behind Closed Doors also examined how Bush's ideas might have taken root:
Before the war began, Scowcroft penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled "Don't Attack Saddam" and both Herskowitz and author James Risen have chronicled ways George H. W. Bush counseled his son not to invade Iraq (Risen says at one point, George W. "angrily hung up the phone" during one of these conversations.). And, of course, who can forget Bob Woodward's revelation that Bush relied on "a higher father" instead of taking his earthly father's advice?
But regardless how many times administration officials say "Sept. 11 changed everything," the war in Iraq was a foregone conclusion long before Mohamed Atta became a household name. "From the very beginning there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill told 60 Minutes in Jan. 2004, adding that the plans to invade Iraq began days after Bush's inauguration. "It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying, 'Fine. Go find me a way to do this.'"
And the rest, as they say, is history.
7. The Bush Administration Conspired with Britain and Used Deliberate Deception to Make its Case for War with Iraq
"Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would see those words in black and
white...and beneath a SECRET stamp, no less. For three years
now, we in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have been saying
that the CIA and its British counterpart, MI-6, were ordered by their countries'
leaders to "fix facts" to "justify" an unprovoked war on
Iraq. More often than not, we have been greeted with stares of incredulity. It
has been a hard learning . . . that folks tend to believe what
they want to believe. . . Thanks to an unauthorized disclosure by a courageous
whistleblower, the evidence now leaps from official documents . . . this
time authentic, not forged. . . "
"The president of the United States caught conspiring
to create a modern-day version of the sinking of the Maine? Talk about
an impeachable offense."
In March, 2002, a full year before the start of the war in Iraq, former
U.N. official Denis Halliday told Salon that "Saddam Hussein is not a threat
to the U.S." and that "the whole weapons inspection issue is really
a ruse," echoing the sentiments Colin Powell had expressed earlier in Cairo, when
he said that Hussein had "not
developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass
destruction" and was "unable to project
conventional power against his neighbors."
Other evidence supporting this "conspiracy theory" include revelations that:
Thanks to lies and innuendo, by the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 70% of Americans thought that Saddam Hussein was behind the Sept. 11 attacks. Yet Dick Cheney, our beleaguered vice president, still contends that accusations that the Bush administration misled the public are "dishonest," "reprehensible" and "not legitimate".
6. President Bush Knew 9/11 Was Going to Happen
"George Bush received specific warnings in the weeks before 11 September
that an attack inside the United States was being planned by Osama bin
network, US government sources said yesterday. In a top-secret intelligence
memo headlined 'Bin Laden determined to strike in the US', the President
on 6 August that the Saudi-born terrorist hoped to 'bring the fight to
America'. . ."
"By the time a CIA briefer gave President Bush the Aug. 6, 2001, President's
Daily Brief headlined 'Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US,' the president
a stream of alarming reports on al Qaeda's intentions. . . In April and
May 2001, for example, the intelligence community headlined some of those
Laden planning multiple operations,' 'Bin Laden network's plans advancing'
and 'Bin Laden threats are real.'"
Did Bush know Al Qaeda was going to attack the U.S.? Yes. Of course he did. If this sounds "out there" to you, I have a bridge to sell you in Stepford. The fact is, Bush either knew an attack was coming, or has the reading comprehension of a 2-year-old. In April and May, 2001, President Bush received a string of reports regarding bin Laden's plans, while in July, a CIA intelligence report for President Bush read, "The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests."
That same month, when Bush attended the G-8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, the security measures were extreme -- considering the reports that Osama bin Laden might try to assassinate him -- possibly by flying a plane filled with explosives into a building. And on Aug 6, 2001, the President received a briefing entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Within the US."
These are but a handful of the reports pointing to foreknowledge:
Other headlines read: ''Bush Was Warned bin Laden Wanted to Hijack
New York Times, May 15, 2002); "Panel Says Bush Saw Repeated
Warnings: Reports Preceded August 2001 Memo," (The Washington Post,
April 13, 2004); and "Bush Knew of Terrorist Plot to Hijack US
Planes,"(the Guardian, May 19, 2002). And in case you think
the "liberal media" is the lone voice saying "they knew"
prominent Republican members of the Senate Committee investigating Sept.
11 and the Sept. 11 Commission have made similar observations. "I don't
believe any longer that it's a matter of connecting the dots. I
think they had a veritable
blueprint, and we want to know why they didn't act on it," Senator Arlen
Conspiracy theorists have also wondered about John Ashcroft's "security concerns," Mayor Willie Brown's pre-9/11 warning, and Pentagon staffers' Sept. 11 flight cancellations. Throw in obvious propaganda, "problematic" explanations, class action lawsuits and the fact that George W. Bush just sat in that Florida classroom for minutes and you've added hefty speculation to the fire.
Yes, there is proof "Bush knew." But as for letting it 9/11 happen on purpose? As Robert Steinback recently pointed out in the Miami Herald, it will be years before documents concerning JFK's assassination are made public, and even longer before the Warren Commission's files are finally released. Why should anyone expect unanswered 9/11 questions to be answered any time soon?
Steinback nevertheless points to a group of PhDs who call themselves "Scholars for 9/11 Truth" who are currently asking the "hard questions" many prefer to avoid. Even so, admitting that there are inconsistencies within the official story is a far cry from accusing the U.S. government of complicity in the attacks. Suffice it to say that some questions may never be answered and some suspicions will never be laid to rest.
Visit us tomorrow for Part 2
Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.
© Copyright 2004, Maureen Farrell