Defiant Bush declares war on his own party’s Senators

An obviously-angry President George W. Bush declared war on Senators from his own party Friday after a Republican revolt in the Senate threatened tough anti-terror legislation that would allow torture of prisoners.

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A defiant Bush rejected warnings that the United States had lost the high moral ground to adversaries.

"It’s flawed logic," he snapped.

Bush is trying to rush his legislation through Congress, hoping a hyped sense of urgency will work as it did with the Constitution-defying USA Patriot Act that lawmakers passed without reading in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

"Time’s running out" for the legislation, he warned, with Congress set to adjourn in a few weeks.

The bitter president called a Rose Garden news conference to confront a Republican rebellion led by Sens. John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine.

To the administration’s dismay, Colin Powell, Bush’s former secretary of state, has joined with the lawmakers. Powell said Bush’s plan to redefine the Geneva Conventions would cause the world "to doubt the moral basis" of the fight against terror and "put our own troops at risk."

Seven weeks before the November elections, the dispute left Republicans fighting among themselves — rather than with Democrats — about national security issues that have been a winning theme for the GOP in past elections.

Responding to Bush, McCain rejected the president’s assertion that an alternative bill approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee dealing with the trial and interrogation of terror suspects would require the closure of the CIA’s detainee program.

McCain said the measure would protect agents from criminal and civil liability and, by not reinterpreting the meaning of the Geneva Conventions, uphold the nation’s obligations.

"To do any less risks our reputation, our moral standing and the lives of those Americans who risk everything to defend our country," the senator said.

Democrats were eager to point out the GOP disarray.

"When conservative military men like John McCain, John Warner, Lindsey Graham and Colin Powell stand up to the president, it shows how wrong and isolated the White House is," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "These military men are telling the president that in the war on terror you need to be both strong and smart, and it is about time he heeded their admonitions."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, "Instead of picking fights with Colin Powell, John McCain and other military experts, President Bush should change course, do what the American people expect, and finally give them the real security they deserve."

Warner, a former Navy secretary, is chairman of the Armed Services Committee. McCain is a former Navy pilot who spent more than five years in enemy captivity during the Vietnam War. Graham is a former Air Force Reserve judge. Powell, a retired general, is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

On another major national security issue, Bush said he was disappointed that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq was climbing rather than falling. He said hopes for troop withdrawals were dashed by a spike in violence in Baghdad, where in just the past two days more than 130 people were killed in attacks or tortured and dumped in rivers and on city streets.

"Look, we all want the troops to come home as quickly as possible," the president said. Polls show the war is unpopular among Americans, and Republicans worry it could cost them votes. He said he would base troop levels on the recommendations of his top commanders, Gen. William Casey and John Abizaid, and said he had great confidence in both men.

Bush took vehement exception when asked about Powell’s assertion that the world might doubt the moral basis of the fight against terror if lawmakers went along with the administration’s proposal to come up with a U.S. interpretation of the Geneva Convention’s ban on "outrages upon personal dignity."

"If there’s any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it’s flawed logic," Bush said. "It’s just — I simply can’t accept that."

Growing animated, he said, "It’s unacceptable to think that there’s any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective."

Bush said the Geneva Convention’s ban was "very vague" and required clarification. "What does that mean, ‘outrages upon human dignity?’ That’s a statement that is wide open to interpretation."

He said that unless Congress acts, the CIA will end its program of tough interrogation methods that the administration says has prevented attacks.

"So Congress has got a decision to make," Bush said. "You want the program to go forward or not? I strongly recommend that this program go forward in order for us to be able to protect America."

On another anti-terror matter, with Osama bin Laden still at large five years after the 9/11 attacks, Bush said he could not send thousands of troops into Pakistan to search without an invitation from the government. "Pakistan’s a sovereign nation," Bush said.

At the same time, Bush expressed frustration that the United Nations had not sent peacekeepers to stop the misery in the Darfur region of Sudan. "What you’ll hear is, well, the government of Sudan must invite the United Nations in for us to act. Well, there are other alternatives, like passing a resolution saying, we’re coming in with a U.N. force, in order to save lives."

(The Associated Press contributed parts of this story)

Comments

  1. LizB

    Did anyone else notice how often W repeated himself in the press conference and during the Matt Lauer interview? He sputtered the same lines 2-3 times. He comes unravelled any time someone questions his policy-making ability.

  2. keith

    It would now appear that Mr. Bush’s grand strategy for world domination is starting to crash down around his ears. Even his once proud Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, is no longer buying into the rhetoric and is now speaking out against him in public. For a senior, retired military man with such solid, patriotic credentials and proud record of service to now do so speaks volumes.

    Mr. Bush’s attempts to re-write the precepts of the Geneva Conventions are not at all surprising. In fcat, they are right in line with his assertion that the US Constitution is just a “godddamed piece of paper”. That is, if losing our moral high ground is now “flawed logic” then all that right to privacy and right to due process under law stuff for all those in our custody under our Constitution is probably “flawed logic” as well.

    Certainly, our founding fathers never dreamed of the world we now live in and the challenges we now face when they wrote our Constitution. I’m sure those same founding fathers (many of whom previously signed the Declaration of Independence) were also considered “terrorists” to the King of England. But we’ve now been taught to believe that our “terrorists” of that day were somehow different. To us, they were “patriots”. But, just like many of the so-called “terrorists” we now face, our own founding fathers back then were also trying to rid their homeland of an occupying army.

    The reason we now have squadrons of fighter aircraft standing at the ready to shoot down airliners full of civilians is that our actions on the world stage have now fomented a burning hatred among many other peoples of the world. As a result, we now have little choice but to abandon our long-sacred precepts of personal privacy and due process under law to “homeland security”. And, unfortunately, in the process, Bush and his ilk have also now turned our once free nation into an armed camp.

    I’m firmly convinced that if the United States hadn’t been gallivanting all around the world in the last few decades to invade and then occupy other sovereign nations at will to “further our national interests” (at the obvious expense of theirs) then there might now be little or no need for their citizens to resort to terrorism to try and get us to leave.

    These people have no standing armies. They have no squadrons of fighter planes, or tanks or howitzers or aircraft carriers or atomic weapons. So, quite naturally, they are now resorting to the only weapon (terrorism) they currently have at their disposal that, in their minds at least, has even a remote chance of being effective.

    All too often we (and those governments we underwrite in the region, such as the Government of Israel) are viewed as unwwelcome and illegal occupiers of what a large segment of the world’s population now firmly believe are other nation’s sovereign territories. And, it would now appear that, at least for the moment (and despite all of the high-tech hardware that we are throwing into the fray to “secure” such places as Iraq and Afghanistan) these “terrorists” (patriots?) seem to at least be holding their own against us.

    Yes, Mr. President, I agree that we ARE in a different world! But, sadly, I believe it is a world that, to a large extent, our (and your) own imperial ambitions have largely created.

    We have apparently not yet learned that invading another’s sovereign territory to force our own style of “democracy” down people’s throats with a gun pointed at their head simply doesn’t work. And then we have the audacity to compound the problem by arrogantly wondering why such people then feel the need to fight back to get us to leave.

    Terrorism is a symptom. Imperialism is the problem…OUR imperialism. Pogo was absolutely right…. we HAVE “met the enemy and he is us”.

  3. california rick

    The White House will ‘flip-flop’ on this issue (…just like the Harriet Meyers issue-fiasco) when they see they have strong opposition.

    It’s about time that Lawmakers’ stand up to Mr. Bush and his FAILED and FLAWED policies!

  4. Jhoffa_

    Things are finally coming full circle for Georgie..

    The White Hats are closing in and he’s looking increasingly desperate.

    Wonder what else is buried in that bill he wants passed so badly?

  5. Charlotte

    I am so glad to see the President popping blood vessels. He deserves to scratch, grovel, and crawl every inch of the way with each piece of legislation involving our deployed armed forces. I’m particularly pleased that the Senate Armed Services Committe is at least making a show of it’s responsibilities to oversee military legislation. While this is a babystep of an improvement in the way things have operated in Congress, I’m very converned about the continued build up of mercenary forces, i.e. Blackwater, which operate with very little oversight or accountability.

  6. George

    Quote from Keith: Terrorism is a symptom. Imperialism is the problem…OUR imperialism. Pogo was absolutely right…. we HAVE “met the enemy and he is us”.

    Oh so true! The entire problem comes from the fact that long ago this country began to ignore the advice of or Forfathers who strongly suggested that it was best to “stay the hell out of other countrys politics”

    That is why we are where we’re at today.

  7. JimZ

    Just an addition to what keith said, interesting that before WWII, the “conservatives” of the U.S. were the ones trying to keep us out of meddling in other countries’ affairs and keep our troops at home. It was more of an honor to be a “pacifist” in that era. Now if you’re against any foreign “adventurism”, or imposing our “values” or corporations (read: corporate fascism) on others, then you are branded a “LIBERAL” (there’s that word again) or a “PACIFIST” (in a negative light) or worst “a cut and run Democrat” (doesn’t matter what you are or where you come from). When are ALL Americans going to figure out that our stupid interference in other countries are the roots of hatred and terrorism against us (no I’m NOT a bleeding-heart liberal nor a Democrat). Only when we wake up from the nightmare of the last 50 years of this (including what we did to Iran in 1953) then we can heal this. The divison of American via the Bush administration and the hate-spewing right-wing talk radio windbags is our greatest enemy.

  8. no name

    I have my reservations abut this great “awakening” from McCain, Graham and Warner.

    I am willing to bet that they will cave and all this is window dressing trying to prove that the Republicans are not rubber stampers. They will fold–all this is chest beating and in the end they will vote for what Bush wants.

    Or else, eh?

  9. keith

    Jim, as strange as it may seem, I, too, have always considered myself a “conservative”.

    But, like you, I’ve come to believe that, contrary to what our distinguished national leaders are new telling us, the terrorist don’t hate us for who we are or even for what we believe.

    They simply hate us for what we do.

  10. no name

    and I forgot–anything at all re torture and the Bush attempts to legitimize it from the Democrats–all I hear is crickets.

    The country is teetering on the brink of diasterous policies, above the disasters already suffered under a stupid little boy wnating to be a man–and this notion that one remain silent,ie let them hang theselves is cowardly indeed. this is my party? I am supposed to weigh my percious vote between one or the other, no matter how much of my own morals and ethics I have to surrender? Two party system makes slaves of us all. No wonder people will perceive the Democrats as wimps, as weak–that’s what they look like to me in the face of these horrors from Bush.

  11. Sir.Real

    “Administration critics suffer from moral or intellectual confusion”
    -Rummy

    “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”
    -Thomas Jefferson

    01-20-09

    857–00—25–37
    days hour min sec

  12. snoopy

    Yes Blackwater is a problem :(. Especially if u consider what kind of hardware these people have access to and that quite a bunch of there command staff consists of dishonorloy dischargde militery personal *ie. people with criminal records*… and if u can guess whos money is in there two u will have learnd a little more about how the wh works these days :(

    Oh and im also a little skeptical about mc cains credibility here

  13. Alex

    What I don’t want to see is this “Immunity” of our officials in Washington from prosecution for crimes already committed! Even the McCain wants this Immunity.

    Maybe congress should pass a retroactive law protecting murderer’s and rapists from being prosecuted?

  14. JimZ

    In my earlier post I got a little off-subject here but wanted to bring that point up. I do want to say that twice in 2 weeks on news shows (2 Sunday’s ago on Face The Nation and yesterday on CNN) Rep. Senator Mitch McConnell hinted numerous times on what Bush’s latest push on the interrogation and tribunals of foreign (supposedly) prisoners bill is about. He said that people against it would allow the interpretation of our actions by “foreign” war crimes courts so we need to “legalize” to protect our “interrogators” and our president from indictment because they may interpret the Geneva conventions differently than the recent push for “clarification” (if that’s what it really is). Our own court system has struck down the actions of King George 0 and his minions on this already, so we’re supposed to legalize/clarify it? What this is really about is protecting them from impeachment and/or convictions of war crimes, pure and simple while blowing smoke on us that it is somehow going to protect Americans from foreign meddling and terrorists. Any Senator or Congressman voting FOR the white house sponsored legislation is compicit in this. What we really need is for our legislative bodies to put and end to the current sadistic flirtation with torture, secret prisons, and secret rendition flights once and for all so we can get on with trying to solve REAL problems (too many to list) and allow the natural course of law and voters to decide how to rid us of this Bush and neocon cancer infecting our country. Even if Bush doesn’t get what he wants, he will just issue a signing statement saying he won’t follow the law, anyway. The Democrats would be almost guaranteed to be elected into power if they would just stand up to the neocons and also stand for PROTECTING THE CONSTITUTION! Why is it so hard for them to do that? Because they are part of the problem, as well.

  15. carol

    So little boy Georgie’s face is showing at last? Childish, spoiled, sadistic,petulent, bullying, and threatening. Not to mention dry drunk, and half brain dead from snorting. And THIS is what we have for “president” along with criminals like Gonzales, Ashcroft, Hu, Rice, Rummsfield, and dickless Cheney???!!

    What the hell did those ass kissers and boot lickers expect wouldl happen when they dared to rear off their hind legs and attempt to act like men? When they dared to say the word NO to little boy georgie?

  16. If only this were all real.

    But in reality, this is nothing more than a very bad “B” movie with even worse actors. People have to wakeup to the fact ALL of this “partisan” bickering and staged theatrics are exactly that. Weapons of mass distraction used to keep everyone occupied while the crimes are going on daily in behind the scenes. It has to end now.

  17. whistleb....

    Our research has shown the antichrist will not be recognized as such, (by the masses) can’t fool everyone, till after his demise and by subsequent history. This is the source of his power, decep— — — ah ah ah!

  18. Fact: Since the Bush administration started putting an end to terrorism, terrorist attacks in the world have increased from 175 in 2003 to 655 in 2004 (and rising).

    All of these facts can (and should) be avoided if you are to begin talking right. If someone brings them up, call them un-American, claim they are ignoring all the positive accomplishments of the Bush administration (don’t worry, you won’t be asked for any facts), claim they are pandering to the liberal agenda and/or giving comfort to the terrorists.

    Remember, right-talking is a team sport. You’re team can be #1 even if they lose every game. What is important is that you fill the stadium with screaming fans.

    Coming soon…Right Logic

  19. Allan

    I’m constantly reading of people making a comparison between Bush and Hitler. Since I was born three years after Hitler’s death I have no first hand knowledge of the man. I only know the propaganda written by the victors and I’ve read Mein Kamph.
    Hitler was a soilder, a hypnotizing political speaker who loved his country dearly, a brillant military leader, and attempted to remove a strangle hold on his country from an outside influence.
    Bush was a military drop out, a political speaker who can’t put three sentences together that make sense, a military leader that I would not follow to the out-house, and seems to be under the control of an outside influence .
    Someone please tell me the where the “like Hitler ” comes in.
    I do see the 60’s gun laws taken nearly word for word from the Nazi gun laws and Bush’s nearly event for NAZI event attempted takeover of AMERICA.
    The comparison eludes me

  20. rickrocket

    All this talk about appeasement and Neville Chamberlain makes me think of a Winston Churchill quote. Maybe if GWB wants to be like Churchill he should read this.

    “The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.” -Winston Churchill

  21. Even Bush and his band of criminals can now see the writing on the wall, and it spells out not only their demise, but being tried as war criminals, among other offenses committed by this nefarious regime.

    He certainly has a case of the willies, and rightfully so.

    The gig is up. Let us hope we can salvage America, post-Bush.

  22. William Burke

    Sir.Real: please don’t use IM shorthand in a public forum. It makes you look low rent and aggravates many serious people.

    In case you can’t figure it out, “u” for “you” and “4” for “for” are IM-speak, and don’t belong in a public forum.