Archive for Bush

Bush adviser: Iraq war launched to protect Israel (2004)

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , , , on March 1, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

il_tank_customInter Press Service (IPS)
March 29, 2004

WASHINGTON — Iraq under Saddam Hussein did not pose a threat to the United States but it did to Israel, which is one reason why Washington invaded the Arab country, according to a speech made by a member of a top-level White House intelligence group.

IPS uncovered the remarks by Philip Zelikow, who is now the executive director of the body set up to investigate the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001 — the 9/11 commission — in which he suggests a prime motive for the invasion just over one year ago was to eliminate a threat to Israel, a staunch U.S. ally in the Middle East.

Zelikow’s casting of the attack on Iraq as one launched to protect Israel appears at odds with the public position of President George W. Bush and his administration, which has never overtly drawn the link between its war on the regime of former president Hussein and its concern for Israel’s security.

The administration has instead insisted it launched the war to liberate the Iraqi people, destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to protect the United States.

Zelikow made his statements about “the unstated threat” during his tenure on a highly knowledgeable and well-connected body known as the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), which reports directly to the president.

He served on the board between 2001 and 2003.

“Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 — it’s the threat against Israel,” Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on Sep. 10, 2002, speaking on a panel of foreign policy experts assessing the impact of 9/11 and the future of the war on the al-Qaeda terrorist organization.

“And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell,” said Zelikow.

The statements are the first to surface from a source closely linked to the Bush administration acknowledging that the war, which has so far cost the lives of nearly 600 U.S. troops and thousands of Iraqis, was motivated by Washington’s desire to defend the Jewish state.

The administration, which is surrounded by staunch pro-Israel, neo-conservative hawks, is currently fighting an extensive campaign to ward off accusations that it derailed the “war on terrorism” it launched after 9/11 by taking a detour to Iraq, which appears to have posed no direct threat to the United States.

Israel is Washington’s biggest ally in the Middle East, receiving annual direct aid of three to four billion dollars.

Even though members of the 16-person PFIAB come from outside government, they enjoy the confidence of the president and have access to all information related to foreign intelligence that they need to play their vital advisory role.

Known in intelligence circles as “Piffy-ab”, the board is supposed to evaluate the nation’s intelligence agencies and probe any mistakes they make.

The unpaid appointees on the board require a security clearance known as “code word” that is higher than top secret.

The national security adviser to former President George H.W. Bush (1989-93) Brent Scowcroft, currently chairs the board in its work overseeing a number of intelligence bodies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the various military intelligence groups and the Pentagon’s National Reconnaissance Office.

Neither Scowcroft nor Zelikow returned numerous phone calls and email messages from IPS for this story.

Zelikow has long-established ties to the Bush administration.

Before his appointment to PFIAB in October 2001, he was part of the current president’s transition team in January 2001.

In that capacity, Zelikow drafted a memo for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on reorganizing and restructuring the National Security Council (NSC) and prioritizing its work.

Richard A. Clarke, who was counter-terrorism coordinator for Bush’s predecessor President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) also worked for Bush senior, and has recently accused the current administration of not heeding his terrorism warnings, said Zelikow was among those he briefed about the urgent threat from al-Qaeda in December 2000.

Rice herself had served in the NSC during the first Bush administration, and subsequently teamed up with Zelikow on a 1995 book about the unification of Germany.

Zelikow had ties with another senior Bush administration official — Robert Zoellick, the current trade representative. The two wrote three books together, including one in 1998 on the United States and the “Muslim Middle East”.

Aside from his position at the 9/11 commission, Zelikow is now also director of the Miller Centre of Public Affairs and White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia.

His close ties to the administration prompted accusations of a conflict of interest in 2002 from families of victims of the 9/11 attacks, who protested his appointment to the investigative body.

In his university speech, Zelikow, who strongly backed attacking the Iraqi dictator, also explained the threat to Israel by arguing that Baghdad was preparing in 1990-91 to spend huge amounts of “scarce hard currency” to harness “communications against electromagnetic pulse”, a side-effect of a nuclear explosion that could sever radio, electronic and electrical communications.

That was “a perfectly absurd expenditure unless you were going to ride out a nuclear exchange — they (Iraqi officials) were not preparing to ride out a nuclear exchange with us. Those were preparations to ride out a nuclear exchange with the Israelis,” according to Zelikow.

He also suggested that the danger of biological weapons falling into the hands of the anti-Israeli Islamic Resistance Movement, known by its Arabic acronym Hamas, would threaten Israel rather than the United States, and that those weapons could have been developed to the point where they could deter Washington from attacking Hamas.

“Play out those scenarios,” he told his audience, “and I will tell you, people have thought about that, but they are just not talking very much about it”.

“Don’t look at the links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but then ask yourself the question, ‘gee, is Iraq tied to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the people who are carrying out suicide bombings in Israel’? Easy question to answer; the evidence is abundant.”

To date, the possibility of the United States attacking Iraq to protect Israel has been only timidly raised by some intellectuals and writers, with few public acknowledgements from sources close to the administration.

Analysts who reviewed Zelikow’s statements said they are concrete evidence of one factor in the rationale for going to war, which has been hushed up.

“Those of us speaking about it sort of routinely referred to the protection of Israel as a component,” said Phyllis Bennis of the Washington-based Institute of Policy Studies. “But this is a very good piece of evidence of that.”

Others say the administration should be blamed for not making known to the public its true intentions and real motives for invading Iraq.

“They (the administration) made a decision to invade Iraq, and then started to search for a policy to justify it. It was a decision in search of a policy and because of the odd way they went about it, people are trying to read something into it,” said Nathan Brown, professor of political science at George Washington University and an expert on the Middle East.

But he downplayed the Israel link. “In terms of securing Israel, it doesn’t make sense to me because the Israelis are probably more concerned about Iran than they were about Iraq in terms of the long-term strategic threat,” he said.

Still, Brown says Zelikow’s words carried weight.

“Certainly his position would allow him to speak with a little bit more expertise about the thinking of the Bush administration, but it doesn’t strike me that he is any more authoritative than Wolfowitz, or Rice or Powell or anybody else. All of them were sort of fishing about for justification for a decision that has already been made,” Brown said.

The above article can be found (subscription only) at: IPS

For more on the “neoconservative” (i.e., Zionist) push for a U.S. war against Iraq, see the excellent BBC documentary “The War Party” HERE

Bush adviser: Iraq war launched to protect Israel (2004)

In Washington, Israeli PM Olmert calls shots on Gaza; orders Bush, Rice on UNSC resolution

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , on January 14, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

20090114185024306_1U.S. says remarks on Olmert-Bush call inaccurate
Reuters
January 13, 2009

WASHINGTON — The United States on Tuesday denied that a telephone call from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to President George W. Bush forced Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to abstain in a U.N. vote on the Gaza war.

“There are inaccuracies,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said about Olmert’s remarks Monday night in a speech broadcast on Israeli television and widely reported in the media.

Olmert said he had demanded to talk to Bush with only 10 minutes to spare before a U.N. Security Council vote Thursday on a resolution opposed by Israel calling for an immediate ceasefire.

“He gave an order to the secretary of state and she did not vote in favor of it — a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organized and maneuvered for. She was left pretty shamed and abstained on a resolution she arranged,” Olmert said.

The White House did not elaborate on the inaccuracies.

But State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, who was with Rice at the United Nations last week during debate on the U.N. resolution, said the remarks were “just 100 percent, totally, completely untrue.”

McCormack added that Washington had no plan at the moment to seek clarification from Israel.

In his remarks, Olmert described his call to Bush while the U.S. president was giving a speech in Philadelphia.

“I said, ‘I don’t care. I have to talk to him now,'” Olmert said, describing Bush, who leaves office on Jan. 20, as “an unparalleled friend” of Israel.

“They got him off the podium, brought him to another room and I spoke to him. I told him, ‘You can’t vote in favor of this resolution.’ He said, ‘Listen, I don’t know about it, I didn’t see it, I’m not familiar with the phrasing.'”

Olmert said he then told Bush: “‘I’m familiar with it. You can’t vote in favor.’”

Bush was in Philadelphia on Thursday morning and gave a 27-minute speech on education policy that ended at 11:46 a.m. and there was no interruption of the public event.

The U.N. Security Council voted on the Gaza resolution about 10 hours later, shortly before 9:30 p.m.

[The U.S. abstained from voting, while the other 14 members of the council approved the ceasefire resolution.]

Arab ministers said after the U.N. vote Thursday that Rice had promised them the United States would support the resolution, but then made an about-face after talking to Bush.

A few minutes before the scheduled vote at the United Nations, Rice’s staff told reporters she would make a few brief comments beforehand, but then abruptly canceled her press appearance, saying she would instead speak to Bush by phone.

She then entered the U.N. Security Council chamber, huddled with Arab ministers who shook their heads as she spoke to them. Immediately after the vote, Rice left for Washington without talking to reporters.

Rice joined her French and British ministers in drawing up the resolution and the three Western powers haggled with Arab countries for three days over wording, which Rice told the U.N. Security Council she supported.

(By Tabassum Zakaria; Additional reporting Paul Eckert and Sue Pleming in Washington and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
The above article can be found at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKTRE50C6OJ20090113

In Washington, Israeli PM Olmert calls shots on Gaza; orders Bush, Rice on UNSC resolution

As Bush exits, four high-profile (Jewish) felons hope for pardons

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , , , on December 31, 2008 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

20090129180055627_1The Jewish Daily Forward
December 31, 2008

Even the naughtiest Jews know the commandments against breaking the law. But for those who just couldn’t help themselves, the road to redemption — for the next three weeks, anyway — leads straight through the Oval Office.

The pardon season was kicked off with a high-profile Jewish story: President Bush’s pardon of a deceased non-Jewish air force pilot, Charles Winters, who illegally sent arms to the nascent Israeli government during its 1948 fight for independence. Among the remaining cases before Bush, four involve high-profile Jews who likely have a last chance at clemency with the traditional end-of-term pardons.

One of those, Isaac Toussie, is a member of the tight-knit Syrian community. Toussie had an initial pardon granted, and then rescinded, just before Christmas 2008.

Public campaigns have been launched on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, the Navy analyst who was sent to jail for spying on behalf of Israel, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a leading neoconservative and former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. Jewish philanthropist and former junk-bond king Michael Milken had his application for pardon submitted by Washington bigwig Ted Olsen.

Bush’s Justice Department has received a record number of requests for pardon — reportedly more than 650 — but the president has granted relatively few in comparison with his predecessors. Still, supporters of these candidates say that Bush may be the best chance these men have. Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel and a leader in the effort to free Pollard, said: “We have a president who’s a friend of Israel. This is the best opportunity we’ll have for a while.”

Each man has chosen a different path on his quest for clemency. For Libby, supporters in the media, including the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, are pleading the case for a pardon. Milken, perhaps hoping to rehabilitate his image, has given hundreds of millions of dollars to charity and has sponsored various Jewish institutions. Pollard has had politicians and rabbis go to bat for him.

The path that has received the most scrutiny thus far is that of Toussie. The Brooklyn real estate developer was sentenced to five months in prison in 2003 for mail fraud and for falsifying mortgage documents.

Toussie appeared to make an end run around the Justice Department, hiring former White House lawyer Bradford Berenson, who had access to people close to the president. It also turned out that Toussie’s father, Robert, had given nearly $40,000 to the Republican National Committee and to GOP candidates in 2008.

It was a tried-and-true recipe for gaining clemency: Obtain a politically connected attorney, mix in a sizable donation to the party in power and watch as the usual hurdles toward clemency are bypassed.

But when it comes to redemption, the president who giveth can also taketh away. Toussie was pardoned on the same day as Winters, December 23, but that was retracted a day later, when news got out about the political donations from Toussie’s father.

P.S. Ruckman Jr., an executive clemency expert who edits the Pardon Power blog and authored the forthcoming book “Pardon Me, Mr. President: Adventures in Crime, Politics and Mercy,” said that Toussie’s experience is not unique: He has found at least a dozen examples of signed presidential clemency warrants that were later voided, revoked or canceled. In almost every case, the subject was eventually pardoned by the same president who had done the rescinding.

“So Toussie still has a chance,” Ruckman said. “An eventual pardon by Bush would not be unprecedented.”

Toussie could not be reached for comment.

In the Jewish communal world, the case that has attracted the most attention is that of Pollard.

The former U.S. Navy analyst, serving life in prison for passing military secrets to Israel, has been at the center of a high-profile campaign for clemency since the mid-’80s. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former CIA director James Woolsey have all said that they favor a pardon for the ex-spy. Every Israeli prime minister since Yitzhak Rabin has appealed to America’s government for his release.

Pollard’s supporters argue that his 1985 sentence to life in prison was excessive. But officials in America’s intelligence community have long opposed clemency for Pollard, claiming he exposed vital details about how the United States gathers and uses intelligence.

Even with the difficulties these men face, obtaining a pardon from the president still might be easier than achieving redemption in the Jewish sense.

“Repentance and pardon is a divine issue, a matter of Jewish law, and it’s outside the purview of the traditional justice system,” said Lawrence H. Schiffman, Chairman of New York University’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. “Could you use some type of Jewish barometer to determine whether a person would deserve a pardon in American law? The guidance would come from whether the person had done things to make restitution. A person must also show that they’ve separated from the illegal activity.”

The above article can be found at: http://www.forward.com/articles/14856/

As Bush exits, four high-profile (Jewish) felons hope for pardons