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Questions for Bush
Martin A. Lee
September 30, 2001
If we had an aggressive,
independent press corps in the United States, our national conversation about the terrorist
attacks that demolished the
World Trade Center towers in New York and damaged the Pentagon would be far more
probing and informative. Here are some examples of questions that
reporters might ask President Bush:
the attacks in New York and Washington, your administration tolerated
Saudi Arabian and Pakistani military and financial aid for Afghanistan's
Taliban regime, even though it harbored terrorist mastermind Osama bin
Laden. Now you say fighting terrorism will be the main focus of your
administration. By making counter-terrorism the top priority in bilateral
relations, aren’t you signaling to abusive governments in Sudan,
Indonesia, Turkey and elsewhere that they need not worry much about their
human rights performance as long as they join the anti-terrorist crusade?
Will you condone, for example, the brutalization of Chechnya in exchange
for Russian participation? Will you make clear that America’s allies
must not use the fight against terrorism as a cover for waging repressive
campaigns that smother democratic aspirations in their own countries?
2. Terrorists finance their operations by laundering money through
offshore banks and other hot money outlets. Yet your administration has
undermined international efforts to crack down on tax havens. Last May, you withdrew
support for a comprehensive initiative launched by the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which sought greater transparency in tax and banking practices. In the
wake of the Sept. 11
massacre, will you reassess this decision and support the OECD proposal,
even if it means displeasing wealthy Americans and campaign contributors
who avoid paying taxes by hiding money in offshore accounts?
3. Four months ago, U.S. officials announced that Washington was
giving $43 million to the Taliban for its role in reducing the cultivation
of opium poppies, despite the Taliban’s heinous human rights record and
its sheltering of Islamic terrorists of many nationalities. Was this
payment a mistake, in effect, support for a country that harbors
terrorists? Do you think the “war on drugs” has distorted U.S. foreign
policy in Southwest Asia and other regions?
4. According to U.S., German and Russian intelligence sources, Osama
bin Laden’s operatives have been trying to acquire enriched uranium and
other weapons-grade radioactive materials for a nuclear bomb. There are
reports that in 1993 bin Laden’s well-financed organization tried to buy
enriched uranium from poorly maintained Russian facilities that lacked
sufficient controls. Why has your administration proposed cutting funds
for a program to help safeguard nuclear materials in the former Soviet
5. On Sept. 23, you announced plans to make public a detailed
analysis of the evidence gathered by U.S intelligence and police agencies,
which proves that Osama bin Laden and his cohorts are guilty of the
terrorist attacks in New York and the Pentagon. But the next day your
administration backpedaled. “As we look through [the evidence],”
explained Secretary of State Colin Powell, “we can find areas that are
unclassified and it will allow us to share this information with the
public…. But most of it is classified.” If your administration can’t
make its case publicly, how do you expect to win the support of
governments and people who otherwise might suspect Washington’s motives,
particularly some Muslim and Arab nations?
6. Exactly who is a terrorist, and who is not? When the CIA was
doling out an estimated $2 billion to support the Afghan mujahadeen in the
1980s, Osama bin Laden and his colleagues were hailed as anti-communist
freedom fighters. Now bin Laden and his ilk are terrorists. Before he
became vice president, Dick Cheney and the U.S. State Department denounced
Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, as a terrorist.
Today Mandela, South Africa’s president emeritus, is considered a
statesman. And what about Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who bears
significant responsibility for the 1982 massacre of 1,800 innocents at the
Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon?
7. Many U.S. officials attribute the CIA’s inability to thwart the
terrorist attacks in New York and Washington to rules that discouraged the
CIA from utilizing gangsters, death squad leaders and other “unsavory”
characters as sources and assets. There’s been a lot of talk lately
about lifting such rules and unshackling the CIA so it can engage in
assassinations. But didn't enlisting unsavory characters set the stage for
tragic events on Sept. 11. The CIA trained and financed Islamic extremists
to topple the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan. Now, some of the same
extremists, most notably bin Laden, have turned their psychotic wrath
against the United States. Instead of adding billions of dollars to the
CIA's budget, shouldn’t you hold accountable the shortsighted U.S.
intelligence officials who ran the covert operation in Afghanistan?
8. John Negroponte, the new U.S. ambassador the United Nations, says
he intends to build an international anti-terrorist coalition. During the
mid-1980s, Negroponte was involved in covering up right-wing death squad
activity and other human rights abuses in Honduras when he served as ambassador to that country. Doesn’t Negroponte’s
role in aiding and
abetting state terrorism in Central America undermine the moral authority
of the United States as it embarks upon a crusade against international
9. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon brought
home the frightening extent to which U.S. citizens and installations are
vulnerable to terrorist attacks. If terrorists hit a nuclear power plant, it could
result in a public health disaster. In the interest of protecting national
security, shouldn't you phase out the 103 nuclear power plants that are currently operating in the United States? Why
administration emphasize safe, renewable energy alternatives, such as
solar and wind power, which would not invite terrorism?
10. After years of lobbying against rigorous safety procedures, the
heads of the airline industry will receive a multibillion-dollar taxpayer
bailout for their ailing companies. Given your support for the airline
rescue package, do you now agree that letting the free market run its
course won’t solve all our economic and social problems? That’s what
anti-globalization activists have been saying all along.
11 will be remembered as a day of infamy in the United States because of
the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. In Chile, Sept. 11 also
is remembered as the day when a U.S.-back coup toppled the democratically
elected government of Salvador Allende in 1973, initiating a reign of
terror by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Given your administration’s avowed
stance against terrorism, will you cooperate with the various
international legal cases that are homing in on ex-Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger for colluding with Pinochet’s murderous regime?
say you’re a loving man, but no empire, including today's United States,
has been loved by those under its domination. As hideous as it sounds,
there are many people on the planet who consider the Sept. 11 attacks a
response – however twisted or demented – to past U.S. actions,
including air strikes that killed innocent civilians in Iraq, Sudan,
Serbia and Afghanistan. Do you agree that some U.S. behavior has
contributed to the spread of fanaticism around the globe and shouldn't
that be acknowledged?
13. What do you expect to accomplish if you bomb Afghanistan?
Mightn't this galvanize Islamic fundamentalist movements that are already
powerful in Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, the oil-rich Arab monarchies
and the Balkans? Adept at manipulating real grievances, terrorist networks
breed on poverty, despair and social injustice. Do you think you can wipe
out or even reduce this scourge without seriously and systematically
addressing the root causes of terrorism?
Martin A. Lee (email@example.com)
is the author of Acid Dreams
and The Beast Reawakens.
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