House of Evil (Part Two)
Michael I. Niman – Reprinted With Permission from ArtVoice (
No doubt there are things that go on in the White House
that no president would ever want made public. But this is
Keepings Secrets Secret
Now, fast forward to the present. It’s been over 12 years since Ronald Reagan left the White House. Journalists, historians, political scientists and other scholars have been patiently waiting for this day. With all the subsurface scandals dogging the Reagan legacy—accusations ranging from involvement in the White House-backed Nicaraguan Contras’ cocaine dealings, right on through to the Iran-Contra affair, CIA support for terrorists, and an endless gaggle of corporate shenanigans and conflicts of interest—these Reagan-era documents promised to shed important light on a criminal administration. There’s only one hitch. Former CIA Director George Herbert Walker Bush was the Vice President under Reagan, and many people believe he was the man pulling the strings on the daft Gipper. His son is now the president, and the White House is now restocked with an aging crew of reanimated Reaganites—the same folks allegedly involved in criminal activities under the Reagan/Bush administration. This is one reason why the stakes were so high in
The younger Bush immediately took to this, his most important task. In the spring of 2001, when the records were due to be disseminated, he, on numerous occasions, postponed their release. Finally, on
The upshot is, don’t expect to see any Reagan White House documents anytime soon, if ever. Oh yeah, this suppression of information is somehow part of our War on Terror. I guess you can’t credibly run such a war while at the same time releasing documents linking half of your cabinet to terrorist activities.
The atrocities of September 11 gave George W. Bush carte blanche for reinventing
By the end of the year, Bush asked congress to lift sanctions against selling arms to countries that violate human rights or support terrorism, thus opening up the door for arms sales to our new and unsavory allies in the War on Terror. He nullified the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile treaty with
On the subject of nuclear weapons, remember those extraneous warheads we promised to destroy, the ones we’d only need if we decided to vaporize the planet umpteen times? Well, it turns out we’re not really destroying them. Bush announced that we’re actually storing them—perhaps for a very rainy day. Let’s not forget how we decided to “store” anthrax as well, with some of our own spores mysteriously winding up throughout our postal system.
Needless to say, the Russians are pissed off about us going back on our word and proposing to violate the ABM treaty. But they’re not the only ones we’ve dissed lately. There’s the “Axis of Evil,” Bush’s infantile characterization of
On the human rights front, Bush recently called for ending the international War Crimes Tribunals, which prosecuted Slobodan Milosevic and those responsible for the Yugoslavian slaughter and the attempted Rwandan genocide. Bush says the tribunals are too costly to run. His opponents say he fears eventual indictment of himself and his father by the tribunals—which would have been a real possibility, had the Reagan presidential papers become public.
Dismantling Due Process
Due process of law is also taking a historically unprecedented trampling under Bush’s jackboots. First, there’s Bush’s decree that terrorism suspects will lose their right to a jury trial, and in its place face a secret military tribunal, complete with secret evidence and no right of appeal. The tribunals will be empowered to order that subjects be executed. Currently, only non-U.S. citizens will face tribunals. Depriving foreigners of due judicial process in the
Bush’s assault on the due process of law has also taken attorney-client privilege as its victim. Long a stalwart of the American justice system, attorney-client privilege recognizes the right of an accused criminal to speak privately with an attorney in order to map out a defense strategy. No more. Bush announced last November that the government would monitor communication between detainees and their attorneys—with this violation of the 6th Amendment currently limited to suspects accused of an array of crimes that fall under the rubric of terrorism.
Communications between attorneys and clients aren’t the only conversations to be monitored in George W. Bush’s new
A month later, Bush sought to revive the J. Edgar Hoover–Richard Nixon era Counter-Intelligence Program (Cointelpro). The original Cointelpro spied on civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, while authoring misinformation designed to discredit and cause internal dissent in the anti-war and civil rights movements. Cointelpro operatives pressured landlords to evict anti-war organizations and newspapers and magazines such as this one from their offices and even went as far as to spray ersatz body odor stink on Black Panther Party newspapers as they passed through the postal system. Political activists today are concerned that Bush’s new Cointelpro would use similar tactics against anti-corporate and global democracy activists. Welcome to the ‘50s! We might as well issue a three dollar bill bearing Nixon’s mug shot.
War on the Environment
While there is no possible rationale to explain why terrorism should justify a war on environmental safeguards, it provides both a smokescreen and a distraction for an administration that harbors a psychotic disdain for the natural world. Hence the current Bush assault on the environment. First there was the easing of restrictions for corporations seeking to mine federal land; they can now go ahead and pillage our publicly owned resources even at the cost of irreparably causing serious environmental degradation.
This might seem incongruous from a president who, as a candidate, campaigned under the mantra of reducing industrial pollution and protecting natural resources. Perhaps candidate Bush was fibbing. As President, he now wants to reverse major provisions of the Clean Air Act, particularly those relating to dirty, coal-fired power plants, a move that scientists estimate will result in more acid rain damage and tens of thousands of human deaths from respiratory ailments. Friends of the Earth argue that Bush has the worst environmental record in the history of the American presidency. The coal industry, by contrast, calls Bush a friend. Along with the oil and petrochemical industries, they were among Bush’s major campaign contributors.
In early 2002, Bush eliminated federal programs to develop high mileage vehicles. A week later, he laid out plans for drilling for oil off of
None of our national environmental treasures are safe from this pillage. As Tora Bora dominated our national discourse in January, Bush quietly eased federal rules protecting fragile wetlands from development and destruction. The result will be fewer estuaries and more strip malls, a big boon for the real estate industries as undevelopable wetlands are transformed into Wal Marts.
As for global warming, such talk is bad for short-term oil industry profits. And until the smart money makes a timely escape from the oil industry like it did from Enron, we just won’t hear about such things. In “White House of Evil: Part One,” I described how Bush pulled the
More War on the Poor
George W. Bush has come under a lot of fire lately for defunding or eviscerating damn near every program designed to help pull poor people out of poverty or keep middle class folks from slipping into poverty. Hence, it’s rare to see Bush actually create economic opportunities for the poor. But he has. Poor folks can now get temporary work ingesting pesticides as test subjects for clinical human pesticide exposure trials. Banned as too dangerous under the
We should expect to see a lot more poor folks around the world during the coming decade, as Bush just cut the
In summation, Bush has taken upon himself the task of destroying two generations worth of social programs—programs designed to protect our collective health, well being and environment. Programs that aspired to allow all Americans the opportunity for class mobility. This is the very foundation of what makes us Americans. We can dream. We can dream of healthy stimulating lives in a clan thriving environment. We can dream about secure future in a peaceful cohesive world. George W. Bush is all about killing our dreams. As any child with a set of blocks knows, it’s easier to destroy things than to build things. In a relatively short period of time, a man we never elected to the presidency has set about destroying the best of what makes us Americans. It may take generations to repair the social damage. The environmental damage might be forever.
Dr. Michael I. Niman’s articles are archived at http://mediastudy.com.articles
Return to mediastudy.com