By Simon Cunich, in Sydney, Australia:
When questioned by the media about opposition in the US Congress to the George Bush administration’s “surge” of troops to Iraq, Vice-President Dick Cheney kept his message simple: “It won’t stop us.”
In the January 24 interview with CNN, Cheney added, “We have to have the stomach to finish the task”.
But when Cheney visits Australia this month to congratulate John Howard’s government for its efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, anti-war activists will join millions of people around the world in saying: “We will stop you!”
Sydney Stop the War Coalition is planning a protest on [Thursday] February 22, the day of Cheney’s arrival.
STWC activist and Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Marrickville in the NSW state election, Pip Hinman, told Green Left Weekly: “While Howard and Cheney will be talking about strengthening the Australia-US alliance and ‘fighting terrorism’, we will be making clear that they are completely isolated.
“When Cheney visits we will confront him with messages that he knows are increasingly popular: We demand an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq, and we want [unindicted Australian prisoner at Guantanamo Bay] David Hicks to be brought home immediately.”
Hinman added: “Cheney is a chief mastermind and profiteer behind a war that has been responsible for the deaths of more than 650,000 civilians.
Halliburton, the company that Cheney headed less than a decade ago, has made more billions from the Iraq war. He is the war criminal, not David Hicks.”
For more information about the protest rally, phone (02) 9690 1977.
See also here.
There will also be protests in Australia when Bush will visit there, on September 8.
Even hard Right Bush and Cheney advisers now oppose their escalation in Iraq … rats leaving the sinking ship?
Even Dick Cheney’s banker opposes his administration’s global warming policies: here.
Cost of the Iraq war: over a trillion US $ now, and counting.
Howard vs. Obama on Iraq: here.
**Why Dick Cheney Cracked Up**
by FRANK RICH:
The New York Times
Feb. 4, 2007
In the days since Dick Cheney lost it on CNN, our nation’s armchair
shrinks have had a blast. The vice president who boasted of “enormous
successes” in Iraq and barked “hogwash” at the congenitally mild Wolf
Blitzer has been roundly judged delusional, pathologically dishonest or
just plain nuts. But what else is new? We identified those diagnoses
The more intriguing question is what ignited this particularly violent
public flare-up.The answer can be found in the timing of the CNN
interview, which was conducted the day after the start of the perjury
trial of Mr. Cheney’s former top aide, Scooter Libby. The vice
president’s on-camera crackup reflected his understandable fear that a
White House cover-up was crumbling. He knew that sworn testimony in a
Washington courtroom would reveal still more sordid details about how
the administration lied to take the country into war in Iraq.
He knew that those revelations could cripple the White House’s current
campaign to escalate that war and foment apocalyptic scenarios about
Iran. Scariest of all, he knew that he might yet have to testify under
oath himself.Mr. Cheney, in other words, understands the danger this
trial poses to the White House even as some of Washington remains
oblivious. From the start, the capital has belittled the Joseph and
Valerie Wilson affair as “a tempest in a teapot,” as David Broder of The
Washington Post reiterated just five months ago.
When “all of the facts come out in this case, it’s going to be laughable
because the consequences are not that great,” Bob Woodward said in 2005.
Or, as Robert Novak suggested in 2003 before he revealed Ms. Wilson’s
identity as a C.I.A. officer in his column, “weapons of mass destruction
or uranium from Niger” are “little elitist issues that don’t bother most
of the people.” Those issues may not trouble Mr. Novak, but they do loom
large to other people, especially those who sent their kids off to war
over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and nonexistent uranium.
In terms of the big issues, the question of who first leaked Ms.
Wilson’s identity (whether Mr. Libby, Richard Armitage, Ari Fleischer or
Karl Rove) to which journalist (whether Mr. Woodward, Mr. Novak, Judith
Miller or Matt Cooper) has always been a red herring. It’s entirely
possible that the White House has always been telling the truth when it
says that no one intended to unmask a secret agent. (No one has been
charged with that crime.)
The White House is also telling the truth when it repeatedly says that
Mr. Cheney did not send Mr. Wilson on his C.I.A.-sponsored African trip
to check out a supposed Iraq-Niger uranium transaction. (Another red
herring, since Mr. Wilson didn’t make that accusation in the first
place.) But if the administration is telling the truth on these narrow
questions and had little to hide about the Wilson trip per se, its wild
overreaction to the episode was an incriminating sign it was hiding
According to testimony in the Libby case, the White House went berserk
when Mr. Wilson published his Op-Ed article in The Times in July 2003
about what he didn’t find in Africa. Top officials gossiped incessantly
about both Wilsons to anyone who would listen, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby
conferred about them several times a day, and finally Mr. Libby, known
as an exceptionally discreet White House courtier, became so sloppy that
his alleged lying landed him with five felony counts.
The explanation for the hysteria has long been obvious. The White House
was terrified about being found guilty of a far greater crime than
outing a C.I.A. officer: lying to the nation to hype its case for war.
When Mr. Wilson, an obscure retired diplomat, touched that raw nerve,
all the president’s men panicked because they knew Mr. Wilson’s modest
finding in Africa was the tip of a far larger iceberg. They knew that
there was still far more damning evidence of the administration’s W.M.D.
lies lurking in the bowels of the bureaucracy.
Thanks to the commotion caused by the leak case, that damning evidence
has slowly dribbled out. By my count we now know of at least a half-
dozen instances before the start of the Iraq war when various
intelligence agencies and others signaled that evidence of Iraq’s
purchase of uranium in Africa might be dubious or fabricated. (These are
detailed in the timelines at frankrich.com/timeline.htm.) The
culmination of these warnings arrived in January 2003, the same month as
the president’s State of the Union address, when the White House
received a memo from the National Intelligence Council, the coordinating
body for all American spy agencies, stating unequivocally that the claim
Nonetheless President Bush brandished that fearful “uranium from Africa”
in his speech to Congress as he hustled the country into war in Iraq.If
the war had been a cakewalk, few would have cared to investigate the
administration’s deceit at its inception. But by the time Mr. Wilson’s
Op-Ed article appeared – some five months after the State of the Union
and two months after “Mission Accomplished” – there was something
terribly wrong with the White House’s triumphal picture.
More than 60 American troops had been killed since Mr. Bush celebrated
the end of “major combat operations” by prancing about an aircraft
carrier. No W.M.D. had been found, and we weren’t even able to turn on
the lights in Baghdad. For the first time, more than half of Americans
told a Washington Post-ABC News poll that the level of casualties was
“unacceptable.” It was urgent, therefore, that the awkward questions
raised by Mr. Wilson’s revelation of his Africa trip be squelched as
quickly as possible. He had to be smeared as an inconsequential has-
been whose mission was merely a trivial boondoggle arranged by his wife.
The C.I.A., which had actually resisted the uranium fictions, had to be
strong-armed into taking the blame for the 16 errant words in the State
of the Union speech. What we are learning from Mr. Libby’s trial is just
what a herculean effort it took to execute this two-pronged cover-up
after Mr. Wilson’s article appeared. Mr. Cheney was the hands- on
manager of the 24/7 campaign of press manipulation and high-stakes
character assassination, with Mr. Libby as his chief hatchet man. Though
Mr. Libby’s lawyers are now arguing that their client was a sacrificial
lamb thrown to the feds to shield Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby actually was – and
still is – a stooge for the vice president.
Whether he will go to jail for his misplaced loyalty is the human drama
of his trial. But for the country there are bigger issues at
stake, and they are not, as the White House would have us believe,
ancient history. The administration propaganda flimflams that sold us
the war are now being retrofitted to expand and extend it. In a replay
of the run-up to the original invasion, a new National Intelligence
Estimate, requested by Congress in August to summarize all intelligence
assessments on Iraq, was mysteriously delayed until last week, well
after the president had set his surge.
Even the declassified passages released on Friday – the grim takes on
the weak Iraqi security forces and the spiraling sectarian violence –
foretell that the latest plan for victory is doomed. (As a White House
communications aide testified at the Libby trial, this administration
habitually releases bad news on Fridays because “fewer people pay
attention when it’s reported on Saturday.”) A Pentagon inspector
general’s report, uncovered by Business Week last week, was also kept on
the q.t.: it shows that even as more American troops are being thrown
into the grinder in Iraq, existing troops lack the guns and ammunition
to “effectively complete their missions.” Army and Marine Corps
commanders told The Washington Post that both armor and trucks were in
such short supply that their best hope is that “five brigades of
up-armored Humvees fall out of the sky.”
Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of Colin Powell’s notorious W.M.D.
pantomime before the United Nations Security Council, a fair amount of
it a Cheney-Libby production. To mark this milestone, the White House is
reviving the same script to rev up the war’s escalation, this time
hyping Iran-Iraq connections instead of Al Qaeda-Iraq connections. In
his Jan. 10 prime-time speech on Iraq, Mr. Bush said that Iran was
supplying “advanced weaponry and training to our enemies,” even though
the evidence suggests that Iran is actually in bed with our “friends” in
Iraq, the Maliki government.
[NOTE FROM ME: There is evidence that it is Saudi Arabia that is
supplying the Iraqi Sunnis (the supposed insurgents), since the
Saudis are also Sunnis. If, indeed, Iran is supplying anyone in
Iraq, it would be the Shiites, the Maliki government — you know,
our “friends” there. So, why isn’t Bush complaining about Saudi
Arabia? I will tell you. Bush and his father have been business
partners of the Saudi royal family for decades.]
The administration promised a dossier to back up its claims, but that
too has been delayed twice amid reports of what The Times calls “a
continuing debate about how well the information proved the Bush
administration’s case.” Call it a coincidence – though there are no
coincidences – but it’s only fitting that the Libby trial began as news
arrived of the death of E. Howard Hunt, the former C.I.A. agent whose
bungling of the Watergate break-in sent him to jail and led to the
unraveling of the Nixon presidency two years later.
Still, we can’t push the parallels too far. No one died in Watergate.
This time around our country can’t wait two more years for the White
House to be stopped from playing its games with American blood.
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