“Decision Points” Show Disconnect From Reality By President George Bush

I always enjoy listening to conversations with any President of the United States.  So there was no way I was going to miss Matt Lauer’s hour-long interview with President George Bush concerning the former leader’s book “Decision Points”.  

So there I was primed for an interview that I hoped would grant the nation some insight into how things went so wrong in America during Bush’s two terms in office.  I was trusting that with some distance from the White House there might be less swagger and more substance .  I was hoping for a man bigger in reflection than we was while in office.

In the end I was disappointed with the interview as it only confirmed what I already knew.

President Bush is folksy, but he was only a mediocre president at best, who did great damage to the nation.

The verbal swagger and facial sneers were all back for the NBC cameras.  The lies and spin from those eight years that took the nation to war were ramped up again in an effort to promote his legacy and sell some books.

One of the biggest lies from the interview concerned 9/11.

LAUER: Did you ever ask yourself the question, “What more could I have done,” to prevent this from happening?

BUSH: Well, we just didn’t have any solid intelligence that gave us a warning on this.  We didn’t have any clear intelligence that said you know, “Get ready.  They’re gonna fly airplanes into New York buildings.”

No, Mr. President, you are not being totally upfront with the American public.

President Bush liked to vacation during his time in office.  In fact almost half of his presidency was either at Camp David or in Texas.  While on one of those trips (August 6, 2001) he would have received a Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) from CIA director George Tenet.  The title of this 10-page document revealed: “BIN LADEN DETERMINED TO STRIKE U.S.  “Tenet reported warnings that terrorists connected to Osama Bin Laden were planning to hijack passenger planes in the United States.”

A more engaged president would have thought about the information that was placed in front of him for reading.  But with so much vacation time to be had, even starting early in his first term, there was no time for the hard work of leading the nation.  Even after two years out of office, and time to reflect and come to terms with what happened, we are left with the same spin from President Bush.

There were times last night in the interview I almost choked on my pretzels, just to be in kinship with the great comedian that is President Bush.

Read this excerpt.

LAUER: The intelligence is.  So by the time you gave the order to start military operations in Iraq, did you personally have any doubt, any shred of doubt, about that intelligence?

BUSH: No, I didn’t.  I really didn’t. 

LAUER: Not everybody thought you should go to war, though.  There were dissenters.

BUSH: Of course there were.

LAUER: Did you filter them out?

BUSH: I was– I was a dissenting voice.  I didn’t wanna use force. 

President Bush was a dissenting voice on the war?!

And Hitler only thought it would be nice to give the Jews a chance for a train trip.

When it came to waterboarding President Bush was not able, or willing, to consider the effect his bad decisison might have on American soldiers who might face the same torture.

LAUER: So if– if it’s legal, President Bush, then if an American is taken into custody in a foreign country, not necessarily a uniformed–

BUSH: Look, I —

LAUER: American­­–       

BUSH: I’m not gonna the issue, Matt.  I, I really–

LAUER: I’m just asking.  Would it be okay for a foreign country to waterboard an American citizen?

BUSH: It’s all I ask is that people read the book.  And they can reach the same conclusion.  If they’d have made the same decision I made or not.

This lack of introspection and ability to think in broader terms was one of the main reasons I found Bush unworthy of the White House.  There was never an intellectual interest in delving into issues and really coming to grips with them, or better understand the full ramifications of any policy.  The swagger was always the answer for Bush.

There is spinning for a better place in the pages of history and then there is just a plain disconnect from reality.  

What we witnessed last night on NBC is the shortcomings not only of a president, but also of a man.  History will show not only that events spiraled out of control while he was serving as president, but that he continued to distort and twist the record years later in an effort at shaping a legacy. And for making money on his book.

Mediocre is the best we can say about President Bush.

Tory David Cameron Echoes American Liberals About Iraq War And Tony Blair

David Cameron is one of the interesting international figures to watch.  From the day Tony Blair left the office of British Prime Minister all eyes have been fixated on Cameron as there is little doubt the Tories will prevail in the next election.  David Cameron is a member of the Conservative Party, and yet his comments about Tony Blair and the former PM’s sheepish ways concerning the Iraq War and President Bush are what many liberals on this side of the Atlantic also think. 

You’ve said you want a relationship with America that is “solid but not slavish,” which was interpreted as a dig at Tony Blair. How specifically did the Blair-Bush relationship harm the United Kingdom?


The damage that was done was that Tony Blair wasn’t positive enough in raising questions and issues [about the invasion of Iraq and postwar planning], which the candid friend should always do. That’s not just a British perspective; I’ve heard that from senior American Republican politicians, who said sometimes you’d expect Blair to raise some questions and points and he didn’t. That I think is the problem. I think that Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Winston Churchill all understood how to make the relationship work. Of course, we’re the junior partner, but we have much to offer.

The interview also provided these refreshing comments from who most agree will be the next prime minister.

…..it would be a great pleasure, if I was to be elected, to work with a U.S. president who believes that climate change is real, is happening, is man-made, and needs to be dealt with. There’s a great commonality of agreement about what we should do. Obviously the first thing on the list would be Afghanistan. I’m delighted with what President Obama has done [there]. I just got back from there. The sense of can-do optimism and grit of the U.S. commanders is really inspiring because they really recognize that we’ve got one last chance to fix this problem and they want to put every shoulder to the wheel to make it work.

Critics Of Iraq War Policy Proven To Be Correct

Those of us who charged the Bush White House was only interested in regime change in Iraq was proven correct by the bombshell statement made today by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.   There was never any doubt about what action the American policy would be, in spite of all the talk about wanting war to be a last resort.  The facts at the time, and the growing evidence over the past months supports what liberals have said over and over again.  Conservatives wanted to pretend that President Bush was not into ‘nation-building’, but the facts are not supporting them.  There was not so much interest in stopping weapons of mass destruction  as there was in changing the Iraq government.  The cost in national resources and dead soldiers (in America and Iraq) makes that regime change a mighty bloody undertaking.  A stain on our foreign policy, and the Bush presidency that will forever remain.

Tony Blair has dropped something of a bombshell by admitting that he would have favoured removing Saddam Hussein regardless of any arguments about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The admission, in an interview being broadcast on the BBC on Sunday, will convince cynics of British and American policy that they were right all along to say this was always about regime change.

It might also make those who laboured to produce the evidence suddenly seem rather irrelevant.

The former British prime minister’s statement goes beyond simply saying that he did believe at the time that Saddam had such weapons but feels now that the war was right in any case.

That is the conventional approach used by some people who supported the war and who think it produced a worthwhile result, though at a high price.

Others have now changed their minds and say it was a mistake.

Not Tony Blair. Typically, perhaps, he is not repentant. And more than that – he says he would have gone to war anyway.

These were his words when asked if he would have “gone on” if he had known then there were no WMDs: “I would still have thought it right to remove him.”

He even suggests in the interview how he would have justified such a war – “the threat to the region.” The argument would have been that with Saddam in power, there was a threat to the wider Middle East and a block on its democratic development.

Osama Bin Laden Says ‘Thanks President Bush’

This is exactly what we all knew…..and what many, including CP….has stated over and over again.  When the war on terror was underway during the Bush Administration instead of working to wage it successfully in Afghanistan, troops and resources were instead sent to start a needless war in Iraq. (After all didn’t Daddy  Bush tell me if I won the White House I could start my own war?  Though it should be noted that there are few who think the elder Bush or his advisors were ever smitten by the war that the younger Bush started.)   The result of  the ‘need’ to invade Iraq was that Osama Bin Laden was allowed to escape.  As Osama would say, ‘Thanks President Bush’!

CNN Reports.

The Bush administration for failing to capture or kill Osama bin Laden when the al Qaeda leader was cornered in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountain region in December 2001.

Bin Laden had written his will, apparently sensing he was trapped, but the lack of sufficient forces to close in for the kill allowed him to escape to tribal areas in Pakistan, according to the report.

It said former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and top U.S. commander Gen. Tommy Franks held back the necessary forces for a “classic sweep-and-block maneuver” that could have prevented bin Laden’s escape.

“It would have been a dangerous fight across treacherous terrain, and the injection of more U.S. troops and the resulting casualties would have contradicted the risk-averse, ‘light footprint’ model formulated by Rumsfeld and Franks,” the report said.

When criticized later for not zeroing in on bin Laden, administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, responded that the al Qaeda leader’s location was uncertain.

“But the review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants underlying this report removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora,” the report said.

U.S. ‘Hell Bent’ On Iraq War Says Former British Ambassador To United Nations

The news that is emerging from Britain about President Bush and his desire to start a war in Iraq is unsettling to be sure, but it is not surprising.  Many Americans who followed the story of how President Bush manipulated his way to war in Iraq knew the facts one day would be revealed.  A major inquiry about the Iraq War is underway, and it is expected to be gathering information for many months.  Already there are lots of bits and pieces to sort through and ponder.

The United States was “hell bent” on a 2003 military invasion of Iraq and actively undermined efforts by Britain to win international authorization for the war, a former British diplomat told an inquiry Friday.

Jeremy Greenstock, British ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2003, said that President George W. Bush had no real interest in attempts to agree on a U.N. resolution to provide explicit backing for the conflict.

The ex-diplomat, who served as Britain’s envoy in Iraq after the invasion, said serious preparations for the war had begun in early 2002 and took on an unstoppable momentum.

As diplomats frantically attempted in early 2003 to agree upon a U.N. resolution approving a military offensive, Bush’s key aides grew impatient — criticizing the process as an unnecessary distraction, he said.

Grumbling from Washington “included noises about ‘this is a waste of time, what we need is regime change, why are we bothering with this, we must sweep this aside and do what’s going to have to be done anyway — and deal with this with the use of force,'” Greenstock testified before the inquiry into the Iraq war.

Several nations had hoped to stall the invasion of Iraq to allow U.N. weapons inspectors more time to search for evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — the key justification for the war. No such weapons were ever found.

Yet Bush’s inner circle cared little about what international allies thought and refused to halt plans to invade in March 2003, Greenstock said. He said even Blair was unable to persuade Bush, winning only a brief hiatus of two weeks.

“The momentum for earlier action in the United States was much too strong for us to counter,” Greenstock said in a written statement to the inquiry, provided alongside his live testimony.

Britain’s inquiry is the most exhaustive study yet into the war and will seek evidence from former Prime Minister Tony Blair, military officials and spy agency chiefs. It won’t apportion blame or establish criminal or civil liability. But it will offer recommendations by late 2010 on how to prevent mistakes from being repeated in the future

Tax Increase Needed For War In Afghanistan

I have made it clear that I think more troops are required to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.  I also am one of those who think President Lincoln was correct by understanding that wars that are correct to fight also have to be paid for by the nation.    President Bush never offered a way to pay for his needless war in Iraq.  But it is vital that President Obama and this congress place a tax on the public for the war costs.  To do anything less would to be just as dishonest and disreputable as the last administration.  There is a need to continue the fight in Afghanistan, and therefore there is a cost associated with it.  The price of war is paid for with our soldiers time, and in some cases blood.  It is only right that the citizenry also pay their share of the war costs financially.

ABC News, ‘Top Dem to Obama: ‘There ain’t going to be money for nothing if we pour it all into Afghanistan,‘ by Jonathan Karl: ‘The powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee has a stark message for President Obama about Afghanistan — sending more troops would be a mistake that could ‘wipe out every initiative we have to rebuild our own economy.’ ‘There ain’t going to be no money for nothing if we pour it all into Afghanistan,’ House Appropriations Chairman David Obey told ABC News in an exclusive interview. ‘If they ask for an increased troop commitment in Afghanistan, I am going to ask them to pay for it.’ Obey, a Democrat, made it clear that he is absolutely opposed to sending any more US troops to Afghanistan and says if President Obama decides to do that, he’ll demand a new tax — what he calls a ‘war surtax’ — to pay for it.. … Obey’s opposition to funding a troop increase in Afghanistan without a new tax would pose a significant problem for President Obama if he decides to send more troops (a decision the White House says the President could [announce] as early as November 30). … His demand for a new war tax echoes a similar call by Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, also a Democrat, who recently told Bloomberg’s Al Hunt that he favors a new tax on Americans earning over $200,000 a year to pay for sending any additional troops. Although Obey argues that the tax should be paid by all taxpayers, ranging from 1 percent for lower wage earners to 5 percent for the wealthy. … ‘That’s what happened with the Vietnam War, which wiped out the Great Society,’ Obey said. ‘That’s what happened with the Korean War, which wiped out Harry Truman’s Square Deal. That’s what happened with the end of the progressive movement before the twenties when we went into World War I. In each case, the cost of those wars shut off our ability to pay for anything else.’

Boys Will Be Boys All Over The World

Smile.

Detainees at a camp in Baghdad in Iraq have found a way to get under the skin of National Guard troops from Wisconsin.

And it has to do with football and a painful chapter for some Green Bay Packers fans who consider Brett Favre a traitor for joining the rival Minnesota Vikings.  

First Lt. Tim Boehnen, of New Richmond, said the detainees are familiar with Favre and picked up on the troops’ discussion about the quarterback’s performance with the Vikings.  

Lt. Col. Tim Donovan said the detainees at Camp Cropper needle the guards about Favre’s success as a Viking. 

Best Paragraphs In Sunday Newspaper

Between a rock and a hard place.  These are some tough paragraphs to read, regardless of where you come down on the question of more troops for Afghanistan. The choices are tough, and regardless of which path is taken there will be long-term consequences both politically, and from a policy point of view.  This is what presidential leadership is all about.

Representative David R. Obey, a Democrat from Wisconsin who heads the House Appropriations Committee, said recently that sending more troops to Afghanistan could drain the Treasury and “devour virtually any other priorities that the president or anyone in Congress had.”

Representative John Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania and chairman of a subcommittee on defense appropriations, said in an interview that because of concerns about President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, he thought a majority of the 258 Democrats in the House would vote against any bill to pay for more troops. “A month ago, I would have said 60 to 70,” he said.

“Can you pass one?” Mr. Murtha said. “It depends on the Republicans.”

Mr. Murtha said he opposed sending more troops, though he would support any decision Mr. Obama made. He said he was concerned that even without a supplemental bill, total spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would surge past $1 trillion next year, which could hamper the economy for years to come.

Others said some Republicans could find it hard to justify a yes vote on troops after criticizing Mr. Obama for his spending. Some liberal Democrats said voters who had been drawn to Mr. Obama for his early opposition to the Iraq war could become disenchanted if he approved a major expansion in Afghanistan.

“In the times we’re in right now, I just totally believe that the public that elected President Obama really wants to see something different,” said Representative Lynn Woolsey, Democrat of California.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama was careful to say that he would not cut military spending while the nation was engaged in two wars. He also said it was important to shore up the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. And shortly after he took office, he approved sending an additional 21,000 soldiers there, bringing the total American force to 68,000.

Still, many of his supporters assumed that his pledges to withdraw from Iraq, and to rein in the cost overruns on high-tech weapons programs, would still produce significant savings.

But even though Mr. Obama has won battles to cancel the F-22 fighter plane and other advanced programs, the immediate savings have been offset by increased spending on the surveillance drones and mine-resistant vehicles needed in the field now.

And he recently signed a $680 billion military authorization bill for fiscal 2010 that represented a 2.7 percent increase over the 2009 spending level and a 1.9 percent increase over President Bush’s peak budget in fiscal 2008.

The administration has projected that spending on Iraq would drop by $25.8 billion in fiscal 2010, to $60.8 billion, as most of the troops withdraw.

It also expected spending on the Afghanistan war to increase by $18.5 billion in fiscal 2010, to $65.4 billion, for a net savings on the two wars of $7.3 billion, if no more troops were added.