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Is Robert Gates another Rumsfeld?

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Message Scott Tyner
"Shock and awe," would be a good description of last Wednesday's announcement that Donald Rumsfeld had resigned as head of the Defense Department. His replacement, Robert Gates, the intelligence analyst who served as Director of the CIA under the first Bush, pepped up the GOP from their election day smarting, coinciding nicely with Bush's new mandate of, "By all means, change the course!"

Still dizzy with exuberance and nervous anticipation over whether the new Democratic Houses of Congress will muster the courage to lead the country in new directions as promised, or slip into complacent moderation, liberal politicos and the blogosphere, and even the normally conservative mainstream media, were quick to react over Rummy's replacement.

First, although Gates had no personal involvement with the Iran-Contra Affair, two agency employees indicated that he had knowledge of the illegal activities. If so, he should have understood that it was in violation of the Boland Amendment that Congress enacted in order to stop the CIA from aiding the Contras. Gates denied any knowledge of the affair before Congress.

Republicans have stated that they will try and confirm Gates before the Democrats take over in January. But it will be a true test of character to see if they respond to the Democratic victory as a public denunciation of GOP business-as-usual or try to confirm Gates regardless of the voters' desires.

On a side note, since Gates' appointment brings Iran-Contra into the news again, the former marine colonel, Oliver North, who directed the operation and shredded thousands of documents before being subpoenaed, now has his own talk radio program. His boss in the affair, John Poindexter, has a high ranking position in the Bush Administration overseeing, guess what, intelligence operations. Both North and Poindexter were convicted of criminal charges for their conduct. On appeal, both their cases were dropped without either spending a day in jail. Does anybody else get the feeling that when Republicans are in power "justice" is spelled "just us"?

Additionally, Gates was on the board of directors for a small voting machine company called VoteHere. According to Bev Harris of Black Box Voting, "VoteHere spent more money than ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia combined to help ram HAVA through. And HAVA, of course, was a bill sponsored by convicted Abramoff pal Bob Ney and K-street lobbyist buddy Steny Hoyer. HAVA put electronic voting on steroids."

The word from voting rights activists over the near error-free, mid-term elections is, 'So what? We knew these machines Could be accurate. Now it's time to demand that the Democratic Congress enact the standardization of testing and security measures that were absent from HAVA that are necessary to ensure the voting process is fair, accurate and safe in the future' (-my summary). Although there is still that problem of undervotes in Sarasota Cnty, FL, where 18,000 people voted for all the other candidates but did not vote in the congressional race. It's too early too conclude that the elections were as errorless as advertised while we wait on the results from states with mandatory audits to see if they jive with election results and exit poll data.

Despite the opinion of retired colonel, Patrick Lang, who said, "(Gates) will have an instinctive aversion to these (neo-cons in the Defense Dept)," Gates gave a telling remark in a speech at Texas A&M in March of 2005. "I don't think the president misled the American people. I think intelligence misled the president," said Gates.

Additional comments in that speech seem to indicate that Gates is intent to protect Bush. The evidence from congressmen and -women in the know, and CIA analysts who have resigned, is that the Bush Administration pressured the CIA to create a reason for war with Iraq.

It may have been Rumsfeld and/or Cheney, and not Bush, who bullied the CIA into falsifying intelligence. But Bush, Powell and Rice all preached it, we believed it, and the people of Iraq and our American troops have suffered because of it. I sincerely hope that Bush and the Republican majority in Congress don't think that the American public is so naive as to believe that this friend of Poppy Bush, who may have already deceived Congress, will then be compliant should the new, Democratic Congress begin to investigate just who bullied who. Somewhere between Bush and the crime is a fall guy. The GOP should not confirm a crony of the first Bush to decide who it is.

By claiming that intelligence is often ambiguous, Gates is already shielding the administration from negligence and abuse of power. In relation to WMD, Scott Ritter, the former U.N. weapons inspector, claims that it was not ambiguous.

Specialists on Iraq in the CIA had already concluded that Hussein was not re-instituting his nuclear program. Evidence was dredged up from the 1980's when Hussein was attempting a nuclear program and treated like it was current.

Exit polls indicated that the two main reasons responders had voted Democratic was first, because of corruption in Washington and second, the war in Iraq. Although Rumsfeld's resignation may make it seem that Bush is responding to the desires and common sense of the American electorate, picking out a neo-con doppelganger of Rummy to replace him shows Bush still isn't ready to capitulate in any meaningful way.

After six years of treating the American public like we're bone-headed ignoramuses who've never read a newspaper, Bush and his posse of neo-cons still don't seem to understand the message from last Tuesday's thumping: We're tired of being lied to!

Listening to public radio the week after Katrina, when discussion was first being made to boot Michael Brown from FEMA, I believe it was a Metairie evacuee who candidly said, "Look, just get us a different idiot. Give us a humanitarian idiot. Give us a compassionate idiot. Give us a hard-working idiot. Just don't give us the same idiot."

I really don't believe these people are stupid, just dishonest. As Abraham Lincoln said, "You may deceive all the people part of the time, and part of the people all the time, but not all the people all the time."

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Scott Tyner lives in Hattiesburg, MS.
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