While President Reagan has many highways, buildings and the Washington National Airport named after him, President George W. Bush has so far had only a try at naming a sewage plant after him — to symbolize cleaning up the mess he left.40 Yet many of the catastrophes of Bush flowed from the policies and tactics of Reagan:
- Just before 9-11, Bush ignored warnings of a coming Osama bin Laden terror attack, but it was Reagan who, as part of his campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan, boosted fanatical jihadists and gave bin Laden his start.414243
- Bush, on his first week in office, planned for carving up the oil fields after an Iraq invasion, but it was Reagan who took the solar panels off the White House and returned the nation to its oil-guzzling ways.4445
- To muster support for invading Iraq, Bush published phony intelligence reports, like those claiming that Iraq was working with al-Qaeda.46 In that he followed the lead of Reagan, who, to gain support for aid to brutal regimes in Latin America, set up “The Office of Public Diplomacy” to use CIA propaganda techniques against the American people, and who, to gain support for his military build up, edited radio transcripts to give the false picture that the Soviets willfully shot down civilian flight KAL-007.4748
- Bush, in his “Global War on Terror”, pursued torture of captives and dragged the nation’s honor into the muck, but he was just bringing home the policy of Reagan, who supported torture by Latin American regimes fighting leftist rebellions.4950
- Bush broke laws with programs such as his domestic warrantless wiretapping, just like Reagan, with programs such as the Iran-Contra caper, which secretly bypassed Congress’s ban against aiding the brutal Contra rebels against the people of Nicaragua.5152
- Bush pushed corporate deregulation and slowed anti-fraud enforcement during a time of massive Wall Street fraud, which helped bring about the Bush Economic Crash — putting millions out of work and causing trillions in bank bailouts, but he was riding out the deregulation wave started by Reagan, who signed the deregulation law that brought about the huge Savings and Loan Crash in the 80’s.53545556
- Bush fiddled for eight years while global warming climate change mindlessly marched ahead, and, like Reagan, ignored and cut enforcement of environmental standards.5758
Now, President Obama has just signed a law to plan remembrances for Reagan on the 100th anniversary of his birth (on Feb 6, 2011).59 Let’s take the occasion to do more than honor Reagan with a postage stamp — let’s honor our country by teaching a factual history of his regime and its effects to our children.
A measure seeking to commemorate President Bush’s years in office by slapping his name on a San Francisco sewage plant has qualified for the November ballot.
“We think that it’s important to remember our leaders in the right historical context,” said McConnell, a member of the group that was formed after friends came up with the renaming idea.
“In President Bush’s case, we think that we will be cleaning up a substantial mess for the next 10 or 20 years,” he said. “The sewage treatment facility’s job is to clean up a mess, so we think it’s a fitting tribute.”
The CIA tried to warn Bush about the threat with the hope that presidential action could energize government agencies and head off the attack. On Aug. 6, 2001, the CIA sent analysts to Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, to brief him and deliver a report entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.”
Bush was not pleased by the intrusion. He glared at the CIA briefer and snapped, “All right, you’ve covered your ass,” according to Suskind’s book.
Then, ordering no special response, Bush returned to a vacation of fishing, clearing brush and working on a speech about stem-cell research.
[The Afghanistan] war was dramatically ramped up under Reagan, who traded U.S. acquiescence toward Pakistan’s nuclear bomb for its help in shipping sophisticated weapons to the Afghan jihadists (including a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden).
In December 1984, the Sharia Law (Islamic jurisprudence) was established in Pakistan following a rigged referendum launched by President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Barely a few months later, in March 1985, President Ronald Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive 166 (NSDD 166), which authorized “stepped-up covert military aid to the Mujahideen” as well a support to religious indoctrination.
“ … the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.
“The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books, …” (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)
In Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty, O’Neill described the first NSC meeting at the White House only a few days into Bush’s presidency. An invasion of Iraq was already on the agenda, O’Neill said. There was even a map for a post-war occupation, marking out how Iraq’s oil fields would be carved up.
O’Neill said even at that early date, the goal of invading Iraq was clear. The message from Bush was “find a way to do this,” according to O’Neill, who was forced out of the administration in December 2002.
The [DOE‘s Solar Energy Research Institute] study, a yearlong investigation by some of the nation’s leading scientists, provided a convincing blueprint for a solar future. It showed that alternative energy could easily meet 28 percent of the nation’s power needs by 2000. The only thing that solar and wind and other nonpolluting energy sources needed was a push, the study concluded — the same research funding and tax credits provided to other energy industries, and a government committed to lead the way to reduced reliance on fossil fuels. … [Reagan’s] Energy Secretary Jim Edwards killed the study, all right, but not before it had been published in the Congressional Record.
… The budget for the solar institute — which President Jimmy Carter had created to spearhead solar innovation — was slashed from $124 million in 1980 to $59 million in 1982. Scientists who had left tenured university jobs to work under Hayes were given two weeks notice and no severance pay. The squelching of the institute — later partly re-funded and renamed the National Renewable Energy Laboratory — marked the start of Reagan’s campaign against solar power. By the end of 1985, when Congress and the administration allowed tax credits for solar homes to lapse, the dream of a solar era had faded. The solar water heater President Carter had installed on the White House roof in 1979 was dismantled and junked. Solar water heating went from a billion-dollar industry to peanuts overnight; thousands of sun-minded businesses went bankrupt. “It died. It’s dead,” says Peter Barnes, whose San Francisco solar- installation business had 35 employees at its peak. “First the money dried up, then the spirit dried up,” says Jim Benson, another solar activist of the day.
Newly released documents confirm that a Pentagon unit knowingly cooked up intelligence claiming a direct link between Iraq and al-Qaeda in order to win support for a preemptive strike against the country.
A report prepared by the Defense Department’s Inspector General for Carl Levin, the Democratic Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, explicitly shows how former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith used his Defense Department position to cook intelligence claiming a connection between the terrorist organization and Saddam Hussein’s regime.
But according to the IG’s declassified report, “a Senior Intelligence Analyst working in the Joint Intelligence Task Force-Combating Terrorism (JITF-CT) countered point-by-point, each instance of an alleged tie between Iraq and al-Qaida …”
That chapter — which we are publishing here for the first time — was “lost” because Republicans on the congressional Iran-Contra investigation waged a rear-guard fight that traded elimination of the chapter’s key findings for the votes of three moderate GOP senators, giving the final report a patina of bipartisanship.
The American people thus were spared the chapter’s troubling finding: that the Reagan administration had built a domestic covert propaganda apparatus managed by a CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist working out of the National Security Council.
“One of the CIA‘s most senior covert action operators was sent to the NSC in 1983 by CIA Director [William] Casey where he participated in the creation of an inter-agency public diplomacy mechanism that included the use of seasoned intelligence specialists,” the chapter’s conclusion stated.
“This public/private network set out to accomplish what a covert CIA operation in a foreign country might attempt — to sway the media, the Congress, and American public opinion in the direction of the Reagan administration’s policies.”
However, with the chapter’s key findings deleted, the right-wing domestic propaganda operation not only survived the Iran-Contra fallout but thrived.
One of the baldest — and now admitted — lies was the case of Korean Air Lines flight 007. On the night of Aug. 30, 1983, the KAL 747 jumbo jet strayed hundreds of miles off-course and penetrated some of the Soviet Union’s most sensitive air space, by flying over military facilities in Kamchatka and Sakhalin Island.
Over Sakhalin, KAL-007 was finally intercepted by a Soviet Sukhoi-15 fighter. The Soviet pilot tried to signal the plane to land, but the KAL pilots apparently did not see the repeated warnings. Amid confusion about the plane’s identity — a U.S. spy plane had been in the vicinity hours earlier — Soviet ground control ordered the pilot to fire. He did, blasting the plane out of the sky and killing all 269 people on board.
The Soviets soon realized they had made a horrendous mistake. U.S. intelligence also knew from sensitive intercepts that the tragedy had resulted from a blunder, not from a willful act of murder (much as on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes fired a missile that brought down an Iranian civilian airliner in the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people, an act which Reagan explained as an “understandable accident”).
But in 1983, the truth about KAL-007 didn’t fit Washington’s propaganda needs. The Reagan administration wanted to portray the Soviets as wanton murderers, so it brushed aside the judgment of the intelligence analysts. The administration then chose to release only snippets of the taped intercepts packaged in a way to suggest that the slaughter was intentional.
“The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive (interrogation) techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.” That is one of the raw conclusions of a two-year Senate investigation into torture.
According to the report, the torture ball started rolling with the president and his Feb. 7, 2002, memorandum stating that the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to al-Qaida or the Taliban. The CIA and the Department of Defense began scurrying to establish their brutal interrogation regimes, while the White House and top Bush administration officials brushed aside legal hurdles and approved specific, horrifying techniques.
For years, human rights activists have accused the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas of teaching torture and assassination techniques to military officers from around the Western Hemisphere. For just as long, the Pentagon has denied the charge.
Then, late on Friday afternoon, Sept. 20, the Pentagon released a report admitting that some of those concerns were well-founded. From 1982-91, the School of the Americas used seven U.S. Army intelligence training manuals, written in Spanish, which advocated executions, torture, blackmail and other forms of coercion, including the kidnapping of a target’s family members.
… In winning the election in 1980, President Reagan had publicly renounced President Carter’s strong emphasis on human rights.
In the months immediately after Reagan’s election, right-wing Salvadoran “death squads” went on a rampage of political slaughter, including the rape-murder of four American churchwomen. In 1981-82, the “death squads,” often consisting of plain-clothes soldiers, butchered thousands of perceived leftists with little criticism from a White House that was drawing a line against communism. In December 1981, a U.S.-trained Salvadoran battalion swept through the remote village of El Mozote and massacred about 800 men, women and children.
The Reagan administration also warmed up to the Guatemalan army as it launched extermination campaigns against suspected leftist strongholds among that country’s Indian population. Most controversial of all, the CIA began organizing the Nicaraguan contra rebel army to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government. The contras, too, gained a quick reputation for human rights atrocities during raids into northern Nicaragua.
Although the president told the nation that his NSA eavesdropping program was limited to known Al Qaeda agents or supporters abroad making calls into the U.S., comments of other administration officials and intelligence veterans indicate that the NSA cast its net far more widely. AT&T technician Mark Klein inadvertently discovered that the whole flow of Internet traffic in several AT&T operations centers was being regularly diverted to the NSA, a charge indirectly substantiated by John Yoo, the Justice Department lawyer who wrote the official legal memos legitimizing the president’s warrantless wiretapping program. Yoo told FRONTLINE: “The government needs to have access to international communications so that it can try to find communications that are coming into the country where Al Qaeda’s trying to send messages to cell members in the country. In order to do that, it does have to have access to communication networks.
In the early-to-mid 1980s, Ronald Reagan had sought to avoid a head-on clash with Congress by taking his foreign policy underground, using cutouts like Israel to ship missiles to Iran and White House aide Oliver North to funnel supplies to the contra rebels fighting in Nicaragua.
After those operations were exposed in 1986, Congress also tried to avert a constitutional showdown by papering over the illegal presidential actions and accepting the cover story that top officials, such as Reagan and Bush, were mostly out of the loop.
But those unresolved constitutional questions exploded back to the surface after Sept. 11, 2001, when George W. Bush asserted virtually unlimited presidential authority to override or ignore federal law as Commander in Chief. In effect, the younger George Bush was staking out power openly that Reagan and the elder George Bush had exercised only in secret.
Other parts of the Bush energy plan tracked closely to recommendations from Enron officials. Seventeen of the energy plan’s proposals were sought by and benefited Enron, according to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., ranking minority member on the House Government Reform Committee. One proposal called for repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, which limits the activities of utilities and hindered Enron’s potential for acquisitions.
“This bill is the most important legislation for financial institutions in the last 50 years. It provides a long-term solution for troubled thrift institutions. … All in all, I think we hit the jackpot.” So declared Ronald Reagan in 1982, as he signed the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act.
The immediate effect of Garn-St. Germain, as I said, was to turn the thrifts from a problem into a catastrophe. The S.& L. crisis has been written out of the Reagan hagiography, but the fact is that deregulation in effect gave the industry — whose deposits were federally insured — a license to gamble with taxpayers’ money, at best, or simply to loot it, at worst. By the time the government closed the books on the affair, taxpayers had lost $130 billion, back when that was a lot of money.
But there was also a longer-term effect. Reagan-era legislative changes essentially ended New Deal restrictions on mortgage lending — restrictions that, in particular, limited the ability of families to buy homes without putting a significant amount of money down.
These restrictions were put in place in the 1930s by political leaders who had just experienced a terrible financial crisis, and were trying to prevent another. But by 1980 the memory of the Depression had faded. Government, declared Reagan, is the problem, not the solution; the magic of the marketplace must be set free. And so the precautionary rules were scrapped.
… For eight years [the Bush administration] have avoided their statutory obligation to detail the impacts of climate change on this country. And they have systematically muzzled government climate scientists from discussing those impacts with the public or the media.
It was easier to find people in the Bush administration to talk about torture or warrantless wiretaps, than it was to get someone to speak on (or off) the record on the likely impact of Bush’s policy of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions on Americans.
On Friday January 16, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program actually released four major Synthesis and Assessment reports. You may remember the last report the CCSP released — U.S. Geological Survey stunner: Sea-level rise in 2100 will likely “substantially exceed” IPCC projections, SW faces “permanent drying” by 2050. I was told by scientists knowledgeable about the CCSP process that all of the major impact reports were slowed down in the review process to make sure they came out after the election.
These are all substantive and comprehensive studies, almost on a par with the IPCC‘s Fourth Assessment.
“The Reagan administration adopted an extraordinarily aggressive policy of issuing leases for oil, gas, and coal development on tens of millions of acres of national lands — more than any other administration in history, including the current one [Bush II],” said the Wilderness Society’s David Alberswerth.
Before delving further into Reagan’s track record, it’s worth recalling his infamous public statement that “trees cause more pollution than automobiles do,” and that if “you’ve seen one tree you’ve seen them all.” This is not, in other words, a president who demonstrated much ecological prowess.
The list of rollbacks attempted by these administrators is as sweeping as those of the current [Bush II] administration. Gorsuch tried to gut the Clean Air Act with proposals to weaken pollution standards “on everything from automobiles to furniture manufacturers — efforts which took Congress two years to defeat,” according to Clapp. Moves to weaken the Clean Water Act were equally aggressive, crescendoing in 1987 when Reagan vetoed a strong reauthorization of the act only to have his veto overwhelmingly overridden by Congress. Assaults on Superfund were so hideous that Rita Lavelle, director of the program, was thrown in jail for lying to Congress under oath about corruption in her agency division.
The gutting of funds for environmental protection was another part of Reagan’s legacy. “EPA budget cuts during Reagan’s first term were worse than they are today,” said Frank O’Donnell, director of Clean Air Trust, who reported on environmental policy for The Washington Monthly during the Reagan era. “The administration tried to cut EPA funding by more than 25 percent in its first budget proposal,” he said. And massive cuts to Carter-era renewable-energy programs “set solar back a decade,” said Clapp.
Topping it all off were efforts to slash the EPA enforcement program: “The enforcement slowdown was staggering,” said a staffer at the House Energy and Commerce Committee who helped investigate the Reagan administration’s enforcement of environmental laws during the early ‘80s. “In the first year of the Reagan administration, there was a 79 percent decline in the number of enforcement cases filed from regional offices to EPA headquarters, and a 69 percent decline in the number of cases filed from the EPA to the Department of Justice.”
… [Nancy Reagan] stood with her hand on Obama’s shoulder as he signed the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act into law.
The bill will create an 11-member panel that will recommend and carry out plans to celebrate Reagan’s 100th birthday, such as special stamps or commemorative coins. No federal money can be spent on the commission or its activities.
Sewage pipe image found HERE.
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