Friday, October 27, 2006


President Bush now denies that "Stay the Course" was his strategy for Iraq- as election disaster looms, could the Republicans now be the champions of "Cut and Run?"

On Tuesday, October 24, 2006, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper ran a short version of the column that appeared in this paper on October 13, 2006 titled
“A FEW QUESTIONS FOR THE PRESIDENT. You can find the article at:


The Tallahassee Democrat editor put my e-mail address at the bottom of the article. I wasn’t remotely prepared for the e-mails that started arriving the day the editorial appeared, the earliest of which was sent just after 3:00 A.M. (presumably by an insomniac reader of the on-line edition). Amazingly, not a negative response among them. Here’s the article, followed by a sample of the responses (I omitted names and substituted initials:


Recently, President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have given speeches about how important it is to stay the course in Iraq, telling Americans that the battle being fought for control of the streets of Baghdad is the central front on the war against terror.

They have compared the struggle against an amorphous enemy that they have labeled “Islamo Fascism” to the World War II battles against the Nazis.

They have labeled opponents of the war as “cut-and-run defeatists” and “appeasers.”

Unfortunately for America, no one from the audience or the press asked any of them some obvious questions. In case a member of the press ever develops a backbone, here are some questions he or she might want to ask at the next presidential press conference:

MR. PRESIDENT: You’ve said that the options in Iraq are either cut and run or stay the course. My question is: Why haven’t you considered a third option: phasing in troops from Jordan and Egypt as peacekeepers – troops who are Arabic- speaking Muslims, troops who won’t provoke Islamic jihadists or help fuel the insurgency, as our intelligence agencies report that American troops have done after our invasion and occupation of Iraq?

If it is so important to have troops there to keep the peace and fight the insurgency, why haven’t you asked King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Mubarak of Egypt to contribute peacekeeping forces? Why not gradually replace Americans with Arabic-speaking Muslim peacekeepers? Why not take away the single greatest provocation that allows radical Muslims to portray this as a holy war, of Christians against Muslims? Of outsiders against Arabs? Why allow the presence of Western, mostly Christian occupiers to inspire the insurgency and provide a fertile breeding ground for Islamic terrorists?

MR. PRESIDENT: Since you’ve admitted that there is no connection between the 9/11 attacks and Iraq, and since we’ve found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, you have said that American troops are there to bring democracy to the Iraqi people. Democracy means the opportunity to vote on one’s future. Will you agree to allow the Iraqi people to go to the polls and vote whether they want American troops to stay or leave by a specific date? Why not put our actions where our rhetoric is – our money where our mouths are – and trust the Iraqi people to vote? If they vote for us to leave, then they can fight for their own freedom the same way we did in 1776. And they will value it more if it is their own blood, sweat and tears that wins their freedom, rather than having it handed to them by American troops whose invasion and occupation has directly or indirectly caused the deaths of tens of thousands of their countrymen.

MR. PRESIDENT: You, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld have recently compared the occupation of Iraq to the moral equivalent of the World War II fight against the Nazis. If this truly is the equivalent of World War II, if America’s safety and future are really being determined by the outcome of the battle for the streets of Baghdad, then when can we expect your daughters, Jenna and Barbara, now 24, to sign up and fight the way Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four sons – James, Elliot, John and FDR Jr. – did during World War II?

James Roosevelt was second-in-command of the 2nd Raider Battalion of the Marine Raiders and won the Navy Cross and Silver Star in combat. Elliott Roosevelt was a pilot in the United States Army Air Forces, flew a P-38 Lightning in the North African campaign in 1942, and was an Army photo reconnaissance pilot flying over France prior to the D-Day landings. John Roosevelt served with a carrier task group in the Pacific and received the Bronze Star. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. was a Naval officer decorated for bravery in the battle of Casablanca.

And when can we expect the children of the vice president, of the members of your Cabinet, and of the Republicans in Congress- who are calling Democrats “cut and run defeatists” and “Defeatocrats”- to sign up and fight?

If you can’t persuade your own flesh and blood, those who share your genes and your heritage, whose values you have shaped, to risk themselves by enlisting or even to sign up as civilian truck drivers in Iraq, then how can you tell the American people that this is the equivalent of World War II, a time when virtually every able-bodied American, including your own father, served in the war effort?


I read your article today and it was most thought provoking. I was especially impressed, as a father of two, that you have the moral authority to speak as your son has been and is in Iraq. Keep up the good work and if you are in Tallahassee give me a call for lunch; I will pick up the check.

Sincerely, Judge EB


Dear Mr. Finkelstein-

I imagine that by now you have received comments regarding your

Put me in the column as a supporter. You have managed to put into
written words what I have been saying for some time.

Well done!

lst LT, USMC Retired


your article was right on target but I suispect you already know the answers to your questions.... and the answer for me lies in your last question. our presidents vietnam service record speaks for itself. and I'm not a georgian but the things republicans implied about poor ol' max cleland says more about the character of these people than anything I know. despicable... our country is being led by the worst president in my lifetime.
I offer my prayers for your sons safe return.

an ol' navy veteran whose son also served.


Bravo, Mr. Finkelstein!

Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa
Camp Lemonier, Djibouti

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle


Your three questions (as published in the Tallahassee Democrat) were excellent. Unfortunately, Mr. President will not answer them, nor will Cheney or Rumsfeld. They can’t, because their positions are fraudulent. I hope that your piece will be picked up by the newswires.

Very well done, Sir.

Chief Investigator
Fonvielle Lewis Foote & Messer
Tallahassee, FL


Bravo. Great questions. May God bring your son home safely.

Sincerely, JL
(USN 1958-61)



Great piece about Bush and the rotten things he's done to our country.







Mr. Finkelstein, I very much appreciated your article and questions that I read in the Tallahassee Democrat Tuesday! Thank you for asking some hard questions that maybe the press is too afraid of repercussions to ask the President. I, too, sent a son to Baghdad (in the 3rd ID at the beginning). There is credibility in you doing the asking because you are a father whose son is
there and you are from the South, which is sometimes a region taken for granted by the President. It is easy to be passionate and not constantly examine your assumptions, motives and policies if you have not a personal stake (a child's life)involved.



Dear Mr. Finkelstein:

Your story appeared today in the Tallahassee Democrat. My hope is that you circulated it to other newspapers too. It was, in a word, terrific.

Professor, FSU


Dear Mr..Finkelstein:

I read your op ed piece in today's Tallahassee Democrat and wanted to thank you for taking a courageous and perhaps unpopular stand on the ever growing morass our government has created in Iraq. More people with your unique credibility need to step up and voice their concern and criticism. No one would dare to question your thoughtfulness or your patriotism as they so easily do with other critics of this war. Thank you again and please pass along to your son my gratitude and for his courageous service to our this unnecessary war. I will certainly keep him and all his fellow Soldiers and Marines in my thoughts and prayers

Thank you again,
Tallahassee Florida

Jim: Thanks so much for the note, I certainly did not expect a response..I will be forwarding your op ed piece to everyone in my add.,book Republicans (I know only a very few these days) and Democrats as well as Independents. I can only hope that the voters are going to send a resounding message to the President and his cronies on election day. Perhaps then we might start to thoughtfully approach how we can best get out of Iraq. Please send your son my very best wishes...and again thanks for your honesty and courage in writing the op ed piece ...I am sure your son is as proud of you as you are of him.



meemee4256 wrote:

Mr. Finkelstein,

Your article was very interesting. I agree with you on these questions. Unfortunately , the answers may never be printed. I pray your son and the other service men and women will be coming home again soon .





I read your letter and applaud you. ... . Of as much interest to me is how much stock Haliburton insiders have sold since Bush became President. At least one, David J. Lesser has cashed out over $50 million in the last year.

Prayers for your son,


BRAVO! I've been saying it for 3+ years now: "I'll support the war when
the Bush-ettes are on the front lines!" And I'm sending your column to my
brother, The Republican. Why can't people SEE when even Shrub says he was

Monticello, FL


Dear Mr. Finkelstein:
Thank you for articulating what so many of us feel. Your op-ed piece was reasoned and exactly what I would ask if I had the opportunity. I wish your son well and hope you are reunited safely and soon.



Good afternoon Mr. Finkelstein:

I just read one of the best articles in the Tallahassee Democrat that I have
read to date, "Questions For The President".

You have said what so many of us want to say and I truly hope that President
Bush sees the article.

Thank you again for an outstanding piece.

Games Administration Analyst I

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Mac Collins took thousands of dollars to fund these now useless warplanes (at $361 million per plane)....

As many of my regular readers know, I have a son serving his second tour of duty in Iraq for the United States Marine Corps. The first time he was there was when his reserve unit was activated in January of 2003 and sent to Kuwait. That unit was part of the invasion force which toppled Saddam Hussein and occupied Iraq.

Like most Americans, I always assumed that our military would not be ordered to war unless they were properly trained and equipped- I naively thought that Congress and the Commander in Chief would make sure that they were ready to perform the mission assigned to them, and do it as safely as possible. In the case of the Iraq War, I was wrong.

When the Marines and Army were ordered by President Bush to cross over the Kuwait-Iraq border on March 20, 2003, they were both poorly trained for their ultimate mission- the occupation of Iraq- and poorly equipped for both desert and urban warfare. For example, my son’s reserve unit lacked body armor, armor for their humvees (they had canvas tops), two way radios, desert boots, goggles, and a host of other items that should have routinely been provided before they were sent off to war. The weapons they were issued weren’t adequate for the job- the barrels on the M-16’s were too long for urban warfare, and the bullets too light to be effective. They weren’t even provided Arabic language phrase books or enough interpreters to do their jobs.

The reason our troops were lacking the most basic items is because the members of Congress who voted to send them off to war were busy appropriating tens of billions of dollars to the huge defense contractors who paid for their political campaigns.

That is why, if you support our troops, there is no way you should allow people like Michael Allen (“Mac”) Collins to return to Congress. Local television has been full of his vicious attack ads on incumbent Jim Marshall of the 8th Congressional District. What Collins doesn’t reveal to the audience is that when he served in Congress during the years leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he took tens of thousands of dollars which was intended to influence his votes with regard to going to war and with regard to allocating money in the defense budget. He took the money because he wanted to be a United States senator, and he needed the money to run for Zell Miller’s senate seat in the 2004 Republican primary.

General Dynamics of Virginia saw its stock double after the war started- from $50 to $100. The war pumped an extra $1.2 billion into its pockets. General Dynamics paid $10,000 to Mac Collins within 2 months of the war breaking out. United Technologies (UT) of Connecticut got an extra $900 million in war contracts and a stock increase from $54 to $97 after the invasion of Iraq. UT paid $2,000 to Mac Collins, including $1,000 on March 18, 2003, two days before American troops invaded Iraq.

Lockheed Martin is the #1 Department of Defense contractor and was by far the biggest winner from the vote to go to war- it got an extra $5 billion, from $17 billion to $22 billion, between the 2002 and the 2003 defense budgets. Lockheed paid $5,000 to Mac Collins, including $1,000 on March 21, 2003, the day after ground operations began.

On October 11, 2002, Mac Collins stood up to vote on whether America would go to war against Iraq. At that time, he knew that Iraq was not a military threat to any of its neighbors, let alone a threat to the United States. He knew that Iraq was so weakened by eleven years of sanctions that its military and its infrastructure were a shambles. He knew that not only were there no weapons of mass destruction there, there were no ongoing programs to build or acquire any. He knew that American war planes enforced “no-fly” zones over all of Southern Iraq and the Kurdish areas to the north, and that we could (and did under President Clinton) bomb their military sites with impunity.

Mac Collins knew that the purpose of the 2002 vote was to provide a political advantage to Republicans in the midterm elections only three weeks away. He also knew that his vote would reward the companies from which he wanted money to run for the United States Senate in 2004, because under cover of an ongoing war, their defense contracts would skyrocket, whether we needed the weapons systems or not. He knew that as a result of his vote, American troops and innocent Iraqi civilians would die.

As a result of taking the money intended to influence his votes, Mac Collins left the Marines and soldiers- including my son- without the equipment necessary to defend themselves and to accomplish their mission safely. After he came home in October of 2003 and was released from active duty, he summarized his unit’s job and the items they lacked to do it:

“When my Marine Corps reserve civil affairs unit went to Iraq, our job was to rebuild the country – everything from infrastructure such as electric and water systems, to the judicial system and civil administration.... The nature of our duties places us in constant close contact with civil, police, and military officials of the country we work in, as well as the general population. We frequently work in small groups of two or four Marines, and as such we are usually responsible for our own safety and security. The only weapons that anyone in my unit had during our Iraqi deployment were 9mm pistols and M-16 rifles – we had no machine guns, shotguns, hand grenades, etc.

Not that the solution to every problem is force, but frankly there were many situations in which a rifle or a pistol is virtually useless. In the battle for Nasiriyah, for example, we took fire from heavily armed Iraqi forces who occupied fortified positions. In circumstances like that, an M-16 bullet not much bigger than that of a child’s .22 rifle does very little. In much of the close-in fighting in and around buildings, the 39.5 inch M-16 rifle is just too long to be easily trained on targets. Weapons exist which are designed for just that sort of fighting, but we were never provided with any of them. Granted, during the invasion itself, we were not so concerned with doing our civil affairs work, but there are many other occasions during the aftermath of the conflict when we were faced with hostile mobs, guerilla snipers and bombers, and mortar attacks. Not only were we inadequately armed, but many members of my unit were never issued with essential Interceptor body armor with ceramic plate inserts, which have been credited with the protection of countless American lives.

Our vehicles were canvas-topped Humvees with absolutely no protection from bullets or RPG’s (rocket propelled grenades), and we didn’t even have enough of those to meet our needs.

My group of 35 Marines was lucky enough to have three individuals who spoke Arabic – two grew up in Lebanon, and one studied it in college. Unfortunately, this was hardly enough to augment the two or three civilian translators we were given just before the invasion – one of whom decided after experiencing combat that he’d had enough, and he un-volunteered. In time, we managed to hire Iraqi civilians to work as interpreters, but we constantly had to be wary of them – many Iraqis oppose the American efforts in their country, and a few of our translators were discovered doing everything from giving unreliable translations to actively providing information to the insurgency.

Unfortunately, the money which was essential for us to do our jobs and protect us from hostile attack was diverted to expensive weapons systems with costs per unit in the hundreds of millions or more- advanced fighters, ships and so forth.

To put this in perspective: A conservative estimate for the cost of General Dynamics Seawolf submarine is $2.3 billion. $2.3 billion, divided by the 214,000 Marines on active and reserve duty, works out to over $10,700 for each Marine. Here’s a short list of items which would have been extremely useful during my deployment in Iraq, but we were never issued them. All costs are best estimates. Had the funds for just one Seawolf been diverted to the Marine Corps, every Marine and every unit could have been issued the following:

Individual Items:

Interceptor body armor with ceramic plate inserts - $1500
M4 Carbine (short version of M16) - $800
Optical scope for M4 - $800
M9 9mm pistol - $500
Handheld two-way radios for individual communication - $300
Reliable boots - $100
Good sunglasses - $75
Effective sand goggles - $60
Camelback water system - $60
Language phrasebook - $10

Unit Items

Armored Humvees - $100k
High-power encrypted two-way radios for communication with other units - $20k
“Blue Force Tracker” GPS that shows locations of all other units - $100k
Language training - $20k
Interpreters - $80k each, per year
Ammunition for training - $25k”


When Congress and the President sent our troops to war in Iraq, instead of providing the items that my son’s unit and other Marines and soldiers needed, they made sure that projects like the $60 billion F-22 Advanced Tactical Fighter ( $361 million per plane) built by Lockheed and the $2.3 billion Seawolf submarine were funded. These weapons, designed to fight the former Soviet Union of the 1970's and 1980's, are worthless in the conflicts we fight today. The companies which produce those weapons paid money to Mac Collins and other influential Republican officials to ensure that they would be at the head of the line when it came to receiving defense dollars. The items on my son's list were not funded, because they didn't pay Mac Collins and other Republican Congressmen enough money to make them a priority.

It is a disgrace when a Congressman takes money to influence his vote. It is tantamount to treason to shortchange our military, to risk their lives, because defense contractors are buying off Congressmen like Mac Collins.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


We don't really want to know what President Bush is attempting to measure as he jokes with disgraced Republican Congressman Mark Foley

"What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!"

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene II

Here is a quiz for the politically astute.

In the last 12 months, what political party saw its Congressmen and/or top White House officials:

(a) Plead guilty to accepting over $2 million in bribes from defense contractors for putting earmarks into Pentagon spending bills, using the money to build a house worth millions, buy a yacht, a Rolls Royce, and install gold encrusted plumbing fixtures?

(b) Plead guilty in Federal Court to accepting bribes from Jack Abramoff (former chairman of the College Republican National Committee) through Michael Scanlon, former top aide to the Majority Leader of the House?

(c) Resign one day after ABC News published e-mails and instant messages sent to 16 year old male pages, but at least three years after top members of the House, including the Speaker, Dennis Hastert, were informed of this Florida Congressman’s inappropriate behavior?

(d) Resign after being indicted by a Texas grand jury for illegally funneling corporate money to local political races?

(e) Use his official position to influence the sales of U.S. made airplanes and parts to foreign countries prohibited from receiving them?

(f) Resign after disclosure of over several hundred White House meetings between this public official and convicted serial briber Jack Abramoff?

(g) Disclosed as the person who met with Jack Abramoff in the White House and got an official fired from his State Department job negotiating agreements with tiny Pacific island nations — even when his own bosses wanted him to stay.

(h) Distanced themselves from President Bush on what issue and why?


(a) California Republican Randall “Duke” Cunningham pleaded guilty to taking more than $2 million in bribes in a criminal conspiracy involving at least three defense contractors.
After entering his plea in San Diego, California, last November, the eight-term California Republican said he was "deeply sorry." "The truth is I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office," Asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted cash and gifts and then tried to influence the Defense Department on behalf of the donors, Cunningham said, "Yes, your honor.”

(b) Republican Representative Bob Ney of Ohio pleaded guilty October 13, 2006, in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation, the first lawmaker to confess to crimes in an election-year scandal that has stained the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush administration. GOP leaders said Ney will be expelled from the House if he doesn't quit by the time they return to Washington after the Nov. 7 elections. Appearing in federal court on charges of conspiracy and making false statements, Ney acknowledged taking trips, tickets, meals and campaign donations from Abramoff in return for official actions on behalf of his clients.

On January 3, 2006 Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that requires him to provide evidence about members of Congress.

(c) Florida’s Republican Congressman Mark Foley, whose inappropriate advances on 16 year old male House pages was reported to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and the House Ethics Committee Republican Chairman- but not to the Democrats on the committee. Two high-ranking House Republicans have said they told Hastert about the behavior, and another lawmaker says he told Hastert's staff. Kirk Fordham, Foley's former chief of staff, said that he repeatedly alerted Hastert's staff in 2003 to complaints that the Florida lawmaker was showing inappropriate interest in male pages. ABC news published the following instant message exchanges (“Maf” is Mark A. Foley):

“Maf54 (7:37:27 PM): how my favorite young stud doing

(16 year old male page) (7:37:46 PM): tired and sore

Maf54 (7:39:32 PM): you need a massage

(16 year old male page) (7:41:57 PM): ugh tomorrow i have the first day of lacrosse practice

Maf54 (7:42:27 PM): love to watch that

Maf54 (7:42:33 PM): those great legs running

(16 year old male page) (7:46:57 PM): my last gf and i broke up a few weeks agi

Maf54 (7:47:11 PM): good so your getting horny

(16 year old male page) (7:47:29 PM): lol…a bit

Maf54 (7:48:00 PM): did you spank it this weekend yourself

(16 year old male page) (7:48:04 PM): no

(16 year old male page) (7:48:16 PM): been too tired and too busy”

Maf54 (7:54:31 PM): where do you unload it

(16 year old male page) (7:54:36 PM): towel

Maf54 (7:54:43 PM): really

Maf54 (7:55:02 PM): completely naked?

(16 year old male page) (7:55:12 PM): well ya

Maf54 (7:55:21 PM): very nice

(16 year old male page) (7:55:24 PM): lol

Maf54 (7:55:51 PM): cute butt bouncing in the air”

(d) Texas Republican Tom DeLay, a/k/a “The Hammer,” who resigned his seat and position as House Majority leader after being indicted in Texas for money laundering.

(e) Bob Ney, again (the facts of his Federal District Court plea agreement are publicly available at:

(f) Susan Ralston, a special assistant to President Bush who was a key aide to presidential political strategist Karl Rove (and who used to work for Abramoff), submitted her resignation October 6, 2006, after a congressional report showed she had extensive contacts with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and accepted tickets to sporting events and concerts from him.

(g) Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman. At the time he got State Department official Allen Stayman fired at Jack Abramoff’s request, Mehlman was the political director for President Bush, working in the White House.

(h) Republicans running for re-election, and the issue is Iraq. In spite of contentions by top Republicans that Baghdad is no more dangerous than any major American city- such as Washington D.C.- reporters on the ground in Baghdad wonder:

“Some readers and viewers think we journalists are exaggerating about the situation in Iraq. I can almost understand that because who would want to believe that things are this bad? Particularly when so many people here started out with such good intentions.

I’m more puzzled by comments that the violence isn’t any worse than any American city. Really? In which American city do 60 bullet-riddled bodies turn up on a given day? In which city do the headless bodies of ordinary citizens turn up every single day? In which city would it not be news if neighborhood school children were blown up? In which neighborhood would you look the other way if gunmen came into restaurants and shot dead the customers?

Day-to-day life here for Iraqis is so far removed from the comfortable existence we live in the United States that it is almost literally unimaginable.

It’s almost impossible to describe what it feels like being stalled in traffic, your heart pounding, wondering if the vehicle in front of you is one of the three or four car bombs that will go off that day. Or seeing your husband show up at the door covered in blood after he was kidnapped and beaten.

I don’t know a single family here that hasn’t had a relative, neighbor or friend die violently. In places where there’s been all-out fighting going on, I’ve interviewed parents who buried their dead child in the yard because it was too dangerous to go to the morgue.

Imagine the worst day you’ve ever had in your life, add a regular dose of terror and you’ll begin to get an idea of what it’s like every day for a lot of people here.”

Jane Arraf, NBC News Correspondent

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Recently President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, have all given speeches about how important it is to stay the course in Iraq, telling Americans that the battle being fought for control of the streets of Baghdad is the central front on the war against terror. They have compared the struggle against an amorphous enemy that they have labeled “Islamo Fascism” to the World War II battles against the Nazis. They have labeled opponents of the war as “cut and run defeatists” and “appeasers.”

Unfortunately for America, no one from the audience or the press asked any of them some obvious questions. In case a member of the press ever develops a backbone, here are some questions he or she might want to ask at the next presidential press conference:

MR. PRESIDENT, you have painted a picture of America having only two choices with regard to the military options in Iraq: (1) stay there with current troop levels indefinitely until Iraq somehow becomes a stable democracy, able to police itself, or (2) cut and run, leaving Iraq as an unstable breeding ground for terrorism and "Islamo-Fascism." My question is: why haven't you considered a third option? If it is so important to have troops there to keep the peace and fight the insurgency, why haven't you asked King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Mubarak of Egypt to contribute peacekeeping forces? Why not gradually replace Americans with Arabic speaking, Muslim peacekeepers? Why not take away the one, single, greatest provocation that allows radical Muslims to portray this as a holy war, of Christians against Muslims? Of outsiders against Arabs? Why allow the presence of Western, mostly Christian occupiers to inspire the insurgency and provide a fertile breeding ground for Islamic terrorists?

If defeating the insurgency is now your main goal in Iraq, then why not listen to your commanders there who have told you that it is the presence of Americans that provokes the insurgency- Americans who are Western, Christian, and who don't speak the Arabic language of the Iraqi people? Why not pay attention to the fact that our nation’s intelligence agencies have issued a report concluding that our military actions in Iraq have increased the numbers of Muslims who are willing to wage Holy War against the West? Why not listen to your military analysts in the field who have told you that for every insurgent you kill, you have created two or three more who want revenge?

MR. PRESIDENT, my second question is: you have now admitted publicly that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had "nothing" to do with the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Your inspectors found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the inspection teams were disbanded almost two years ago. Your latest rationale for our invading Iraq is to bring democracy to the Iraqi people. Doesn’t democracy mean allowing the people to choose their own fate- to vote- instead of having it imposed on them by dictators or outsiders? Rather than us dictating to the Iraq people at the point of a gun, if we value democracy, then why not allow the Iraqi people to vote- up or down, stay or go- on whether American forces should stay indefinitely, build permanent military bases all over the country, or whether we should leave within a specific time and dismantle our bases?

Why not put our actions where our rhetoric is- our money where our mouths are- and trust the Iraqi people to vote. If they vote for us to leave, then they can fight for their own freedom the same way we did in 1776. And they will value it more if it was their own blood, sweat, and tears, which won their freedom, rather than having it handed to them by American troops whose invasion and occupation has directly or indirectly caused the deaths of tens of thousands of their countrymen.

One last question MR. PRESIDENT: in the runup to the 2006 Congressional elections, you, the Vice President, and Secretary Rumsfeld have gone around the country giving speeches in which you have painted our military operations in Iraq as the most important front in the world in our efforts to stop terrorism. You said the battle in the streets of Baghdad is the central battle Western civilization faces in the war against radical Muslims- “Islamo Fascists” is the phrase you used- who don't share our values. You have compared this battle to the fight against the Nazis in World War II.

Putting aside for the moment how it is that your administration managed to turn the streets of Baghdad into a breeding ground for terrorism- an area which before we invaded in 2003 had nothing to do with terrorism, a place where Iraqis could walk safely, without fear of being raped, kidnaped, tortured, and shot- putting that aside: if this military adventure in Iraq is so important, so essential, to our civilization, and our way of life, to safeguard America's safety and our future, then shouldn't you be able to convince your own flesh and blood- your children, Jenna and Barbara, now age 24, to enlist and serve in the fight for freedom, the same way that President Roosevelt’s children did during World War II?

President Franklin Roosevelt's four sons, James, Elliot, Franklin, Jr. and John all enlisted and risked their lives in combat. James Roosevelt joined the Marines in 1940 and was second-in-command of the 2nd Raider Battalion of the Marine Raiders, a commando unit which conducted guerrilla-style attacks behind enemy lines. Colonel Elliott Roosevelt was a pilot in the United States Army Air Force who flew a P-38 Lightning in the North African campaign of November 1942 and flew photo reconnaissance before the D-Day landings. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. was a Naval officer decorated for bravery in the battle of Casablanca. John Roosevelt served as Navy Lieutenant with a carrier task group in the Pacific and received the Bronze Star. Your father, George H. W. Bush, scion of a prominent New England family, enlisted at age 18 and served as a carrier pilot during World War II. Numerous Congressmen and Senators and other prominent government officials had children who enlisted and fought- some died- in the war, including Joseph Kennedy and John F. Kennedy.

If this war really is the equivalent of World War II, shouldn’t you and every Congressman and Senator who voted to authorize you to militarily intervene in Iraq and voted to continue funding the occupation which has cost the lives of over 2,600 Americans with over 20,000 wounded- shouldn't you be able to convince those closest to you, who share your genes, your values, your lifestyle, to risk their lives and limbs to fight?

And if you can't get your own children to serve, if you can't persuade Senators and Congressman of your own party to resign and go fight in the war there, as many did during World War II, if you can't persuade the children of Congressmen or members of your cabinet, including your Vice President, to risk their lives by enlisting or even by driving supply trucks for civilian contractors in Iraq- then how can you honestly draw the comparison between the occupation of Iraq to the war against the Nazis?

And if this fight in Iraq is truly the equivalent of World War II, then why haven’t you raised taxes to the level they were in World War II? Why have you instead urged the repeal of the estate tax, so that millionaires and billionaires won’t have to help pay their fair share- after they die! If this is the equivalent of the fight against the Nazis, then why haven’t you persuaded your most ardent supporters- the right wing commentators on Fox, the talk radio patriots, the right wing columnists who are so certain that this war is worth being fought- to enlist in the military and go to Iraq and, or at the very least go into the field in Iraq and risk their lives to cover the story there, the way Ernie Pyle and so many other American correspondents did during World War II?

MR. PRESIDENT, at long last, can't you have the decency to tell the American people the truth? Your decision to invade Iraq was a mistake. Your failure to have an exit strategy was a mistake. It’s time to own up to your mistakes, and bring the troops home.


As a result of a recent law passed by Congress, this is now the official image America presents to the world

“"The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights." ... "this [subsection (ii) of the definition of 'unlawful enemy combatant'] means that if the Pentagon says you're an unlawful enemy combatant -- using whatever criteria they wish -- then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to 'hostilities' at all."

Analysis by Marty Lederman and Bruce Ackerman, on the recent legislation proposed by President Bush to legalize torture, indefinite detention without trial or due process, and denial of access to the courts.

There comes a time when many if not most of us faced with an insurmountable task will throw up our hands and give up. It could be that room that needs cleaning which is so full of clutter- much of which has to be sorted and saved, most of which can be thrown away. It could be the task of losing the weight that comes with age or whipping our bodies into the condition we took for granted back in the day. It could be trying to get another human being to see reason (especially difficult if it’s a spouse, a significant other, or my Republican friend Glenn.)

But lately, for me and many other thinking people with a sense of history and a conscience, it’s been dealing with the fact that the great majority of our 435 Congressmen and 100 Senators, doing the bidding of an elected President, seem to have lost their minds and are willing to throw the Constitution, freedom, and all sense of human dignity and civilization down the drain. All for short term partisan gains.

There are some exceptions, but even those one would most expect to fight the good fight- men like John McCain, who had enough courage to defy his North Vietnamese captors during years in a prison camp- have caved into their need to satisfy the right wing red meat voters who will decide the Republican Presidential nominee in 2008.

But this is about more than just the legalization of torture and giving unprecedented authority to the executive to define the laws of human rights. More than that is the incredible fact that for the first time in our country’s history, all 230 years of being a nation, we have our legislators debating how much sadistic, useless pain to inflict on helpless prisoners, many of whom have proved to be completely innocent of any offense. We have the highest officials in the land now voting to legalize the practices of stacking naked prisoners in piles or subjecting them to dog attacks on their naked genitals. Drowning them within seconds of death. Depriving them of sleep for days on end, and forcing them to stand in cramped positions- just like the infamous “Tiger Cages” which the North Vietnamese inflicted on captured American airmen like John McCain.

My disgust with this country, with the elected officials who not only secretly authorized these practices but who now have passed laws permitting them and immunizing their practitioners from civil or criminal liability, who have thrown out the ancient writ of Habeas Corpus which permitted prisoners to challenge the legality of their confinement in a court of law- my disgust knows no bounds.

As a Jew, I grew up with the knowledge that our time in any nation in the history of the world was always limited. We were short timers, so to speak. Welcomed to Egypt were Joseph and his brothers, then made slaves. Conquerors of the land of Israel in the time from Joshua to David, but later carried off in captivity to Babylonia in the sixth century, B.C.. Freed by the Maccabees in 165 B.C., conquered by the Romans a hundred fifty or so years later. Dispersed throughout the world. Restricted as to geography and trade, then finally kicked out of England, France, and finally Spain in 1492 when the last of the Moors were driven out by King Ferdinand of Columbus fame. Killed in pogroms in Russia and eastern Poland at the turn of the last century (sending my grandmother to America). Murdered by the millions by the Nazis in the period from 1939 to 1945, Holocaust deniers be damned.

As promising as the United States has been for the better part of 200 years, this country was not immune from the seductions of tyranny. There is no reason why, once we start giving up essential freedom for the mirage of temporary safety (to paraphrase Ben Franklin), we could not become as despotic as any slave state or totalitarian government in the world. And shortly before that day arrives, I or my descendants would have to pack our bags, and leave for a place where freedom still exists.

To be sure, the end of our freedom here could never be imposed by others- the shackles would be willingly placed on us by our own selves. The beginning of the end would start with calls to our sense of patriotism, and ironically enough, a fervent cry to protect our “freedoms” from “them.” “Them” being dark hued foreigners (never blondes- maybe that’s why our nation quickly got over the dislike for Nordic Germans after WWII but kept our hostility towards the Japanese for years after) who are sufficiently different from us in physical appearance, religion, language, and culture, as to be easily demonized and caricatured on editorial cartoons.

And once unreasoning fear and panic have set in, we will respond by throwing out everything our political ancestors held most precious. The Writ of Habeas Corpus. The right to a fair trial, with an impartial jury. The assistance of Counsel for the defense. The privilege against compelled self incrimination. All of the precious rights embodied in the 1791 Bill of Rights to our Constitution, added within bare historical moments of the formation of what would quickly become the greatest nation in the history of the earth. Not greatest for our military and economic might, wondrous as they were. But for our system of laws. Checks and balances. Freedom valued over order and conformity.

Why is Habeas Corpus important? Glenn Greenwald, a First Amendment scholar, reminds us of our history, pointing out that Justice Jackson wrote in a concurring opinion in Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 533 (1953):

“Executive imprisonment has been considered oppressive and lawless since John, at Runnymede, pledged that no free man should be imprisoned, dispossessed, outlawed, or exiled save by the judgment of his peers or by the law of the land. The judges of England developed the writ of Habeas Corpus largely to preserve these immunities from executive restraint.”

Thomas Jefferson, in his letter to Thomas Paine said: "I consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."

Patrick Henry wrote: “Is the relinquishment of the trial by jury and the liberty of the press necessary for your liberty? Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights tend to the security of your liberty? Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings--give us that precious jewel, and you may take everything else! ...Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.”

And so the slippery slope has just tipped a little steeper with the passage of a law which disgusts and scares any of us who cling to the hope that one day our nation will regain its sanity, will once again be an international beacon for freedom, and not the most hated nation on earth, less and less free as each year draws to an end.