Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dick Cheney Confession: The Continuing Story of "The Fall Of The House Of Bush"

Cross posted at Edgeing

During an interview with Craig Unger about his new book "The Fall Of The House Of Bush" Amy Goodman of Democracy Now (transcript here) refers to comments made by Dick Cheney in September 1992 after the first Gulf War, in a speech at the Economic Club of Detroit explaining why the George H. W. Bush administration did not go on to Baghdad after Saddam then.

Cheney's comments in the speech show clearly that they knew irrefutably in 2003 before the invasion, not only that Saddam Hussein was no threat militarily to any country, much less to the United States, but that they also knew exactly what the conditions in Iraq likely to be produced by an invasion would be, and that they did it with eyes wide open, with conscious and full intention of producing the humanitarian crisis and chaos and death that has followed.

And knew that the responsibility for it would be theirs.

Cheney's speech begins at about 3 min 50 sec into this Democracy Now Craig Unger interview video:

Parts two and three of the Democracy Now Craig Unger interview follow here:

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When You Know The Truth, The Facts Don't Seem So Important

Cross posted at DocuDharma and Edgeing

Jason Leopold of Truthout interviews Craig Unger, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, on the Rise of the Christian Right and Neoconservatism.

Unger garnered national attention with his previous book, House of Bush, House of Saud. Michael Moore cited it as a key source for Fahrenheit 9/11, and the film popularized the author's reports on Saudi investments in Bush family enterprises.

In his new book, The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America's Future, Unger turns his attention to neoconservative officials and theorists. At times he focuses so closely on neocon tactics that he misses other forces driving Bush-Cheney policies. Even so, the book offers a vivid account of the use of disinformation to promote extremism.
Leopold: Craig, thank you for being with truthout today. What are some of the issues in your new book that we don't know about - that the public does not know about?

Unger: Well, I think we've been told again and again that we got into the war in Iraq beacause of intelligence failures - that various things just turned out not to be true - that we made one mistake after another.

I actually think we got into the war for exactly the opposite reason - because of intelligence successes - and by that I mean black propaganda operations - disinformation.

Chris Pepus of Chicago Reader takes the book review further for us with...

Bush and the Neocons
By Chris Pepus, Chicago Reader, Thursday 20 December 2007

When you know the Truth, the facts don't seem so important.

Craig Unger, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, garnered national attention with his previous book, House of Bush, House of Saud. Michael Moore cited it as a key source for Fahrenheit 9/11, and the film popularized the author's reports on Saudi investments in Bush family enterprises. In The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America's Future, Unger turns his attention to neoconservative officials and theorists. At times he focuses so closely on neocon tactics that he misses other forces driving Bush-Cheney policies. Even so, the book offers a vivid account of the use of disinformation to promote extremism.

Unger traces the origins of Bush's foreign policy to the 1970s, when prominent bureaucrats and writers gathered around such converts to conservatism as Irving Kristol and Albert Wohlstetter. The neocons scored their first big success in 1976, when two of their allies in President Ford's administration, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, created a group outside the CIA to assess the Soviet threat. That panel, dubbed Team B, was staffed by neocon worthies and led by Richard Pipes of Harvard University. One of the group's advisers was a Wohlstetter protege named Paul Wolfowitz.

Team B concluded that the CIA had vastly underestimated Soviet power and that supporters of detente were merely assisting the Kremlin's drive for world domination. It was an imaginative assessment, given that the economy of the USSR was crippled and its military infrastructure was suffering as CIA officers pointed out. Pipes's group held, for instance, that the USSR had probably deployed a top-secret antisubmarine system, even though U.S. intelligence had found no credible evidence of such a program. As Unger writes, "The absence of evidence, [Team B] reasoned, merely proved how secretive the Soviets were!" It was a bold preemptive attack on fact and logic.

Team B's creativity went unrewarded in the short term, as Jimmy Carter won the presidency that year. But Ronald Reagan would use the panel's report to justify his enormous military buildup (and consequent budget deficits) in the 1980s, and in the '90s Team B alumni and followers took aim at the Clinton administration's Middle East policy. In 1996 a group of neocons led by Richard Perle produced a policy statement, "A Clean Break," that prescribed military action to remove anti-Israel governments like Saddam Hussein's. When George W. Bush entered office, flanked by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, it became a blueprint for war.

Unger is at his best in these early chapters, where he convincingly links neocon biases to the Republicans' most disastrous policies. He gleans a thicket of reports and think-tank papers to reveal that the Bush administration's claims about Iraqi weapons programs followed the same pattern as Team B's exaggeration of Soviet power in the 1970s. Likewise, many of the administration's rosy projections for post-Saddam Iraq originated with the authors of "A Clean Break." In 1999 one of them, David Wurmser, stated that Iraq's Shiite majority "can be expected to present a challenge to Iran's influence" instead of aligning with Iran. Wurmser offered no factual support for his claim, but wrote that his thinking had been "guided" by his ideological allies, such as Ahmed Chalabi. By that point, Unger writes, "the neocon echo chamber had begun to rely on itself to reinforce its own myths."

Four and a half years into the Iraq war, the price of upholding those myths is rising. The president and vice president appear smitten by the idea of air strikes against Iran. Unger cites Philip Giraldi, a former CIA specialist in counterterrorism, who argued that in the case of Iran, Bush officials were "using the same dance stepsódemonize the bad guys, the pretext of diplomacy, keep out of negotiations, use proxies. It is Iraq redux."

Describing three decades of right-wing gambits, Unger paints a stunning portrait of arrogance and duplicity. The Fall of the House of Bush may be the definitive group biography of the neocons. But he makes a few missteps when the story moves beyond that group. For instance, he calls President Bush a "genuine born-again Christian," despite finding evidence that the president's professions of faith are as cynical as anything Team B ever presented. Bush maintains that Billy Graham converted him to evangelical Christianity in 1985, but Graham has disagreed with that and so has Mickey Herskowitz, a ghostwriter of Bush's 1999 autobiography.

Herskowitz told Unger that Bush couldn't recall the details of his 1985 meeting with Graham and replied negatively when Herskowitz asked him whether Graham had said something like, "Have you gotten right with God?" (Herskowitz was "stunned" by the book's account of Bush's conversation with the minister.) "Witnessing" about your relationship with Christ is a key element of evangelicalism. Lying about your conversion experience for electoral gain is just about the last thing a sincere evangelical would do.

Unger also underplays the importance of oil-industry leaders, including his previous subjects, the Saudis. In his 2006 book Armed Madhouse, journalist Greg Palast writes about a 2000 report by the Joint Task Force on Petroleum, cosponsored by the James A. Baker III Institute (named for and headed by Bush I's secretary of state). The panel, which included oil execs as well as foreign-policy specialists, complained that Iraq was a "swing producer" of oil, with a propensity to "manipulate oil markets."

Saddam Hussein had a history of abruptly suspending and restarting oil production. In fact, he interrupted petroleum exports for 12 days the month the task force began its work. His tactics undermined efforts by the oil companies and Saudi-dominated OPEC to control the price of crude. An earlier assessment by the Baker Institute put it this way: "In a market with so little cushion to cover unexpected events, oil prices become extremely sensitive to perceived supply risks. Such a market increases the potential leverage of an otherwise lesser producer such as Iraq." For its part the task force recommended "an immediate policy review toward Iraq," including military options. Palast says Cheney got its report early in 2001, and its economic considerations may have provided the strongest impetus for war.

Likewise, the Saudis have played a large role in developing Bush's aggressive approach toward Iran and Shiite Muslims throughout the Middle East. (Saudi rulers are Sunnis.) Bush and his aides choose to blame Iran for the disaster in Iraq, even though it's the Sunnis who've inflicted the majority of casualties on U.S. troops. The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh has reported that the administration has joined the Saudis in providing clandestine support to Sunni extremists in Lebanon and Syria. The president hopes these Sunni militias will attack Iran's allies and not America's, even though some of those receiving aid have ideological affinities with Al Qaeda. It's an astonishing policy, completely at odds with the lessons of 9/11 and battlefield realities in Iraq. That contradiction is the best indicator of the House of Saud's continuing grip on Bush-Cheney foreign policy. The administration's close ties with the Saudi royals demonstrate that there are limits to the influence of the neocons, many of whom advocate regime change in Saudi Arabia.

Bush and his aides cite Iran's nuclear capability as justification for air strikes. But Hersh has reported that American intelligence thinks Iran won't have the ability to produce a warhead until sometime between 2010 and 2015. And according to an intelligence estimate released December 3, the country shut down its nuclear weapons program in 2003. These assessments appear to have done little to deter the administration's drive toward confrontation. "Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," said President Bush in response to the new intelligence estimate. "What's to say they couldn't start another covert nuclear weapons program?"

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Taking it to the malls: Bringing the war home

Even before the California Supreme Court's ruling that shopping malls can't bar protestors, participants in Iraq Moratorium #4 last week were taking their message to the malls.

Some of the action moved to the malls because that's where the people were, doing holiday shopping four days before Christmas. Most "mall walkers" did just that -- walked the malls wearing antiwar shirts or singing carols, not staging actual protests.

An exception was Madison, Wisconsin, where seven people were "arrested" -- and later "unarrested" at West Towne Mall. Organizer Joy First tells what happened:

When we got to the center [of the mall], we unfurled our banners saying “3896 US soldiers killed in Iraq,” “Over 655,000 Iraqis killed” and “Stop the War Now”. A couple of us began slowly and loudly reading names of Iraqis and US soldiers killed in the war, and a couple handed out leaflets. It was only about 5-10 minutes before the mall security and manager came over and told us we had to stop. We talked to them about why we were there and why we couldn’t stop.

We felt we had the right to be there and that we needed to get this message out. Doing this action at the mall is important to juxtapose the suffering of the Iraqi people with the commercialism of the holiday season in the US. So, we continued and mall security called the police.

Bonnie, Susan, and I laid down on the floor and were covered with the banners we had been holding. Someone laid a red rose on top of each shroud. It is very uncomfortable laying there because once you are covered with the sheet, you cannot see what is going on any more. But I did continue to hear the clear, strong voices of my friends reading the names of people killed in the war as the jolly Christmas music from the mall played in the background.

I could also people walking by – some of them supportive and some not. One comment I heard several times was that we shouldn’t be doing something like this because there were kids around. I am listening to names being read, such as Mariam, daughter of Haider Mujed, age 3, or Ayat, daughter of Jaider Mujed, age 1 or Saif Alwan, age 14, or Ali Hamid, age 2. Do you remember your 2-year old and how sweet and lovable they are at that age? People are complaining that we shouldn’t do this with children present, but I think about all the Iraqi children who are being killed and wonder who will protect them.

You can read the full report and see a video of the entire action on the Iraq Moratorium website. Go to the reports section.

Elsewhere, mall walkers in San Mateo, California confronted Marine Corps recruiters in the mall (right.) Palo Alto and San Jose groups also did mall walks, and protestors sang antiwar carols outside of Macy's in San Francisco. In Nashville, activists held signs along the roadway entering a busy mall.

A group in Hobart, Indiana pioneered the mall walks for peace in October, strolling the mall and buying a few items while wearing "Out of Iraq" T-shirts and armbands.

Being "shoppers" or mall walkers seems to remove some of the legal questions about holding a protest on private property.

There have been arguments over the years that malls are the new town squares, public places where free speech should prevail. The California decision does not answer the broaader question, but dealt with union members asking shoppers to boycott a store.

The First Amendment Center offers a summary and links to stories on some of the cases, most of which have come down on the side of property rights over First Amendment rights:

Court upholds Florida candidate's petition rights in mall
State district court agrees that Kevin Wood should not have been convicted of trespassing for seeking signatures. 02.07.04

'Peace' T-shirt spawns legal fight against N.Y. town, mall
NYCLU argues that since Crossgates Mall receives tax incentives from town of Guilderland, it's a public area in which free speech is guaranteed. 05.31.04

Mall owners can limit speech, Connecticut high court says
Justices rule managers legally prohibited union members from distributing leaflets, saying shopping center is private — not public — entity. 07.20.04

Protesters at Hawaii malls can be prosecuted for trespass
State high court rejects argument that shopping center's common areas should be considered public space where free speech is protected. 08.14.04

La. man wins right to protest in front of Wal-Mart
Federal court order allows Edwin Crayton to picket on public sidewalk in front of store without permit from city. 11.14.06

Prediction for 2008: More mall walks, more protests, more legal challenges as antiwar actions escalate.

Says Joy First in Madison:

We must and we will continue to speak out against the war and occupation. As the devastation in Iraq continues and more and more people are hurt and killed, as more people become refugees, as more US soldiers come home with injuries physical, emotional, and spiritual, as more children in this country are starving and homeless because we are using all resources in Iraq, we will continue to take more and more risks in speaking out against the horrors that are caused by our government’s actions. We cannot and will not remain silent. It is our duty and responsibility to speak out.

Cross-posted on Docudharma

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Is 2008 the Year Democrats Finally Realize Iraq Is An Occupation?

Photobucket The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal, as well as the Independent Bloggers Alliance, the Peace Tree, the Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus, the Wild Wild Left and Worldwide Sawdust.

In 2007, the Democratic Party was a self-gelding machine of ineptitude. Activists such as myself worked feverishly in 2006 to retake congress and end America’s occupation of Iraq. Instead the Bush Administration implemented a “surge” as Democrats retreated from flexing their constitutional muscle. They continued to fund military operations, never invoked the War Powers Act and impeachment was taken off the table.

Remarkable considering how unpopular both the Iraq occupation and President Bush had become. Cracks even appeared in the façade of GOP unity as their Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell warned the Bush Administration that congressional Republicans would not allow Iraq to harm their electoral prospects in 2008. Indeed, on June 26th the Washington Post quoted McConnell as saying,

“I anticipate that we'll probably be going in a different direction in some way in Iraq. And it'll be interesting to see what the administration chooses to do."

McConell was anticipating the September testimony of Army General David H. Petraues. Yet as 2007 ends there is no denying that the unpopular Bush Administration successfully thwarted both the Democratic majority and the will of the people. How did this happen?

One can offer all sorts of explanations. Among them is that sixty-votes are required in the Senate and a thin Democratic majority had no real shot of making a difference. Others may prefer to scapegoat for their controversial “Betray Us” advertisement prior to the testimony of the highly decorated General Petraeus. Finally, some may simply contend that the surge worked and the rationale for withdrawal no longer applies.

Personally, I believe Democrats never truly wanted to end our occupation in Iraq. Iraq had sapped Bush’s popularity into oblivion, debased the Republican brand and helped fill Democratic coffers. Hence, both Reid and Pelosi were content to pursue the politics of symbolism without truly forcing the Administration’s hand.

Casting symbolic votes about timetables appeared safe and had the added advantage of keeping congressional Republicans on the defensive for supporting an unpopular war. It seemed a sure way to enhance their congressional majority as well as retake the White House but changed nothing on the ground. As a result, 2007 ends with congressional Democrats appearing impotent and unprincipled. Is it any wonder their poll ratings are so low?

Tragically, Democrats failed to realize that the American public opposed the war because we were perceived as losing rather than believing toppling Saddam’s government was wrong. Furthermore, even Americans who opposed the war from the beginning are instinctively repulsed at the notion of “losing” a war. Culturally, Americans don’t accept losing a war gracefully. Most countries don’t. For example, the Vietnam War was unpopular at the end yet liberals were easily stigmatized as weak defeatists for opposing it. Hence, once the so-called surge helped establish superficial conditions of stability, casting symbolic votes about withdrawal deadlines ceased to be effective.

It is therefore imperative that in 2008 Democrats stop referring to Iraq as a war but an occupation instead. The war in Iraq was both ill conceived and immoral. Many citizens including myself took to the streets and protested in 2002-2003. We didn’t protest because we feared losing. Rather we didn’t accept the rationale for the war and feared the occupation to follow.

The war as we all know ended when President Bush declared “Mission Accomplished.” Saddam’s regime was easily toppled and weapons of mass destruction were never found. The military did its job. The war was wrong but it happened and we won. We have been sustaining a brutal occupation since its conclusion. Occupations typically result in the wholesale deaths and torture of civilians. Maintaining an occupation is corrupting to the “victor.” Numerous people including bloggers and thinkers far more intelligent and eloquent than myself already reached that conclusion and the folly of buying into Bush’s framing the Iraq debate as a “war.”

As George Lakoff wrote on July 5, 2006,

“In an occupation, there are pragmatic issues: Are we welcome? Are we doing the Iraqis more harm than good? How badly are we being hurt? The question is not whether to withdraw, but when and how? What to say? You might prefer ‘End the occupation now’ or ‘End the occupation by the end of the year’ or ‘End the occupation within a year,’ but certainly Congress and most Americans should be able to agree on ‘End the occupation soon.’ In an occupation, not a war, should the president still have war powers? How, if at all, is the Supreme Court decision on military tribunals at Guantanamo affected if we are in an occupation, not a war? What high-handed actions by the President, if any, are ruled out if we are no longer at war?”

If Democrats at long last get their heads out of their ass the “surge” can be looked upon in its appropriate context. Yes, the surge reduced deaths of American GIs. Tactically it’s been a success. To deny that is to ignore reality. Even more significant are the Iraqi Sunnis resisting al Quaeda themselves. But what does any of that have to do with ending America’s immoral occupation, facilitating a political settlement inside Iraq and earning a measure of diplomatic good will in the Muslim world? As long as this occupation has a white Christian face we’ve condemned ourselves to walking on a toxic treadmill. The occupation is not beneficial to America or Iraq.

On December 4th, I interviewed talk radio’s Thom Hartmann, about his new book Cracking The Code: How To Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America's Original Vision. Hartmann eloquently echoes Lakoff about framing Iraq as an occupation instead of a war in his book. He noted during our interview that immediately after he and Lakoff suggested the “occupation” frame in 2006, Democrats took their advice. But they soon reverted to talking about Iraq as a war. Hartmann further observed that the corporatist media finds the war frame too profitable. Writing and broadcasting about an “occupation” doesn’t sell as well or profit companies such as General Electric who have a financial stake in the media as well as military operations. The media is not going to describe Iraq as an occupation any time soon.

So it’s up to the reality based community of citizen journalists, bloggers, activists and just plain regular people to set the record straight. Many progressive bloggers reading this thread properly realized this long ago. But as we head into 2008 a reminder is in order. I for one plead guilty of too often playing into the hands of predatory conservatives and describing Iraq as a war.

So no matter what presidential candidate you’re supporting in 2008, please let their campaigns know you want Iraqi policy referred to as an “occupation” and be assertive about it. Please telephone and write your representatives in congress as well (click here and here ). And on your blogs refer to Iraq as an occupation every time you post about it. Any street protests should also reinforce the message that we're opposing an occupation. Our 2008 New Years resolution should be to once and for all shift the terms of debate about Iraq from being a “war” to an “occupation.” At stake is the blood of our GIs, innocent Iraqi civilians and ending America’s estrangement from the civilized world.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Lesser Of Two Evils?

Which presidents and political parties were responsible for America's deadliest wars? To what extent can you blame a president or a political party for choosing to go to war? This map may hold some answers. It illustrates the history of American war from 1775 to 2006. War is a necessary evil. Politics, however, shouldn't be.

"Christmas In Fallujah"

Merry Christmas

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

And So This Is Christmas...

The Betrayal Is Complete: Permanent Occupation Of Iraq
If you ever doubted it...
...this should resolve the question once and for all: We are on our own.
Asked about her "greatest mistake," Pelosi said Why don't you tell me? 'Cause I think we're doing just great." Remember when Georgie stumbled over a similar question and couldn't recall any mistakes? It seems Our Only President is not the only one so afflicted.

The hand-off...

"Principles" for Permanent Iraqi Presence
A "democratic Iraq" here means the Shiite-led Iraqi government. The current political arrangement will receive U.S. military protection against coups or any other internal subversion. That's something the Iraqi government wants desperately: not only is it massively unpopular, even among Iraqi Shiites, but the increasing U.S.-Sunni security cooperation strikes the Shiite government -- with some justification -- as a recipe for a future coup.
In other words, we're staying in Iraq to defend George Bush's ass, and his puppet Nouri al-Maliki against all enemies, foreign and domestic. What will the presidential candidates say about this?

And So This Is Christmas... and what have you done?

Merry Christmas, Nancy...

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Military Evangelism Deeper, Wider Than First Thought

Military Evangelism Deeper, Wider Than First Thought
By Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report, Friday 21 December 2007

For US Army soldiers entering basic training at Fort Jackson Army base in Columbia, South Carolina, accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior appears to be as much a part of the nine-week regimen as the vigorous physical and mental exercises the troops must endure.

That's the message directed at Fort Jackson soldiers, some of whom appear in photographs in government issued fatigues, holding rifles in one hand, and Bibles in their other hand.

Frank Bussey, director of Military Ministry at Fort Jackson, has been telling soldiers at Fort Jackson that "government authorities, police and the military = God's Ministers,"

Bussey's teachings from the "God's Basic Training" Bible study guide he authored says US troops have "two primary responsibilities": "to praise those who do right" and "to punish those who do evil - "God's servant, an angel of wrath." Bussey's teachings directed at Fort Jackson soldiers were housed on the Military Ministry at Fort Jackson web site. Late Wednesday, the web site was taken down without explanation. Bussey did not return calls for comment. The web site text, however, can still be viewed in an archived format.

The Christian right has been successful in spreading its fundamentalist agenda at US military installations around the world for decades. But the movement's meteoric rise in the US military came in large part after 9/11 and immediately after the US invaded Iraq in March of 2003. At a time when the United States is encouraging greater religious freedom in Muslim nations, soldiers on the battlefield have told disturbing stories of being force-fed fundamentalist Christianity by highly controversial, apocalyptic "End Times" evangelists, who have infiltrated US military installations throughout the world with the blessing of high-level officials at the Pentagon. Proselytizing among military personnel has been conducted openly, in violation of the basic tenets of the United States Constitution.

Perhaps no other fundamentalist Christian group is more influential than Military Ministry, a national organization and a subsidiary of the controversial fundamentalist Christian organization Campus Crusade for Christ. Military Ministry's national web site boasts it has successfully "targeted" basic training installations, or "gateways," and has successfully converted thousands of soldiers to evangelical Christianity.

Military Ministry says its staffers are responsible for "working with Chaplains and Military personnel to bring lost soldiers closer to Christ, build them in their faith and send them out into the world as Government paid missionaries" - which appears to be a clear-cut violation of federal law governing the separation of church and state.

"Young recruits are under great pressure as they enter the military at their initial training gateways," the group has stated on its web site. "The demands of drill instructors push recruits and new cadets to the edge. This is why they are most open to the 'good news.' We target specific locations, like Lackland AFB [Air Force base] and Fort Jackson, where large numbers of military members transition early in their career. These sites are excellent locations to pursue our strategic goals."

Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of the government watchdog organization the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, whose group has been closely tracking Military Ministry's activities at Fort Jackson and other military bases around the country, said in an interview that using "the machinery of the state" to promote any form of religion is "not only unconstitutional and un-American but it also creates a national security threat of the first order."

A six-month investigation by MRFF has found Military Ministry's staff has successfully targeted US soldiers entering basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and Fort Sam Houston, with the approval of the Army base's top commanders.

"I've said it before and I will say it again," Weinstein said. "We are in the process of creating a fundamentalist Christian Taliban and somebody has to do something to stop it now."

Weinstein points out that on Fort Jackson's Military Ministry web site, the basic training battalion commander, Lt. Col. David Snodgrass, and the battalion's chaplain, Maj. Scott Bullock, who appear in uniform in a photograph with Bussey, is a clear-cut violation of Military rules. MRFF contacted Bussey via email on Wednesday to request information about the "similar programs" he claimed Fort Jackson has for soldiers of other faiths. Bussey, responding to MRFF via email, did not provide an answer to the watchdog group's question, but, instead, he fired back a query of his own asking MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda to direct him to the place in the Constitution where it states there is a "separation of church and state."

A spokesperson for the Fort Jackson Army base did not return calls for comment. Earlier this week, after MRFF exposed the potential constitutional violations between Military Ministry and the Fort Jackson Army base, Bussey added language to Military Ministry at Fort Jackson web site in the form of a "notice to MRFF and ACLU types" in bold red letters that says the Bible study classes are strictly voluntary, not command directed in any way, allows soldiers to exercise for themselves the right of freedom of religion ... and similar programs exist on Fort Jackson for Soldiers of all faiths."

Clause 3, Article VI of the Constitution forbids a religion test for any position in the federal government, and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights says Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion.

In July, the Pentagon's inspector general (IG) responded to a complaint filed a year earlier by MRFF that accused Pentagon officials of violating the federal law governing the separation of church and state. The IG did not address the church/state issue, but he issued a 45-page report admonishing several high-level Pentagon officials for participating, while in uniform and on active duty, in a promotional video sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ's Christian Embassy group. The IG report quoted one high-ranking military official as saying he believed his participation in the video was acceptable because Campus Crusade for Christ had become so embedded in the Pentagon's day-to-day operations that he viewed the organization as a "quasi federal entity."

The IG report recommended the military officials who appeared in the video be disciplined, but the Pentagon would not say whether it has in fact punished the military officers who appeared in the video.

MRFF uncovered another recent Campus Crusade for Christ promotional video filmed at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that would appear to violate the same military rules detailed in the IG report. Cadets and academy officials appear in uniform discussing how Campus Crusade for Christ helped strengthen their bonds with Jesus.

Scot Blom, the Campus Crusade for Christ director assigned to work at the Air Force Academy, says in the video the organization "has always been very intentional about going after the leaders or the future leaders" and that's why Campus Crusade for Christ picked the Air Force Academy to spread its fundamentalist Christian message. Every week, according to the video, cadets are encouraged to participate in a Bible study class called "cru" short for "crusade."

"Our purpose for Campus Crusade for Christ at the Air Force Academy is to make Jesus Christ the issue at the Air Force Academy and around the world," Blom says in the video. "They're government paid missionaries when they leave here."

Weinstein said the recent promotional video for Campus Crusade for Christ, and the photograph of US soldiers holding Bibles in one hand and rifles in the other posted on the Fort Jackson Military Ministry web site, gives the impression the Pentagon endorses the fundamentalist Christian organization and underscores that the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan appears to be more of a modern-day fundamentalist Christian crusade. That message, Weinstein said, could lead to more "jihads" against the United States.

Indeed. Weinstein, a former White House counsel during the Reagan administration, former general counsel to Texas billionaire and two-time presidential candidate H. Ross Perot and a former Air Force Judge Advocate General, said he had an "unexpected" telephone conversation with several senior Bush administration intelligence officials this week who encouraged him "to continue to fight for the separation of church and state in the US military" because, these senior administration intelligence officials told Weinstein, US troops are being put in harms way.

Weinstein said the senior administration intelligence officials told him they too have been tracking Islamic web sites where people have been discussing on message boards the fundamental Christianity issues Weinstein has raised within the US military. The intelligence officials told Weinstein they are concerned the fundamentalist Christian agenda surfacing in the military could lead to attacks against US soldiers. Weinstein said he could not identify the senior Bush intelligence administration officials he spoke with because they contacted him with the understanding they would not be named.

Fundamental Christianity's Influence on the Bush Administration

While Weinstein has worked tirelessly the past four years exposing the Christian Right's power grab within the military, he says the White House continues to thumb its nose at the constitutional provision mandating the separation of church and state.

Indeed. This week a US District Court judge ruled the White House must disclose its visitor logs showing White House visits by nine fundamentalist Christian leaders.

The ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by the government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and could very well show how much influence fundamental Christian leaders such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer and Moral Majority co-founder Jerry Falwell have had on the Bush's administration.

"We think that these conservative Christian leaders have had a very big impact," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. "The White House doesn't want to talk about how much influence these leaders have, and we want to talk about how much they do have."

Bush has been vocal about his fundamentalist Christian beliefs and how God has helped him during his presidency. A couple of weeks ago, the White House sent out Christmas cards signed by President Bush and his wife Laura that contained a Biblical passage from the Old Testament:

"You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you."

The inclusion of the Biblical passage caught the attention of longtime broadcaster Barbara Walters, who was a recipient of the presidential Christmas card.

Walters said she doesn't recall receiving "religious" holiday cards from past presidents and she wondered how non-Christians would receive such an overtly religious greeting.

"Usually in the past when I have received a Christmas card, it's been 'Happy Holidays' and so on," said Walters. "Don't you think it's a little interesting that the president of all the people is sending out a religious Christmas card? Does this also go to agnostics, and atheists, and Muslims?"

The Biblical passage inside the Christmas card did not amount to a constitutional violation because it was paid for by the Republican National Committee, but Weinstein said it's intolerable, nonetheless, because military officials believe they have the approval of the White House to allow fundamentalist Christian organizations and their leaders to proselytize in the military.

Recently, Bush nominated Brig. Gen. Cecil R. Richardson, the deputy Air Force Chief of Chaplains, to replace the outgoing Air Force Chief of Chaplains, and is in line to be promoted to Major General. Richardson was quoted in a front-page, July 12, 2005, New York Times story saying the Air Force reserves the right "to evangelize the unchurched." The distinction, Richardson said at the time, "is that proselytizing is trying to convert someone in an aggressive way, while evangelizing is more gently sharing the gospel."

Weinstein filed a federal lawsuit against the Air Force in October 2005 after Richardson's comments were published alleging "severe, systemic and pervasive" religious discrimination within the Air Force. Weinstein is a 1977 graduate of the Academy. His sons and a daughter in law are also academy graduates. Weinstein's book, "With God On Our Side: One Man's War Against An Evangelical Coup in America's Military," details the virulent anti-Semitism he was subjected to while he attended the academy and the religious intolerance that has permeated throughout the halls over the past several years.

The federal lawsuit Weinstein filed was dismissed, but the Air Force agreed to withdraw a document that authorized chaplains to evangelize members of the military. Still, Weinstein said MRFF would lobby senators to oppose Richardson's nomination because of his past statements Richardson has refused to retract.

"The Military Religious Freedom Foundation will do everything in our power to convince the United States Senate to reject the nomination of Brig. Gen. Cecil R. Richardson to become the chief of Air Force chaplains and his promotion to the rank of major general," Weinstein said in an interview. "We view Richardson as the prototypical poster child of the type of constitutional rapist we are trying to eradicate from existence within the US military."

In September, MRFF filed a lawsuit in federal court against Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and US Army Maj. Freddy Welborn, on behalf of an Army soldier stationed in Iraq. The complaint filed in US District Court in Kansas City alleges that Jeremy Hall's an Army specialist currently on active duty in Combat Operations Base Speicher, Iraq, First Amendment rights were violated when Welborn threatened to retaliate against Hall and block his reenlistment in the Army because of Hall's atheist beliefs.

"When You Join the Military, Then You Are Also in the Ministry"

The executive director of Military Ministry, retired US Army Major General Bob Dees, wrote in the organization's October 2005 "Life and Leadership" newsletter, "We must pursue our particular means for transforming the nation - through the military. And the military may well be the most influential way to affect that spiritual superstructure. Militaries exercise, generally speaking, the most intensive and purposeful indoctrination program of citizens...."

Moreover, Military Ministry's parent organization, Campus Crusade for Christ, has been re-distributing to military chaplains a DVD produced a decade ago where Tommy Nelson, a pastor at the Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas, tells an audience of Texas A&M cadets and military officers when they join the military "then you are also in the ministry."

"I, a number of years ago, was speaking at the University of North Texas - it happens to be my alma mater, up in Denton, Texas - and I was speaking to an ROTC group up there, and when I stepped in I said, "It's good to be speaking to all you men and women who are in the ministry," and they all kind of looked at me, and I think they wondered if maybe I had found the wrong room, or if they were in the wrong room, and I assured them that I was speaking to men and women in the ministry, these that were going to be future officers," Nelson says in the DVD.

Jason Leopold is senior editor and reporter for Truthout. He received a Project Censored award in 2007 for his story on Halliburton's work in Iran.

Also see:

Charges in Religious Lawsuit Against Army Detailed

Soldier Who Sued Army Facing Threats

Pentagon Sued Over Mandatory Christianity

Kill or Convert, Brought To You By The Pentagon

Video, Report Details Evangelism At Highest Levels Of US Military

Swastikas at Hunter Airfield, and a Rabbi on the Run

With God on Our Side: Evangelical Christianity On Steroids In  US Military

Ft. Leavenworth Army Chaplains Preaching Anti-Semitism to US Soldiers

Anti-Semitic Bible Teachings Disappear From Army Site

There's more: "Military Evangelism Deeper, Wider Than First Thought" >>