Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rumsfeld to Bush: “The Lord Your God Will Be With You Wherever You Go"

Confirming what I said in a previous post about George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s common vulnerability to intimidation by their advisors, Frank Rich in today’s NY Times cites how Donald Rumsfeld bullied Bush, noted for his ostentatious piety, with this notation attached to the Worldwide Intelligence Briefing for April 3, 2003:

Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Concerned about Obama’s inability to turn the page on the Bush Administration, Rich writes:

TO paraphrase Al Pacino in “Godfather III,” just when we thought we were out, the Bush mob keeps pulling us back in. And will keep doing so. No matter how hard President Obama tries to turn the page on the previous administration, he can’t. Until there is true transparency and true accountability, revelations of that unresolved eight-year nightmare will keep raining down drip by drip, disrupting the new administration’s high ambitions.

That’s why the president’s flip-flop on the release of detainee abuse photos — whatever his motivation — is a fool’s errand. The pictures will eventually emerge anyway, either because of leaks (if they haven’t started already) or because the federal appeals court decision upholding their release remains in force. And here’s a bet: These images will not prove the most shocking evidence of Bush administration sins still to come.

In addition to highlighting Robert Draper’s exposure of Rumsfeld’s use of scripture to manipulate President Bush, messages which if they had been leaked “would have reinforced the Muslim world’s apocalyptic fear that America was waging a religious war,” Rich cites other examples of malfeasance at the Pentagon that have been covered up or ignored even when reported by the media.

But Rich, the NY Times columnist who trashed Hillary Clinton during the primary and aided and abetted the DNC in handing the nomination to Obama, has some whining to do about the new administration in today’s column:

But the new administration doesn’t want to revisit this history any more than it wants to dwell on torture. Once the inspector general’s report on the military analysts was rescinded, the Obama Pentagon declared the matter closed. The White House seems to be taking its cues from the Reagan-Bush 41 speechwriter Peggy Noonan. “Sometimes I think just keep walking,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” as the torture memos surfaced. “Some of life has to be mysterious.” Imagine if she’d been at Nuremberg!

The administration can’t “just keep walking” because it is losing control of the story. The Beltway punditocracy keeps repeating the cliché that only the A.C.L.U. and the president’s “left-wing base” want accountability, but that’s not the case. Americans know that the Iraq war is not over. A key revelation in last month’s Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainees — that torture was used to try to coerce prisoners into “confirming” a bogus Al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein link to sell that war — is finally attracting attention. The more we learn piecemeal of this history, the more bipartisan and voluble the call for full transparency has become.

Rich opened this latest column with a plea for – no kidding – transparency and accountability in the Obama Administration in dealing with the crimes of his predecessors, and he concludes by asking for a new commission:

I’m not a fan of Washington’s blue-ribbon commissions, where political compromises can trump the truth. But the 9/11 investigation did illuminate how, a month after Bush received an intelligence brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” 3,000 Americans were slaughtered on his and Cheney’s watch. If the Obama administration really wants to move on from the dark Bush era, it will need a new commission, backed up by serious law enforcement, to shed light on where every body is buried.

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