WASHINGTON - January 20 - The Green Party of the United States is urging Americans to be skeptical of President Bush's list of proposals and claims of success during the past year in his January 20 State of the Union address.
The real Bush victory, say Greens, has been a massive transfer of wealth and power from the American people over to major corporations, especially Halliburton, Bechtel, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, the Carlyle Group and other defense contractors, oil companies, insurance firms and HMOs, and drug manufacturers.
This goal is what every Bush policy and proposal has in common: Medicare reform, cuts in public services (especially by defunding them, bypassing the legislative process), huge tax cuts for the wealthy, the invasion of Iraq, outer space missile defense, withdrawal from the Kyoto accords on global warming, executive 'fast track' power to negotiate trade, support for international trade authorities, trips to Mars. Greens have also criticized the extent to which Democrats have endorsed White House policies and actions.
Lurking behind every word of Bush's speech will be the ideology of America the global empire. The Green Party has a different vision: America the beacon of democracy, global justice, human rights and freedoms, and a safe, ecologically sane future.
Below are Green comments on four areas in which the Bush Administration has been most reckless and destructive: Iraq; global warming; health care; the erosion of U.S. democracy. (This is not an exhaustive critique of the entire Bush record.)
The Invasion of Iraq
Greens urge all Americans to acknowledge that all the major reasons -- not just 16 words -- that President Bush listed in his last State of the Union address (January 28, 2003) to invade Iraq have proven to be false: weapons of mass destruction (never found; the U.S. has virtually given up on the search); Saddam Hussein's attempts to obtain nuclear weapons materials from Africa (the evidence was forged); Saddam's collusion with al Qaeda; Iraq's purported imminent threat to the U.S. and Iraq's own neighbors. Bush officials, especially Vice President Cheney, have deliberately promoted the wrongful impression that Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attacks.
The administration no longer uses any of these justifications, and now claims that the invasion was necessary to depose Saddam and liberate Iraq. Greens are glad to see Saddam removed, but note that Donald Rumsfeld and numerous American corporations (AT&T, Bechtel, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Hewlett-Packard, IBM http://www.laweekly.com/ink/03/23/news-crogan.php) helped provide Saddam with arms (including biological and chemical weapons materials) during the 1980s, his worst period of mass murder, torture, and political repression. Will they be held accountable?
President Bush will boast in his address that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein out of power. Greens respond that the world is not better off with a lone superpower that declares for itself the right to invade other nations, to break treaties, and to violate international laws, the U.N. charter, and the Nuremberg precepts against war in the absence of an immediate threat. The world is not better off when the White House can use massive deception of the American people and the world to justify a war. The U.S. is not better off when Democrats join Republicans in handing Congress's constitutional power to declare war over to the White House.
Former Secretary of State Paul O'Neill recently revealed that the Bush Administration had planned to overthrow Saddam Hussein since the beginning of 2001, that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11, and that the motivation was in part to gain control of Iraqi oil. In fact, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell, Mr. Rumsfeld, and other high ranking Bush Administration staff have been urging such measures since 1992, in defense policy papers and through the Project for a New American Century http://www.newamericancentury.org. In 1998, the Project sent a letter to President Clinton urging him to invade Iraq http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm.
Powerful corporations with White House connections such as Halliburton and Bechtel have profiteered from the occupation. The U.S. has opened ownership of Iraqi businesses and resources to foreign corporations, violating the 1907 Hague conventions (signed by the U.S.) and the U.S. Army's rules against pillage.
President Bush, in his 2004 State of the Union address, will call the invasion a victory in the war against terrorism, but the invasion has made the U.S. and the world less secure and may motivate new terrorism. The Green Party has called for the impeachment of President Bush for his fraudulent justifications for an illegal invasion, and has called for the quick return of U.S. troops and transfer to the U.N. of primary authority over humanitarian relief, Iraq's reconstruction, and formation of a new government in Iraq http://www.uniting-for-peace.net.
Since the U.S. overthrew the Taliban in retaliation for 9/11, the effort to install democracy in Afghanistan has failed, with U.S. troops still present, daily violence, warlords in charge of most of the country, revival of the opium trade, widespread nostalgia for the Taliban, and renewed human rights violations against Afghan women. Greens also note the Bush Administration's hypocrisy in claiming that the goal of invasion and occupation was democracy for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, while it continues to support and send millions of dollars in aid to regimes in nations like Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Equatorial Guinea, which imprison, torture, and execute political dissidents.
In March 2001, President Bush withdrew the U.S. from participation in the Kyoto Protocols, after President Clinton had already obstructed enactment of the protocols in November 2000, during the international Hague conference. The Bush Administration has refused to acknowledge the human agency behind global warming and has sought to block urgent information from reaching the public. In September 2003, the White House heavily censored a report from the Environmental Protection Agency, removing all important information about global warming.
The Bush Administration has zealously maintained its ties and dedication to the energy and fossil fuel industries, gutting the Clean Air Act, and refusing to comply with congressional and public demands for information on how Vice President Cheney and his energy task force drafted national energy policy.
The Green Party warns that the reliance on oil and drive to control the world's oil resources represent both an environmental and a security threat. Greens, who have called the the Kyoto effort to reduce greenhouse gas output by 12.5% by 2010 a first step but severely inadequate, say that the U.S. must dramatically reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, and must undertake a massive effort to convert to safe and clean solar, wind, and fuel cell energy. The alternative is a global ecological and health catastrophe.
Medicare and Health Care Reform
President Bush may be proud of his Medicare reform and health savings account plans, but Greens call them privatization schemes and a public health swindle. The Wall Street Journal reported on January 8, 2004 ("U.S. Drug Subsidy Benefits Employers") that the Medicare plan rewards companies that cut off seniors who need prescription drug coverage most, giving them a lavish tax break.
A National Academy of Sciences panel found that the U.S. must find a way to cover all Americans by 2010: "Culminating the most detailed, authoritative examination of the impact of leaving millions of Americans without health insurance, a committee of the academy's prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) for the first time formally recommended that the United States guarantee health insurance for every citizen." (The Washington Post, January 15, 2004). The panel called the situation "dire and ready to worsen."
Mr. Bush and the leading Democratic presidential contenders want to maintain control by insurance firms and HMOs over health care, even though corporate-based coverage has proven disastrously inefficient and wasteful, with over 43 million Americans uncovered. All corporate-based plans are bound to fail, because corporations do not consider it profitable to cover people who need health care most, and because they save money by limiting and refusing to pay for necessary treatment and medicines.
The Green Party and its candidates agree with the 8,000 physicians who have signed on to a statement in 2003 that the only remedy is single-payer national health insurance, in which every American is covered for quality health care and medicine, regardless of ability to pay, income, age, or prior medical condition. Single-payer also allows choice of health care provider, unlike manage care.
(See: Physicians for a National Health Program http://www.pnhp.org; "The Cost to the Nation, the States and the District of Columbia, with State-Specific Estimates of Potential Savings" NEJM, Vol. 349:768-775, August 21, 2003, No. 8 http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/349/8/768; "Proposal of the Physicians' Working Group for Single-Payer National Health Insurance", JAMA 2003 290:798-805)
The refusal of Republicans and most Democrats to consider single-payer national health coverage is a direct result of the millions in campaign contributions from firms involved in health care and coverage. (See data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics http://www.opensecrets.org.) The influence of corporate pharmaceutical lobbies has similarly stymied efforts to make AIDS drugs available to millions of infected, ailing, and dying people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
An ABC News - Washington Post Poll released on October 20, 2003 found that the public, by a 2:1 margin (62% to 32%), favors national health insurance to the current system. National health insurance will be achieved through a sustained, uncompromising public demand and through the election of candidates -- such as Greens -- who reject corporate influence.
Democracy in Danger
Greens compare the current administration's disregard for American democracy and the rule of law to the McCarthy inquisition and to revelations of White House abuses of power related to the Watergate scandal, and foresee permanent damage to human rights and freedoms unless the Bush Administration's assaults are resisted. But Greens also note that some of the worst assaults on democracy were initiated by the Clinton Administration or were rubberstamped by most or many Democrats in Congress during the Bush Administration.
-- The USA Patriot Act, passed with full bipartisan support in Congress rapidly after 9/11 with only two hours of hearings, allows government to pry into library withdrawals, charge card records, medical and financial data, e-mail, conduct a wiretap under a general warrant, declare someone a 'terrorist' for political dissent and search his or her home without a warrant. Thousands of aliens have been detained, with no criminal charges filed, under the Act. Already in the works is an expansion of the Act: the Patriot Act II (Domestic Security Enhancement Act) would allow indefinite detention without charges, end restrictions on spying on religious and political organizations, and enable government cancel an American's citizenship for civil disobedience. Greens, who have helped numerous cities pass resolutions against the USA Patriot Act, call for the legislation to be substantially rewritten to address real security concerns, asserting that parts that subvert the U.S. Constitution and basic freedoms and rights must be removed.
-- The Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory on terrorism in May 2003 warning law enforcement agencies to watch any American who "expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the U.S. government", implying that legitimate dissent could be equated with terrorism. The Department, established in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, does not guarantee its employees protection for whistleblowers, a policy which will enable massive abuses of power.
-- Under orders from the White House, U.S. military authorities may hold a prisoner indefinitely as an 'enemy combatant', a term used to bypass Geneva Convention protections for prisoners of war and U.S. constitutional law . Military tribunals may now sentence a prisoner to death without appeal. Military authorities, prohibited by U.S. law from employing torture to extract information from prisoners, transfer them to nations that place no restrictions on the use of torture.
-- Federal and local law enforcement officials have reintroduced racial, ethnic, and religious profiling, calling it justified in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The Department of Justice, citing the War on Terrorism, now violates the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the guarantee of attorney-client privilege.
-- Bush Administration officials have refused to comply with demands from a congressional investigatory panel that they hand over documents related to information that the White House may have had about impending terrorist attacks before 9/11. Greens have demanded a thorough investigation into the Bush Administration's prior knowledge about the possibility of terrorist attacks http://www.gp.org/press/pr_05_19_02.html. Thanks to the lack of cooperation from the White House, North American Aerospace Defense Command, and Federal Aviation Administration, the panel's work is clearly incomplete at this point.
-- The Bush Administration has reduced the public's access to information about government, refusing FOIA requests, and removing valuable web sites. Elected officials draft policy and legislation without public participation and scrutiny; language submitted by corporate lobbyists with special interests is incorporated in legislation.
-- The Bush Administration has scrapped and blocked important international treaties and agreements, including the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change; the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty (in order to enact Reagan's discredited space-based missile defense scheme); the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (unratified; it would ban nuclear testing); U.N. Agreement to Curb the International Flow of Illicit Small Arms; the formation of a permanent International Criminal Court for war crimes at The Hague; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development-sponsored talks in Paris (May 2001) on offshore tax shelters and money-laundering havens; the Land Mine Treaty (first blocked by President Clinton).
-- The Bush White House -- like the Clinton Administration and with the support of Democrats -- has ratified and supported international trade agreements and institutions such as the FTAA, NAFTA, WTO, World Bank, and IMF, which hold the power to override democratically enacted national and local laws that protect the environment, working people, and human rights, and to privatize public resources and services. Decisions are supposedly made on the basis of market competition and economic development, but instead foster monopolies, disappearance of jobs, sweatshop labor, and transfer of wealth from working people to corporate accounts and investors. Greens have called for democratic alternatives to international trade cabals, and see a ray of hope in the resistance of other nations to the policies and decisions decreed by these authorities, especially in the collapse of the Cancun talks in 2003.
-- Federal Communications Commission rulings in 2003 (expanding on the 1996 Telecommunications Act signed by President Clinton) allow greater concentration of media ownership by easing restrictions on the number of radio and TV stations and newspapers that a single corporation may own in a single town or city. Media conglomerates such as Clear Channel and Fox own increasing media outlets and have damaged the quality of news coverage and the range of public debate, as well as the quality of arts and entertainment.
-- With federal encouragement, civilian police forces have adopted military tactics: police routinely violate the rights of demonstration participants, impose 'free speech zones' to quarantine and conceal political dissent from the media and public, detain protesters for long periods without charging them or charging them with minor infractions and specious violations, brutalize detainees, use provocateurs to incite violence, infiltrate political meetings (e.g., Seattle, November 1999; Washington, DC, April 2000 and September 2001; Democratic and Republican conventions in 2000; Miami, November 2003). (President Clinton ordered military training of urban police in the mid 90s to combat drugs.)
-- Mr. Bush has not stated his position yet, but Congress members are signing on to support the Federal Marriage Amendment, seeking to enact President Clinton's anti-gay 1996 Defense of Marriage Act as a constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriages. If passed, it would be the first amendment that limits the rights of one class of American citizens.
-- The Bush Administration and Congress have ignored state laws passed by referendum that allow medical use of marijuana to relieve the symptoms of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and other diseases, with crackdowns on medical marijuana providers in California and overruling of a medical marijuana initiative in Washington, D.C. Thousands of Americans get imprisoned annually for nonviolent drug offenses under draconian laws. Greens have urged the repeal of such laws.
-- The 2000 election was decided by vote manipulation and obstruction (especially affecting African American votes) in Florida by Republicans and by the decision of a biased Supreme Court, despite Gore's popular majority of 540,000; legitimate votes in Florida and elsewhere were discarded. Similar perils await the 2004 elections, as computer voting machines, now commonly used in elections, provide no 'paper trail' audit of votes. Firms such as Diebold Inc. that rent them to government have blocked public scrutiny of relevant software. Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold assured Republicans in an August 14, 2003 fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Greens warn that, without intense citizen vigilance, U.S. elections in 2004 may be seriously compromised.