It has come to my attention that I have not been clear in my blog over the past couple of years (due to the fact that I largely stopped blogging for reasons now unclear to me) that my opinions of Bush and his policies have changed significantly from when he was first elected.
I was recently challenged on another forum to cite examples of my own writing where I have denounced various Bush era activities and policies. I was surprised to find that I was not able to give such citations, as they exist only in my mind. I have never committed it to print. So I will rectify this.
The capture and detention of prisoners of war is acceptable. What was not acceptable was the fact that the facility simply imprisoned them and then did nothing more. The prisoners should have been investigated according to military procedures to establish their crimes and involvement (to make sure we didn’t imprison actual innocent bystanders).
Prisoners of war captured on the battlefield are not entitled to the protections of the American civilian justice system.
But as a prison for convicted terrorists, I don’t have a problem with it.
Wrong target. Although it is nice that Saddam Hussein is no longer around to torture his people, that was never our job or our responsibility. We should not have invaded Iraq. We should have invaded Iran.
Although terrorists do hide in and are supported by Afghani forces, Afghanistan is not the main target. It is peripheral. Establishing “democracy” in Afghanistan is not going to solve the problem.
Iran is the hornet’s nest, the source of the funding and training of most Islamist terrorists. We should have invaded Iran and wiped out that support infrastructure, but we didn’t.
THE MIDDLE EAST IN GENERAL
We should not be trying to “liberate” the Middle East. For one thing, what Bush/Obama want to do is not liberty. Secondly, the cultures of the Middle East don’t know how to be democratic (nor do they really want to be). Sometimes various factions hate their governments, but tyranny is okay. They just want it to be their kind of tyranny.
Dictatorship, especially Islamic dictatorship, has been the government of choice in that part of the world for centuries. Various religious factions vie for supremacy. They don’t want to get along — they each want to be the one in charge.
Even if we free them and give them democratic choice, they will just choose to install another dictator, and be back to square one. We are seeing this pan out in Iraq right now.
PATRIOT ACT / WIRETAPPING
I am not an expert on the contents of the Patriot Act or the implications of it. But in general I do not endorse the restriction of individual rights and/or liberty. Government invasion into personal freedoms never has an innocent motive and never has good results.
TSA / AIRLINE SECURITY
All this new “security” at airports in the US is a farce, a dog and pony show some call “security theater”. It doesn’t actually make us safer. There are still many obvious loopholes that would allow a determined terrorist (or even a halfway intelligent one) to destroy an airplane and kill everyone on board.
The failure to apply proper profiling further reduces it to a circus. That 82-year-old white grandmother from Iowa is not a terrorist. But that 27-year-old Arab guy from Turkey might be.
DEFICIT / NATIONAL BUDGET
Bush’s military spending would have been justified if we had actually fought the right war, in the right place, against the right enemies (Iran). But we didn’t.
TORTURE / WATERBOARDING
I do not and have never endorsed torture (including waterboarding) as a method of interrogation on prisoners. It doesn’t work. A torture victim will say anything to avoid more torture. Information thus gained is not reliable.
SUSPENSION OF HABEAS CORPUS
On November 13, 2001, Bush suspended the right of habeas corpus by executive order. Basically, habeas corpus means that detainees have the right to seek relief from unlawful imprisonment. This is tied up in the right to a hearing, a trial, legal counsel, and the right to be free from detention if not charged with a crime.
This was to be used on “enemy combatants”, to allow the government to capture and indefinitely detain terrorists. The status of “enemy combatant” has been applied to American citizens, effectively suspending their rights to due process.
Foreign enemies are not “tried in courts”. They are captured on the battlefield and dealt with as prisoners of war by the military. The people waging war on the United States are typically not Americans. They may be here on visas, but that’s not the same thing. They are usually citizens of a foreign nation, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, etc.
I do not support the suspension of habeas corpus. An American citizen who wages war on the United States (such as John Walker Lindh) is guilty of sedition and treason, and should be charged and tried appropriately, with all rights normally due to citizens in an American court.
TARP / BANK BAILOUTS
This was never a good idea and I opposed it entirely from the first moment it was mentioned. “Too big to fail” is ridiculous. The banks should have been allowed to fail and recover on their own. Yes it would have impacted the economy. But it has anyway because TARP doesn’t work and was never capable of working.
AUTO INDUSTRY BAILOUTS
That’s Obama’s mess, not Bush’s.
I will add more material later as necessary.