While the Republicans have taken control of the Senate and added seats to their majority in the House, one top Republican who won’t be coming back to Congress is conservative Bob Barr. A leader of the successful House drive to impeach Bill Clinton, Barr lost his seat in Georgia after redistricting. But he told the Accuracy in Media conference on October 5 that he intends to remain active in politics, and he warned the audience about fighting the war on terrorism at the expense of civil liberties. He said the work of AIM was essential in keeping both the media and government honest.
Barr reflected on the impeachment of Clinton, noting that some of the research that came in handy against the former president was written by Hillary Clinton when she was a lawyer on the Senate Watergate Committee that sought to impeach President Richard Nixon. Barr said he wrote a Wall Street Journal article that thanked Hillary for her assistance. He said Clinton’s impeachment made history and can be credited to those conservatives in AIM, Judicial Watch, FreeRepublic.com and other groups who put pressure on Congress through articles, petition drives and rallies to do its duty.
Despite being a staunch Republican, Bob Barr showed his willingness to criticize both political parties by turning his attention to the present situation and expressing serious concern about policies being adopted by the President and Congress in the war on terrorism. While the Clintons claimed they were expanding government for the benefit of the children, he said the Bush administration is expanding government in the name of fighting terrorism. While the war against terrorism is absolutely essential, he said this war seems unlike others in that it is “perpetual” in nature and we cannot expect to see an end to it comparable to the Japanese signing a surrender document on the deck of the USS Missouri.
Under these circumstances, Barr said we have to question the constitutional basis for expanding government powers that invade privacy and abridge individual rights. He said this is just as true under Bush as it was under Clinton. Even though the people and the names change in government, “the same issues we’ve been fighting on” will continue, he said. “The power of the government, the power of the bureaucrats is never satisfied,” Barr said. “No matter how much power they get, they always want more.” He warned that “the powers surrendered to the government stay with the government.”
Barr was critical of a proposed national I.D. card, the expansion of law-enforcement surveillance powers, the federal Terrorist Information and Prevention System (TIPS), and the increasing use of security cameras by government at all levels. Under the TIPS program, in which government encourages people to be on the alert for terrorist activities, he said someone coming into your home to fix the cable TV could see something he thinks is suspicious and report you to the authorities. Somebody coming to check your electric meter could inform on you as well. Barr warned that a national I.D. card might be rammed through Congress under the cover of standardizing drivers’ licenses.
He said security cameras, a weapon in the war on crime and terrorism, are ineffective, noting that London has more surveillance cameras per capita than any city in the world, but street crime continues to increase. It was up by 40 percent last year. Barr said security cameras took photographs of-but failed to stop-some of the 9/11 hijackers boarding the planes they hijacked. Some terrorists don’t mind being photographed, he said, because they want a record of their activities. Cameras are used by some jurisdictions to catch speeders, but Barr said they not only take photos of license plates but the cars themselves and their occupants. What’s more, he said the evidence collected by the cameras can be used for other purposes. Congressional hearings had failed to uncover what is done with all of this surveillance information. Barr said government surveillance of people is changing the nature of our society and turning the fourth amendment against unwarranted search and seizure on its head. He urged the American people to remain vigilant.
In his remarks to the conference, AIM chairman Reed Irvine reviewed media misconduct on several major Clinton-related scandals, including the death of former White House deputy counsel Vince Foster and the crash of TWA Flight 800, and the questionable suicide verdict in the death of former Enron executive Cliff Baxter. AIM has taken the lead role in trying to uncover and publicize the truth in these and many other cases. He also paid tribute to the late AIM President Murray Baron.
Irvine said that the more that is learned about the official investigation of the Foster death, the more questionable it looks. He said AIM obtained through the Freedom of Information Act a copy of a report on the Foster case done by psychologist Dr. Alan Berman. It claimed all the evidence had indicated a suicide. When Irvine told Berman that was wrong, Berman invited him to show him the evidence to the contrary and promised he would respond to it. The invitation was accepted and Berman was given a summary of the evidence that Irvine said proved irrefutably that Foster was murdered. Berman was candid enough to admit that he was unable to respond.
The same article, a version of which was published in the AIM Report, was sent to a number of journalists with the understanding that they would respond to it. One was Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. Irvine taped his promise to respond, a promise that he failed to keep despite many phone calls to get him to honor his promise. His refusal to return the calls was a tacit admission that he could not refute the evidence. Post Publisher Bo Jones and Executive Editor Len Downie, Jr. were also invited to read and refute the article. Neither promised a response and neither produced any refutation.
The conservative Washington Times was no better. Its managing editor, Francis Coombs, promised a response. Months passed and Coombs confessed that he had asked Jerry Seper, a veteran investigative reporter, to deliver on his promise. Seper, who had been sold on the suicide theory, told Irvine he was re-examining the evidence and would produce a response. Like Woodward, he has not returned a call since then. When Coombs was asked to insist that Seper keep his promise, he ducked, saying that the story was old and proof that Foster was murdered would not be a newsworthy story! That incredible answer was echoed recently by Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist who told Irvine that he would read his article but he didn’t think he would write about it because “it feels like history at this point.” This was right after the Times had devoted nearly a full page to the story that Pres. Kennedy and his aides had lied to conceal his serious health problems.
Irvine was hopeful that Dr. Cyril Wecht, the famous Pitts-burgh coroner, would help recruit other forensic pathologists to participate in a news conference on the Foster case. Wecht, who had appeared on a PAX-TV documentary on the Foster case, was critical of the official investigation and he had found Irvine’s article on the evidence of murder convincing.
On the TWA 800 matter, Irvine expressed the hope that a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit would be able to demonstrate there was no factual basis for a video used by the government to discount the testimony of hundreds of eyewitnesses who said a missile was streaking toward and hit the plane. The government claim is that a mysterious fuel-tank explosion broke the plane in half and that the witnesses to a missile were actually seeing the aircraft ascend after it caught fire. Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) may be able to conclusively demonstrate that the government had no evidence on which to make such a claim.
On the case of Cliff Baxter, whose curious death was ruled a suicide, Irvine said Judicial Watch was going to sue on behalf of AIM to get information on how much of the drug Ambien was in his system, information the medical examiner had refused to disclose. Irvine said it was possible that this information would prove that Baxter was so sedated that he could not have done what the Sugar Land police claimed he did, i.e., wake up after midnight, load his revolver with ammo he apparently did not own, slip out of his house, drive a short distance, park and shoot himself in the head.
Paying tribute to Murray Baron, the late president of AIM, Irvine noted that the New York Times obituary was very good. For many years he and Irvine had met annually with Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger to discuss complaints about the Times’ news coverage. These meetings were always amicable and sometimes productive. Murray Baron started out as a socialist, working with Norman Thomas, the perennial Socialist Party presidential candidate. He was in his youth, and had been very active in the labor movement. He was a fierce opponent of totalitarian ideologies and was particularly critical of the Times for its softness toward communist despots. The Times is known for its favorable obituaries of dead reds, foreign and domestic. The late Sidney Gruson, one of its veteran foreign correspondents who rose to become vice chairman of the company, admitted to Murray Baron and Reed Irvine that he favored Lenin, Mao and Castro over the leaders they toppled.
Daniel J. Flynn, the author of the new book, Why the Left Hates America, told the conference that if some alumni knew what was happening on American college campuses, they would never donate another dime to so-called higher education. Flynn, executive director of Accuracy in Academia, has been run off one campus and shouted down at another while trying to bring a pro-American message to students at major universities. Citing surveys showing that college faculty members are overwhelmingly liberal and leftist, he said the Marxist anti-American mentality of many college professors is being passed on to their students.
Flynn’s book caught the attention of Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly, who had Flynn on the air to help explain the behavior of Hollywood leftists such as Sean Penn. Penn took out a $56,000 advertisement in the October 18 Washington Post attacking President Bush for the war on terrorism and his threat to launch a military strike on Iraq. “I beg you, help save America before yours is a legacy of shame and horror,” Penn said. Flynn said this kind of attitude is evident on college campuses, where America is viewed as a negative force in the world, even after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3000 people. Flynn said some academics have whitewashed the role of Islam and insist the attacks were the fault of U.S. foreign policy.
Flynn cited the Brown University student who said the American flag was a symbol of hate and should be used as toilet paper. On the other hand, when students exhibit pro-American feelings and sentiments, they face strong opposition and harassment. At Central Michigan University, the dormitories were scoured for pro-America symbols that were then ripped down. At Lehigh University, an American flag was ordered removed from a campus bus. At Marquette, a proposal for a moment of silence in honor of the victims of 9/11 was cancelled because it “might alienate foreign students.” Flynn said, “If you hate your country, the campuses are indeed a very tolerant place.” They are also tolerant of bizarre alternative lifestyles. Flynn pointed out that Yale bans ROTC, but students can take courses such as “The Story of Incest” or “Drag Queens, Transsexuals and Queers.”
Like Yale, Harvard won’t tolerate ROTC on campus. Yet it took $5 million from the family of Osama bin Laden for an Islamic studies program and refused to give it back after 9/11. The Washington School of Law in St. Louis will refund your tuition if you go into government service after law school except if that service is the military, “you don’t get a dime,” Flynn said.
Some of our colleges are still honoring communist heroes. Flynn cited a campus library named after W.E.B. Dubois, who praised Stalin, won the Lenin Peace Price and renounced his American citizenship. He pointed out that a branch of the City University of New York has awarded scholarships named after Vietnamese Communist Ho Chi Minh, and New York’s Bard College still has a chair named for Alger Hiss, the high-ranking State Department official who was convicted of perjury for denying he was a Soviet agent. Washington College in Maryland had an annual “Alger Hiss week” until a few years ago. Accuracy in Academia has refuted the lies that sparked demands on college campuses that the convicted Philadelphia cop-killer, Mumia Abu Jamal, be freed. This imprisoned felon has been invited to deliver four commencement addresses.
Popular AIM speaker Charles Wiley said the campuses are dominated by leftists who indoctrinate students. Wiley quoted a former Soviet intelligence official as saying that the demise of the U.S. Communist Party after the collapse of the Soviet Union wasn’t a big hindrance to Communist recruitment efforts because there are so many “America-haters” being produced on the campuses. Wiley, who has conducted focus groups analyzing student attitudes on major issues, said they are getting a radical view of America from leftist historians such as Howard Zinn. This builds on what is being taught in high schools, where students are being given a biased and negative view of America’s founders and political leaders.
This ideology, when combined with ignorance, packs a devastating punch. Wiley quoted one student as saying that President Teddy Roosevelt (sic) knew about Pearl Harbor in advance and didn’t do anything to stop it. But Wiley said it would be a mistake to single out academia. He said the movies, television and the media all contribute to an uninformed public. Wiley cited CBS Evening News anchorman Dan Rather’s statement on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News Channel program that Bill Clinton was an honest man despite being a proven liar. Such a bizarre statement reflects some of the popular but flawed thinking on college campuses.
The AIM conference featured a lively discussion on Iraq that pitted former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel against Dolf Droge, who served on the staff of the National Security Council during the Johnson, Nixon, and Ford administrations. He has been one of the most popular speakers affiliated with the AIM/AEF Speakers Bureau. Dolf Droge described in graphic terms the brutality of Saddam Hussein in his treatment of anyone who lost his trust. His description of Saddam’s ruthless torture and murder even of members of his own family left the audience wondering how Mike Gravel was going to disagree with Droge’s assertion that a change of regime was necessary.
In addition to brutally killing his own people, Droge cited the evidence that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction for use against his neighbors and us. Citing the book “See No Evil” by former CIA officer Bob Baer, Droge lamented Clinton’s failure to take action to depose the Iraqi dictator. Baer served in northern Iraq and watched helplessly as Clinton’s first national security adviser, Anthony Lake, undermined a coup which could have overthrown Saddam Hussein. Droge said Israel’s destruction of the French-built Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq in 1981 showed the will needed to deal with Saddam. He said it was now up to the U.S. to assume responsibility to keep him from getting weapons of mass destruction.
Addressing the claim that a war would bring democracy to Iraq, Gravel asserted that there are no democracies in the world, even in the U.S. He has appeared on MSNBC and other networks opposing war with Iraq. He said the public’s view is not being adequately presented on such programs and the government isn’t listening anyway. In the U.S., he said, we have a “representative government” in which politicians decide issues based on how they will look to the public and how the other political party will be perceived. Gravel had opposed the war in Vietnam, and he claimed that Presidents Johnson and Nixon kept us involved in that war because of “image,” meaning how it would look if we pulled out. “Somewhere out there is the public interest,” he said, but it doesn’t play any significant role in the national debate. As chairman of The Democracy Foundation, Gravel is trying to promote acceptance of a process whereby citizens could vote in a national referendum on all legislation. He thinks this is the only way true democracy can be achieved.
Saying he didn’t have a “magic answer” to the Iraq problem, Gravel said the war would go forward regardless of what he thought. But as a former Senator who once had access to classified information, he warned the audience not to believe that government leaders have a better understanding of the situation and should be trusted to deal with it. He said even members of Congress find it difficult to get accurate information about national security issues. Iraq may be a problem, Gravel said, but it’s a problem of our own making because previous administrations had provided equipment to Iraq that enabled it to build a military arsenal to fight Iran. Now, some of that arsenal is being trained on the U.S. and others. “Kill Saddam and there’s 30 others out there,” Gravel cautioned. The real solution, he said, was for America to disengage and stop intervening around the world and concentrate on making the U.S. a democratic model for the rest of the world.
A war, Gravel warned, would be another excuse for government to violate our liberties. He said security procedures adopted in the war on terrorism have become extremely burdensome and unnecessary, citing the case of an 85-year old lady in a wheel-chair at one airport being checked for weapons and bombs. “You people are conservative. You should be worried about your civil liberties,” he said. “They’re going down the tube right before your very eyes and you want to go to war. The war will accelerate that.” Gravel’s do-nothing approach did not sit well with the audience, but his concern about eroding civil liberties is shared by many conservatives like Bob Barr.
The push for war with Iraq was on the back burner while negotiations took place at the U.N. The Washington Post and the New York Times said that the president had scored a major diplomatic victory on November 8 with a new resolution on Iraq. A headline in the Times called it “tough.” Reporter Colum Lynch of the Washington Post agreed, calling it “a tough new disarmament mandate.” It gives several deadlines and demands for Iraq to provide information and access to the U.N. The conservative Internet site NewsMax.com agreed that the resolution was a diplomatic victory, quoting a UPI report as saying Bush had outfoxed the U.N. Freedom Alliance, a group started by Ollie North, hailed the resolution in a press release headlined “President Bush Leads and U.N. Follows.” The Washington Times claimed that the resolution threatened Iraq with “certain military action.”
But that wasn’t true. The words “military action” didn’t appear. The media failed to compare an early draft of a proposed U.S. resolution for the U.N. and what finally passed. The early U.S. draft said that if Iraq did not disarm, then member states could “use all necessary means to restore international peace and security in the area.” That was viewed as a threat of military action. But that was dropped in the final version, which simply says Iraq may face “serious consequences” and that if Iraq doesn’t comply, the issue is bounced back to the U.N. Security Council for a decision on what to do.
That was the approach advocated by France. All of the so-called “hidden triggers” for military action were taken out. On the Fox News Channel, several conservatives were very critical. Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard and columnist Charles Krauthammer said the process gave too much power to the chief U.N. weapons inspector, a Swedish diplomat and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency named Hans Blix, who has the reputation of being soft on Saddam.
The French approach was also advocated by Walter Cronkite. The retired CBS newsman, who used to be called “the most trusted man in America,” gave a speech at Texas A&M University in which he warned that if we took action against Iraq without U.N. support it could set the stage for World War III. Cronkite, now a fundraiser for the World Federalist Association, said the best approach was a two-stage resolution adopted by the United Nations. This is the approach eventually adopted by the U.S. , under pressure from France, Russia, China and even Syria, a sponsor of international terrorism.
The decision to place more power and authority in the hands of Hans Blix was cast into doubt by the revelation in the Washington Times that U.S. intelligence agencies have told U.N. weapons inspectors that Iraq has hidden 7,000 liters of anthrax, and that Blix never reported the information to the U.N. Security Council. Bill Gertz reported in the Washington Times, “The failure to inform the council has raised questions about whether Mr. Blix will report accurately on anticipated Iraqi obstruction of weapons inspections?”
Iraq developed its covert nuclear weapons program through the 1980s while Blix headed the International Atomic Energy Agency. That program came to light, and was destroyed, only after the Persian Gulf War. Blix also endorsed the 1994 nuclear agreement between the Clinton administration and North Korea that the communist state has violated.
The New York Times quoted U.S. officials as saying that the language of the resolution gave Washington the legal basis to go to war unilaterally if the Security Council could not agree how to respond to new violations by Baghdad. But the Post reported the U.S. got the “yes” vote of Security Council member Syria when Secretary of State Colin Powell promised that the resolution “would not be used as a pretext to strike Iraq.” It took eight weeks to get a resolution that apparently means different things to different people. This is how the U.N. accepted Bush’s challenge and became “relevant.” If Bush decides to wage war on Iraq, he may have to make the U.N. irrelevant again.
Send the enclosed cards or your own cards or letters to Michael Getler, the ombudsman of the Washington Post and to Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania who heads the Office of Homeland Security and has been designated as the head of the newly created Department of Homeland Security.