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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-06-13 - 11:47 a.m.

Retired Officials Say Bush Must Go

by Joan Callaway

From a news article by Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times, released this morning :"A group of 26 former senior diplomats and military officials, several appointed to key positions by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, plans to issue a joint statement this week arguing that President George W. Bush has damaged America's national security and should be defeated in November."

It is something of a relief to know that these respected former officials, many of whom were appointed under President Reagan, served under both President George Bush, the father, as well as President Clinton, are speaking out, echoing what many of us have been thinking and saying for some time.

Phyllis Oakley, the deputy State Department spokesman during Reagan’s second term and an Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research under Clinton, said the statement to be released next week would argue that, “Unfortunately the tough stands [Bush] has taken have made us less secure. He has neglected the war on terrorism for the war on Iraq. And while we agree that we are in unprecedented times and we face challenges we didn’t even know about before, these challenges require the cooperation of other countries. We cannot do it by ourselves.”

It is an impressive list of former diplomats and military officials – a non-partisan group, as many have served in Republican administrations – all have signed a statement calling for the defeat of President Bush in November.

A quick quiz: (courtesy of Jennifer Jackson)

Who spoke the following words? “The road to safety begins by ending aggression.”

Ghandi?

Abraham Lincoln?

Martin Luther King?

“Try Osama bin Laden on November 12, 2002. The following day, virtually all news sources reported that “Osama vows to attack America!” Bin Laden’s actual words were excluded from the reports,” Jackson answers.

“In the wake of this ‘threat’, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act on November 19, 2002.” And in the wake of this latest threat, we didn’t object. We raised our eyebrows a bit at what seemed might be an erosion of our civil rights, but most of us didn’t even bother to read the 30-page bill Congress read, much less the 484-page version Congress signed. In my Diaryland entry of 6-11-04, ‘Color Me Surprised!” [http://tariqa.diaryland.com/040611_75.html], I summarized House Bill 5710.

In April of this year, President Bush in Hershey, Pennsylvania, began his folksy speech with, “There are people here in this world who still want to hurt us. See, they can't stand America. They can't stand us because we love certain things and we're not going to change. We love our freedom. We love the fact that we can worship freely any way we see fit. We love the fact that we can speak our minds freely. We love our free political process. We love every aspect of freedom and we refuse to change. (Applause.) These terrorists will not be stopped by their own conscience; they don't have a conscience. But they will be stopped. They will be stopped because our great nation is resolute abroad, we're vigilant at home, and we are absolutely determined to prevail. (Applause.)”

In that same speech, he outlined the benefits of the Homeland Security Act, affectionately called the Patriot Act by the President, which in effect takes away many of the freedoms we cherish - the ones he mentioned in his speech. In the interest of national safety, we’ve given up the checks and balances our constitution ensured. We’ve given up the right to privacy of our bank transactions, travel, library records, medical records, school records, and even our e-mail. I don’t totally understand how Title III would work; it has to do with mandatory administration of drugs and quarantine of those who refuse them. Are they planning to drug us if we don't stay in line?

Title IV, which calls for registration of Muslim immigrants of North African and Middle Eastern descent, reminds me of Martin Niemoller’s famous quote:

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Title VI prohibits any investigations not in the national interest – even of the President. For instance, I guess should the ultimate responsibility for the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lead as far as that office’s interpretation of whether Geneva Convention could be ignored, the President could tell the Inspector General to back off in that investigating him is not in the interest of national security.

Title VII - Empowers the Inspector General to arrest us without a warrant.

Title VIII – the President or Congress can deploy the military against us “in time of war, insurrection, or other serious emergency”. Always before, domestic law enforcement and the FBI handled such crimes before, although the National Guard could be called out in emergencies. The National Guard now, however, is in Iraq, so the lines are being muddied.

So far, we have avoided national ID cards, but there have been rumblings about that recently, too.

This committee of 26 is coming forward just in time, because the U.S. has become increasingly aggressive under the leadership of the current administration. It has authority in this Patriot Act to spy on private citizens, lock up people based on their religion and/or national origin, turn the military on its own citizens, and prohibit the investigation of our President…all in the interest of our national security. Why am I nervous? Why am I glad there are these 26 people to speak up now?

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