Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Calling for Kofi Annan’s resignation

Senator Norm Coleman explains why Kofi Annan must resign in this morning’s Wall Street Journal: "While many questions concerning Oil-for-Food remain unanswered, one conclusion has become abundantly clear: Kofi Annan should resign. The decision to call for his resignation does not come easily, but I have arrived at this conclusion because the most extensive fraud in the history of the U.N. occurred on his watch. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, as long as Mr. Annan remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the bribes, kickbacks and under-the-table payments that took place under the U.N.s collective nose."

Also see this by Claudia Rosett, wherein she explains that while it may OK for Kofi not take responsibility for his son’s involvement in the matter, he cannot give up responsibility for the glaring conflict of interest that this scandal reveals. And the Belmont Club states: "Coleman hints, but does not wholly pursue the idea that the Oil-for-Food program tacticly served the agenda of some "permanent members" of the Security Council. That in turn suggests that the Gulf War and subsequent events, far from being a purely bilateral struggle between the United States and Saddam’s regime, was really the nexus of a great power struggle involving France, Russia and the US. French policy in the Security Council prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom; their determined efforts to prevent the 4th ID from deploying through Turkey and its hostile attitude toward the Allawie government hints that the real bone of contention with Paris was not over how to topple Saddam but whether or not to keep him there."

Discussions - 5 Comments

Annan, more than any other head of the UN has overseen that body’s slipping further and further down the road to becoming even more irrelevant and useless than the League of Nations.
It’s not only time he resigns or is sumarily removed, but it’s also time to rethink the whole reason behind the UN.
Perhaps Ghana or Belgium would be a better home for them.

"Extensive Fraud?" "Conflict of Interest?" If these are reasons to demand leaders’ resignations, then I would like to point out (tiresome, but still true and relevant) the utter absence of WMD’s in Iraq, the thousands of soldiers’ families grieving, the staunch Republicans overseeing the election process in such crucial states as Ohio. Maybe there is room in Ghana or Belgium for President Bush and his buddies!

What Norm should have written:

George W. Bush Must Go

Over the past seven months, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, has conducted an exhaustive, bipartisan investigation into the scandal surrounding the U.N. Oil-for-Food program. We should have been conducting an investigation into our own country’s president and his war crimes.

The U.S. Senate and Congress were led to believe that the invasion of Iraq was a noble effort to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people, then languishing under Saddam Hussein’s ironfisted rule, as well as eliminate the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction. George W. Bush provided misinformation to the United Nations Security Council, Congress, and the American people overstating the offensive capabilities of Iraq, including weapons of mass destruction, as justification for military action against Iraq. George W. Bush repeatedly manipulated the sentiments of the American people by erroneously linking Iraq with the terrorist attacks of September 11th by Al-Qaeda. He repeatedly claimed that satellite photos of sites in Iraq depicted factories for weapons of mass destruction in contradiction with the results of ground inspections by United Nations teams. And he provided the International Atomic Energy Commission with forged documents describing the sale of uranium to Iraq by Niger, and referring to that sale in the State of the Union Address after being told by the CIA that the documents were forged.

Our Investigative Subcommittee has ignored overwhelming evidence that Bush turned the U.S. military on its head. Rather than erode the grip on power of known terrorists such as Osama Bin Laden, President Bush rejected possibilities for peaceful resolution of the conflict with Iraq by rejecting acts of compliance by Saddam Hussein with the United Nations Resolutions, and ignoring the findings by Hans Blix that inspections were working to disarm Iraq. He also proposed military strategies involving the first use of tactical or low yield nuclear weapons in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, which is an inherently destabilizing strategy that encourages participants in a conflict to strike before the other side can do so.

Bush lied to the UN about the seriousness of the threat from Iraq, and invaded Iraq in defiance of a vote from the UN Security Council. His actions inflamed the Arab world and set a dangerous precedent for any other country that wants to defy the UN and start their own war. The commander-in-chief invaded a sovereign country that had not threatened the United States and had no ability to do so. Bush had been making plans to invade Iraq even before 9/11.

More recently, President George W. Bush has sanctioned the use of napalm, a deadly cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel banned by the United Nations in 1980, to wipe out remaining insurgents in and around Fallujah. The Pentagon said it had not tried to deceive. It drew a distinction between traditional napalm, first invented in 1942, and the weapons dropped in Iraq, which it calls Mark 77 firebombs. They weigh 510 lbs., and consist of 44 lbs. of polystyrene-like gel and 63 gallons of jet fuel. Officials said that if journalists had asked about the firebombs their use would have been confirmed. A spokesman admitted they were "remarkably similar" to napalm but said they caused less environmental damage. In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Marine Corps Maj-Gen Jim Amos confirmed that napalm was used on several occasions in the war. All of this occurred under the sanction of our commander in chief.

While many questions concerning the occupation of Iraq remain unanswered, one conclusion has become abundantly clear: that President George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney, and Donald H. Rumsfeld should resign. The decision to call for his resignation does not come easily, but I have arrived at this conclusion because he committed the most extensive fraud in the history of the United States of America. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, as long as George W. Bush remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the misinformation, violations of human rights, and war crimes that took place under his nose.

George W. Bush and Donald H. Rumsfeld were at the helm of the U.S. military, and they must, therefore, be held accountable for the armed forces utter failure to detect or stop human rights abuses. The consequences of the U.S. military’s ineptitude cannot be overstated: at its worst there are the undeniable scandals at Guantanamo and Abu Graihb, where prisoners of war were relabeled as terrorists to strip them of their basic human rights and allow the use of torture.

More recently, the United Nations top human rights official denounced the killing of civilians and injured people in Fallujah, saying violators of international humanitarian law must be brought to justice. Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, stated "There have been a number of reports during the current confrontation alleging violations of the rules of war designed to protect civilians and combatants." "All violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law must be investigated and those responsible for breaches - including the deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the killing of injured persons and the use of human shields - must be brought to justice, be they members of the multinational force or insurgents," Arbour said.

It was never likely that the U.S. would have invaded Iraq without the misinformation presented by George W. Bush, specifically the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. and its coalition partners were forced to put troops in harm’s way to oust Saddam by force, based on the Bush’s convincing arguments that these weapons of mass destruction existed. Today, the continually escalating costs of this invasion could have been funding efforts against other terrorist activities against U.S. interests. Simply put, the troops would probably not have been placed in such danger if the president had told the truth and done his job as commander in chief.

This failure of the Bush administration is exacerbated by evidence that at least one senior U.S. official -- Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States -- reportedly coordinated a huge Halliburton government contract for Iraq, despite Cheney’s denial of interest in the company he ran until 2000. Halliburton’s no-bid contract to get the oil business going was worth billions of dollars. The Pentagon has barred French, German and Russian companies from competing for $18.6 billion in contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, saying the step "is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States."

To make matters worse, the actions of Halliburton have been called into question. Specifically, Pentagon auditors found that Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company overcharged by possibly as much as $61 million on 56.6 million gallons of gasoline it bought in Kuwait and shipped to Iraq for sale to Iraqi civilians. Either Halliburton overcharged knowingly, was incompetently fooled by a subcontractor, or miscalculated how much it would cost to deliver oil to Iraq. Recently, President Bush signed Executive order 13303. The order in effect releases US firms, who are in Iraq exploiting the Iraqi oilfields, from any legal responsibilities. In other words it places them beyond the reach of law.

As a former prosecutor, I believe in the presumption of innocence. Such revelations, however, cast a dark cloud over President Bush’s ability to address the U.S.’s quagmire. The organizations that are accused of these disturbing acts have been asked to investigate the allegations internally. The Pentagon is looking into it’s own human rights violations. The Pentagon will then decide what, if anything, is released to the public. The Pentagon’s record for telling the truth speaks for itself.

Therefore, while I have faith in President Bush’s integrity and abilities, it is clear the U.S. simply cannot root out its own corruption while he is in charge: To get to the bottom of the murk, it’s clear that there needs to be a change at the top. In addition, a scandal of this magnitude requires a truly independent examination to ensure complete transparency, and to restore the credibility of the United States of America.

All of this adds up to one conclusion: It’s time for George W. Bush to step down. The massive scope of this debacle demands nothing less. If this widespread corruption had occurred in any legitimate organization around the world, its CEO would have been ousted long ago, in disgrace. Why is the U.S. different?

No . . . he shouldn’t have won re-election. But he did. So, now is no time to "step down" as your comment calls for. Rather, it is a time to support our troops. The U.S. cannot be adequately compared to a business. Bush is not a CEO. He is a President elected by (an unfortunate majority of) the people of our country. Lucky for you and I, there will be another election in 2008 . . . and I think I can promise that, even with Bush as President, America will still be here.

I meant to include this:

President George W. Bush is my President and yours. Right now, as much as we disagree with him, he is the representative of our country to the world. And while I do not think he is the best (and neither do you) and that he deserves immense criticism, calling for his resignation is unproductive and trivial.

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