Bush gang in crisis
Published Nov 3, 2005 2:33 AM
The indictment of I. Lewis Libby, Vice
President Dick Cheney’s chief aide, in the CIA leak case on the narrow
grounds of perjury, misstatement and obstruction leaves open the question of
whether the Bush administration will be explicitly put on trial for its
conspiracy to go to war in Iraq.
This conspiracy was known about before,
during and after the war. Only after more than 2,000 U.S. troops have been
killed, almost 18,000 wounded and $500 billion spent on the war, and after the
determined anti-colonial resistance of the Iraqi people has humiliated the White
House and the Pentagon, have sections of the “multilateral” wing of
the ruling class and sections of the military decided to challenge the narrow,
right-wing grouping that brought about this debacle.
Even the strength and
direction of that challenge is in question.
The Democratic Party leaders
have tried to keep themselves from being rendered politically irrelevant in the
scandal over leaking the identity of a CIA agent. Democratic senators forced a
closed session of the Senate on Nov. 1 in order to extract an agreement from the
Republicans to deal with the investigation of the executive’s systematic
lies in the run-up to the war.
In 2002 and 2003, the ruling class as a
whole, its media and both political parties were swept into the Iraq
war—some enthusiastically, some reluctantly, but all willingly. They were
taken in by the prospect of a quick victory through “shock and awe.”
They were all ready to seize Iraqi oil. They were looking forward to
recolonizing the Middle East—if U.S. military aggression could
But since the war was declared officially over in April 2003, the
rulers have watched the U.S. quagmire in Iraq deepen. They have been promised
“turning points” in the occupation by Bush, Cheney and Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld over and over again. The formation of a puppet government,
the elections, the drawing up of a constitution—each was supposed to be a
step forward. And after each of these “turning points,” Iraqi
resistance to the occupation continued and grew. The promised battle-ready Iraqi
puppet army now seems a distant mirage.
Now ruling class elements are
remembering that the Iraq war was a so-called “war of choice.” They
remember how they did not want to go to war without building up a multilateral
alliance with fellow imperialists in Europe. They remember how the Bush group
turned this alliance down because it did not want to share the spoils, how
Washington poured contempt on all its European rivals except for its junior
partners in London.
Disillusionment and defeat
It is this
disillusionment and defeat that is the background to the indictment of Libby and
the grand jury investigation. But the Bush administration reacted to the charges
against Cheney’s chief aide, who is a key conspirator, by paying them lip
Bush then tried to move quickly past the indictment by changing
the subject with the nomination of the right-wing, anti-choice, anti-worker,
racist judge Sam Alito to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme
Cheney quietly appointed two war conspirators from his staff to
replace Libby. David Addington, Cheney’s counsel, became his new chief of
staff. Addington had played a key role in writing the Justice Department
document upholding the right to use torture under presidential war powers. He
argued to abolish the rights of detainees held by the military and defended
Cheney’s case against exposing to public view the secret agreements with
the oil and gas industry, among other things.
John Hannah, who served as a
conduit for manufactured intelligence from Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National
Congress —intelligence which wound up in Cheney’s office and the
White House—was named as Cheney’s new national security
Libby was Cheney’s powerful chief of staff and his national
security adviser. He also was an adviser to the president who sat on the
National Security Council and attended CIA briefings every day.
jury indictment brought by Patrick Fitzgerald was a blow directed at Cheney.
Cheney has concentrated unpre cedented power for a vice president, with a staff
of 15 military and political advisers on foreign affairs, rivaling that of Bush.
By contrast, the last Democratic vice president, Al Gore, had only one national
security adviser. (“All the Vice President’s Men” by Juan
Cole, Spiegel on-line, Oct. 28)
Together with former undersecretary of
defense Paul Wolfowitz, Libby co-authored a 1992 document entitled
“Defense Plan ning Guidance” for the Pentagon. Cheney ran the
Pentagon during the first Bush administration. Wolfowitz and Libby were opposed
to ending the first Gulf war of 1991 without first destroying Saddam
Plan for U.S. world domination
The 1992 document,
written in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, declared that the U.S.
would now dominate the world and that no power or combination of powers on earth
should even attempt to challenge Washington’s hegemony in any
Excerpts from the document were leaked to the New York Times and
published April 8, 1992. The Bush Sr. administration was forced to disavow it.
It was rewritten thereafter and finally turned up in an even more aggressive
form in George W. Bush’s “National Security Strategy” put
forward in the fall of 2002.
Libby, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfo witz were
founding members of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), created
during the Clinton administration. In 2000 PNAC published a 96-page document
that projected the revamping of U.S. military power to strengthen and expand
Washington’s world domination.
After Sept. 11, 2001, Libby became
Cheney’s point man in dealing with the Office of Special Plans (OSP), set
up by Rumsfeld to manipulate and manufacture intelligence to support the Bush
war plans for Iraq. “The ideologically driven network functioned like a
shadow government,” wrote the Guardian of London on July 17, 2003,
“much of it off the official payroll and beyond Congressional oversight.
But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department
and the CIA by establishing the justification for war.
president’s most trusted adviser, Mr. Cheney, was at the shadow
network’s sharp end,” continued the Guardian. “He made several
trips to the CIA … to demand a more ‘forward leaning’
interpretation of the threat posed by Saddam. When he was not there to make his
influence felt, his chief of staff, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, was. Such
hands-on involvement in the processing of intelligence data was unprecedented
for a vice-president in recent times and it put pressure on the CIA to come up
with the appropriate results.”
On Oct. 19 of this year, Col. Larry
Wilk erson (ret.), former chief of staff at the State Department and a close
aide to Secre tary of State Colin Powell, delivered a speech widely noted in
military and political circles. Wilkerson was formerly the head of the Marine
War College. He has taught a generation of naval and marine officers and is a
military and political insider.
A cabal running the
Speaking to the New America Foundation on Oct. 19, Wilkerson
caused a stir when he said: “[T]he case I saw for four-plus years was a
case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations,
perturbations, changes to national security decision-making pro cess. 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. And then when the
bureaucracy was presented with the decision to carry them out, it was 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.
you’ve got this collegiality there,” continued Wilkerson,
“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.”
Wilkerson went on to talk about the
seeming “dysfunctionality” of the group but then said that
“the dysfunctionality camouflaged the efficiency of the secret
Wilkerson was really reflecting the
opinion of a large section of the officer corps when he said that “my army
is in bad shape.” He spoke of the need to rebuild a military that is
unraveling. The former officer denounced the Bush officials for authorizing
torture, which he said discredits the military and makes it harder to win
Wilkerson’s talk was followed on Oct. 31 by a major piece in
the New Yorker magazine about the former national security adviser for George
Bush Sr., Brent Scow croft, himself a retired Air Force general. Entitled
“Breaking Ranks,” the article recounted how Scowcroft pushed a
reluctant Bush administration—including Bush Sr., Cheney and
Powell—into going to war with Iraq in 1991. Scowcroft is a multilateralist
war hawk, a protégé of Henry Kissinger and a long-time friend and
confidant of Bush Sr. Scowcroft coined the term New World Order after the
collapse of the USSR.
While he was for the war in 1991, the general was
opposed to invading Baghdad. “At a minimum we’d be an occupier in a
hostile land,” Scowcroft told author Jeffrey Goldberg. “Our forces
would be sniped at by guerrillas and how would we get
Scowcroft published an article in the Wall Street Journal in
August 2002 entitled “Don’t attack Saddam.” He had to publish
it in the newspaper because he could not get to see anyone in the Bush
administration. “Scowcroft’s best friend’s son is the
president,” wrote Goldberg. “His friend Dick Cheney is the vice
president; Condoleezza Rice … was once a Scowcroft protégé;
the current national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, is another
protégé and a former partner at the Scowcroft Group.”
The Scowcroft Group is his personal consulting firm, comprised of former
government officials. Trading on his wide military and political connections,
Scow croft’s company represents 30 of the largest corporations and opens
doors for them world-wide.
Yet it is said that Scowcroft was consulted by
the Clinton administration more frequently than by Bush.
When a figure as
formidable as Scow croft cannot get the time of day at the White House, it means
that important sections of the military, political and corporate establishment
can neither get their opinions heard nor find out what is really going on. The
references by Wilkerson to the “bureaucracy” being kept in the dark
means that all the traditional channels of the various factions of the ruling
class are shut out except those factions favored by the tightly closed Bush
Discontent in the Pentagon
Sen. John McCain,
a hawk and a rival of Bush, just successfully sponsored a bill outlawing torture
by the U.S. military. McCain comes from a military dynasty. His father, an
admiral, was in charge of the Pacific Fleet during the Vietnam War. Sen.
McCaingroup also worries that the U.S. military will be subject to reprisal if
it openly practices torture. A statement supporting his bill was signed by 21
military officers, including two former heads of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Powell and Gen. John Shalikashvili. Cheney is now scheming to eviscerate the
Generals John Abizaid and George Casey Jr., the two
highest commanders in the Persian/Arab Gulf and Iraq, have both openly differed
with Rumsfeld on the readiness of Iraqi puppet forces and on the need to begin
to lower the number of troops. They recently told a Senate committee that the
occupation is fueling the resistance.
The grand jury investigation and the
fury around the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the White
House cover-up reflects a deep discontent among other factions of the ruling
class, the military and imperialist strategists. Some want to escalate the war,
some want to pull back from Iraq. And some have no program at all but are just
angry with the Bush administration for injuring the reputation and interests of
Washington and the Pentagon.
They want to break the stranglehold of this
narrow “cabal” in the Oval Office, as Wilkerson calls it. But the
movement of the workers and the oppressed should see this for what it is. It is
not some progressive struggle between the left and the right. It is a fight
between imperialist factions over how to stop the damage to U.S. imperialism and
turn things around—“multilaterally” or by any other means.
Sections of the military in particular are enraged at being given what
they regard as “mission impossible” by a narrow group of right-wing
ideologues who fancy themselves as world military strategists. But none of the
factions has a solution to the problem, because no outcome of the struggle can
stop the Iraqi people from resisting colonial occupation.
Party leaders are salivating at the thought of opening a campaign against
corruption and lying. However, they are corrupt liars themselves and they all
backed the war. They want to lend themselves to the anti-Bush factions of the
military and the ruling class.
The progressive movement here should take
advantage of these differences to expose the lies, the illegality and the
corruption, but should use these exposures to widen an independent struggle
against the occupation, the war makers and all capitalist ruling class factions.
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