USA citizens -- MUST READ
Part 1 of a 3-Part Series
by Maureen Farrell
"Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people." ~ Theodore Roosevelt
"The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know." ~ Harry S. Truman
A couple years ago, historian Chalmers Johnson predicted that thanks to the "entrenched interests" of the military-industrial complex, the United States can look forward to a future of perpetual war, increased propaganda, fewer Constitutional rights, and a bloated executive branch. America, he warned, "will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution of 1787" unless there is a "revolutionary rehabilitation of American democracy."
The founding fathers were particularly sensitive to liberty's fleeting nature and power's corruptive tendencies. Thomas Jefferson said that "even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny," while James Madison warned that "If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." And at the close of the Constitutional Convention, when someone asked Ben Franklin what type of government the framers had drafted, he presciently replied, "A republic, if you can keep it."
But America's wisest leaders did not merely warn against the death of the republic, but about how and why its democratic principles would gradually wither away. "Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation [of power] first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence," Jefferson wrote in 1821. "We are free today substantially, but the day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility. It will be an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few," Madison said in the New York Post.
Similar warnings were sounded by modern presidents. Franklin D Roosevelt said he didn't "want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of [World War II]," and Dwight D. Eisenhower warned that the military/industrial complex had the potential to "endanger our liberties or democratic processes."
By late 2005, when Andy Rooney played a segment of Eisenhower's speech on CBS' 60 Minutes, the implications were evident: "We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist," Eisenhower said in 1961. "Well, Ike was right. That's just what's happened," Rooney remarked.
Since our genocidal beginnings, there has always been a dark side to American history. Between slavery's shameful legacy, Abraham Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, and FDR's internment of Japanese Americans, democracy has not always been Priority One to its chosen guardians. But even so, something has shifted since Harry Truman declared war profiteering a form of treason.
"What has become of the American people that they permit the despicable practices of tyrants to be practiced in their name?" former Reagan administration official Paul Craig Roberts recently asked. "The Bush administration is in violation of the US Constitution, the rule of law, the Geneva Convention, the Nuremberg Standard, and basic humanity. It is a gang of criminals," he wrote.
Former President Jimmy Carter also voiced concern. "Everywhere you go, people ask, "What has happened to the United States of America?" he said, referring to international reaction to America's evolving stance on human rights, the environment and the separation of church and state.
The most striking criticism has come from Bush administration exiles, however. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, recently offered a scathing critique, confirming reports that a "cabal" led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had "hijacked foreign policy" and that this cabal's "insular and secret workings" led to "decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a democracy."
With government insiders now sounding such alarms, concerns cannot be attributed to the New World Order fringe. It's clear that something is amiss -- something that's eroding our character, our reputation and our values. How did this come about? Just how far have we strayed from our democratic ideals? Consider the following:
Part I -- 1937 - 1990
1937: A small company named Brown & Root (which will later become a division of Halliburton) calls upon Lyndon Johnson to procure $10 million in federal funding for the Mansfield Damn project. The freshman congressman eventually delivers the necessary authorization and funding for the project, which becomes the cornerstone of Brown and Root's financial empire. In turn, Herman Brown finances Johnson's political rise. "It was a totally corrupt relationship and it benefited both of them enormously. Brown & Root got rich, and Johnson got power and riches," LBJ biographer Ronnie Dugger later notes, adding that Johnson "wouldn't have been in the running without Brown & Root's money and airplanes."
In 2000, the Bush/Cheney campaign uses Halliburton's planes during the Florida recount, triggering a federal investigation. ''The Bush administration literally flew into power on Enron's and Halliburton's private jets," a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee charges.
1942: The New York Tribune features a front page story entitled "Hitler's Angel has $3 million in US bank," referring to Nazi industrialist Fritz Thyssen and his ties to Union Banking Corporation. Later that year, Union Bank official Prescott Bush, George W. Bush's grandfather, is charged with "Running Nazi front groups in the United States." Bush is elected to the U.S. Senate ten years later.
1944: Former Vice President Henry A. Wallace writes an Op-ed , discussing war profiteers who are "ruthless" in their "use of deceit or violence" to gain money and power -- pointing to those who "hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends." Newly discovered government documents prove that Prescott Bush's ties to the Nazis continued until as late as 1951, and that he and his cohorts "routinely attempted to conceal their activities from government investigators."
1945: World War II ends. Between 1945 and 1955, more than 700 Nazi scientists are smuggled into the U.S. In addition to providing the government with valuable science, "Operation Paperclip" eventually spawns more notorious programs like Operation ARTICHOKE (extreme interrogation and torture) and MK-ULTRA (mind control).
Eight years later, Dr. Frank Olson, an Army biochemist expert who runs the Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick, (and has ties to Operation Paperclip) falls from a New York City hotel window. "The search for the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of Dr. Frank Olson begins in 1945, with the liberation of the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany," a German documentary later reports. In 1975, after the Rockefeller Commission unearths revelations about the CIA's role in Dr. Olson's death, his family is paid $750,000 restitution, though the government continues to hide the true nature of his work. Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are later implicated in the cover-up.
1947: The Central Intelligence Agency is created. Forty years later, Bill Moyers traces the advent of secretive and often grossly unethical practices to the National Security Act of 1947 -- exposing the government's "apparatus of secret power" and threats to the U.S. Constitution.
In the 1980s, Congressman Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld abscond annually to a remote location, partaking in "one of the most highly classified programs" of the era. At times the program disregards Constitutional protocol for presidential succession during a national crisis, instead using "a secret procedure for putting in place a new 'President' and his staff," while diminishing the role of the Speaker of the House and Congress. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney routinely disappears to an undisclosed location and President George W. Bush initiates a shadow government in underground bunkers without informing Congress.
- The US government establishes the first program to develop human mind control techniques, conducting 149 separate experiments using electroshock, hypnosis and drugs on unsuspecting inmates, mental patients, minorities and others.
- Government researchers conduct secret germ tests on U.S. citizens, releasing live bacteria over San Francisco. The Army later says it conducted open air tests of biological agents 239 times between 1949 and 1969.
- Congress approves the Security Act of 1950, which contains an emergency civilian detention plan that remains in effect for more than 20 years. During the early 1980s, Oliver North helps draft secret wartime contingency plans which provide for "the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA," and more than twenty years later, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Bush administration might employ these Reagan-era security initiatives, installing "internment camps and martial law in the United States." Following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, reports of civilian detention camps and plans to "herd people into sports stadiums," are punctuated by John Dean's question: "Could terrorism result in a constitutional dictator?" By late 2005, after President Bush proposes a greater role for the military during natural disasters and the imposition of marshal law should there be an avian flu outbreak, former Reagan cabinet member Paul Craig Roberts asserts that "The Police State Is Closer Than You Think."
1951: Madison's Capital Times editor John Patrick Hunter takes to the streets with a petition, (which is actually the Declaration of Independence, along with portions of the Bill of Rights) and tries to get people to sign it. Only one in 112 does. The rest find it too subversive. More than fifty years later, Harper's editor Lewis H Lapham explains that America is "blessed with a bourgeoisie that will welcome fascism as gladly as it welcomes the rain in April and the sun in June."
1953: After Iran's Prime Minister Mossadegh nationalizes Iran's oil industry. Britain pushes the U.S. to mount a coup. The CIA, led by Teddy Roosevelt's grandson Kermit Roosevelt (and with the help of Norman Schwarzkopf's father) overthrows Mossadegh during Operation AJAX. "The crushing of Iran's first democratic government ushered in more than two decades of dictatorship under the shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms," the Guardian later notes.
In 1957, the CIA creates SAVAK, the Shah of Iran's secret police force, which routinely relies on torture -- using the same interrogation techniques the CIA imported from the Nazis. Nearly half a century later, the world learns of the CIA's network of detainment facilities and American-sanctioned torture.
- France's defeat at Dien Bien Phu signals the end of a bitter struggle -- and the beginning of a divided Vietnam. Less than a year later, U.S. military aid starts trickling into Saigon and the "secret war in Laos" begins. Fifty-eight thousand Americans eventually die in Vietnam, without an official declaration of war by Congress.
- The McCarthy hearings begin. Though Ann Coulter and other revisionists later assert that Sen. McCarthy was "right," questions regarding due process and Constitutional protections leave a lasting legacy -- and have special significance during George W. Bush's presidency, when charges of a "New McCarthyism" arise.
- After Guatemala's president Jacobo Arbenz Guzmain's implements Agrarian Reform (which would have taken land away from United Fruit Company), the CIA organizes a coup against him. Following OPERATION SUCCESS, which installs Castillo Armas as dictator, President Eisenhower praises Guatemala as a "showcase for democracy." At least 100,000 civilians eventually perish under Guatemala's successive military regimes. After decades of CIA-sponsored torture and repression, President Bill Clinton issues a pseudo-apology.
- President Eisenhower delivers his farewell address, warning of the military/industrial complex and the potential for a "disastrous rise of misplaced power." Former GOP strategist Kevin Phillips later chronicles how Bush dynasty founders George H. Walker and Samuel Prescott Bush were "present at the emergence of what became the U.S. military-industrial complex, in which the Bush family has been enmeshed ever since."
- The Bay of Pigs invasion, the covert paramilitary operation meant to overthrow Fidel Castro's government ends in disaster. Journalist Joseph McBride later suggests that George H. W. Bush's Zapata Offshore Oil Company was a front for this and other CIA operations. Code-named Operation Zapata, the Bay of Pigs is planned and orchestrated by several alumni of Yale's Skull and Bones secret society -- which boasts three generations of Bushes as members. (Even though a Nov. 1963 memo states that "Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency" is briefed by J. Edgar Hoover on "the post-assassination reaction of Cuban exiles in Miami" following the Kennedy assassination, the CIA denies Bush's involvement with the agency until he becomes its head in 1976).
- Operation Northwoods, the Pentagon's plan to kill innocent Americans and blame Fidel Castro as a pretext for war against Cuba is presented to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. . . Casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation," the document reads. All Joint Chiefs of Staff sign off on the plan, but it's nixed by the civilian leadership. "The whole point of a democracy is to have leaders responding to the public will," author James Bamford tells ABC News in May, 2001, "and here this is the complete reverse, the military trying to trick the American people into a war that they want but that nobody else wants."
- Brown & Root, which will later become Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), is acquired by Halliburton.
- The CIA, in collusion with the Baath party, conducts its first "regime change" in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein is reportedly involved in this coup to overthrow Iraq's leader Abdel Karim Kassem.
- John F. Kennedy and Robert McNamara discuss withdrawing 1,000 troops from Vietnam and ending U.S. involvement by 1965; Kennedy arranges to meet with Cuban officials to discuss normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba; The U.S. backs a coup against South Vietnam's leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, who is murdered on Nov. 2.
- John F. Kennedy is assassinated. Nearly four decades later, scientists prove, with 96.3 percent certainty, that there was a second gunman on the grassy knoll. Journalists eventually chronicle ways the government used the media to manipulate and dupe the public -- with the New York Times shilling for the Warren Commission and Life buying the Zapruder film hours after the assassination -- and locking it away until 1975 with the publisher's expressed desire to "withhold it from public viewing." In 2004, prominent authors demand that 'the CIA come clean on JFK assassination.'
- Lyndon Johnson takes office and Republicans in Congress soon wonder if Brown & Root's new government contacts aren't connected to its political contributions to the new president. The company eventually becomes part of a consortium which wins a $380 million contract to build bases, hospitals and airports for the U.S. Navy in South Vietnam. During America's War on Terror, the Halliburton subsidiary has similar luck in Afghanistan and Iraq.
1964: After the American destroyer the USS Maddox is reportedly attacked in the Gulf Of Tonkin, the Senate approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Johnson the authority to escalate U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg leaks the Pentagon Papers to the press, proving that the pretext for this escalation was based upon distortions. Before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Ellsberg asks government officials who know that the Bush administration is deceiving the public to come clean and reiterates his plea in 2004: "Do what I wish I had done in 1964: go to the press, to Congress, and document your claims," he writes.
Senator Robert Byrd, in opposition to the resolution authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq, compares the current crisis to the one lawmakers faced in 1964. "This is the Tonkin Gulf resolution all over again," he says in Oct. 2002. "Let us not give this president or any president unchecked power. Remember the Constitution."
1965: The government secretly releases Bacillus globigii at the National Airport and Greyhound bus terminal in Washington, DC.; One year later, military researchers break bacteria-filled light bulbs onto tracks in subway stations in New York City.
- The General Accounting Office faults "Vietnam Builders" Brown & Root for accounting lapses; protesters target Brown & Root as a symbol of the "military-industrial complex." Decades later, historians cite parallels between Halliburton's hefty Iraq contracts and Vietnam-era controversies, including "allegations of overcharging, sweetheart contracts from the White House and war profiteering." In 2004, former Army Corps of Engineers contract officer Bunnatine Greenhouse charges that the Pentagon is improperly awarding no-bid contracts to Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, which is already under investigation for overcharging the government.
- President Johnson gives speech after speech, saying that America's security and freedom depend on a U.S. victory in Vietnam. Comparing the Vietnamese struggle to the one faced by post-colonial Americans and assuring American mothers that their sons are dying for a noble cause, Johnson also promises, "We shall stay the course." LBJ's words are later echoed in President George W. Bush's defense of the war in Iraq.
- President Johnson establishes the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, assisted by an Army task force, planning to use military force to squelch civil disturbances. On May 4, 1970, four students are killed at Kent State University when the Ohio National Guard fires at unarmed protesters.
1970: After a coup brings CIA-backed Lon Nol to power in Cambodia, the formerly neutral country is dragged into the war in Vietnam. Support for the Khmer Rouge, which was marginal before Nixon widens the war, grows, and the Khmer Rouge takes power in 1975, leading to Cambodia's infamous killing fields. "Few Americans realize that close to two million people died. . . and that the United States helped bring about the crisis that lead to the Khmer Rouge takeover," CBS later reports. Thirty-five years later, in an article entitled, "Cambodia All Over Again?" Conn Hallinan suggests that the U.S. is setting the stage to extend the war with Iraq into Syria -- a country we are already "unofficially at war with."
- The "Citizens Committee to Investigate the FBI" releases secret files on the FBI's domestic counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO, to the press, revealing that ordinary citizens had been FBI targets, as had Albert Einstein, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Martin Luther King, John Lennon and Elvis Presley. Though Senator Frank Church later vows that "never again will an agency of the government be permitted to conduct a secret war against those citizens it considers a threat to the established order," in 2002, the New York Times reports that the FBI has "nearly unbridled power to poke into the affairs of anyone in the United States, even when there is no evidence of illegal activity." A year later, FBI Intelligence Bulletin no. 89 is sent to police departments, revealing that the federal government is advocating that local authorities spy on U.S. citizens. When the Atlanta Police Department acknowledges that it routinely places antiwar protesters under surveillance, Georgia Rep. Nan Orrock tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "This harkens back to some very dark times in our nation's history."
- Sen. Sam Ervin's Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights uncovers a military intelligence surveillance system used against thousands of American citizens, and stumbles upon Operation Garden Plot, the United States Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2. The plan gives federal forces power to "put down" "disruptive elements" and calls for "deadly force to be used against any extremist or dissident perpetrating any and all forms of civil disorder." In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, soldiers are instructed to "shoot to kill" looters in New Orleans.
- The Tuskegee experiment, in which black men were purposely infected with syphilis without their knowledge (and then left untreated to study the results), finally comes to an end. "The United States Government did something that was wrong, deeply, profoundly, morally wrong," President Bill Clinton later says. "It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens."
- A break-in at the Watergate Hotel marks the beginning of a drama that will last for more than two years, culminating in Richard Nixon's resignation. In his book, The Ends of Power, former Nixon Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman charges that the CIA scrubbed its involvement in both Watergate and John F. Kennedy's murder and that the Nixon tapes hold hidden clues. Nixon's references to the "Bay of Pigs," he says, actually refer to the JFK assassination, while references to "the Cubans" pertain to the Watergate burglars. While such assertions are impossible to prove, in one tape, President Nixon calls the Warren Commission's report, "the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated."
1973: Congress passes the War Powers Act, which is soon ignored by presidents of both parties. "We've turned the war powers of the United States over to, well we are never really sure who, or what they're doing, or what it costs, or who is paying for it," Bill Moyers laments in 1987. "The one thing that we are sure of is that this largely secret global war carried on with less and less accountability to democratic institutions, has become a way of life. And now we are faced with a question brand new in our history. Can we have the permanent warfare state and democracy too?"
Sept. 11: A U.S.-led coup topples Chile's democratically-elected leader, Salvador Allende, and installs military dictator Augusto Pinochet. "Like Caesar peering into the colonies from distant Rome, Nixon said the choice of government by the Chileans was unacceptable to the president of the United States," Sen. Church later says. "The attitude in the White House seemed to be, "If in the wake of Vietnam I can no longer send in the Marines, then I will send in the CIA."
1974: Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney urge President Ford to veto the Freedom of Information Act, which they believe will weaken the executive branch. Congress overrides Ford's veto.
- A Harper's Magazine article entitled "Seizing Arab Oil" becomes the first in a series of articles about the U.S. government's dream of eventually taking control of Middle East oil. Nearly thirty years later, Mother Jones reminds readers that the same strategists who worked in the Ford administration are now "firmly in control of the White House." In April, 2001, months before the Sept. 11 attacks, James Baker III submits a report to Vice President Dick Cheney, recommending that the U.S. consider a "military" option in dealing with Iraq. The report states that 'the United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma', with one of the 'consequences' being a 'need for military intervention'.
- Journalists investigate Operation Cable Splicer, a subplan of Operation Garden Plot, designed to control civilian populations and take over state and local governments. Nine years later, the Rex-84 "readiness exercise" program is conducted by 34 federal departments and agencies. Reportedly established to control illegal aliens crossing the Mexican/U.S. border, the exercise tests military readiness to round up and detain citizens in case of massive civil unrest. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, (and after mercenaries are brought in to patrol the streets of New Orleans) President Bush says, "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces." "This is how repressive governments operate -- mixing inefficiency with authoritarian tendencies," Josh Marshall responds. "You don't repair disorganized or incompetent government by granting it more power. You fix it by making it more organized and more competent."
- Sen. Frank Church's Committee to Study Government Operations sheds light on media manipulation, government-sanctioned civil rights abuses and the CIA's Mafia connections. The committee also learns of the CIA's "Executive Action," unit and the "Health Alteration Committee," dealing with assassinations.
- A small group of conservatives, who call themselves the "cabal" advocate a more hawkish foreign policy. Among them is Richard Perle, who finds an ally in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Robert Novak is an invaluable conduit between administration insiders and U.S. citizens.
1976: President Gerald Ford issues an executive order banning assassinations by U.S. agencies. After a failed 2002 coup to overthrow Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is linked to the Bush administration, TV evangelist Pat Robertson suggests that the U.S. should murder Chavez. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war," Robertson says, adding, "I don't think any oil shipments will stop." In Oct. 2005, Chavez says the U.S. is planning to invade Venezuela.
1977: In a Rolling Stone article, Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein estimates that "400 American journalists [have] been tied to the CIA at one point or another," -- with the New York Times being one of the CIA's prime collaborators. (The Times counters, saying that the number is closer to 800).
In 2002, disinformation printed on the front page of the New York Times is repeated by Bush administration officials on Sunday morning talk shows, helping to market the impending war in Iraq. Judith Miller, co-author of the piece, later becomes a story unto herself, when her "mysterious security clearance," and ties to Plamegate, and John Bolton raise eyebrows. A colleague depicts Miller as an "advocate," whose work is "little more than dictation from government sources. . .filled with unproven assertions and factual inaccuracies."
While the government reportedly ends its disinformation program following the publication of Bernstein's article, in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, news that one of the terrorist's passports is miraculously found amongst the rubble at ground zero is reported and repeated, with some "lucky finds" bringing to mind former CIA director William Colby's boast that "the Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any major significance in the major media."
In 2005, the General Accounting Office finds that the Bush administration violated the law by engaging in "covert propaganda" within the U.S. As former Vice President Henry Wallace once wrote: "With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public."
1977-1984: The U.S. government backs "nationalist" forces in El Salvador, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands, including American nuns who are raped, mutilated and murdered by El Salvador's death squads. In 2005, Newsweek reports that the Pentagon is considering a plan to resurrect "a still-secret strategy" from this era to use against insurgents in Iraq.
Osama bin Laden leaves Saudi Arabia to fight the Soviet's in Afghanistan. He eventually receives funding and training through the CIA.
On Jan. 16, the Shah of Iran, who's been in power since the U.S.-led coup in 1953, flees Iran after months of violent protests against him. The exiled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns on Feb. 1, and takes over Iran within days. In November, Islamic revolutionaries take more than 60 American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
1980: Dismissing televised speculation on a Ronald Reagan/Gerald Ford co-presidency, Ronald Reagan makes a late-night dash to the Republican National Convention to announce that George. H.W. Bush will be his running mate. Though Bush denies meeting Iranian officials in Paris to delay the release of America's remaining 52 hostages during President Jimmy Carter's term, the Iran hostage situation is resolved the day Reagan is sworn in.
1981: Mark Hinkley attempts to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, 69 days after the new president is sworn in. In a bizarre footnote, UPI, the Houston Post, the Associated Press, and NBC's John Chancellor report that Hinkley's brother Scott was to dine with Vice President George H. W. Bush's son Neil the night of the shooting.
- The U.S. invades Grenada. "The reason we gave for the intervention [in Grenada] -- American medical students there--was phony but the reaction of the American people was absolutely and overwhelmingly favorable," Irving Kristol later explains. "They had no idea what was going on, but they backed the president. They always will."
- Special envoy Donald Rumsfeld meets with Saddam Hussein. In 1984, the U.S. formerly restores relations with Iraq, after secretly supporting Saddam Hussein with military aid and intelligence for years.
1984: In a televised speech, Ronald Reagan asks Americans to support freedom fighters in Nicaragua. Two years later, the administration admits it illegally sold weapons to Iran to fund Nicaraguan Contras.
- The Federal Communications Commission eliminates the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to present balanced coverage of controversial issues. As Operation Iraqi Freedom looms, balance often gives way to conformity. Radio stations sponsor Dixie Chick CD demolitions, the Bush-connected Clear Channel holds pro-war rallies and disc jockeys who openly question Bush's rationale for war suffer repercussions.
- The Miami Herald reports that former deputy director John Brinkerhoff modeled FEMA's martial law program after a proposal to squelch black militant uprisings by placing "at least 21 million American Negroes" into "assembly centers or relocation camps."
- The Iran/contra hearings take place. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush emerge virtually unscathed. Following George H. W. Bush's 1992 pardons of Iran/contra felons, Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh says that Bush's actions prove that "powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office - deliberately abusing the public trust - without consequence." Several Iran/contra figures are later awarded top jobs in George W. Bush's administration.
- Coalition on Revival head Jay Grimstead begins planning for a "long-range social and political takeover" of American politics. Five years later, author Frederick Clarkson writes, "Never in the wildest dreams of the far right, nor for that matter, the rest of the GOP, did anyone think such people could get this far." When George W. Bush takes office in 2001, the Washington Post reports that, "For the first time since religious conservatives became a modern political movement, the president of the United States has become the movement's de facto leader." In the spring of 2004, the Guardian reports that "US Christian fundamentalists are driving Bush's Middle East policy" and the Village Voice asserts that "Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move."
1988: The Reagan era comes to a close. When George W. Bush's administration later compares itself to the Reagan administration, Ronald Reagan, Jr. objects. "Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the '80s," he says. "But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's -- these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."
1989: The US invades Panama, overthrowing its dictator, General Manuel Noriega, a former CIA asset.
Part II -- 1990- 2000
by Maureen Farrell
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."
~ Albert Einstein
"Be loyal to your country always, and to the government only when it deserves it."
~ Mark Twain
- In Sept.1990, five months after Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait, the White House claims that satellite images prove that Iraqi troops are gathering at the Saudi border. The St. Petersburg Times acquires two commercial Soviet satellite images from the same vicinity, during the same time period, and discovers miles of empty desert. "It was a pretty serious fib," journalist Jean Heller says. "That [Iraqi buildup] was the whole justification for Bush sending troops in there, and it just didn't exist."
- After Hill & Knowlton, a public relations firm with ties to George H.W. Bush, is hired by the Citizens for a Free Kuwait to sell the looming war in Iraq, the perfect pitch comes in the form of an attractive young woman who tells a Congressional committee that she saw Iraqi soldiers take 15 Kuwaiti babies out of incubators only to leave them "on the cold floor to die." The woman is later revealed to be the 15-year-old daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the U.S.-- and hospital employees contend that the incubator incident never happened. Even so, President George H. W. Bush repeats the story several times during the lead-up to war, convincing lawmakers to authorize the use of force against Iraq. In 2002, as America teeters on the brink of yet another Gulf war, experts question senior officials' claims. "These are all the same people who were running [the war propaganda] more than 10 years ago," author John MacArthur says. "They'll make up just about anything ... to get their way." In an assessment later confirmed by the Downing Street memo, former US Rep. Lee Hamilton tells the Christian Science Monitor, "My concern in these situations, always, is that the intelligence that you get is driven by the policy, rather than the policy being driven by the intelligence."
- Five days after Congress authorizes the use of force in Iraq, the Gulf War begins. On Feb. 28, a cease-fire is declared and the Bush administration decides on a containment strategy that includes sanctions, U.N. inspections and no-fly zones. Richard Perle, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and other neoconservatives are not happy about the decision to keep Saddam Hussein in power, however, and six years later, Kristol co-founds the Washington-basked think tank, Project for the New American Century. (PNAC) Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz are listed among PNAC's supporters.
- The Rendon Group is hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Previously paid $100,000 a month by the Citizens for a Free Kuwait to help market the war, by the time the Gulf War ends, "perception management" expert John Rendon becomes, as James Bamford puts it, "Washington's leading salesman for regime change." In time, Rendon assembles the Iraqi National Congress, helps install Ahmed Chalabi as its leader, and becomes the INC's lead advisor and media guru, with considerable help from New York Times journalist Judith Miller. Between 2000 and 2004, the Pentagon awards the Rendon Group at least thirty-five contracts worth millions -- including a hefty contract three weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks.
- "The Wolfowitz Doctrine," written by Pentagon analysts Paul Wolfowitz and I. Lewis Libby, is leaked to the New York Times, creating a stir with plans for preemptive strikes and a go-it-alone military strategy. The document's aggressive and controversial recommendations are later removed by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.
- 1992's "Ruby Ridge" incident and the federal government's 1993 intervention against the Branch Dividians in Waco cause people on the political right to question if America is turning into a police state. By the time Elian Gonzalez makes headlines in 1999, many are convinced -- even though most Americans support the
Clintonadministration's decision to return Elian to his father in Cuba. When Congress and the president intervene in the Terry Schiavo case in 2005, however, the far right sanctions government intervention -- even though 80% of Americans say the federal government should not become involved in citizens' private lives.
- Mother Jones raises questions about George W. Bush's Harken stock sale and ties to the notorious Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).
- Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf explains why the U.S. didn't unseat Saddam during the first Gulf War. "From the brief time that we did spend occupying Iraqi territory after the war, I am certain that had we taken all of Iraq, we would have been like the dinosaur in the tar pit -- we would still be there, and we, not the United Nations, would be bearing the costs of the occupation," he writes in his autobiography. Other "realists" later make similar observations.
- President Bill Clinton bombs Iraqi intelligence centers, in retaliation, he says, for Saddam Hussein's attempted assassination of President George H. W. Bush. Iraq's involvement in the assassination attempt is later called into question.
- A memo leaked from the Director of Resource Management for the Department of the Army discusses plans to "establish civilian prison camps on [military] installations," with Rep. Henry Gonzalez later admitting that there are "standby provisions" and "statutory emergency plans. . . whereby you could, in the name of stopping terrorism, apprehend, invoke the military, and arrest Americans and hold them in detention camps." Following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the Sydney Morning Herald investigates these plans and author James Mann discloses a top secret program which could circumvent the Constitution in case of a national crisis. A Washington state county commissioner later says he has copy of documents indicating that his county has been pegged as a potential "concentration camp" location.
- During the "Republican Revolution," the GOP wins back control of Congress after 40 years. Predicated upon a promise to fight against "government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public's money," the movement fails to deliver. By 2005, true conservatives rail against the Bush administration's "big government" policies.
1995: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in
- In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Congress passes the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the first of three pieces of controversial anti-terrorism pieces of legislation which trouble civil libertarians. In response to this legislation, the Nation calls President Bill Clinton a "serial violator of the Bill of Rights."
- Pakistani terrorist Abdul Hakim Murad tells U.S. federal agents that he was learning to fly a plane so that he could crash into CIA headquarters.
- The Pentagon releases training manuals from the
U.S. Army Schoolof Americas (SOA) located in Fort Benning, Georgia. SOA alumni (including Manuel Noriega) are schooled in execution and torture, and participate in some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America. Though the name of the school is later changed, the "terrorist training" remains the same -- with SOA graduates reportedly fighting in the "dirty war" in Colombia.
- The cover of the Dec. 1 edition of Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard declares, "
Saddam Must Go: A How-to Guide
" and contains articles writtenby Zalmay M. Khalilzad (who later becomes White House envoy to the Iraqi opposition) and Paul Wolfowitz.
- Power Geyser, a secret counterterrorism program using Special Operation commandos inside the U.S. is created. Such "extra-legal missions" call into question the future of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prevents the military from being used to police U.S. citizens.
- Members of Afghanistan's Taliban travel to
Texasto meet with Unocal officials to discuss plans to construct a gas pipeline across Afghanistan. Two months later, a Unocal official testifies before Congress, saying that construction of their proposed pipeline cannot begin "until an internationally recognized Afghanistan Government is in place." Following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, President Harmid Karzai (who previously worked for Unocal) signs a deal to build a pipeline through Afghanistan.
- The Florida legislature passes a reform law designed to eliminate registration of ineligible voters. In 1998, Florida's secretary of state hires lone bidder Database Technologies (DBT) to remove ineligible voters, paying $4.3 million for a task that cost $5,700 beforehand. Between May 1999 and Nov. 2000, Secretary of State Katherine Harris and her predecessor (who are both proteges of Governor Jeb Bush) order 57,700 "ex-felons" to be removed from voter rolls. An inordinate number of those "scrubbed" are not actually felons.
- PNAC writes a letter to President Bill Clinton and Republican leaders in Congress asking for "the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power." Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton, William Kristol, Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Armitage and eleven others sign the memo.
- President Clinton contemplates action against Iraq, but Republican Senator Arlen Specter reminds him to respect the Constitution. "Bomber and missile strikes constitute acts of war," he writes in a letter to the president. "Only Congress has the constitutional prerogative to authorize war." In 2002, White House lawyers contend that President Bush can preemptively attack Iraq without Congressional approval.
- Paul Wolfowitz testifies before Congress, urging it to pass the Iraqi Liberation Act. Help the Iraqi people "remove him [Saddam Hussein] from power," Wolfowitz says, denying that the use of American force would be necessary. "The estimate that it would take a major invasion with U.S. ground forced seriously overestimates Saddam Hussein," he says. Later that year, President Bill Clinton signs the Act into law.
- U.S. intelligence reports that Osama bin Laden's "next operation could possibly involve flying an aircraft loaded with explosives into a U.S. airport and detonating it" with a second report explicitly warning against attacks in
New Yorkand Washington, D.C.
- At a gathering at the Cato Institute, Dick Cheney underscores his distaste for sanctions against Iraq, Iran, Libya and other oil-rich countries. "The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratic regimes friendly to the United States," he says. Though Cheney later calls Iran "the worlds' leading exporter of terror," as CEO and chairman of Halliburton, he lobbies to have economic sanctions against Tehran lifted.
- "George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft co-author A World Transformed -- portions of which appear in Time under the heading, "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam." Saying that a "march into Baghdad" would force soldiers "to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerilla war," which "could only plunge that part of the world into ever greater instability," Bush also says that if coalition forces had unseated Saddam, "the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."
- President Clinton orders a strike against Iraq, saying that "Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons." Scott Ritter later tells Buzzflash that by 1996-1997, "Iraq had been fundamentally disarmed, meaning that there was no chance of viable weapons of mass destruction existing in Iraq."
- President William Jefferson Clinton, after being impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives is acquitted by the Senate of perjury and obstruction of justice. At the height of the impeachment, only 33 percent of Americans polled say they think Clinton should resign, while in 2005, 50 percent of those polled say that Bush should be impeached if he lied about Iraq. In addition to questions about American democracy, Clinton's impeachment shines a spotlight on the secretive Richard Mellon Scaife and the anti-Clinton Arkansas Project.
- Candidate George W. Bush makes his rumored "king-making" speech before the Council of National Policy, fueling speculation that, if elected, he will appoint anti-abortion-rights judges to the Supreme Court and take measures against gays and lesbians. Bush also meets with the Committee to Restore American Values, chaired by Left Behind co-author Timothy LaHaye -- foretelling a time when high-ranking government officials will consult Christian fundamentalists before setting policy and selecting Supreme Court nominees. "Whatever else it achieves, the presidential campaign of 2000 will be remembered as the time in American politics when the wall separating church and state began to collapse," the New York Times Magazine later asserts.
- The Library of Congress publishes a report saying that Al Qaeda "could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives. . . into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, or the White House."
- NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) begins running drills, simulating hijacked airliners crashing into buildings.
- Gary Hart and Warren Rudman, co chairs of the United States Commission on National Security, report that "Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers" as the result of a terrorist attack.
- British intelligence warns U.S. intelligence agencies of a plot to hijack airplanes and crash them into buildings.
- The 2000 GOP platform calls for "the removal of Saddam Hussein" as a way to promote "peace and stability in the Persian Gulf," and wags a finger at the
Clintonadministration for failing to coddle Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. In time, Chalabi's disinformation worms its way into the New York Times and into the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans. Though Chalabi supplies false intelligence to the U.S. and is later accused of passing off top secret information to Iran, he is welcomed with open arms by Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and other Bush administration officials in 2005.
- Candidate George W. Bush makes a speech at Bob Jones University -- raising questions concerning just how "compassionate" he truly is; Questions regarding George W. Bush's National Guard's service arise and persist.
- During the 2000 presidential campaign, Cheney admits that though Halliburton conducted business with Iran and Libya, he held a "firm policy" against dealing with Iraq. In June, 2001, however, the Washington Post reports that "Halliburton held stakes in two firms that signed contracts to sell more than $73 million in oil production equipment and spare parts to Iraq while Cheney was chairman and chief executive officer of the Dallas-based company."
- PNAC publishes "Rebuilding America's Defenses," outlining several "core missions" for the U.S. military, including to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars." This aggressive foreign policy will take years to come to fruition, unless, as the reports states, there is "some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor." Thomas Freeman later explores how the neconservatives used 9/11 to advance their agenda. "Those people had an idea to sell when September 11 came, and they sold it. Oh boy, did they sell it. . .I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened," he says. Former Middle East envoy General Anthony Zinni tells 60 Minutes that "everybody I talk to in
Washingtonhas known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do."
- The USS Cole is bombed in Yemen, in an attack masterminded by Osama bin Laden. Seventeen sailors are killed.
- After George W. Bush's brother assures him he's won Florida and his cousin declares him the winner on national TV, the 2000 presidential election raises serious questions about the health of our republic. The election is marked by scrubbed voter rolls, millions of lost votes and out-and-out thuggery.
- The Washington Post reports that "Something very strange happened on election night" in Volusia County, FL. Al Gore, it seems, was leading George W. Bush 83,000 votes to 62,000 at one point, but a half hour later, "Gore's count had dropped by 16,000 votes, while an obscure Socialist candidate had picked up 10,000--all because of a single precinct with only 600 voters." America gets its first whiff of e-voting election fraud.
- Journalist Greg Palast uncovers the shameful Database Technologies voter roll purge in Florida, but the New York Times refuses to carry the story. A little more than three years later, when it's too late to do anything about it, the paper admits that something's rotten in the state of Florida. "In 2000, the American public saw in Katherine Harris's massive purge eligible voters in Florida, how easy it is for registered voters to lose their rights by bureaucratic fiat," the Times reports.
- The U.S. government publishes a 90 page study regarding Gulf War veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness and "concludes that stress is likely a primary cause of illness in at least some Gulf War veterans." Veteran groups suspect a cover-up, with many experts believing that depleted uranium, which is used in US munitions, is the culprit. Dr. Doug Rokke, who headed the DU clean-up program for the U.S. Army in Iraq, speaks out against its use, despite repeated warnings by US military officials and subsequent threats and harassment.
- Al Gore concedes the presidential election after the Supreme Court installs George W. Bush President of the United States. Unsettling questions regarding the future of American democracy arise. "The people have not been heard. They will not be heard. And each of those uncounted ballots is a cry of reproach against the act of judicial arrogance that has now forever silenced them," Salon.com laments.
Part III: 2001- 2005
by Maureen Farrell
"All men having power ought to be mistrusted." ~James Madison
January: Gary Hart and Warren Rudman, co-chairs of the U.S. Commission on National Security, brief Bush administration officials on the looming terror threat. On Sept. 12, 2001, Hart tells Salon that Congress appeared to be ready to act on the commission's recommendations, but Bush said, "'Please wait, we're going to turn this over to the vice president. We believe FEMA is competent to coordinate this effort." The Sept. 11 Commission's recommendations are similarly ignored. "God help us if we have another attack," chairman Thomas Kean says more than four years later, after the government fails to implement many of the recommendations made in July, 2004.
February: During a visit to Cairo, Colin Powell admits that Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction" and is "unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."
- A report entitled, "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century," commissioned by former Secretary of State James Baker, is presented to Vice President Dick Cheney. The study examines America's looming energy crisis and suggests 'military intervention' as a potential remedy.
- In April and May, intelligence reports bearing the headlines, "Bin Laden planning multiple operations," "Bin Laden network's plans advancing" and "Bin Laden threats are real" are presented to President Bush.
- John O'Neill, the FBI's foremost bin Laden expert, meets with former French intelligence analysts in Paris, reportedly telling them, over the course of two visits, that "the main obstacles to investigating Islamic terrorism [are] U.S. oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia." Two months later, O'Neill makes headlines and on Sept. 11, is among the 3000 killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Journalist Greg Palast later reports that the FBI was told to "back off" investigations into the Saudis.
- German intelligence tells the CIA that Middle Eastern terrorists are training for hijackings and plan on attacking American interests.
- White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke gathers top officials from a dozen federal agencies and tells them that "Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon."
- A CIA intelligence report for President Bush reads, "The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning."
- An FBI agent in Phoenix, Arizona warns that suspected Islamic terrorists are attending U.S. flight schools. "Federal authorities have been aware for years that suspected terrorists with ties to Osama bin Laden were receiving flight training at schools in the United States," the Washington Post later reports.
- George Bush attends the G-8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, following reports that Osama bin Laden might try to assassinate him -- possibly by flying a plane filled with explosives into a building.
- CBS News reports that Attorney General John Ashcroft has stopped flying on commercial airlines due to security concerns.
- Condoleezza Rice tells Larry King that the U.S. is able to "keep arms from [Saddam Hussein]" and that Saddam's "military forces have not been rebuilt."
- On August 6, President Bush receives a President's Daily Brief headlined "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US." By this time, he, Dick Cheney, and other top officials have already seen several such warnings.
- In late summer 2001, Jordan intelligence intercepts a message stating that a major attack (code-named Big Wedding) is being planned inside the US and that aircraft will be used. The message is forwarded to U.S. authorities.
- Suspected "20th hijacker" Zacharias Moussaoui is arrested. An FBI agent later testifies that weeks before Sept. 11, he warned the Secret Service that terrorists might hijack a plane and "hit the nation's capital."
- "Hart predicts terrorist attacks on America," Montreal newspapers declare, referring to Sen. Gary Hart's repeated warnings that "the terrorists are coming." On Sept. 6, Hart meets with Condoleezza Rice, reportedly telling her, "Get going on homeland security, you don't have all the time in the world." In 2005, Sept. 11 commissioners adopt Hart's former role. "We believe that another attack will occur. It's not a question of if. We are not as well-prepared as we should be," vice chairman Lee Hamilton says.
- The National Security Agency intercepts two messages on Sept. 10. "Tomorrow is zero hour," reads one. "The match begins tomorrow," says the other. NSA does not translate the messages until Sept. 12.
- Pentagon officials cancel travel plans for Sept. 11. As Newsweek reports, "On Sept. 10, Newsweek has learned, a group of top Pentagon officials suddenly canceled travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of security concerns." That same day,
Californiamayor Willie Brown receives a similar warning.
- The CIA runs "a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building." ("I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile. . . ," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice later says, despite reams of evidence otherwise. FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds later tells Britain's Independent, "I saw papers that show [the] US knew al-Qaeda would attack cities with airplanes.'" )
- The Carlyle Group holds its annual investor conference in
Washington, DC.Former Secretary of State James Baker and Shafiq bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's brother, are in attendance. "The gathering was the perfect metaphor for Washington's strange affair with Saudi Arabia," author Robert Baer later writes. Further evidence of this "strange affair" surfaces following the 9/11 attacks. In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, when the nation's airspace is restricted, the White House allows airplanes to pick up Saudi VIPS, including members of the bin Laden family. And when victims' families file a $1 trillion law suit against the Saudi royal family, James Baker's law firm represents the Saudis.
- Donald Rumsfeld attends a meeting. "I had said at an breakfast that sometime in the next two, four, six, eight, 10, 12 months, there would be an event that would occur in the world that would be sufficiently shocking that it would remind people, again, how important it is to have a strong, healthy Defense Department," he later tells Larry King. "And someone walked in and handed a note that said that a plane had just hit the
World Trade Center." Rumsfeld later tells the 9/11 commission that it took more than two hours for him to "gain situational awareness."
- Four planes are hijacked, three hit their targets, 3000 are killed in the worst terror attacks on American soil. "I don't believe any longer that it's a matter of connecting the dots. I think they had a veritable blueprint, and we want to know why they didn't act on it," Sen. Arlen Specter later says of the government's failure to protect U.S. citizens.
- NPR's Congressional correspondent David Welna describes a conversation he had during the evacuation of the Capital building. "I spoke with Congressman Ike Skelton. . . who said that just recently the Director of the CIA warned that there could be an attack -- an imminent attack -- on the United States of this nature. So this is not entirely unexpected," he says. The BBC later states that "the threat of an attack from within America had been considered so small that the entire US mainland was being defended by only 14 planes," with "just four fighter pilots on alert covering the north eastern United States."
- Bush's reaction upon seeing the first plane is "That's some bad pilot. After the second plane hits, chief of staff Andrew Card tells Bush, "We are under attack." Bush continues reading My Pet Goat to elementary school students.
- Five hours after the attacks, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reportedly tells aides to look for a way to attack Saddam Hussein, even though intelligence points to Osama bin Laden.
- President Bush activates a shadow government in underground bunkers, without consulting Congress.
- The Project for a New American Century signs an open letter to George W. Bush, pushing him to attack Iraq and possibly Iran and Syria -- a country we're already "unofficially at war with" in 2005.
- Anthrax-laced letters are mailed to newsrooms and to two U. S. Senate offices. Five people are killed. After it is disclosed that White House staffers began taking the antibiotic Cipro on Sept. 11 (a week before the first anthrax attack), Judicial Watch chairman Larry Klayman wants to know why.
- The Associated Press reports that one of the terrorist's passports is miraculously found amongst the rubble at ground zero and recycles the story three years later. On the first anniversary of Sept. 11, an ATM card belonging to one of the passengers on American Airlines Flight 11 is found at ground zero and sent to his parents. "How could a plastic card survive the fire of the terrorist attack of the Black Tuesday on the USA?" they ask, thinking it a sign from heaven.
- Ten days after 9/11, during a highly classified briefing, President Bush is told that there is no credible evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the terror attacks. The State Department later pinpoints countries where al-Qaeda is known to operate. Iraq is not listed among them.
- Two weeks after Sept. 11, a secret memo written by Justice Department John Yoo concludes that there are "no limits" to the president's war-making authority and that Bush can "preemptively" attack terrorist groups or countries supporting such groups, even if they have no ties to the 9/11 attacks. "I was dumbfounded by the way the Bush Administration pushed aside the Constitution to launch their war on terrorism," Sam Dash later tells John Dean.
- Three weeks after Sept. 11, the Pentagon sets up the top secret Office of Strategic Influence -- an operation designed to plant disinformation in the media. Though the program is later scrapped, reports that the U.S. military is "covertly" paying the Iraqi press to run "news" stories favorable to the US mission in Iraq surface in 2005. "Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we're breaking all the first principles of democracy when we're doing it," a Pentagon says regarding the planting of propaganda.
- The War on Terror begins on Oct. 7, 2001, with the first strikes in Afghanistan. Though President Bush vows to capture Osama bin Laden "dead or alive," bin Laden's significance is downplayed after he reportedly escapes through the mountains at Tora Bora in late November.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad, the head of Pakistan's intelligence service (ISI), has been fired after being connected to a $100,000 payment wired to Mohamed Atta -- reportedly to help fund the Sept. 11 terror attacks. WSJ's Bernard-Henri Levy later speculates that reporter Daniel Pearl was murdered by the ISI after getting too close to the truth about its ties to al-Qaeda and investigative journalist Gerald Posner addresses possible links between Osama bin Laden, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia -- with many believing that the 28 pages censored from Washington's official report on 9/11 refer, as Newsweek later explains, to "connections between high-level Saudi princes and associates of the hijackers."
- Copper Green, the codename for a program which allegedly involves sexual humiliation and extreme interrogation of detainees, is initiated in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Journalist Seymour Hersh later reports that the directive was approved by Donald Rumsfeld, while Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, says that Dick Cheney was also involved. "The secretary of defense under cover of the vice president's office. . . began to authorize procedures within the armed forces that led to what we've seen," Wilkerson tells NPR, referring to subsequent abuse scandals.
- The Patriot Act is railroaded through Congress and the Senate, without the benefit of committee hearings or extended debate, shortly after Democratic legislators are targeted in yet-to-be solved anthrax attacks. Four years later, early concerns about abuses are realized, with the FBI once again spying on ordinary Americans. Though the Act contains a "sunset clause," in July, 2005, Congress votes to renew the provisions set to expire.
- The Bush administration issues executive orders allowing for the use of special military courts and empowering the attorney general to detain non-citizens indefinitely.
- President Bush blocks access to presidential records. Thomas Blanton, the Executive Director of the National Security Archive, later tells Bill Moyers that this is "the first time that vice presidents have ever been given their own executive privilege, separate from the president." The first vice president who gets to take advantage of this privilege is George H. W. Bush.
- After the Kabul offices of al-Jazeera are bombed, the Guardian asks, "Did the US mean to hit the Kabul offices of Al-Jazeera TV?" Less than two years later, similar questions are raised as the war in Iraq approaches. Before bombing even begins, BBC reporter Kate Adie tells an Irish radio station that the Pentagon is threatening to shoot down independent journalists' satellite uplinks, while author Phillip Knightley says the Pentagon is warning that it "may find it necessary to bomb areas in which war correspondents are attempting to report from the Iraqi side."
Reminiscent of President Bill Clinton's bombing of a Serbian TV station during the war in Kosovo, al-Jazeera's Baghdad offices are bombed in 2003 and a hotel in Basra being used as a base by al-Jazeera's team of correspondents also receives direct hits. After Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, which houses foreign journalists, is also targeted, the Committee to Protect Journalists demands an investigation -- as does Amnesty International, which says that the Palestine Hotel is protected under international humanitarian law. When details of an April, 2004 dialogue between Bush and Tony Blair are later leaked to the press (in which Bush reportedly "made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere"), the White House calls the accusation "outlandish" and Britain's attorney general imposes a gag order on the British press.
- The Boston Herald reports on those most likely to profit from the War on Terror, pointing to George H. W. Bush and his connection with the Carlyle Group. Former GOP strategist Kevin Phillips later traces how four generations of the Bush family "embroiled the United States in the Middle East through CIA connections, arms shipments, rogue banks, inherited war policies and personal financial links."
- Speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says concerns about Constitutional protections "aid terrorists" and "scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty"; Lynn Cheney's American Council of Trustees issues a list of 117 anti-American statements, including Rev. Jesse Jackson's observation that the U.S. "build bridges and relationships, not simply bombs and walls."
- The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MEHPA), which was introduced to governors of all 50 states in October, is revised, using language that sounds less authoritarian. The plan calls for forced vaccinations and confiscation of citizen's real estate, food and other assets without adequate compensation.
- Ahmed Chalabi introduces an Iraqi exile named Curveball to the Defense Intelligence Agency. "Keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say and that the Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curve Ball knows what he's talking about," a CIA official later writes, in an e-mail published in Newsweek. In Nov., 2005, the Los Angeles Times says that the U.S. fell under Curveball's "spell," quoting German intelligence officials who say that the Bush administration "repeatedly exaggerated [Curveball's] claims during the run-up to the war in Iraq."
"Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac." ~George Orwell
- White House counsel Alberto Gonzales writes a memo to President Bush, advising him to declare Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters exempt from Geneva Convention safeguards. Citing the War Crimes Act of 1996, which prohibits Americans from committing "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions, Gonzales warns that even top U.S. officials could be susceptible to charges of war crimes without this exemption.
- President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney personally ask Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit the congressional investigation into Sept. 11. Eighteen months later, Sept. 11 family members claim that the White House continues to thwart every effort to get to the bottom of the 9/11 terror attacks.
- Former FEMA deputy director John Brinkerhoff writes a paper for the Anser Institute for Homeland Security defending the Pentagon's desire to deploy troops on American streets.
- The Counterintelligence Field Activity Agency (CIFA) is created by the Pentagon. In 2005, the White House pushes for broader powers for CIFA -- including authorizing it to engage in domestic surveillance. "We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says.
May: Veteran FBI agent Colleen Rowley sends a 13 page "whistle blower" letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller describing how FBI officials thwarted an investigation into Zacarias Moussaoui. FBI officials who undermined investigations into Zacarias Moussaoui's computer are later promoted and rewarded.
- Peter Kirsanow, a Bush appointee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, warns that should America be attacked again, the public will clamor for Arab-Americans to be placed in internment camps.
- British national security aide Matthew Rycroft meets with Tony Blair and several advisers, writing what will later be referred to as the Downing Street Memo. "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," the memo reads.
- The Bush administration begins to ardently push for war with Iraq, with Bush's Chief of Staff Andrew Card explaining why they waited until September. "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August," he says
- The Office of Special Plans -- created in the days following Sept. 11 attacks and later compared to a "shadow government" -- begins to rival the C.I.A. and the D.I.A. as the President's main source of intelligence on Iraq. Former Pentagon employee Karen Kwiatkowski later chronicles the rise of the OSP -- speaking out against what she refers to as the "neoconservative coup, a hijacking of the Pentagon." Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a former Bush administration insider, confirms that a secretive "cabal" led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "hijacked foreign policy" and partook in "decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a democracy."
- President Bush asserts that Iraq is 'six months away' from building a nuclear weapon" ("I don't know what more evidence we need," he says); One month later, he makes a list of false claims, including the assertion that "Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases." Declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document later prove that the Bush administration knew this information was less than credible.
- A story by Judith Miller indicating that Saddam Hussein is seeking high strength aluminum tubes to develop a nuclear bomb runs on the front page of the New York Times. This disinformation is cited by Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice on the Sept 8, 2002 Sunday morning talk shows, with Rice telling CNN, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Miller's ties to Bush administration neoconservatives and Iraqi National Congress head Ahmed Chalabi later raise eyebrows, with author James Bamford asserting that Miller "had been a trusted outlet for the INC's anti-Saddam propaganda for years." A memo from a former colleague describes Miller as "an advocate," whose work "is little more than dictation from government sources . . . filled with unproven assertions and factual inaccuracies."
- President Bush releases the "National Security Strategy of the United States," and officially unveils the doctrine of preemption, borrowing heavily from the Project for a New American Century's "Rebuilding America's Defenses" and by proxy, the Wolfowitz Doctrine.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution discloses America's hidden plan for Iraq, including plans for "permanent military bases." Though Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld denies such claims, reports later reveal that the U.S. is building "giant new bases in Iraq."
- The US military creates a Northern Command to assist in homeland defense. Gen. Ralph Eberhart, the NORAD commander in charge of air defense on Sept. 11, is later named by George W. Bush to serve at its head. "We should always be reviewing things like Posse Comitatus and other laws if we think it ties our hands in protecting the American people," Eberhart says.
- Former CIA counterintelligence chief Vincent Cannistraro tells the Guardian that "cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements" and that "CIA assessments are being put aside by the Defense department in favor of intelligence they are getting from various Iraqi exiles." Between Chalabi's faulty intelligence, Curveball's questionable influence, Dick Cheney's CIA "visits" and the batch of fibs being concocted at the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, it's difficult to believe that Mr. Cheney is truly outraged when he later describes accusations that the Bush administration misled the public as "dishonest," "reprehensible" and "not legitimate".
- Congress authorizes the use of force against Iraq. "I am very disturbed by President Bush's determination that the threat from Iraq is so severe and so immediate that we must rush to a military solution. I do not see it that way," Senator Jim Jeffords says. Jeffords is one of only 23 Senators voting against the Iraq resolution.
- Senator Paul Wellstone is killed in a plane crash. Though his amendment preventing companies using overseas tax shelters from getting homeland security contracts passes the Senate "seemingly unanimously on voice votes," the amendment is later gutted from the final homeland security legislation.
- During the run up to the November elections, Vietnam veteran and triple amputee Max Cleland is shamelessly depicted as "unpatriotic" for voicing concerns over homeland security legislation. Though polls show Cleland leading Republican candidate Saxby Chambliss," Chambliss defeats the Georgia senator in a surprising upset. A former worker in Diebold's Georgia warehouse later contends that the company installed "patches on its machines before the state's 2002 gubernatorial election that were never certified by independent testing authorities or cleared with Georgia election officials." During the 2002 midterm elections, e-voting continues to produce disturbing glitch-induced results; Exit polls are scrapped.
- After the 32 page Homeland Security Bill balloons to nearly 500 pages overnight, and is railroaded through the Senate and Congress, it is signed into law. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) says the bill "expands the federal police state," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) says it represents "the most severe weakening of the Freedom of Information Act" in 36 years.
- Following months of intensive lobbying by Sept 11 family members, an independent commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks is finally formed. Henry Kissinger is initially chosen to head the commission, but is later replaced by Gov. Thomas Kean. "This was not something that had to happen," Kean later says of the Sept. 11 attacks.
- In the wake of Jose Padilla's May arrest, the Washington Post warns that the Bush administration "is developing a parallel legal system" without the protections "guaranteed by the ordinary system." When Padilla is finally charged four years later (minus the chilling "dirty bomb' allegations made by Attorney General John Ashcroft on American TV), his attorneys vow to take the case to the Supreme Court. "Americans need to wake up," former Reagan official Paul Craig Roberts later writes. "The only danger to Americans in Iraq is the one Bush created by invading the country. The grave threat that Americans face is the Bush administration's police-state mentality."
- Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is fired after disagreeing with Bush's policies on tax cuts. He later says that unseating Saddam Hussein was Priority One just days after Bush's inauguration.
- The Washington Post reports on America's alleged use of torture to interrogate detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.
"America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War." ~ John LeCarre.
- The Economist reports that "American intelligence agents have been torturing terrorist suspects, or engaging in practices pretty close to torture." In Nov. 2005, the publication lambastes the Bush administration for its hypocrisy and deceit on the torture issue. "To add a note of farce to the tragedy, the administration has had to explain that the CIA is not torturing prisoners at its secret prisons in Asia and Eastern Europe -- though of course it cannot confirm that such prisons exist," the magazine says.
- Bush delivers his State of the Union with those infamous "16 words" claiming that Iraq is attempting to purchase uranium from Niger. Bush's claim about Saddam's "high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production" is also included, even though it too has already been debunked.
- Richard Clarke resigns and later vents his frustrations to Larry King. Citing President Bush's confession to Bob Woodward that he "didn't feel a sense of urgency" regarding terrorism, Clarke asks, "Well, how can you not feel a sense of urgency when George Tenet is telling you in daily briefings, day after day, that a major al Qaeda attack is coming?"
- Secretary of State Colin Powell goes to the United Nations to make the case for war. The American media largely buy into his claims, but some remain rightly skeptical.
- President Bush addresses the UN, saying that "We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons, the very weapons the dictator tells the world he does not have." In an ironic twist, the Pentagon later admits that US forces used white phosphorus during the 2004 assault on Fallujah. -- an act Guardian columnist George Monbiot deems "a war crime within a war crime within a war crime."
- Confidential draft legislation entitled "The Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003," is leaked to the Center for Public Integrity and Executive Director Chuck Lewis deems it "five to ten times" worse than the original PATRIOT Act.
- At least a 10 million people take to streets worldwide to protest against the impending war in Iraq. Hundreds of retired military officers, the Pope, the majority of Christian churches and an ex-president also warn against military action in Iraq. By late 2005, Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom says he believes the invasion of Iraq "will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history," while Martin van Creveld, one of the world's most influential military historians,
accuses Bush of "launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions into Germany and lost them."
- After a study commissioned by NBC says that television host Phil Donahue "seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives," Donahue is canceled, despite having MSNBC's highest ratings. Some say that the media purposely marginalizes anti-war voices while others blame a "climate of fear and self-censorship" for its shameful performance. CNN's Christiane Amanpour later admits that television reporters were "intimidated by the [Bush] administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News."
- The Army War College's strategic study on "Reconstructing Iraq" warns against unseating Saddam without a clear post-invasion plan. "Without an overwhelming effort to prepare for occupation, the US may find itself in a radically different world over the next few years, a world in which the threat of Saddam Hussein seems like a pale shadow of new problems of America's own making," the study says. In 2005, the Downing Street Memo confirms that there was "little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action," while Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, says that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and "certain people in the Defense Department" were responsible for the 'post invasion planning,' which, he says, "was as inept and incompetent as perhaps any planning anyone has ever done."
- Three weeks before the start of the war, Gen. Eric Shinseki testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying that the U.S. will need several hundred thousand troops to occupy post-invasion Iraq. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz calls this estimate "wildly off the mark" and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld deems it "far off the mark."
- Veteran State Department official John Brady Kiesling resigns. "Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson," he writes. "We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security."
- Josh Marshall discloses the "startling amount of deception" in the neoconservatives' plans for the Middle East -- with chaos being the desired goal. Paul Wolfowitz later admits that the WMD rationale was made for "bureaucratic reasons" and was "the one reason everyone could agree on."
- President Bush warns the Mexican government that there will be a "certain sense of discipline" if it doesn't support the U.S. position on Iraq and a leaked secret document shows that the U.S. plans to bug key UN security council member's phones and e-mails. Despite intensive "arm twisting," the UN refuses to legitimize Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- Dick Cheney appears on Meet the Press, making one last sales pitch for the approaching war in Iraq. "We believe [Saddam Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons," he says. The alternative media later exposes 10 "appalling lies" about the war in Iraq, while the foreign press comes up with 20.
- Rand Beers, the National Security Council's senior director for combating terrorism, resigns. "The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism," he later asserts. "They're making us less secure, not more secure."
- Operation Iraqi Freedom begins on March 20, 2003. "An illegitimate war, a country in defiance of the UN. That was supposed to be Iraq's role in this drama. Instead, it seems to be the U.S. part," asserts Canada's Globe and Mail. "With each passing day, the U.S.-led coalition of the willing. . . looks more like the coalition of the bribed and the kicking
and screaming." The coalition weakens in 2005, when Italy, Hungary, Norway, and other US allies begin pulling troops from Iraq.
- Paul Wolfowitz promises that Iraqi's oil revenues will pay for the country's post-war reconstruction. "There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money," he tells the House Appropriations Committee. "We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." In May, 2005, the Christian Science Monitor reports that the U.S. government is spending approximately $5 billion a month in Iraq.
- Eight days after the invasion, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace puts a crinkle in the "cakewalk" myth when he tells the Washington Post, that "The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against."
- Saddam's Hussein's statue is toppled in Baghdad on April 9 and photos later reveal that the event was not the mob scene depicted on American television. Private Jessica Lynch and sports icon Pat Tillman are also later used for U.S. propaganda.
- Army secretary Thomas White resigns, at Donald Rumsfeld's request. Rumsfeld is reportedly furious with White for agreeing with Gen. Shinseki regarding the number of troops needed to occupy post-invasion Iraq.
- The Los Angeles Times speaks out against U.S. detention policies, comparing Uncle Sam's network of secret prisons to a "gulag." Newsday, the Seattle Times and other media outlets also use the "g" word in subsequent op-eds. In 2005, Amnesty International's secretary general Irene Khan issues a press statement, announcing that the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo "has become the gulag of our times." This charge is accompanied by allegations of "ghost detentions," which Khan says do not merely evoke "images of" Stalin's camps, but actually "bring back" the "practice of 'disappearances' so popular with Latin American dictators in the past."
- George Bush lands on the USS Lincoln, with a "Mission Accomplished" banner in the background. Conservatives lambaste Democrats for making fools of themselves in their criticism of Mr. Bush in his flight suit -- with some braying about the "victorious" commander-in-chief's manly attributes.
- Responding to the insurgency in Iraq, President Bush says, "Bring 'em on." By late 2005, more than 2,100 soldiers are killed in the war in Iraq
- Ambassador Joseph Wilson's Op- ed, "What I didn't find in Africa," appears in the New York Times. When columnist Robert Novak "outs" CIA agent Valerie Plame eight days later, former Nixon counsel John Dean immediately weighs in. "If I thought I had seen dirty political tricks as nasty and vile as they could get at the Nixon White House, I was wrong. . .this is arguably worse," he writes. "Nixon never set up a hit on one of his enemies' wives."
- Select documents from Dick Cheney's secretive energy task force are released, proving that the Vice President was "examining Iraq's oil assets two years before the latest war began."
August: Iran-contra figure John Poindexter, chosen to head the Pentagon's controversial Total Information Awareness Program, resigns amidst controversy concerning plans to develop an online futures market for predicting terrorist attacks.
November: Gen. Tommy Franks warns that if terrorists unleash "a weapon of mass destruction. . . somewhere in the Western world" it may "begin to militarize our country" and "unravel the fabric of our Constitution."
"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. " ~ George Orwell
- The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace concludes that the Bush administration "systematically misrepresented" the threat from Iraq's weapons programs. Former senior US weapons inspector David Kay says major stockpiles of WMD probably didn't exist in Iraq.
- Military analyst David Segal says that the volunteer army is "stretched too thin" and "closer to being broken today than ever before in its 30-year history." One year later, the Project for a New American Century writes a letter to Congress, citing a statement by the chief of the Army Reserve, that "overuse" in Iraq and Afghanistan could be leading to a "broken force." PNAC says that we "are close to exhausting current U.S. ground forces" and that Congress needs to act. Many see this as a call for a return of the draft. By the close of 2005, however, Rep. John Murtha calls for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq --saying that the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth."
- A study from RABA Technologies finds that Diebold voting machines have security problems that could allow for the manipulation of elections.
February: On Feb. 26, Major General Antonio Taguba publishes his internal Army report regarding charges of abuse by U.S. military personal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. These findings are later made public when photos depicting instances of abuse appear in the media. Additional Abu Ghraib photos reportedly show American soldiers raping a female prisoner, videotaping Iraqi guards raping young boys, and beating a prisoner almost to death. The military initially tries to pass the scandal off as the actions of a "few bad apples," but as Seymour Hersh later writes: "The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld."
- Mother Jones predicts that
Ohiowill be the #1 election day hotspot to watch. " Ohiocould become as decisive this year as Florida was four years ago," the magazine says.
- After the Federal Marriage Amendment banning gay marriage is defeated, House leaders cite an obscure provision of the U.S. Constitution (Article III, Section 2) and vote to pass the Marriage Protection Act, a bill which will prevent the Supreme Court from considering the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The New York Times calls its "a radical assault on the Constitution" and Atlanta Journal Constitution's Jay Bookman calls it "a power grab of breathtaking consequences."
April: During the 2004 election primaries, the Associated Press reports that e-voting failures have "shaken confidence in the technology installed at thousands of precincts" -- with as many as 20 states introducing legislation calling for paper receipts on voting machines.
- Nick Berg, an American who often worked on a tower near Iraq's infamous Abu Ghraib prison, is beheaded on tape. The video raises more questions than it answers.
- Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi's Baghdad compound is raided by Iraqi and American authorities. U.S. officials say they have "evidence Chalabi passed intelligence to Iran about U.S. operations in Iraq" -- information that, as one official puts it, "could get Americans killed." Though still under investigation by the FBI, Chalabi is greeted with open arms by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice in Nov. 2005, and speaks at the American Enterprise Institute, where Lynn Cheney serves as a board member. Photos of Chalabi arriving at the Pentagon and at the State Department are strictly forbidden.
A series of FOX e-mails are leaked to the press, revealing the network's less than fair and balanced underbelly. In Nov, 2005, FOX runs a scroll asking, "Why All The Fuss About Torturing People?"
The Sept. 11 Commission issues its report, and is criticized for downplaying the roles played by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and for omitting information regarding "Able Danger" -- a counterterrorism unit that existed from 1999 until it was "unceremoniously axed" in Feb. 2001. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer later says that "there was a significant amount of information that was totally deleted or not provided to the 9/11 commissioners" and shares the frustration he felt at not being able to share information with the FBI -- especially since he knew that four of the hijackers, including Mohammed Atta, were in America a year before the attacks. (It's still unclear, however, how, without this information, the FBI knew exactly which ATM machine in Portland Maine would reap a picture of Atta on 9/11.). Sept. 11 widow Kristen Breitweiser later calls the 9/11 report "utterly hollow" and James Ridgeway, author of The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11: What the 9/11 Commission Report Failed to Tell Us, compares Patrick Fitzgerald's Plamegate investigation to its 9/11 counterpart -- saying that while Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame have the satisfaction of seeing Scooter Libby "under indictment and out of a job " there "is no such whiff of justice" for the Sept. 11 victims and their families.
- Walden O'Dell, the chief executive of Diebold, promises that he's "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year"; a demonstration on e-vote insecurity teaches Howard Dean how easy it is to steal an election.
- The Washington Times reports that high ranking officials from the former Office of Special Plans are investigated by the FBI, "on suspicion that one of them passed highly classified U.S. military information to the government of Israel. . . "
- Just months after Nicholas Kristof writes back to back articles on the possibility of "an American Hiroshima," the International Atomic Energy Agency tells the UN that equipment which could be used to make a nuclear bomb has disappeared from Iraq. The equipment, which had been part of Saddam Hussein's nuclear bomb program before the first Gulf War (and had been under the IAEA's watch since 1991), is reportedly dismantled and carted away during Operation Iraqi Freedom. "It's equipment that is very specialized, very hard to come by, that's tightly controlled, so it could be very helpful for [those] seeking to build weapons," proliferation expert Jon Wolfsthal tells Christian Science Monitor. "It's very troubling that any of this stuff should be unprotected, let alone go missing," he says.
- In the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, Seymour Hersh reports that U.S. has been "disappearing" people since December, 2001 and in 2005, the Washington Post confirms that the CIA is using a Soviet-era compound to interrogate captives. "The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba" the Post reports.
- Greg Palast reports on the GOP's confidential "caging lists" -- "rosters of thousands of minority voters targeted to prevent them from voting on election day."
- Stanford computer specialist David Dill tells Newsweek that the risk of a stolen election is "extremely high."
- On election night, polls show John Kerry winning, and the following day, Ohio's results are called into question. The GOP proposes to do away with exit polls, for being "unreliable," but a University of Pennsylvania professor places odds that the exit polls were that wrong in that many states at 250 million to one. Pollster John Zogby later likens the 2004 presidential election to 1960's suspicious contest. "Something is definitely wrong," Zogby says, adding "we're talking about the Free World here."
- President Bush provides a tape of himself, sitting in the White House, commenting on his impending victory on election night - even though no sitting president has ever addressed the nation while polls were still open. The Bush family filmed a similar made-for-TV moment in 2000, when they promised that
Floridawould go to George W. Bush.
- Warren County, Ohio, locks down its administration building, blocking anyone from observing the vote count.
- The day after the election, the AP reports on "problems with electronic voting machines," with citizens complaining that though they intended to choose John Kerry, computers registered for President Bush instead. Researchers at the highly respected UC Berkeley say that electronic voting machines may have added between 130,000 to 260,000 (or more) votes to President Bush's tally in
Florida, whileresearchers at John Hopkins Universityhad previously reported that Diebold machines functioned "below even the most minimal security standards" and were "unsuitable for use in a general election."
- House Democrats ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate voting machine irregularities. The GAO issues its report in 2005, finding that concerns about electronic voting machines are valid -- with votes being lost and miscounted during recent elections. Rep. John Conyers also examines "What Went Wrong in Ohio."
- Columnist and frequent TV talk show guest Armstrong Williams is paid $241,000 by the Bush administration to promote its No Child Left Behind legislation. "This happens all the time," Armstrong tells the Nation's David Corn in Jan. 2005, adding that "there are others." The General Accounting Office later finds that the Bush administration violated the law by engaging in "covert propaganda" within the U.S.
- During a news conference, Jeff Gannon, of Talon News and GOPUSA, asks President Bush how he could deal with Senate Democrats "who seem to have divorced themselves from reality." Bloggers smell a rat. Within a month, the mainstream media also begin to question how Gannon, a gay escort, was given clearance to attend White House briefings -- even before he was a "reporter." CBS asks if there is a "Rove-Gannon connection."
February: An article by Deon Roberts bemoans the fact that expenditures for hurricane and flood protection projects in New Orleans have been reduced by 44.2 percent since 2001. When President Bush later says that "nobody could anticipate a breach of the levee," after Hurricane Katrina, the Baltimore Sun cites research studies and articles by the Scientific American, National Geographic and Louisiana journalists who have been "doing precisely that for decades," and says that Bush "should be laughed out of town as an impostor."
March: Lawmakers introduce the Constitutional Restoration Act of 2005 which states that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over "any matter" regarding public officials who acknowledge "God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government."
May: The Downing Street Memo is leaked to the Times of London. One month later, Congressional Democrats hold an informal hearing, trying to draw attention to accusations that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" during the lead up to the war in Iraq. Revisionists later cite Bill Clinton's Iraqi Liberation Act as proof that the "official policy" of the US was set in 1998, failing to mention that the goal, as Paul Wolfowitz testified, was to "help the Iraqi people liberate themselves." In marked contrast to mushroom cloud claims made before the Iraq invasion, Wolfowitz also tells Congress that "Saddam is in a position of great weakness."
July: Vice President Cheney visits key Republicans, lobbying them to reject John McCain's amendment preventing the cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
- President Bush bypasses the Senate and appoints John Bolton Ambassador to the UN, despite that fact that Bolton's appointment has been blocked for months by Senators demanding that the Bush administration release classified pertaining to Bolton's past, including, as the Guardian puts it, "claims that he tried to manipulate US intelligence to support his hawkish views."
- Four years after signing their first "friendship treaty" in more than half a century, Russia and China conduct their first joint military exercises. Two months later, a security bloc led by both countries calls for the U.S.to set a deadline for the withdrawal of its troops from Central Asia.
- Bunnatine Greenhouse, an Army Corps of Engineers officer who was openly critical of the Pentagon's decision to award Halliburton no-bid contracts is demoted.
- Hurricane Katrina is met with a disastrous response. Newsweek later explores the underlying dysfunction that plagues the Bush presidency, in an attempt to answer how "the president of the United States could have even less 'situational awareness' . . . than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century." Though pundits start blaming local and state authorities, FEMA reportedly turns away generators, trailer trucks of water and gallons of diesel fuel, while urging first responders not to respond.
- As government officials issue statements that do not jive with televised images coming out of New Orleans, journalists finally cut through the government-issued pabulum, presenting vivid and emotional depictions of the horror unfolding at the convention center and elsewhere.
- After admitting that he did not realize that thousands of people were stranded at the New Orleans convention center without food or water (though it had been reported on all US television stations), FEMA Director Michael Brown resigns -- while staying on the government's payroll. When Brown's e-mails are leaked to the press, the public gets a better understanding of the "fashion god" Bush applauded for doing a "heck of a job." 'Can I quit now?' Brown asks as Katrina batters New Orleans.
- The military conducts a highly classified "Granite Shadow demonstration" in Washington,
DC. --raising more red flag regarding the"military's extra-legal powers" and the end of Posse Comitatus.
- On Sept. 24, 2005, during a massive anti-war rally in Washington, DC, six biological-weapons sensors detect small amounts of deadly bacteria called Francisella tularensi, one of a half a dozen biological agents officials fear could be used against U.S. citizens. Some question if Uncle Sam isn't once again using U.S. citizens as guinea pigs, as was the case in the 1950s and 1960s.
- In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Pentagon develops plans to give the military a larger role in responding to "catastrophic" events within the U.S. -- even though such action is illegal under Posse Comitatus.
- The New York Times reports that more than 80 percent of FEMA's $1.5 billion in post-Katrina contracts have been "awarded without bidding or with limited competition" and criticizes these "Cronies at the Til" -- pointing to the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root in particular. Halliburton's stock value triples between the March 2003 start of the war in Iraq and Sept. 2005.
- Captain Ian Fishback, the decorated West Point graduate who testified to the inhumane treatment of detainees before and after Abu Ghraib, is sequestered and interrogated at Fort Bragg, along with fellow whistle-blowers. "If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession," Fishback writes to Sen. John McCain, adding, "I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is 'America.'"
- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is indicted on conspiracy charges. Before stepping down from his leadership role, DeLay frequently caters to the Religious Right -- calling for the rightful role of religion in public places, facilitating the flow of Christian Right legislation and personally addressing Christian Zionists. His ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former aide Michael Scanlon shed a spotlight on the Republican playbook, which, as Salon explains, involves a three-prong strategy: "target religious conservatives, distract everyone else, and then railroad through complex initiatives."
- President Bush announces that the U.S. military may be used to enforce quarantines if there is an outbreak of Bird Flu. Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate Dean of Columbia University's School of Public Health for Disaster Preparedness, calls Bush's plan an "extraordinarily draconian measure" and says "the translation of this is martial law in the United States."
- The U.S. Senate votes 90-9 to enact legislation preventing the "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of detainees, but the White House threatens to veto this legislation --- with Vice President Dick Cheney later once again lobbying lawmakers "for a CIA exemption" to McCain's amendment.
- The Financial Times reports that the Bush administration is considering sponsoring a military coup in Syria -- and is already debating who should replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
- Plamegate investigator Patrick Fitzgerald indicts Scooter Libby on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements. Two days later, the New York Times addresses the larger implications of the indictment, saying it " lifts a veil on how aggressively Mr. Cheney's office drove the rationale against Saddam Hussein and then fought to discredit the Iraq war's critics."
- A UN audit reports that the U.S. should repay up to $208 million to Iraq for contract work assigned to Kellogg, Brown and Root, recalling a similar controversy from 1967, when the General Accounting Office faulted "Vietnam Builders" Brown & Root for accounting lapses amid "allegations of overcharging, sweetheart contracts from the White House and war profiteering."
- Ohio's 2005 election raises eyebrows once again, as polls on certain referendums do not match the reality in the ballot box. Journalist Robert C. Koehler, one of the few high profile journalists to question the 2004 election, blasts the mainstream media for refusing to adequately address voting irregularities. "Hmm, we have widespread confusion in the voting process, a recent GAO report that cites many glaring insecurities in e-voting, and our own polls indicating big victories that turn into big defeats," he writes. "Could it be ...? Nah! What are we thinking? This is the world's greatest democracy. Relax."
- The US Senate votes 49 to 42 to overturn the US Supreme Court's 2004 ruling that allows prisoners held at Guantanamo to challenge their detentions. "U.S. Can Confine Citizens Without Charges, Court Rules," announces the Washington Post. "The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist," Winston Churchill said, more than a half a century ago -- describing practices currently supported by American lawmakers.
- "Reporters Without Borders" publishes its annual worldwide press freedom index, showing that the U.S. ranks 44th in freedom of the press -- down from 22nd place the previous year and 17th place in 2002.
- Admiral Stansfield Turner, a former CIA director, blasts the Bush administration's policies. "I am embarrassed that the USA has a vice president for torture," he says. "I think it is just reprehensible." Stansfield apparently missed the chapter in CIA history where the agency imported extreme interrogation methods from the Nazis - a secret Dick Cheney once reportedly tried to cover up.
- US hawks continue to speak out against the war -- with Rep. John Murtha comparing our current situation in Iraq to the one America faced in Vietnam in 1963.
- One week after news of Diebold's possible comeback in California, reports surface regarding threats to election transparency in North Carolina.
- After it's discovered that the U.S. is paying Iraqi papers to publish pro-American propaganda, concerns about the use of propaganda and its effect on policy and domestic opinion are addressed by author James Bamford on the Dec. 1, 2005 edition of Hardball:
JIM BAMFORD:. . . The entire lead-up to the Iraq war was created by a propaganda company, by a public relations company, the Rendon Group. It was the Rendon Group, a private public relations company in the U.S. that created the INC, the Iraqi National Congress, that helped put Chalabi in there, that funneled CIA money into the INC.
MATTHEWS: Was the Rendon -- I know Rendon from campaigns past, but he worked with Carter and all. But let me ask you this. Is Rendon involved in influencing American media opinion, or is it always domestic -- over there, I mean, Iraqi opinion?
BAMFORD: Well, it's international opinion, but the thing is there's no firewall between international communications and U.S. that connect Europe to the United States or up there in the Internet.
Bamford later puts this in an historical context...
MATTHEWS: So what did the Rendon Group and the INC people do?
BAMFORD: Well, they were the ones who created this opposition for us, for the opposite, Saddam Hussein. It's sort of like if the Kennedy administration during Bay of Pigs, outsourced the invasion to J. Walter Thompson's public relations company.
- The Sept. 11 Commission issues a report card, grading the federal government's performance on measures to make America safer. Uncle Sam receives more Ds and Fs than As and Bs. "While the terrorists are learning and adapting, our government is still moving at a crawl," says former Governor Tom Kean. "Four years after 9/11, we are not as safe as we could be, and that's simply not acceptable." Former commissioner Jamie Gorlick also weighs in. "You remember the sense of urgency that we all felt in the summer of 2004. The interest has faded," she says. "You could see that in the aftermath of Katrina. We assumed that our government would be able to do what it needed to do and it didn't do it."
So, there you have it. The good news, however, is that despite government distortions and PR campaigns, polls show that the majority of Americans are finally waking up to some uncomfortable truths about the war in Iraq and the people who misled us into it. And as America's founders so rightly understood, the country's citizens, armed with the truth, are the best defense against a government run amok. "The U.S. still has a strong civil society that could, at least in theory, overcome the entrenched interests of the armed forces and the military-industrial complex," historian Chalmers Johnson wrote. "I fear, however, that the U.S. has indeed crossed the Rubicon and that there is no way to restore Constitutional government short of a revolutionary rehabilitation of American democracy. Without root and branch reform, Nemesis awaits. She is the goddess of revenge, the punisher of pride and arrogance, and the United States is on course for a rendezvous with her."
What will it take for us to again equate Truth and Justice with the American Way? And worse yet, what will happen if we don't start demanding more accountability and transparency from our leaders? "When people think of fascism, they imagine rows of goose-stepping storm troopers and puffy-chested dictators. What they don't see is the economic and political process that leads to the nightmare," Paul Bigioni recently wrote.