Tuesday, June 07, 2005
two for tuesdays ; double dubya
George W. Bush is making all the wrong moves - on so many fronts all at once... it boggles the mind that no one is speaking the words "impeachment" or worse yet... Oh well... everyone is likely seeking comfort in the thought that he cannot get re-elected now - no matter how blind voters are.
CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - A Pentagon report detailing incidents in which U.S. guards at Guantanamo Bay prison desecrated the Quran is creating another public relations challenge for President Bush.
Two weeks ago, the White House was thrown on the defensive by a now-retracted Newsweek report alleging that U.S. interrogators at the detention center for alleged terrorists in Cuba had flushed a Quran down a toilet.
The story stirred worldwide controversy and the Bush administration blamed it for deadly demonstrations in Afghanistan. Saying America's image abroad had suffered irreparable damage, the White House responded with a verbal offensive against the media.
On Saturday, a day after the Pentagon described a series of cases of U.S. personnel mishandling the Quran, the White House downplayed the issue.
"It is unfortunate that some have chosen to take out of context a few isolated incidents by a few individuals," presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said in a statement.
Joe Lockhart, former press secretary for President Clinton, said that when a news organization - such as Newsweek - makes a factual mistake, White House officials are tempted to try to discredit the entire story.
"I think on this issue, they fell into a trap," Lockhart said. "They saw a way to push back on a damaging story by making it look like it was just out-of-control journalists, and now they've had to admit that it has happened."
McClellan's statements after the Newsweek report left an impression that no desecration at all had occurred at Guantanamo, Lockhart said.
"While the news organization got an example wrong, they got the practice right," he said. "I think certainly the public is within their right, in this case, to believe they were misled."
The Pentagon confirmed Friday evening - after the networks' evening news shows had aired - that a U.S. soldier had deliberately kicked a prisoner's holy book. The report also said prison guards had thrown water balloons in a cell block, causing an unspecified number of Qurans to get wet; a guard's urine had splashed on a detainee and his Quran; an interrogator had stepped on a Quran during an interrogation; and a two-word obscenity had been written in English on the inside cover of a Quran.
Pentagon officials said the problems were relatively minor and U.S. commanders have gone to great lengths to enable detainees to practice their religion.
White House officials noted that the investigation last month, by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the commander of the detention center, also found 15 cases of detainees mishandling their own Qurans.
"These included using a Quran as a pillow, ripping pages out of the Quran, attempting to flush a Quran down the toilet and urinating on the Quran," Hood's report said. It offered no possible explanation for the detainees' actions.
McClellan declined to answer questions about whether the White House issued misleading statements, whether the credibility of the Bush administration had been tarnished or whether the Pentagon report would hamper Bush's efforts to spread democracy in the Middle East.
On her goodwill trip to the Middle East last month, first lady Laura Bush said Newsweek should not be solely blamed for the deadly protests that followed its report.
"In the United States if there's a terrible report, people don't riot and kill other people," she said. "And you can't excuse what they did because of the mistake - you know, you can't blame it all on Newsweek."
"We've had terrible happenings that have really, really hurt our image of the United States," she said. "And people in the United States are sick about it."
WASHINGTON (AP) - Who would act as President Bush's defense secretary if Pentagon chief Donald H. Rumsfeld were to resign, become disabled, die or be temporarily absent due to an overseas trip, such as on the one he began Thursday? For years the answer was, quite naturally, the deputy defense secretary.
But the answer had to change Thursday because of a simple, inconvenient fact: There is no deputy defense secretary.
There is, however, a Navy secretary.
That post is held by Gordon England, who also happens to be Bush's nominee to replace Paul Wolfowitz as deputy defense secretary. But England's nomination has been stalled for weeks due to a dispute over whether England must buy insurance on the pension he earned before joining the government.
On May 13, the day Wolfowitz left his defense job, Bush designated England to be the acting deputy secretary. England also retained his Navy job.
The presidential executive order spelling out the line of succession to act as defense secretary says no one in that line can become the acting secretary if he holds his own position in an "acting" capacity.
So, with Rumsfeld having left Thursday on an extended trip to Asia and Europe, the only way he could have England fill in for him legally was to have Bush issue a directive that altered the line of succession.
That is just what the president did.
He directed that Navy secretary would "act for and perform the duties of" the secretary of defense in the event of the secretary's death, disability, resignation or temporary absence.
In practice, Rumsfeld retains the authority to perform his duties as secretary while he is traveling abroad. But if he cannot for some reason, England would be in line to fill in.
Hmm... JFK allegedly bit the (magic?) bullet because he wanted to "change things"... isn't Dubya changing things too? Changing and altering are synonymous, you know... Just a thought... don't see anything else in my words now...!