The Bush Administration has given the American people many reasons to regard it with suspicion and mistrust. In addition to the controversy over the election itself, some of the people making up the Bush Administration contribute to a "credibility gap" between the administrations publicized ideals and how we as a nation might expect them to behave (lest anyone should cry "partisanship," this is not meant to imply that we might have expected any better from a Gore administration).
The lack of desirable alternatives notwithstanding, the events leading to George W. Bushs nomination by the GOP and continuing to his eventual inauguration were the cause of some anxiety. For many of us who predicted the outcome of the election long beforehand, they seemed like a train wreck happening in slow motion. One of the first signs that impact was inevitable was the presence of Richard Armitage in Governor Bushs foreign policy advisory team. This forum will discuss the black cloud hanging over Armitage and other figures surrounding Mr. Bush.
Armitage is currently Deputy Secretary of State and is rumored to be the likely choice for head of the new Homeland Security department.
Armitages name first surfaced in the Bush campaign as a member of the Vulcan Group, Bushs foreign policy advisement team. Though reportedly considered for the position of Secretary of Defense, he was confirmed in Senate hearings as Bush's nominee for Deputy Secretary of State, the number two position under Colin Powell. Armitage resigned from his position as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, having been under investigation in the Iran-Contra affair. As Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Office of International Security Affairs under President Bush, Armitage held the rank of Ambassador worked with the Newly Independent States after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Armitage served in both the State and Defense departments under President Bush. The Progressive Review writes, "Bush nominated Armitage to be Secretary of the Army in 1989 but Armitage withdrew before the confirmation hearing following reports that Perot and veteran organizers were gearing up to oppose him."
Why would Armitages appointment be opposed? And why by Perot and veterans? Among many Washington insiders, Armitage has earned the type of notoriety usually reserved for mob enforcers. One such source refers to him as a "killer." Ross Perot and James "Bo" Gritz both ran as third-party candidates in the 1992 presidential election and are among Armitages most prominent accusers. Perot, while working with Armitage in a POW location program in 1986, tried to pressure Armitage into resigning after learning of allegations of Armitages involvement in narcotics smuggling. In May 1987, as a green beret on a mission to rescue American POWs in Southeast Asia, Gritz met KMT general Khun Sa. The general commands a remnant of Chiang Kai-Sheks nationalist Chinese army in the regions opium-growing "Golden Triangle." Sa told Gritz that Armitage was the "money-man," one of a few American officials supervising the purchase and distribution of his opium to support his anti-Communist army. Also involved was Florida mob chief Santos Trafficante. Sa offered to cut off the opium supply if he could receive foreign aid in the form of money and a crop substitution program, but his offer was refused at the White House.
John AshcroftThe openly fascist Attorney General. The nation's top law enforcement officer is the nation's most prominent opponent of the Constitution. Ashcroft was behind the USA PATRIOT act of October 2001 which was rushed through Congress in the wake of the anthrax mailings. The act, which few congressmen had the privilege of reading before a vote was called, gave unprecedented powers to the Justice Department, many of which are arguably unconstitutional. When a feeble outcry arose, Ashcroft responded by declaring that Americans who whined about lost liberties were only aiding the Terrorists. The Los Angeles Times reported in August 2002 that Ashcroft favored the establishment of camps where American citizens arrested on U.S. soil on suspicion of terrorist connections could be dealt with outside the constraints of due process of law. Remember the Reichstag Fire - the arson of the German national parliament building. Whether or not the Nazis set the blaze themselves, they took advantage of the event to declare a national emergency, to pass legislation which abrogated civil rights, and create new federal police agencies to deal with the crisis. Sound familiar? Asa Hutchinson This former federal prosecuting attorney stood idly by while CIA operative Barry Seal made western Arkansas to the drug trade what Memphis, Tennessee is to Federal Express. He is now the Bush administration's nominee to head the DEA. After the Senate rolled over and played dead regarding the Armitage appointment to the State Department, the administration is demonstrating by Hutchinson's nomination that it clearly knows it has nothing to fear. See the Arkansas Times story at http://arktimes.com/010525coverstoryb.html.
Reich, a friend of the Bush family and a high-profile anti-Castro activist, was nominated on March 22 for the position of assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs. As reported recently by Foreign Policy in Focus (http://www.fpif.org), Reich headed the State Departments Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD) during the early 1980s. This office worked under the direction of Oliver North and the National Security Council and was responsible for manipulating public opinion, particularly with regard to western hemisphere affairs. More specifically, the Reagan administration sought to portray the Nicaraguan contras as "freedom fighters" and to squelch reports of El Salvadoran rightist "death squads." The Office of Public Diplomacy worked toward these objectives, writes FPIF, by "disseminating false information, discrediting reporters whose work the Reagan administration did not like, and exploiting other propaganda tactics normally used to confuse and manipulate the populations of enemy countries." Former AP and Newsweek writer Robert Parry, who co-wrote the first story on contra drug trafficking in 1985, was one reporter who felt the pressures from the OPD. He has written extensively about his experiences and his findings, many of which are available at Consortium News (www.consortiumnews.com).
As with Asa Hutchinson, the administration has literally said that it does not care what people like you or I think about the past misdeeds of its appointees. MSNBC reports: "George W. Bush has chosen Elliott Abrams, a man who has admitted to lying repeatedly to Congress and to the nation about his own role in the contra scandals, to be director of the National Security Councils office for democracy, human rights and international operations. When Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was asked about this Orwellian choice, he insisted that Abrams crimes were 'a matter of the past.'" See the story at this link.