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How Scary Is This?

By Bob Herbert
The New York Times

The White House is sweating out the possibility that one or more top officials will soon be indicted on criminal charges. But the Bush administration is immune to prosecution for its greatest offense - its colossal and profoundly tragic incompetence.

Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, addressed the administration's arrogance and ineptitude in a talk last week that was astonishingly candid by Washington standards.

"We have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran," said Mr. Wilkerson. "Generally, with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita ... we haven't done very well on anything like that in a long time. And if something comes along that is truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence."

The investigation of Karl Rove, Scooter Libby et al. is the most sensational story coming out of Washington at the moment. But the story with the gravest implications for the U.S. and the world is the overall dysfunction of the Bush regime. This is a bomb going "Tick, tick, tick . . ." What is the next disaster that this crowd will be unprepared to cope with? Or the next lunatic idea that will spring from its ideological bag of tricks?

Mr. Wilkerson gave his talk before an audience at the New America Foundation, an independent public policy institute. On the all-important matter of national security, which many voters had seen as the strength of the administration, Mr. Wilkerson said:

"The case that I saw for four-plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national security decision-making process. What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made."

When the time came to implement the decisions, said Mr. Wilkerson, they were "presented in such a disjointed, incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn't know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out."

Where was the president? According to Mr. Wilkerson, "You've got this collegiality there between the secretary of defense and the vice president, and you've got a president who is not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either."

One of the consequences of this dysfunction, as I have noted many times, is the unending parade of dead or badly wounded men and women returning to the U.S. from the war in Iraq - a war that the administration foolishly launched but now does not know how to win or end.

Mr. Wilkerson was especially critical of the excessive secrecy that surrounded so many of the most important decisions by the Bush administration, and of what he felt was a general policy of concentrating too much power in the hands of a small group of insiders. As much as possible, government in the United States is supposed to be open and transparent, and a fundamental principle is that decision-making should be subjected to a robust process of checks and balances.

While not "evaluating the decision to go to war," Mr. Wilkerson told his audience that under the present circumstances "we can't leave Iraq. We simply can't." In his view, if American forces were to pull out too quickly, the U.S. would end up returning to the Middle East with "five million men and women under arms" within a decade.

Nevertheless, he is appalled at the way the war was launched and conducted, and outraged by "the detainee abuse issue." In 10 years, he said, when this matter is "put to the acid test, ironed out, and people have looked at it from every angle, we are going to be ashamed of what we allowed to happen."

Mr. Wilkerson said he has taken some heat for speaking out, but feels that "as a citizen of this great republic," he has an obligation to do so. If nothing is done about the current state of affairs, he said, "it's going to get even more dangerous than it already is."


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There must be a lot of heat to take, too, because very few other people, particularly in uniform or in government, are speaking out.

That was always part of the neocon strategy, too. They stifle dissent both inside and outside the military by sticking to this terror/belligerence/global war theme. This also streamlines the secret decisionmaking process because they can always say, like Nixon, "It's a classified matter of national security!"

Finally, this compliments their corporate agenda by justifying -- to some people, anyway -- the absurdly profligate levels of Department of Defense funding. This becomes a conduit for corporate welfare of the defense industry and the energy companies.

They shrewdly had the media: Fox, CNN, The Washington Times, NBC, positioned to snipe any potential opposition that was materializing either in government or in the armed forces.

This shield from criticism has made the President's first 4-1/2 years like a kid on Spring Break with his Dad's credit card. Until somebody with authority takes it away, the festivities won't stop.

There's nothing short of popular insurrection to keep the neocons in check until the institutions that have been set up to do so begin working on behalf of the American people.

Either that, or I suppose one could adopt the Vermont Independence example, and then (optionally) re-unite when the federal politians promise "scouts honor" that they'll really represent the people next time.

You finally got it. We've been saying things like this about Prezdint Raging Incompetent and his Crony Dolts for 5 years.

Uh, don't look now, but the next lunatic ideas have already sprung from the neo-con "ideological bag of tricks" (aka PNAC) and at least two of them have moved well beyond the mere idea stage.

1) Syria: Even the despised New York Times seems to be aware that the U.S. is already engaged in a “shadow struggle

A legal way for the US constitution to be suspended...

The only think that has to happen for FEMA to be able to implement all the executive orders, is for the President to declare a national emergency of any type, as long as it’s a national emergency.
Executive Order 10995 provides for the take over of communications media.
Executive Order 10997 provides for the take over of all electric, power, petroleum, gas, fuels and minerals.
Executive Order 10988 provides for the take over of food resources and farms.
Executive Order 10999 provides for the take overall modes of transportation, control of highways, seaports, etc.
Executive Order 11000 provides for mobilization of all civilians into work brigades under Government supervision.
Executive Order 11001 provides for Governmental takeover of all health, education and welfare functions.
Executive Order 11002 designates Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons.
Executive Order 11003 provides for the Government to take over all airports and aircraft.
Executive Order 11004 provides for the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate communities, designate areas to be abandoned, and establish new locations for populations.
Executive Order 11005 provides for the Government to take over railroads, inland waterways, and public storage facilities.
Now, all of these were combined under Nixon into one huge Executive order, which allows all of this to take place if the President declares a national emergency and it can be implemented by the head of FEMA not the President. The President has already given him that power under these executive orders.
All of these were combined into Executive Order 11490 and that was signed by President Carter on July 20, 1979, and is, in fact, law.

“Behold A Pale Horse

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