Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Stones From Glass Houses: Bush-Cheney's Intelligence and National Security Record

Now that the Swift Boat Liars' attacks have been refuted by multiple sources, it is time to return to the more serious questions of failings of the Bush Administration to provide an adequate defense against terrorist threats.

From the American Progress Action Fund:

National Security
Stones From Glass Houses:
Bush-Cheney's Intelligence and National Security Record

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have repeatedly accused their opponents of trying to slash intelligence, defense, and national security spending in the lead up to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In fact, the record shows that it is top members of the Bush administration who are guilty of the very charges they are now hurling.

CIA NOMINEE LED EFFORT TO GUT INTELLIGENCE: "President Bush's nominee to be the director of central intelligence, Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-FL), sponsored legislation that would have cut intelligence personnel by 20 percent in the late 1990s. Goss was one of six original co-sponsors of legislation in 1995 that called for cuts of at least 4 percent per year between 1996 and 2000 in the total number of people employed throughout the intelligence community... The cuts Goss supported are larger than those proposed by Kerry and specifically targeted the 'human intelligence' that has recently been found lacking." Goss proposed these major cuts well after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing made clear the United States faced a serious threat of terrorism. [Source: Washington Post, 8/24/04]

CHENEY LED EFFORT TO BLOCK KEY INTELLIGENCE REFORMS: The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) reported that in a March 1992 letter to Congress, then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney "defended the status quo and objected to proposed intelligence reform legislation, particularly the Director of National Intelligence position." In the letter, Cheney wrote that intelligence reforms proposed by Congress "would seriously impair the effectiveness" of government and specifically opposed empowering a director of national intelligence. Cheney wrote, "I would recommend that the President veto [the measure] if [it] were presented to him in its current form." FAS noted that as a result of Cheney's stance, "we now face many of the same problems, and the same proposed solutions, more than a decade later." [Sources: FAS, 8/5/04; Cheney letter, 3/17/92]

CHENEY LED EFFORT TO SLASH SIZE OF MILITARY: While the Bush-Cheney campaign has attacked its opponents for cutting the military, it was Cheney who admitted he led the effort to slash the size of the armed forces. In 2000, Cheney said that as defense secretary he "did in fact significantly reduce the overall size of the U.S. military." Specifically, The New York Times noted Cheney worked to "reduce active-duty troop strength" from 2.2 million to 1.6 million while making "deep cuts in the Reserves and National Guard." Those cuts have left the U.S. military stretched thin today. [Source: LA Times, 8/24/00; NY Times, 8/4/91]

CHENEY LED EFFORT TO ELIMINATE CRITICAL DEFENSE PROGRAMS: While the Bush-Cheney campaign has attacked its opponent for supposedly cutting defense spending during the 1990s, it was Cheney who repeatedly tried to cut defense spending at the very same time. In 1984, during the height of Cold War tensions, it was Cheney who said that if President Reagan "doesn't really cut defense, he becomes the No. 1 special pleader in town." Cheney urged Reagan "to reach out and take a whack at everything to be credible" and said "you've got to hit defense." Six years later, Cheney proudly told Congress, "since I became Secretary, we've been through a fairly major process of reducing the defense budget." He bragged that during the first year of his tenure, he "cut almost $65 billion out of the five-year defense program" and that subsequent proposals would "take another $167 billion out." While Cheney now claims his opponent "repeatedly voted against weapons systems for the military," like the Apache helicopter, it was Cheney in 1990 who bragged to Congress about weapons "programs that I have recommended for termination," including fighter jets, the Phoenix missile and "the Apache helicopter." [Sources: Washington Post, 12/16/84; Cheney testimony, 2/1/90; Cheney speech, 3/17/04]

BUSH ADMINISTRATION TOOK FOCUS OFF BIN LADEN: Reversing efforts in the fight against terrorism, a senior Bush administration official in April 2001 told CNN, "the U.S. government made a mistake in focusing so much energy on bin Laden." Similarly, AP reported in 2002 that the Bush administration's "national security leadership met formally nearly 100 times in the months prior to the Sept. 11 attacks yet terrorism was the topic during only two of those sessions." [Source: CNN, 4/30/01; AP, 6/29/02]

BUSH ADMINISTRATION TERMINATED PROGRAM THAT TRACKED AL QAEDA: "In the months before 9/11, the Justice Department curtailed a highly classified program called 'Catcher's Mitt' to monitor Al Qaeda suspects in the United States." [Source: Newsweek, 3/21/04]

BUSH ADMINISTRATION BEGAN EFFORT TO CUT COUNTERTERRORISM PROGRAMS: The New York Times reported that in its final 2003 budget request, the administration "called for spending increases in 68 programs, none of which directly involved counterterrorism...In his Sept. 10 submission to the budget office, Ashcroft did not endorse FBI requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators. Ashcroft proposed a $65 million cut for a program that gives states and localities counterterrorism grants for equipment, including radios and decontamination suits and training." By comparison, "Under Janet Reno, the department's counterterrorism budget increased 13.6% in the fiscal year 1999, 7.1% in 2000 and 22.7% in 2001." The Washington Post reported that in its first budget, the White House left "gaps" between "what military commanders said they needed to combat terrorists and what they got." When Congress tried to fill those gaps, the administration threatened a veto. [Source: NY Times, 2/28/02; Washington Post, 1/20/02; Newsweek, 5/27/02]

Once the server problems with the Kerry 2004 Reference Library are resolved today, I'll start going thru the articles cited above and add them to the library. Check back later at: http://kerrylibrary.forumflash.com


Blogger Bob said...

Has anyone noticed that almost all of Bush's ads are about (and against) Kerry and almost never about himself or his accomplishments?

1:03 PM  
Blogger Pamela Leavey said...

What has Bush done that he would want to boast about?

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First let me say that I will definitely vote for Kerry/Edwards. I am revolted by the smear tactics which seem to influence people no matter how many heroic veterans have already been the victims of such lies. I believe the current administration has been a disaster for our country on all fronts - - things have gone so badly that it almost seems to me like it should be a slam-dunk for Kerry. ok maybe that is wishful thinking.

But I really am concerned about the Bush campaign's success in defining Kerry. and I really do wish Sen. Kerry would stop giving them ammunition for their accusations of insincerity and "flip-flopping" on issues. As I said, I plan to vote for Kerry for sure, but I'm afraid this appearance of insincerity especially regarding the war and national security, is eroding his support among those who are less committed. Americans usually respect people who stand up and say what they think. I know this is definitely true of folks in Iowa and Missouri (i come from around the border between them). I'm afraid that I myself sometimes feel that Kerry, by trying to appeal to everyone and offend no one, does not say what he really believes but what he thinks people want to hear.

Recently Bush actually -- stunningly! -- said something right: that we cannot win the war on terrorism. To me this seems obvious. In a war between countries victory has been won when one side surrenders. But how on earth can we define "victory" in the "war on terrorism"? Using the world "War" has enabled the executive branch to grasp greater powers and has encouraged a public discourse of appeals to patriotism and nationalism, an Us-vs-Them, "with Us or with the Terrorists" mentality, and a condemnation of dissent as "unpatriotic" and "defeatist".
So, I've been pretty disgusted with the way the Kerry campaign has pounced on Bush's comment (one of the few sensible things he has ever uttered) and insisted that this is defeatism! and rah-rah-rah yes we can too defeat "Terrorism"! and anyone who says we can't is a wimp! OK, those aren't the exact words. But that's the gist of the Kerry campaign's response, which sounded like it might have come straight from Karl Rove!
Now that's bizarre.
Could Kerry seriously believe we can win this "war"? When will that victory come? --when no group ever again uses the tactics of terrorism? I just don't see John Kerry as the kind of naive, starry-eyed nut who could believe this is going to happen.
Unfortunately the alternative is that Kerry is saying something he doesn't believe just because he thinks people want to hear it.

I guess another possibility is that sometimes there are nuances and distinctions behind some of Kerry's comments which unfortunately many people are not going to pay attention to.
The greatest examples the Bush/Cheney campaign keep characterizing as "flip-flopping" have been the Iraq votes and what Kerry has said about them. I just wish he wouldn't give them MORE ammo on the subject! I couldn't believe he fell into the trap of saying that, even knowing there were no WMD and no imminent threat, he would have voted for the war. I'd think he could have come up with a legitimate reason for declining to answer such a hypothetical question.
and yes I know it was not a direct vote for war, rather an authorization for Bush to go to war - but it is regularly referred to in the media and in conversation as "voting for the war" - - and that makes many voters wonder just what Kerry will consider as the threshhold for going to war in other cases -- especially since most Americans now believe it was a mistake to go into Iraq when there was really not an imminent threat. It is frustrating for people to think that Kerry would have made the same mistake as Bush.

Even taking the distinction of "voting for war" vs "voting for authority for war" into consideration, saying he did not think Bush would actually use the authority makes me wonder, if this is true, about his ability to assess other people's motivations -- wasn't it fairly apparent that Bush and the neo-cons were champing at the bit for war?
And saying that he believed the President should have this authority even in a situation with no imminent threat, makes me wonder about his ideas about separation of powers.

I know Kerry is the better man. but Bush does have a valuable weapon in his image of standing up for his beliefs and "sticking to his guns" So I hope Kerry will do everything he can NOT to appear like an insincere politician with a finger in the wind.
Maybe all pols do this to some extent, but it can misfire and make skeptics out of even those who agree with most of what they are saying.

9:01 PM  

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