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Bush’s Banana Republic

Why Michael Hayden is bad for America

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Our nation’s transition from a free democracy to a Banana Republic under the benighted presidency of George W. Bush takes another leap toward completion with the nomination of General Michael Hayden as the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Porter Goss, who only 16 months ago was installed as CIA chief with glowing words from Bush, has, for all practical purposes, simply disappeared from the public eye with virtually no explanation. But that’s the way things are done in Banana Republics, aren’t they?

The sudden announcement that Goss is gone and Hayden is in comes as Bush’s approval rating hits its lowest point yet. The latest USA TODAY-Gallup poll shows just 31 percent of the American people approve of the job Bush is doing as president. Put another way, that means 7 out of 10 Americans disapprove of Bush’s so-called leadership of the nation—and that has Capitol Hill Republicans very worried about their own chances in the coming elections.

None of this should come as much of a surprise to those who’ve been keeping tabs on the state of the nation throughout the Bush regime. Iraq and Afghanistan have turned out to be the quagmires many predicted at the beginning of Bush’s preemptive invasions. The Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan, where they are busy dropping helicopters out of the sky and killing Americans. And far from the rosy prediction that we would be greeted as liberators by cheering crowds of flower-throwing Iraqis, the U.S. invasion has toppled that nation into open civil war. In desperation over the casualties and costs—which have ballooned to nearly a trillion dollars—many in Congress are now talking openly of dividing that hapless country into three autonomous regions.

But wait, peace and unity weren’t the reasons we went to war in Iraq in the first place, now were they? No, you remember, it was Weapons of Mass Destruction—Saddam was supposed to have WMDs, and by golly we had the proof. Satellite photos of weapons-production facilities, underground bunkers, mobile bio-warfare labs—all there just as plain as day in the photos poor old Colin Powell had to present to the United Nations and the people of America. To say nothing of the “mushroom clouds” that would spring from the purchase of yellow-cake uranium from Niger.

As we now know, those were all lies—lies concocted by the highest levels of the Bush administration, which forced its so-called intelligence agencies to support them with complicit “evidence.” Which is exactly where General Hayden comes into the picture, and why Americans should never allow him to lead the CIA.

Hayden, unlike virtually all other four-star Air Force generals, attained his rank without ever having been a pilot. Instead he got where he is because, as The New York Times wrote in a scathing editorial this week: “What General Hayden knows is gadgets, not people.” It was General Hayden who was director of the National Security Agency during the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. The “intelligence” and satellite photos Powell foisted on the world were a product of the “gadgets” with which Hayden is so familiar—and the “intelligence” they produced proved to be horribly wrong.

Then again, what’s so different about just another Bush blunder in his long line of same? Remember, it was George W. Bush who strutted across the deck of an aircraft carrier with a “Mission Accomplished” banner strung out behind him. It was George W. Bush who told FEMA Director Michael Brown during the Katrina disaster debacle: “You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie.” And it is George W. Bush who is now rewarding the man whose agency helped provide the significantly flawed “intelligence” that led the nation into war.

If that isn’t enough reason to reject Hayden outright, how about the general’s part in the ongoing scandal over warrantless spying on Americans being perpetrated by the National Security Agency? Guess who used his knowledge of “gadgets” to eavesdrop on your e-mails, Internet use and phone calls? Yep, you got it, General Michael Hayden was the man who put that little piece of perfidy in motion—and defended it when it was finally exposed. Constitutional rights, congressional checks and balances, open government? Ha! All those quaint notions that were so revered during the nation’s first 200 years have been thrown out the window by Hayden and his White House bosses. They don’t need no stinking warrants, they don’t need no stinking badges, and they don’t need no stinking free press—they’ve got “gadgets” to do everything they need, and the Constitution be damned.

If this isn’t bad enough, consider the phrase Hayden used to describe the new CIA job. As reported by National Public Radio, Hayden said: “There’s probably no post more important in preserving our security and our values as people than the CIA.”

Now why would the head of the CIA ever think his job was to preserve “our values as people”? Like most folks, you probably thought the CIA was supposed to be gathering and analyzing information and presenting it in an objective manner to policymakers—with the key word being “objective.” The “intelligence” is not supposed to be massaged to fit a specific political agenda or purpose. So how is it that the CIA is now in the business of “preserving our values”?

Another question you might ask is whose values those would be? The “values” of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice? The “values” of Halliburton and Exxon? Don’t know about you, but those sure aren’t my values.

Putting a military general in charge of the CIA is a very bad idea. But when the populace turns against them, Banana Republic dictators surround themselves with military men, use their security agencies to secretly wiretap citizens, and “disappear” their enemies without warrants or due process of law. If all this is starting to sound just a little too familiar, welcome to the new Banana Republic of Bush.

When not lobbying the Montana Legislature, George Ochenski is rattling the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the Independent. Contact Ochenski at opinion@missoulanews.com.

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