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The Bush-Cheney Ethics Refresher Course

The Bush-Cheney Ethics Refresher Course
By David Swanson

Apparently the new "ethics refresher course" at the White House is going to focus on reminding White House staff that classified information is not supposed to be told to reporters.

Ethics Part 2, to be taught in the Spring, will delve into the appropriateness of endangering the life of a woman and her colleagues because you're pissed off at her husband.

Those who opt for Graduate Level ethics refreshment will study the question of whether anger is justifiable if the object of that anger is guilty only of exposing you as a fraud and a liar.

And PhD candidates will be required to address the eternal enigma involved in the question: Is it morally good to aggressively attack another nation if you tell a bunch of lies about it first?

Students will be required to pay all library fines and parking tickets and hand in completed applications for presidential pardons prior to graduation. There will be an extra charge to have Ashcroft pour vegetable oil on you.

Seriously, who in the hell are they kidding? Themselves?

This is not ethics. Of course, neither would in-depth regurgitation of Aristotle or Kant or Bentham – or Moses for that matter – do these people any good. If anything did them any good in the way of ethics, they'd resign and no longer work for the Bush White House. Bush would have refreshered himself right out of a staff.

But the fact is that ethical education is not refreshment. It does not return you to a comfortable state of familiar platitudes. Useful ethical education makes the student ill at ease with previously accepted situations.

If I were designing an ethics course for White House staff, I would begin with a viewing of and discussion of some of these images of the victims of the war on Iraq:

Then I would play aloud this audio recording of Beatrice Salvador telling the story of her nephew, who was killed in the war as a U.S. soldier:

I would continue in this vein until the stories of the collateral damage and the supported troops became real. I would ask the students to research, to meet with families, and to write up at least two new stories of victims of the war, at least one of them Iraqi. I would be looking for an understanding of suffering.

Then I would ask them to study any of the infinite pieces of rhetoric, new and old, from rulers sending soldiers to war. You know the stuff: sacrifice, last resort, war for peace, agonizing decision, no choice, humility. I would especially focus on humility. I would ask the students to give examples of what humility sounds like, and of what arrogance sounds like.

Then we would listen to this audio compilation of Bush and Company lying about the need for war:

Eventually we would discuss the merits of the decision to go to war and the decision to lie about the justification for it.

Upon completion of the course, students would either resign or agree to display the 10 Commandments on the door to their office. I would bring a supply of framed prints of the 10 Commandments, the King George Version:

1. Don't listen to nobody else when Karl ain't around.
2. Don't get too attached to stuff, cause you can always buy another one.
3. Don't talk back to Karl.
4. Never work on a Sunday. This rule is not to be construed as in any way stipulating a requirement to work on any particular day or days that is not or are not Sundays.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother – besides they don't NEED Social Security.
6. Thou shalt not kill but it's OK to force poor people to kill and be killed if it helps the corporations and if you don't let anyone see the bodies.
7. Thou shalt not dirty the White House like Clinton!
8. Thou shalt not steal unless you let the European corporations have a little too.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness unless it helps you start a war.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's oil or public resources unless your neighbor is a Muslim or your campaign funding is on the line.


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Talk about your ethics> the woman host and the AIM guy had an incredible discussion that ended up blaming the whole Libby/forgery thing on Plame herself! (I won't even go into their explanation of how they got there> my brain is a pretzel just listening to it) Why do I subject myself to "the other side" you might ask? To see how far they will lie with no facts> AIM is obviously a bottomless pit of unethical behavior.


Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Nov. 07, 2005

Graham says Libby didn't act alone in CIA leak case
Vice President Dick Cheney must explain what he knew about the activities of his top aide, who was indicted in the CIA leak case, former Sen. Bob Graham said.

WASHINGTON - Former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida said Friday that he thinks Vice President Dick Cheney was a ''conspirator'' in a Bush administration campaign to discredit former ambassador Joe Wilson and expose Wilson's wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame.

''This was one of the most reprehensible and damaging breaches of American security in modern times,'' said Graham, who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the fall of 2002, when the administration made its case for war against Iraq.

Graham called on Cheney to ''defend and explain himself'' in the wake of the indictment of Cheney's top aide, Lewis Libby, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case.

Libby discussed Wilson, a critic of the war, and Plame with reporters and then lied to the grand jury about it, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said.


''It's impossible to believe that Scooter Libby would have done this on his own, but rather this was part of a larger conspiracy to attempt to discredit Joseph Wilson,'' Graham said.

Bush and Cheney have said they will not discuss the CIA leak case because of Fitzgerald's ongoing investigation.

Asked directly if White House officials lied to the public about Iraq intelligence, Graham said ``yes.''

He said the administration suppressed ''all the nuance'' and internal disagreement among intelligence agencies over whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, then exaggerated the threat and covered up their activities.

Graham, who is teaching at Harvard after retiring from the Senate last year, spoke in a conference call with reporters arranged by Senate Democrats.

They are pushing for a ''thorough, credible'' Intelligence Committee investigation into how prewar intelligence was used to sell the war.

Graham said Friday he was ''suspicious'' about the intelligence reports on the Iraqi threat he saw during the fall of 2002.


He voted against the war resolution, saying Iraq would drain resources from the war on terrorism.

''The administration did not want the best judgment of the intelligence community,'' Graham said.

``This was an administration that wanted to be blind going into this war. They did not want to have the most credible assessment of what was the reality of the case for war and the consequences of war.''

Senate Democrats forced a closed session earlier in the week on the need for an investigation of prewar intelligence, and on Friday Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the Intelligence chairman, said the committee staff was making progress on that probe.

Graham said the administration needs to quickly assess what it can realistically achieve in Iraq, but he did not advocate a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces as some Democrats have done.


I bow to a superior master of ironic wit. Some of it is so sharply barbed it's almost too painful to think about.

You're probably aware, but, in case you're not, this item also made today's Counterpunch newsletter.

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