George W. Bush made his debut as a motivational speaker to a packed house of adoring fans in Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday. Mr. Bush, who has been all but invisible since last January’s inauguration of Barack Obama, is apparently trying to raise his profile before the release of his book. He spoke about prayer, challenges and walking his dog.
“In the crowd of real estate agents in suits, housewives in jeans, students and senior citizens, Chris Clarke, 25, a salesman from Dallas, stood at the back,” reported The Washington Post on Monday. “Like many people, he said that other speakers were better – Colin Powell was his favorite – but he thought Bush was good. In fact, he said, it could turn out that Bush may be more suited to motivational speaking than being president. He said when Bush misspeaks, it sounds ‘incompetent if you are president. But here it can be inspiring. It makes him seem like a regular guy, no better than me.'”
“Man, my life has changed!” said Mr. Bush on his new situation.
Well, so have a lot of other lives since he departed office in failure and disgrace, and not for the better. Unemployment has skyrocketed. The banks took the money he gave them and ran, to the detriment of millions. Mortgage foreclosures continue unabated.
Some things, however, remain exactly the same.
Last Sunday, two gigantic explosions ripped through Iraqi government buildings in Baghdad. The justice and local government ministries, as well as the provincial government headquarters, were targeted at the busiest time of the day. More than 150 people were killed, and more than 500 were wounded. Among the dead were dozens of children at a day care center. The next day, a bomb on a minibus exploded outside Karbala, killing three people and wounding eight. On the same day, gunmen killed two people and wounded two others in Mosul.
In the days before the Sunday attack in Baghdad, gunmen attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint, killing one soldier. A car bomb wounded two in Baghdad. A suicide bomber killed one and wounded two in Baghdad. The list goes on, the violence continues every single day, and for Iraq, nothing much has changed at all.
In Afghanistan, eight US soldiers and one civilian were killed by roadside bombs on Tuesday. The day before, 14 Americans, including several DEA agents, were killed in separate helicopter crashes. An American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb on Saturday. A NATO soldier and two US troops were killed in separate incidents – a firefight and a roadside bombing – on Friday. The list goes on, the violence continues every day, and for Afghanistan, nothing much has changed at all.
Just so we are all clear, Mr. Bush is responsible for this. Mr. Cheney is responsible for this. Mr. Powell is responsible for this. Ms. Rice is responsible for this. Mr. Rumsfeld is responsible for this. Mr. Wolfowitz is responsible for this. Mr. Feith is responsible for this. Mr. Libby is responsible for this. Mr. Rove is responsible for this. The Republican majorities in control of the House and Senate until 2006 are responsible for this. The corporate news media, who championed these catastrophes for years and years, is responsible for this. The defense contractors who look at these two wars as grand paydays are responsible for this.
Not one of these people has been called to account for the murder and mayhem they engaged in during the eight monstrous years of the George W. administration. In fact, according to a recent New York Times editorial, the acts and activities of the previous administration may never be brought to light, thanks to the acts and actions of the current administration:
The Obama administration has clung for so long to the Bush administration’s expansive claims of national security and executive power that it is in danger of turning President George W. Bush’s cover-up of abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism into President Barack Obama’s cover-up.
In the United States, the Obama administration is appealing a sound federal appellate court ruling last April in a civil lawsuit by [Binyamin] Mohamed and four others. All were victims of the government’s extraordinary rendition program, under which foreigners were kidnapped and flown to other countries for interrogation and torture.
In that case, the Obama administration has repeated a disreputable Bush-era argument that the executive branch is entitled to have lawsuits shut down whenever it makes a blanket claim of national security. The ruling rejected that argument and noted that the government’s theory would “effectively cordon off all secret actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the C.I.A. and its partners from the demands and limits of the law.”
The Obama administration has aggressively pursued such immunity in numerous other cases beyond the ones involving Mr. Mohamed. We do not take seriously the government’s claim that it is trying to protect intelligence or avoid harm to national security.
In a similar vein, Mr. Obama did a flip-flop last May and decided to resist orders by two federal courts to release photographs of soldiers abusing prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last week, just in time to avoid possible Supreme Court review of the matter, Congress created an exception to the Freedom of Information Act that gave Secretary of Defense Robert Gates authority to withhold the photos.
We share concerns about inflaming anti-American feelings and jeopardizing soldiers, but the best way to truly avoid that is to demonstrate that this nation has turned the page on Mr. Bush’s shameful policies. Withholding the painful truth shows the opposite.
Like the insistence on overly broad claims of secrecy, it also avoids an important step toward accountability, which is the only way to ensure that the abuses of the Bush years are never repeated. We urge Mr. Gates to use his discretion under the new law to release the photos, sparing Americans more cover-up.