White House lies won’t wash

George W. Bush is running as a “war president” but his credibility is being tested. Bush agreed to only an hour of questioning from the 9/11 Commission set up to investigate why U.S. intelligence agencies under his command failed to follow up on clear warnings that a terrorist attack was imminent. Families of the nearly 3,000 dead blasted Bush for “stonewalling.” Now his press secretary is beating a retreat, claiming Bush will answer all the commission’s questions. Democrat John Kerry responded, “It’s good to see that the president has finally found time in his schedule to spend more than an hour with the 9/11 Commission.”

Bush justified his war on Iraq with dire warnings that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, that he was harboring al-Qaeda terrorists. All have been exposed as brazen lies. And the lies keep surfacing, no matter how hard Bush and Vice President Cheney try to tamp them down.

CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee this week that he tried repeatedly to “correct” the false claims Bush and Cheney used in their rush to war. For example, Tenet said he complained to Bush that he used false information in his State of the Union Address claiming that Iraq was attempting to obtain weapons-grade uranium from Niger. Bush has since admitted the claim was false, after it was exposed by Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Tenet told the senators he also complained to Cheney that he is still using a baseless briefing by neo-conservative Douglas Feith, endorsed by Cheney aide Lewis Libby, to bolster his claims of a pre-war link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Tenet said the CIA has no proof of such a link. Yet Tenet hastened to defend Bush from charges that he lied to lure the nation into a bloody occupation in Iraq.

Like Lady MacBeth, Bush may wash his hands and cry, “Out! Out, damned spot!” But the lies won’t wash away.

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Stop the Bush-Cheney energy rip-off

Senate Democrats succeeded in blocking the Bush-Cheney energy bill with a filibuster last November. But Bush’s minions are back, vowing to ram through this huge giveaway to energy monopolies in the next couple of weeks.

The environmental movement has mobilized all its resources to stop it. Actor Robert Redford wrote an open letter to the 550,000 members of the Natural Resources Defense Council, urging a flood of messages to senators demanding they block the bill. “Estimates of the bill’s corporate tax breaks range from $23 billion to well over $100 billion with loan guarantees included,” Redford wrote. “No surprise there. Big energy companies cooked up this raid on the federal treasury during hundreds of secret meetings with Vice President Cheney’s task force and their allies on Capitol Hill. … To claim this rip-off is in the national interest, as the White House would have us believe, is a slap in the face to every working American.”

The environmental group Greenwatch points out that the bill exempts from Safe Water Act regulations a method of extracting crude oil called “hydraulic fracturing,” a technique invented by Cheney’s old company, Halliburton. The technique involves injecting diesel fuel, hydrochloric acid, and other toxic chemicals into wells. Besides despoiling the environment, Greenwatch estimates this juicy plum could enhance Halliburton’s profits by $600 million.

The Energy Justice Network lists 37 reasons to stop the bill. It will force energy deregulation, clearing the way for more “Enrons,” with ratepayers fleeced of many billions in power overcharges. It will subsidize new nuclear reactors and will open the floodgates for reprocessed nuclear fuel, “facilitating the stealing of nuclear bomb materials.” It also opens the door to a vast expansion of drilling and mining for oil, gas, and coal in federal lands.

Unless we all speak out, Redford warns, the Bush-Cheney energy bill will mean a future of “blighted wilderness, poisonous air pollution, devastating climate change and endless wars over fossil fuels.” Contact your senators. Ask them to filibuster and defeat the Bush-Cheney rip-off bill.