Al Gore Links Abu Ghraib Prison Abuses to Deep Flaws in Bush Policy Calls for Resignations of Bush Team Members Responsible for

Iraq Fiasco: Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet,

Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas J. Feith, Stephen A. Cambone



Speech Available on MoveOnPAC.org Web Site



    NEW YORK CITY, May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Former Vice President Al Gore
 delivered a major foreign policy address in New York City today, sponsored by
 MoveOn PAC, linking the Abu Ghraib prison abuses to deep flaws in President
 Bush's Iraq policy and calling for the resignation of 6 members of the Bush
 Administration team responsible for the failed policy and abuse of prisoners
 in Iraq.  The members include Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Dr.
 Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor, George Tenet, Director of Central
 Intelligence Agency, Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Douglas J.
 Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Stephen A. Cambone, Under
 Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.
     Gore identified the various ways in which all Americans -- soldiers in
 Iraq, residents and travelers abroad, and citizens at home -- are endangered
 by the bitterness created throughout the Islamic world -- and beyond -- by
 U.S. policy.
 
     The text of his speech follows:
 
     Remarks by Al Gore
 
     May 26, 2004
 
     As Prepared
 
     George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility.  Instead, he
 has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.
     He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House."  Instead,
 he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as
 the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.
     Honor?  He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention.  Just as he would
 not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our
 allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a
 decent respect for the opinion of mankind."  He did not honor the advice,
 experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of
 Iraq.  And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or
 even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins.
     How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper
 ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had
 the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt
 in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib.
     To begin with, from its earliest days in power, this administration sought
 to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America
 since the end of World War II.  The long successful strategy of containment
 was abandoned in favor of the new strategy of "preemption."  And what they
 meant by preemption was not the inherent right of any nation to act
 preemptively against an imminent threat to its national security, but rather
 an exotic new approach that asserted a unique and unilateral U.S. right to
 ignore international law wherever it wished to do so and take military action
 against any nation, even in circumstances where there was no imminent threat.
 All that is required, in the view of Bush's team is the mere assertion of a
 possible, future threat -- and the assertion need be made by only one person,
 the President.
     More disturbing still was their frequent use of the word "dominance" to
 describe their strategic goal, because an American policy of dominance is as
 repugnant to the rest of the world as the ugly dominance of the helpless,
 naked Iraqi prisoners has been to the American people.  Dominance is as
 dominance does.
     Dominance is not really a strategic policy or political philosophy at all.
 It is a seductive illusion that tempts the powerful to satiate their hunger
 for more power still by striking a Faustian bargain.  And as always happens --
 sooner or later -- to those who shake hands with the devil, they find out too
 late that what they have given up in the bargain is their soul.
     One of the clearest indications of the impending loss of intimacy with
 one's soul is the failure to recognize the existence of a soul in those over
 whom power is exercised, especially if the helpless come to be treated as
 animals, and degraded.  We also know -- and not just from De Sade and Freud --
 the psychological proximity between sexual depravity and other people's pain.
 It has been especially shocking and awful to see these paired evils
 perpetrated so crudely and cruelly in the name of America.
     Those pictures of torture and sexual abuse came to us embedded in a wave
 of news about escalating casualties and growing chaos enveloping our entire
 policy in Iraq.  But in order understand the failure of our overall policy, it
 is important to focus specifically on what happened in the Abu Ghraib prison,
 and ask whether or not those actions were representative of who we are as
 Americans?  Obviously the quick answer is no, but unfortunately it's more
 complicated than that.
     There is good and evil in every person.  And what makes the United States
 special in the history of nations is our commitment to the rule of law and our
 carefully constructed system of checks and balances.  Our natural distrust of
 concentrated power and our devotion to openness and democracy are what have
 led us as a people to consistently choose good over evil in our collective
 aspirations more than the people any other nation.
     Our founders were insightful students of human nature.  They feared the
 abuse of power because they understood that every human being has not only
 "better angels" in his nature, but also an innate vulnerability to temptation
 -- especially the temptation to abuse power over others.
     Our founders understood full well that a system of checks and balances is
 needed in our constitution because every human being lives with an internal
 system of checks and balances that cannot be relied upon to produce virtue if
 they are allowed to attain an unhealthy degree of power over their fellow
 citizens.
     Listen then to the balance of internal impulses described by specialist
 Charles Graner when confronted by one of his colleagues, Specialist Joseph M.
 Darby, who later became a courageous whistleblower.  When Darby asked him to
 explain his actions documented in the photos, Graner replied: "The Christian
 in me says it's wrong, but the Corrections Officer says, 'I love to make a
 groan man piss on himself.'"
     What happened at the prison, it is now clear, was not the result of random
 acts by "a few bad apples," it was the natural consequence of the Bush
 Administration policy that has dismantled those wise constraints and has made
 war on America's checks and balances.
     The abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from the abuse of
 the truth that characterized the Administration's march to war and the abuse
 of the trust that had been placed in President Bush by the American people in
 the aftermath of September 11th.
     There was then, there is now and there would have been regardless of what
 Bush did, a threat of terrorism that we would have to deal with.  But instead
 of making it better, he has made it infinitely worse.  We are less safe
 because of his policies.  He has created more anger and righteous indignation
 against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our
 existence as a nation -- because of his attitude of contempt for any person,
 institution or nation who disagrees with him.
     He has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city
 to a greater danger of attack by terrorists because of his arrogance,
 willfulness, and bungling at stirring up hornet's nests that pose no threat
 whatsoever to us.  And by then insulting the religion and culture and
 tradition of people in other countries.  And by pursuing policies that have
 resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children, all
 of it done in our name.
     President Bush said in his speech Monday night that the war in Iraq is
 "the central front in the war on terror."  It's not the central front in the
 war on terror, but it has unfortunately become the central recruiting office
 for terrorists.  [Dick Cheney said, "This war may last the rest of our
 lives."]  The unpleasant truth is that President Bush's utter incompetence has
 made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the
 threat of terrorism against the United States.  Just yesterday, the
 International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that the Iraq conflict
 "has arguably focused the energies and resources of Al Qaeda and its followers
 while diluting those of the global counterterrorism coalition."  The ISS said
 that in the wake of the war in Iraq Al Qaeda now has more than 18,000
 potential terrorists scattered around the world and the war in Iraq is
 swelling its ranks.
     The war plan was incompetent in its rejection of the advice from military
 professionals and the analysis of the intelligence was incompetent in its
 conclusion that our soldiers would be welcomed with garlands of flowers and
 cheering crowds.  Thus we would not need to respect the so-called Powell
 doctrine of overwhelming force.
     There was also in Rumsfeld's planning a failure to provide security for
 nuclear materials, and to prevent widespread lawlessness and looting.
     Luckily, there was a high level of competence on the part of our soldiers
 even though they were denied the tools and the numbers they needed for their
 mission.  What a disgrace that their families have to hold bake sales to buy
 discarded Kevlar vests to stuff into the floorboards of the Humvees!  Bake
 sales for body armor.
     And the worst still lies ahead.  General Joseph Hoar, the former head of
 the Marine Corps, said "I believe we are absolutely on the brink of failure.
 We are looking into the abyss."
     When a senior, respected military leader like Joe Hoar uses the word
 "abyss," then the rest of us damn well better listen.  Here is what he means:
 more American soldiers dying, Iraq slipping into worse chaos and violence, no
 end in sight, with our influence and moral authority seriously damaged.
     Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, who headed Central Command
 before becoming President Bush's personal emissary to the Middle East, said
 recently that our nation's current course is "headed over Niagara Falls."
     The Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, Army Major General Charles H.
 Swannack, Jr., asked by the Washington Post whether he believes the United
 States is losing the war in Iraq, replied, "I think strategically, we are."
 Army Colonel Paul Hughes, who directed strategic planning for the U.S.
 occupation authority in Baghdad, compared what he sees in Iraq to the Vietnam
 War, in which he lost his brother: "I promised myself when I came on active
 duty that I would do everything in my power to prevent that ... from happening
 again."  Noting that Vietnam featured a pattern of winning battles while
 losing the war, Hughes added "unless we ensure that we have coherence in our
 policy, we will lose strategically."
     The White House spokesman, Dan Bartlett was asked on live television about
 these scathing condemnations by Generals involved in the highest levels of
 Pentagon planning and he replied, "Well they're retired, and we take our
 advice from active duty officers."
     But amazingly, even active duty military officers are speaking out against
 President Bush.  For example, the Washington Post quoted an unnamed senior
 General at the Pentagon as saying, "the current OSD (Office of the Secretary
 of Defense) refused to listen or adhere to military advice."  Rarely if ever
 in American history have uniformed commanders felt compelled to challenge
 their commander in chief in public.
     The Post also quoted an unnamed general as saying, "Like a lot of senior
 Army guys I'm quite angry" with Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush
 Administration.  He listed two reasons.  "I think they are going to break the
 Army," he said, adding that what really incites him is "I don't think they
 care."
     In his upcoming book, Zinni blames the current catastrophe on the Bush
 team's incompetence early on.  "In the lead-up to the Iraq war, and its later
 conduct," he writes,  "I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and
 irresponsibility, at worst, lying, incompetence and corruption."
     Zinni's book will join a growing library of volumes by former advisors to
 Bush -- including his principal advisor on terrorism, Richard Clarke; his
 principal economic policy advisor, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill,
 former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who was honored by Bush's father for his service
 in Iraq, and his former Domestic Adviser on faith-based organizations, John
 Dilulio, who said, "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what
 is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus.  What you've
 got is everything, and I mean everything, run by the political arm.  It's the
 reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
     Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki told Congress in February that
 the occupation could require "several hundred thousand troops."  But because
 Rumsfeld and Bush did not want to hear disagreement with their view that Iraq
 could be invaded at a much lower cost, Shinseki was hushed and then forced
 out.
     And as a direct result of this incompetent plan and inadequate troop
 strength, young soldiers were put in an untenable position.  For example,
 young reservists assigned to the Iraqi prisons were called up without training
 or adequate supervision, and were instructed by their superiors to "break
 down" prisoners in order to prepare them for interrogation.
     To make matters worse, they were placed in a confusing situation where the
 chain of command was criss-crossed between intelligence gathering and prison
 administration, and further confused by an unprecedented mixing of military
 and civilian contractor authority.
     The soldiers who are accused of committing these atrocities are, of
 course, responsible for their own actions and if found guilty, must be
 severely and appropriately punished.  But they are not the ones primarily
 responsible for the disgrace that has been brought upon the United States of
 America.
     Private Lynndie England did not make the decision that the United States
 would not observe the Geneva Convention.  Specialist Charles Graner was not
 the one who approved a policy of establishing an American Gulag of dark rooms
 with naked prisoners to be "stressed" and even -- we must use the word --
 tortured -- to force them to say things that legal procedures might not induce
 them to say.
     These policies were designed and insisted upon by the Bush White House.
 Indeed, the President's own legal counsel advised him specifically on the
 subject.  His secretary of defense and his assistants pushed these cruel
 departures from historic American standards over the objections of the
 uniformed military, just as the Judge Advocates General within the Defense
 Department were so upset and opposed that they took the unprecedented step of
 seeking help from a private lawyer in this city who specializes in human
 rights and said to him, "There is a calculated effort to create an atmosphere
 of legal ambiguity where the mistreatment of prisoners is concerned."
     Indeed, the secrecy of the program indicates an understanding that the
 regular military culture and mores would not support these activities and
 neither would the American public or the world community.  Another implicit
 acknowledgement of violations of accepted standards of behavior is the process
 of farming out prisoners to countries less averse to torture and giving
 assignments to private contractors.
     President Bush set the tone for our attitude for suspects in his State of
 the Union address.  He noted that more than 3,000 "suspected terrorists" had
 been arrested in many countries and then he added, "and many others have met a
 different fate.  Let's put it this way: they are no longer a problem to the
 United States and our allies."
     George Bush promised to change the tone in Washington.  And indeed he did.
 As many as 37 prisoners may have been murdered while in captivity, though the
 numbers are difficult to rely upon because in many cases involving violent
 death, there were no autopsies.
     How dare they blame their misdeeds on enlisted personnel from a Reserve
 unit in upstate New York.  President Bush owes more than one apology.  On the
 list of those he let down are the young soldiers who are themselves apparently
 culpable, but who were clearly put into a moral cesspool.  The perpetrators as
 well as the victims were both placed in their relationship to one another by
 the policies of George W. Bush.
     How dare the incompetent and willful members of this Bush/Cheney
 Administration humiliate our nation and our people in the eyes of the world
 and in the conscience of our own people.  How dare they subject us to such
 dishonor and disgrace.  How dare they drag the good name of the United States
 of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison.
     David Kay concluded his search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
 with the famous verdict: "we were all wrong."
     And for many Americans, Kay's statement seemed to symbolize the awful
 collision between Reality and all of the false and fading impressions
 President Bush had fostered in building support for his policy of going to
 war.
     Now the White House has informed the American people that they were also
 "all wrong" about their decision to place their faith in Ahmed Chalabi, even
 though they have paid him 340,000 dollars per month.  33 million dollars and
 placed him adjacent to Laura Bush at the State of the Union address.  Chalabi
 had been convicted of fraud and embezzling 70 million dollars in public funds
 from a Jordanian bank, and escaped prison by fleeing the country.  But in
 spite of that record, he had become one of key advisors to the Bush
 Administration on planning and promoting the War against Iraq.
     And they repeatedly cited him as an authority, perhaps even a future
 president of Iraq.  Incredibly, they even ferried him and his private army
 into Baghdad in advance of anyone else, and allowed him to seize control over
 Saddam's secret papers.
     Now they are telling the American people that he is a spy for Iran who has
 been duping the President of the United States for all these years.
     One of the Generals in charge of this war policy went on a speaking tour
 in his spare time to declare before evangelical groups that the U.S. is in a
 holy war as "a Christian Nation battling Satan."  This same General Boykin was
 the person who ordered the officer who was in charge of the detainees in
 Guantanamo Bay to extend his methods to Iraq detainees, prisoners.  ... The
 testimony from the prisoners is that they were forced to curse their religion.
 Bush used the word "crusade" early on in the war against Iraq, and then
 commentators pointed out that it was singularly inappropriate because of the
 history and sensitivity of the Muslim world and then a few weeks later he used
 it again.
     "We are now being viewed as the modern Crusaders, as the modern colonial
 power in this part of the world," Zinni said.
     What a terrible irony that our country, which was founded by refugees
 seeking religious freedom -- coming to America to escape domineering leaders
 who tried to get them to renounce their religion -- would now be responsible
 for this kind of abuse.
     Ameen Saeed al-Sheikh told the Washington Post that he was tortured and
 ordered to denounce Islam and after his leg was broken one of his torturers
 started hitting it while ordering him to curse Islam and then, "they ordered
 me to thank Jesus that I'm alive."  Others reported that they were forced to
 eat pork and drink alcohol.
     In my religious tradition, I have been taught that "ye shall know them by
 their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so,
 every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth
 evil fruit ...  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
     The President convinced a majority of the country that Saddam Hussein was
 responsible for attacking us on September 11th.  But in truth he had nothing
 whatsoever to do with it.  The President convinced the country with a mixture
 of forged documents and blatantly false assertions that Saddam was in league
 with Al Qaeda, and that he was "indistinguishable" from Osama bin Laden.
     He asked the nation, in his State of the Union address, to "imagine" how
 terrified we should be that Saddam was about to give nuclear weapons to
 terrorists and stated repeatedly that Iraq posed a grave and gathering threat
 to our nation.  He planted the seeds of war, and harvested a whirlwind.  And
 now, the "corrupt tree" of a war waged on false premises has brought us the
 "evil fruit" of Americans torturing and humiliating prisoners.
     In my opinion, John Kerry is dealing with this unfolding tragedy in an
 impressive and extremely responsible way.  Our nation's best interest lies in
 having a new president who can turn a new page, sweep clean with a new broom,
 and take office on January 20th of next year with the ability to make a fresh
 assessment of exactly what our nation's strategic position is as of the time
 the reigns of power are finally wrested from the group of incompetents that
 created this catastrophe.
     Kerry should not tie his own hands by offering overly specific, detailed
 proposals concerning a situation that is rapidly changing and unfortunately,
 rapidly deteriorating, but should rather preserve his, and our country's,
 options, to retrieve our national honor as soon as this long national
 nightmare is over.
     Eisenhower did not propose a five-point plan for changing America's
 approach to the Korean War when he was running for president in 1952.
     When a business enterprise finds itself in deep trouble that is linked to
 the failed policies of the current CEO the board of directors and stockholders
 usually say to the failed CEO, "Thank you very much, but we're going to
 replace you now with a new CEO -- one less vested in a stubborn insistence on
 staying the course, even if that course is, in the words of General Zinni,
 "Headed over Niagara Falls."
     One of the strengths of democracy is the ability of the people to
 regularly demand changes in leadership and to fire a failing leader and hire a
 new one with the promise of hopeful change.  That is the real solution to
 America's quagmire in Iraq.  But, I am keenly aware that we have seven months
 and twenty five days remaining in this president's current term of office and
 that represents a time of dangerous vulnerability for our country because of
 the demonstrated incompetence and recklessness of the current administration.
     It is therefore essential that even as we focus on the fateful choice the
 voters must make this November, that we simultaneously search for ways to
 sharply reduce the extraordinary danger that we face with the current
 leadership team in place.  It is for that reason that I am calling today for
 Republicans as well as Democrats to join me in asking for the immediate
 resignations of those immediately below George Bush and Dick Cheney who are
 most responsible for creating the catastrophe that we are facing in Iraq.
     We desperately need a national security team with at least minimal
 competence because the current team is making things worse with each passing
 day.  They are endangering the lives of our soldiers, and sharply increasing
 the danger faced by American citizens everywhere in the world, including here
 at home.  They are enraging hundreds of millions of people and embittering an
 entire generation of anti-Americans whose rage is already near the boiling
 point.
     We simply cannot afford to further increase the risk to our country with
 more blunders by this team.  Donald Rumsfeld, as the chief architect of the
 war plan, should resign today.  His deputies Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and
 his intelligence chief Stephen Cambone should also resign.  The nation is
 especially at risk every single day that Rumsfeld remains as Secretary of
 Defense.
     Condoleeza Rice, who has badly mishandled the coordination of national
 security policy, should also resign immediately.
     George Tenet should also resign.  I want to offer a special word about
 George Tenet, because he is a personal friend and I know him to be a good and
 decent man.  It is especially painful to call for his resignation, but I have
 regretfully concluded that it is extremely important that our country have new
 leadership at the CIA immediately.
     As a nation, our greatest export has always been hope: hope that through
 the rule of law people can be free to pursue their dreams, that democracy can
 supplant repression and that justice, not power, will be the guiding force in
 society.  Our moral authority in the world derived from the hope anchored in
 the rule of law.  With this blatant failure of the rule of law from the very
 agents of our government, we face a great challenge in restoring our moral
 authority in the world and demonstrating our commitment to bringing a better
 life to our global neighbors.
     During Ronald Reagan's Presidency, Secretary of Labor Ray Donovan was
 accused of corruption, but eventually, after a lot of publicity, the
 indictment was thrown out by the Judge.  Donovan asked the question, "Where do
 I go to get my reputation back?"  President Bush has now placed the United
 States of America in the same situation.  Where do we go to get our good name
 back?
     The answer is, we go where we always go when a dramatic change is needed.
 We go to the ballot box, and we make it clear to the rest of the world that
 what's been happening in America for the last four years, and what America has
 been doing in Iraq for the last two years, really is not who we are.  We, as a
 people, at least the overwhelming majority of us, do not endorse the decision
 to dishonor the Geneva Convention and the Bill of Rights ... .
     Make no mistake, the damage done at Abu Ghraib is not only to America's
 reputation and America's strategic interests, but also to America's spirit.
 It is also crucial for our nation to recognize -- and to recognize quickly --
 that the damage our nation has suffered in the world is far, far more serious
 than President Bush's belated and tepid response would lead people to believe.
 Remember how shocked each of us, individually, was when we first saw those
 hideous images.  The natural tendency was to first recoil from the images, and
 then to assume that they represented a strange and rare aberration that
 resulted from a few twisted minds or, as the Pentagon assured us, "a few bad
 apples."
     But as today's shocking news reaffirms yet again, this was not rare.  It
 was not an aberration.  Today's New York Times reports that an Army survey of
 prisoner deaths and mistreatment in Iraq and Afghanisatan "show a widespread
 pattern of abuse involving more military units than previously known."
     Nor did these abuses spring from a few twisted minds at the lowest ranks
 of our military enlisted personnel.  No, it came from twisted values and
 atrocious policies at the highest levels of our government.  This was done in
 our name, by our leaders.
     These horrors were the predictable consequence of policy choices that
 flowed directly from this administration's contempt for the rule of law.  And
 the dominance they have been seeking is truly not simply unworthy of America
 -- it is also an illusory goal in its own right.
     Our world is unconquerable because the human spirit is unconquerable, and
 any national strategy based on pursuing the goal of domination is doomed to
 fail because it generates its own opposition, and in the process, creates
 enemies for the would-be dominator.
     A policy based on domination of the rest of the world not only creates
 enemies for the United States and creates recruits for Al Qaeda, it also
 undermines the international cooperation that is essential to defeating the
 efforts of terrorists who wish harm and intimidate Americans.
     Unilateralism, as we have painfully seen in Iraq, is its own reward.
 Going it alone may satisfy a political instinct but it is dangerous to our
 military, even without their Commander in Chief taunting terrorists to "bring
 it on."
     Our troops are stretched thin and exhausted not only because Secretary
 Rumsfeld contemptuously dismissed the advice of military leaders on the size
 of the needed force -- but also because President Bush's contempt for
 traditional allies and international opinion left us without a real coalition
 to share the military and financial burden of the war and the occupation.  Our
 future is dependent upon increasing cooperation and interdependence in a world
 tied ever more closely together by technologies of communications and travel.
 The emergence of a truly global civilization has been accompanied by the
 recognition of truly global challenges that require global responses that, as
 often as not, can only be led by the United States -- and only if the United
 States restores and maintains its moral authority to lead.
     Make no mistake, it is precisely our moral authority that is our greatest
 source of strength, and it is precisely our moral authority that has been
 recklessly put at risk by the cheap calculations and mean compromises of
 conscience wagered with history by this willful president.
     Listen to the way Israel's highest court dealt with a similar question
 when, in 1999, it was asked to balance due process rights against dire threats
 to the security of its people:
 
     "This is the destiny of democracy, as not all means are acceptable to it,
 and not all practices employed by its enemies are open before it.  Although a
 democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless
 has the upper hand.  Preserving the Rule of Law and recognition of an
 individual's liberty constitutes an important component in its understanding
 of security.  At the end of the day they (add to) its strength."
 
     The last and best description of America's meaning in the world is still
 the definitive formulation of Lincoln's annual message to Congress on December
 1, 1862:
 
     "The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the
 occasion.  As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.  We must
 disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.  Fellow citizens,
 we cannot escape history ... the fiery trial through which we pass will light
 us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation ... We shall nobly save,
 or meanly lose the last best hope of earth ... The way is plain, peaceful,
 generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud,
 and God must forever bless."
 
     It is now clear that their obscene abuses of the truth and their
 unforgivable abuse of the trust placed in them after 9/11 by the American
 people led directly to the abuses of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison and,
 we are now learning, in many other similar facilities constructed as part of
 Bush's Gulag, in which, according to the Red Cross, 70 to 90 percent of the
 victims are totally innocent of any wrongdoing.
     The same dark spirit of domination has led them to -- for the first time
 in American history -- imprison American citizens with no charges, no right to
 see a lawyer, no right to notify their family, no right to know of what they
 are accused, and no right to gain access to any court to present an appeal of
 any sort.  The Bush Admistration has even acquired the power to compel
 librarians to tell them what any American is reading, and to compel them to
 keep silent about the request -- or else the librarians themselves can also be
 imprisoned.
     They have launched an unprecedented assault on civil liberties, on the
 right of the courts to review their actions, on the right of the Congress to
 have information to how they are spending the public's money and the right of
 the news media to have information about the policies they are pursuing.
     The same pattern characterizes virtually all of their policies.  They
 resent any constraint as an insult to their will to dominate and exercise
 power.  Their appetite for power is astonishing.  It has led them to introduce
 a new level of viciousness in partisan politics.  It is that viciousness that
 led them to attack as unpatriotic, Senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs
 in combat during the Vietnam War.
     The president episodically poses as a healer and "uniter."  If he
 president really has any desire to play that role, then I call upon him to
 condemn Rush Limbaugh -- perhaps his strongest political supporter -- who said
 that the torture in Abu Ghraib was a "brilliant maneuver" and that the photos
 were "good old American pornography," and that the actions portrayed were
 simply those of "people having a good time and needing to blow off steam."
     This new political viciousness by the President and his supporters is
 found not only on the campaign trail, but in the daily operations of our
 democracy.  They have insisted that the leaders of their party in the Congress
 deny Democrats any meaningful role whatsoever in shaping legislation, debating
 the choices before us as a people, or even to attend the all-important
 conference committees that reconcile the differences between actions by the
 Senate and House of Representatives.
     The same meanness of spirit shows up in domestic policies as well.  Under
 the Patriot Act, Muslims, innocent of any crime, were picked up, often
 physically abused, and held incommunicado indefinitely.  What happened in Abu
 Ghraib was difference not of kind, but of degree.
     Differences of degree are important when the subject is torture.  The
 apologists for what has happened do have points that should be heard and
 clearly understood.  It is a fact that every culture and every politics
 sometimes expresses itself in cruelty.  It is also undeniably true that other
 countries have and do torture more routinely, and far more brutally, than ours
 has.  George Orwell once characterized life in Stalin's Russia as "a boot
 stamping on a human face forever."  That was the ultimate culture of cruelty,
 so ingrained, so organic, so systematic that everyone in it lived in terror,
 even the terrorizers.  And that was the nature and degree of state cruelty in
 Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
     We all know these things, and we need not reassure ourselves and should
 not congratulate ourselves that our society is less cruel than some others,
 although it is worth noting that there are many that are less cruel than ours.
 And this searing revelation at Abu Ghraib should lead us to examine more
 thoroughly the routine horrors in our domestic prison system.
     But what we do now, in reaction to Abu Ghraib will determine a great deal
 about who we are at the beginning of the 21st century.
     It is important to note that just as the abuses of the prisoners flowed
 directly from the policies of the Bush White House, those policies flowed not
 only from the instincts of the president and his advisors, but found support
 in shifting attitudes on the part of some in our country in response to the
 outrage and fear generated by the attack of September 11th.
     The president exploited and fanned those fears, but some otherwise
 sensible and levelheaded Americans fed them as well.  I remember reading
 genteel-sounding essays asking publicly whether or not the prohibitions
 against torture were any longer relevant or desirable.  The same grotesque
 misunderstanding of what is really involved was responsible for the tone in
 the memo from the president's legal advisor, Alberto Gonzalez, who wrote on
 January 25, 2002, that 9/11 "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on
 questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."
     We have seen the pictures.  We have learned the news.  We cannot unlearn
 it; it is part of us.  The important question now is, what will we do now
 about torture?  Stop it?  Yes, of course.
     But that means demanding all of the facts, not covering them up, as some
 now charge the administration is now doing.  One of the whistleblowers at Abu
 Ghraib, Sergeant Samuel Provance, told ABC News a few days ago that he was
 being intimidated and punished for telling the truth.  "There is definitely a
 coverup," Provance said.  "I feel like I am being punished for being honest."
     The abhorrent acts in the prison were a direct consequence of the culture
 of impunity encouraged, authorized and instituted by Bush and Rumsfeld in
 their statements that the Geneva Conventions did not apply.  The apparent war
 crimes that took place were the logical, inevitable outcome of policies and
 statements from the administration.
     To me, as glaring as the evidence of this in the pictures themselves was
 the revelation that it was established practice for prisoners to be moved
 around during ICRC visits so that they would not be available for visits.
 That, no one can claim, was the act of individuals.  That was policy set from
 above with the direct intention to violate U.S. values it was to be upholding.
 It was the kind of policy we see -- and criticize in places like China and
 Cuba.
     Moreover, the administration has also set up the men and women of our own
 armed forces for payback the next time they are held as prisoners.  And for
 that, this administration should pay a very high price.  One of the most
 tragic consequences of these official crimes is that it will be very hard for
 any of us as Americans -- at least for a very long time -- to effectively
 stand up for human rights elsewhere and criticize other governments, when our
 policies have resulted in our soldiers behaving so monstrously.  This
 administration has shamed America and deeply damaged the cause of freedom and
 human rights everywhere, thus undermining the core message of America to the
 world.
 
     President Bush offered a brief and half-hearted apology to the Arab world
 -- but he should apologize to the American people for abandoning the Geneva
 Conventions.
     He also owes an apology to the U.S. Army for cavalierly sending them into
 harm's way while ignoring the best advice of their commanders.
 
    Perhaps most importantly of all, he should apologize to all those men and
 women throughout our world who have held the ideal of the United States of
 America as a shining goal, to inspire their hopeful efforts to bring about
 justice under a rule of law in their own lands.
 
     Of course, the problem with all these legitimate requests is that a
 sincere apology requires an admission of error, a willingness to accept
 responsibility and to hold people accountable.
 
     And President Bush is not only unwilling to acknowledge error.  He has
 thus far been unwilling to hold anyone in his administration accountable for
 the worst strategic and military miscalculations and mistakes in the history
 of the United States of America.
 
     He is willing only to apologize for the alleged erratic behavior of a few
 low-ranking enlisted people, who he is scapegoating for his policy fiasco.
 
     In December of 2000, even though I strongly disagreed with the decision by
 the U.S. Supreme Court to order a halt to the counting of legally cast
 ballots, I saw it as my duty to reaffirm my own strong belief that we are a
 nation of laws and not only accept the decision, but do what I could to
 prevent efforts to delegitimize George Bush as he took the oath of office as
 president.
     I did not at that moment imagine that Bush would, in the presidency that
 ensued, demonstrate utter contempt for the rule of law and work at every turn
 to frustrate accountability ...
     So today, I want to speak on behalf of those Americans who feel that
 President Bush has betrayed our nation's trust, those who are horrified at
 what has been done in our name, and all those who want the rest of the world
 to know that we Americans see the abuses that occurred in the prisons of Iraq,
 Afghanistan, Guantanamo and secret locations as yet undisclosed as completely
 out of keeping with the character and basic nature of the American people and
 at odds with the principles on which America stands.
     I believe we have a duty to hold President Bush accountable -- and I
 believe we will.  As Lincoln said at our time of greatest trial, "We -- even
 we here -- hold the power, and bear the responsibility."
 
 

SOURCE MoveOn PAC

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