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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 3/20/10


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Message Burt Hall

The Republican Party has been dominated by radicals who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else's right to govern. Hastening a return to power is all that matters.~~Paul Krugman, NY Times, Oct. 5, 2009
Traditionally, after intense campaigning and political infighting, our system of democracy pulls together and supports a newly-elected president. This democratic process has worked well and we have become a world leader and global superpower. For the past two decades, however, this tradition has been broken.

Republicans, dominated by the far right, no longer accept the results of our national elections. Focused only on returning to power, they use destructive politics to undermine the credibility of any new Democratic administration. They decide what they want to do without regard to ethics, rules or long-term consequences, and then pursue a win-at-any-cost strategy to achieve their goals. They destabilize a young administration and then consistently oppose its policies, regardless of whether the policies are good for America or not.

Republicans took power twice at the turn of the century and mismanaged our government both times. Our country has been steadily declining. The far right trend of undermining government when out of power and mismanaging it when in power must be stopped or else we will become a second-rate power. With an informed public, the solution is simple.

Undermining the Clinton Administration

The far-right Republican quest for power started in a big way during the 90's when they took control of the House. Newt Gingrich became House Speaker with Tom DeLay as his House Whip. Previously, Republicans had owned the White House for 12 years and were outraged at the loss of the presidency. Clinton was seen as a usurper, his election illegitimate, and he had to be driven from the White House. These were the views of those on the far right who had contributed to Gingrich's political campaigns and causes.

Gingrich called the Clinton administration "the enemy of normal Americans" and said in a private meeting he would use subpoena power to wage war against the White House. He envisioned as many as 20 congressional investigations being conducted simultaneously. Subsequently, multiple investigations were launched to destabilize Clinton's presidency. They included ones like the 15-year-old Whitewater land deal and the "murder" of the President's close friend and White House aide, Vince Foster (actually a suicide).

The various investigations cost well over 100 million dollars and turned up nothing on the Clinton administration. Republicans refused to clear the President, however, until his two terms had nearly ended. Meanwhile, Gingrich used a government shut-down to force an unacceptable budget on the President. This congressional blackmail violated the U.S. Constitution and Gingrich had to reverse course. The far right killed Clinton's middle class health care plan for fear its popularity would cause them to lose power and perhaps their jobs in Congress. Then, in a last-ditch effort to wreck the Clinton administration, they:
(1) Manipulated our judicial system to set a perjury trap for Clinton's personal indiscretion.

(2) Submitted false information to get control of the investigation.

(3) Made impeachment the only option by blocking all efforts to censure the president.

(4) Railroaded the President's impeachment in a lame-duck House session, using political blackmail to get the necessary votes.

The far right knew the Senate would not convict; their real purpose was to (1) force the President to resign and (2) regain the White House in year 2000. Forcing resignation didn't work, but regaining the White House did. Years later, Prosecutor Ken Starr and Judiciary Committee Chairman Hyde expressed regret over their role in this entire affair. (Documentation can be found in chapter two of the book, Misuse of Power and six other named books.)

The far-right obsession with impeachment diverted Congress and the nation from Bin Laden's 1998 declaration of war, his attacks on U.S. Embassies and the menace, in general, of global terrorism. President Clinton did take aggressive steps to confront the threat and managed to disrupt several attacks at the turn of the century. However, the new far-right administration that followed did not continue his efforts, and that led to disastrous consequences.

Regaining Power, Far Right Jeopardizes U.S. Security; Ignores Pressing Domestic Issues

The far right won a very close and controversial electoral vote in 2000, aided by the Supreme Court. At the very outset of the new administration, the Bush White House received severe warnings of the grave threat posed by Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The warnings came directly from President Clinton, a U.S. National Security Commission, the CIA Director and the White House Chief of Counterterrorism. Ignoring their advice, the Bush White House proceeded to downgrade terrorism and disregard urgent warnings of the upcoming attacks.

Bin Laden's plans had seeped out to foreign countries who passed them on to us. The sources were three Heads of State (Blair, Putin and King of Jordan) and a number of other close foreign allies. The warnings included the actual means of attack. We were warned also that al-Qaeda members were here in the U.S. planning the attacks and learning to fly. By July, the warnings, in the CIA Director's view, could not "get any worse." In a desperate and unscheduled visit to the White House, he urged in the strongest possible terms (1) the immediate use of our military to remove al-Qaeda's sanctuary in Afghanistan and (2) CIA covert authority to take down Bin Laden. The President did not act and made no attempt to protect commercial aviation or inform the public of the impending danger.

During the months leading up to 9/11, Vice-President Cheney had the White House lead role for terrorism and intelligence. In a deal cut with Congress, hearings on terrorism and creation of a Homeland Security Agency were dropped in return for which Cheney would lead a project to defend us against domestic attacks. His project never got off the ground. The President said he would chair a meeting to review the results of the Vice-President's work. He did not. To this day, we do not know why our leaders left us so unprepared. The 9/11 Commission did not assess White House preparedness for the attacks, as required by statute. Its report omitted the specific warnings from Heads of State and other foreign allies, as well as the CIA Director's desperate visit to the White House in July. The Commission's decision not to assess White House preparedness was never disclosed to the public or to Congress. To date, four directly involved people have acknowledged the truth about 9/11 on film or in books and articles. They are George Tenet, Richard Clarke and Commissioners Bob Kerrey and Richard Ben-Veniste. The full story and documentation have recently been turned over to Senate and House Investigating Committees, suggesting that they reopen the 9/11 investigation.(See here)

After neglecting expert advice and frantic 9/11 warnings, the administration covered up its failure and lashed out against terrorism in an irresponsible way. They went to war against Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. In addition, wars do not address terrorism because their networks are international in nature and can move from country to country on a moment's notice. Other ways the far-right administration made us less secure are:

(1) They spread our military too thin over two mismanaged wars, while allowing Bin Laden to escape, remain free and plot further attacks.

(2) They adopted foreign policies that diminished our relationships with other countries.

(3) They maintained our dependence on oil from unstable regions of the world which, in turn, finance terrorists and explosives used to kill U.S. troops.

(4) They ignored billions of tons of heat trapping pollution being dumped into our atmosphere.

(5) They failed to address world-wide nuclear disarmament. Now, two countries, North Korea and Iran, are bent on joining the nuclear club.

For their remaining years in office, far-right Republicans imposed an agenda that moved America in the wrong direction on nearly every major issue. They ignored pressing domestic needs, turned surpluses into deficits, doubled our national debt and left us with the worst economy since the great depression.

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Burt Hall previously was Group Director, U.S. Government Accountability Office on national security matters. He served also on a congressional commission, similar to the 9/11 one, and with the Office of Management and Budget. He is a graduate of (more...)
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