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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of December 10 - 16, 2003

Opinion Column

From plain bad
to travesty

Commentary by Pat Murphy

Official bumbling in U.S. intelligence is turning into travesty.

Or worse, has good intelligence been hijacked and twisted for politics?

It began with Pentagon attack dogs mercilessly trashing U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix for not finding weapons of mass destruction that U.S. intelligence insisted Iraq possessed.

It moved to the president’s insistence that intelligence showed Iraq was an imminent threat and should be attacked.

U.S. intelligence (bolstered by Britain) was quoted in the totally discredited presidential claim that Iraq was seeking nuclear material in Africa.

And Pentagon intelligence predicted rebuilding Iraq would be cheap because of Iraq’s major oil reserves.

So? No doomsday weapons. No imminent Iraqi threat. No quest for nuclear materials in Niger. And U.S. taxpayers are paying tens of billions of dollars for reconstruction because Iraq’s oil industry is in shambles.

Not a pretty record. But it gets worse.

Army Capt. James Yee, an American Muslim chaplain, was thrown into a Navy brig for 67 days and accused of espionage based on—yep!—intelligence, so says the Pentagon.

But Capt. Yee isn’t facing espionage charges now. Instead, the Pentagon wants to court martial him for adultery and collecting porn on his computer.

Adultery? Porn? Was this dreamed up by religious zealots planted in the Bush administration? If adultery is the Pentagon idea of international terrorism, there aren’t enough brigs and stockades to hold military personnel who’re philandering on their spouses (not to mention politicians and bureaucrats in Washington).

Instead of admitting humiliating overkill, the Pentagon is trying to save face with an even more humiliating spectacle of an adultery court martial.

Meanwhile, the other arm of President Bush’s crack anti-terrorism apparatus—the Department of Justice—wants Congress to enact even tougher laws to further shrink liberties.

Extremist Attorney General John Ashcroft isn’t satisfied with merely jailing suspects for months without charges and denying them the right to a lawyer.

So long as Ashcroft and the Pentagon abuse people with foreign names and facial features, most Americans are complacent about freedoms.

But Ashcroft will hunger for Anglo-looking Americans who’re insufficiently disciplined in support of U.S. policies.

Republicans such as hired political consultant Scott Reed denounce critics of Bush (including Sen. Hillary Clinton) as "unpatriotic," the conservative buzzword for sympathizing with the enemy. The Far Right’s darling, author Ann Coulter, unblinkingly calls them "traitors."

Subtlety has been abandoned. FBI agents monitor protestors (shades of J. Edgar Hoover’s days). Ashcroft wants power to expand use of military tribunals and collect information from a person’s friends and associates while forcing associates to keep quiet under threat of prison.

What other shams in the name of war on terrorism do Bush enforcers contemplate?

Americans who cherish freedom over unquestioned fealty to a leader should pray that their last hope in stemming zealots—the U.S. Supreme Court—recognizes insidious threats to constitutional government by men blinded by the seductive chant, "My president, right or wrong."



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.