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Bush, You Were My President

But Abu Ghraib is worse than Watergate.

by Jonathan Wilson
May 12, 2004

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For over a week we have received disclosures of a widening scandal of prisoner abuse. It is a scandal that has brought apologies from our president, our secretary of defense, and generals in the theater. It is also the scandal that defines this administration. I had voted it into power. By a year ago I was resolved not to vote either for or against it. Now I will vote for Kerry.

I quail to think of it: the compromise of so many of my own convictions that would lead me into Kerry's camp. I had voted Bush in for many reasons: tax cuts, a redefined foreign policy that would return humility to the world stage, the conservative's penchant for assigning conservative judges to federal benches, and the liklihood that Colin Powell would serve in the administration.

Although I questioned the rhetoric of a "war on terror" I was Bush's man as we assembled the coalition against the Taliban's regime in Afganistan. And then the ugliness began, besmirching the high ground which the United States had been handed on the lives of 3000 people on September 11, 2001. I was angry with the Patriot Act, angry with the Guantanamo interment, angry with the arrest and jailing without charge of immigrants, angry that we adopted a policy of "pre-emptive" war. 

This is the climate in which the Abu Ghraib abuses found fertile ground. The seven soldiers deserve to be court-martialed. They represent the U.S. military today: these seven are multi-ethnic, and represent both genders. This is US today, as fair a representation of who we are. And who we are, is a people capable of committing the egregious acts of Abu Ghraib. We have seen the torturers, and they are us.

The responsibility is theirs, and they must bear it. The responsibility also climbs up the chain of command, to those who turned their heads, to those who made hints and suggestions that such behavior was appropriate, all the way to the Secretary of Defense who had been coy regarding the treatment of prisoners ever since Afghanistan's first captives were stationed in Cuba. From the Secretary of Defense, the buck stops with George W. Bush.

It does not appear that either Rumsfeld nor the President will have the class and character to resign their offices — not that making room for Cheney would be an improvement under the circumstances. Just yesterday, Bush said that Rumsfeld was doing a "superb job," and Cheney is reported to have called him "the best Secretary of Defense ever." We need a change, from top down and bottom up. The people of the United States have an opportunity to tell the world that we repent of this administration and what is has first sown and then reaped.

Bush cannot bribe me with tax cuts, the promise of a Mars mission, or a Marriage Amendment. And then being elected to a local school council I have had first-hand experience of the law laughably titled "no child left behind," an edict of the federal government to punish local schools that had been on the road to improvement before Bush took office.

This administration has been a disaster in so many ways it takes my breath away. All the moral capital of September 11, 2001 has been squandered in arrogance and incompetence. That capital will not be lent again, internationally, if Bush takes office for a second term. That capital will not be found at home, even with all the talk of marriage and education and tax cuts. Moral capital is not bribery.

We have to see what Abu Ghraib represents with the same clarity of vision in which we, the people, recognized what Watergate represented thirty years ago. The only good news that comes from Abu Ghraib is that we have the information now, before we assign the man responsible to a second term as President.

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Michael H. Thomson from Merritt Island, Florida writes:
May 12, 2004
The sad part of this entire mess is that our country is having a major crisis in leadership during the time of a real war - a war that is worldwide and growing. Whoever becomes President in 2005, 2009, and 2013 - and possibly years beyond that will inherit the mantle for fighting this war.

This war between the West and radical Islam will scale up rather than scale down. More American youth, more Moslem youth, and millions caught in between will suffer and die .

Republicans and Democrats and their zeal to snatch power for their various agendas are dividing the country into opposing camps just at the critical time when we should be pulling together.

Watching the Senate hearings on the prisoner abuse scandal, I watched two U.S. senators express different opinions on the subject. Both positions offered no possibility of compromise.

James Inhofe (R) a senator from Oklahoma and Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts are very similar to the various mullahs in Islam in whipping up support for their respective right wing and left wing constituencies. Neither's view is representative of the vast majority of Americans.

Other mullahs around our country such as right wing Rush Limbaugh and his left-wing counterparts, spew a continuous stream of hate and fear that is seriously splitting this country apart. I ask - how can a serious American leader emerge from this divided, polarized mess? Are we going to someday become like the legendary Hatfields and McCoys and forget what we are fighting each other about? Is a (D) or an (R) in front of an elected representative's name going to become a brand indicating his or her character? I hope not, but I definitely see it happening.

The global war on terror - above all other concerns - is going to dominate all of our lives for many years. Our personal liberties at home and abroad will be affected by it. Our economy will suffer from it and many Americans be relegated to a third world status because of it. It is the American Character that will win or lose this war . Responsible Americans are going to have to think beyond the (D) and (R) and draft and pick leaders strong and willing to take on the awesome challenges of the future.

At some point - some future leader is going to have to make a very unpopular decision and deal honestly and forthrightly with the CORE issue in this war - Israel and Palestine.

George Bush doesn't have the guts and neither does John Kerry. Until we get a leader strong enough to face up to that chrystal clear issue, we face a future of widows, orphans, and grieving mothers and fathers.

If there ever was a time in American history where the individual voter needs to THINK about his or her choices - it is now!

S.E. Shepherd from Chicago, IL writes:
May 13, 2004
One thing I do have to give President Bush credit for - he is the first President I can remember that actually publically apologized for the actions of the U.S. military abroad. Many Presidnets have regretted incidents in the past, but none have ever apologized.

This does not wipe Bush's slate clean, as the continued mess in Iraq grows. We barely hear of Afghanistan, but considering former NFL star Pat Tillman was killed there recently, it would be folly to believe we have any more control over there.

President Bush never won my vote, not even in 2000, but Kerry has shown little that he deserves it either.

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