Helen Thomas Compares Bush’s White House to Watergate

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“No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.”

— Edward R. Murrow

Westminister, MD – Helen Thomas was a speaker at the Forum at McDaniel College, on April 12, 2007. The school couldn’t have chosen better! Ms. Thomas is a veteran White House reporter and she was in top form before an appreciative and overflow audience. With respect to the Iraqi War, she asked: “What is victory and what is defeat? You might try to remember that it is their country. The President’s popularity polls have been in the 30s. And, the White House is circling the wagons, under siege, very reminiscent of the early stages of Watergate–the [Richard M.] Nixon era. Right now a scandal involved the politicalization of the [U.S.] Justice Department with the firing of eight prosecutors has engulfed the White House. We have an ‘imperial presidency’ apparently answerable to none, aided and abetted by ‘Chicken Democrats,’ who fiddle with time tables, bench marks to hold back the dawn.”

Ms. Thomas continued: “How primitive can you get to start a new century with a war–a war of choice? We have a President [George W. Bush Jr.] who decided to attack a country that did nothing to us. I say: ‘Cry the beloved country!’ So, we have so many wrongs to right before our country gets back its honor. Hopefully, the American people will not accept this President’s primitive drive for war without end. What can he be thinking? More than that: Why do Americans tolerate such a dumbing down of our country? The American people will soon say: Enough is enough! It is wrong to ask the ultimate sacrifice of friend and foe without a good reason–an acceptable reason. We have yet to hear the real reason why we went into Iraq. I say: Truth took a holiday!” [1]

McDaniel College (formerly “Western Maryland”) is located about 30 miles due west of Baltimore. It is set in a rural area, not too far from where the Union Army camped the night before the historic battle of Gettysburg, PA, on July 1, 1863. A private liberal arts institution, McDaniel dates from 1867. The campus consists of 160 acres and from its highest point one can view the Catoctin Mountains, where Camp David, the presidential retreat, is located. Ms. Joan Develin Coley is President of the school. She also did a terrific job of introducing Ms. Thomas.

Focusing on the ineptness of the current administration, Ms. Thomas said: “President Bush struck a match across the Middle East, which is always known as a tinder box. He invaded Iraq under false pretenses. We now occupy that destroyed country and we’re warning them if they don’t shape up and do what we tell them to do, we might just pick up our marbles and go home. They should be so lucky. Who are we? What have we become? Whose war is this? Thousands are dead, thousands are wounded. And to this day, we can’t get a straight answer on why we attacked a Third World country. We had a choke hold on Saddam Hussein. He couldn’t make a move. We had the tightest economic sanctions, satellite surveillance. We were bombing Iraq, every other night in the ‘No-Fly’ zone–so-called. Now, we have had four years of this.”

As a journalist, Ms. Thomas has been a trailblazer in her chosen profession. For nearly 60 years, she has been covering the White House beat. She was the first woman member of the National Press Club, the Gridiron Club and the White House Correspondents Association. An author of four books, Ms. Thomas gained a reputation as a penetrating questioner of presidents, dating back to John F. Kennedy. Born in Kentucky to Lebanese immigrant parents, she is a graduate of Wayne State U. in Michigan.

“We know that terrorism has to be fought,” Ms. Thomas said. “We are the target. But, first we have to find out: What is terrorism? What causes it? Is it politics? Religion? Is it our foreign policy that has compelled this hostility against our country? It never existed before. We are no longer the most admired country, one to be emulated in the world. This is the time to begin thinking about peaceful solutions to set our world right again…You cannot shoot people in their own country to liberate them… As you can tell, I’m against the invasion and occupation of Iraq because it is illegal, immoral and unconscionable to wage a war against a country that did nothing to us. The war is in its fifth year, now, and the killing still goes on. I’m sorry to be such a downer. But, it is your world we are talking about. No man is an island.

“We have a President more and more ‘isolated’ and ‘speaking of victory in Iraq.’ He has two years to go and he has a right to worry about his legacy…There is no other place to go, so one should always want to try to do the right thing. But, time is running out…The President is ignoring the will of the people to cut our losses. They are keeping up the charade at the White House that we were ‘invited’ into Iraq. I remember asking Ari Fleischer, Bush’s former White House press secretary: “If they asked us to leave, would we leave?”

Ms. Thomas emphasized: “There is no question that ‘9/11’ has brought on a dramatic change in our country. For alleged security, we seem willing to forego our privacy and our great sense of justice. We have allowed ourselves to go to war based on untruths. No WMD. No ties to the al-Qaeda terrorist network. No threat from a Third World country. We have permitted ourselves to be wiretapped, our e-mails pried into, our mail opened. We have tolerated torture of suspects and prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and at other prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, where human beings are humiliated. Surely, that is not worthy of a great country. We’ve allowed Congress to take away the ancient right of Habeas Corpus, which goes back to Magna Carta…We pickup people with dark skin. We imprison them. We never charge them or try them. We keep them in limbo and send them to secret prisons to be tortured and interrogated. Is that America?

“The voters sent the President a message last November, [Nov. 7, 2006 mid-term election], a message that he didn’t want to hear, and is still resisting. The President wants to pass this war onto his successor. He wants to run out the clock. There is of course a concern that we are baiting Iran into a war. Not an invasion, but an air attack. We have two naval task forces in Iran’s backyard–aircraft carriers, planes, submarines and missiles.

“On another topic, we are spending our national treasury on war, while 48 million people in this country have no health insurance. Children go to school with no breakfast. Schools are falling down. Government programs to alleviate the suffering are being cut. And yet the biggest tax cuts go to ‘the richest people’ in our country. Surely, something is wrong with this picture. They are doing something about the minimum wage, $5.15 an hour. The big auto companies are in big trouble. And, it will take years for a true accounting of the war profiteering that we have now.”

Ms. Thomas said when that she first came to Washington, DC, that she made $17.50 a week as a “copy boy.” She said, “Those were the good old days.” In response to a question, she said: “Bush is making the decisions in the White House and that [V.P. Dick] Cheney is defending them. They are both on the same page.” When asked about the announced presidential candidacy of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Ms. Thomas said that she thought that the Senator was making a mistake by seeing coming across as a peacemaker, “as a weakness. It’s the exact opposite.” It’s no accident that Sen. Clinton has close political ties to Ann F. Lewis, an ex-honcho in the National Democratic Party, a Zionist Israel promoter, and a former chief of staff to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD). The latter, a bona fide “Chicken Democrat,” has voted to fund the Iraqi War, including Bush’s insane “Surge” strategy. [2]

As for the nine presidents that she has covered at the White House, Ms. Thomas called John F. Kennedy, her “favorite… the most inspired…He set goals…put a man on the moon…He told young people to go into public service…He learned what the presidency was all about…JFK was the top of the mark… Lyndon B. Johnson was bigger than life…We all know that the Vietnam War was his undoing.” As for Nixon: “He had two roads to go and he always took the wrong one…He had a dark side, too, that always seem to prevail…Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon and that did not sit well with the voters…Jimmy Carter had Human Rights as the center piece of his foreign policy…He is an outstanding past president… Ronald Reagan turned the country to the Right…George H. W. Bush Sr., as for Iraq, had been there, done that. But, his son says he listens to a ‘Higher Father.’ Bush Sr. invited me to the dedication of a horse shoe pit. I went…Bill Clinton…missed his chance for greatness because of his liaison with an intern [Monica Lewinsky]. He won’t be on Mount Rushmore.”

In closing, Ms. Thomas said: “Bush [Jr.] wanted to be known as a ‘wartime president.'” Well, he sure has fulfilled that dubious legacy. However, there is another one headed Dubya’s way. It’s called an “impeached president!” Bush lied us into the Iraqi conflict and violated his oath of office in the process. [3] Thanks to gutsy journalists, like Ms. Thomas, the people are now seeing the egregious wrongdoings of this administration–one of the most corrupt in American history.

Notes:

[1]. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_9UgdR8beM

[2]. http://baltimore.indymedia.org/newswire/
display/14770/index.php

[3]. http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/ and
http://www.impeachpac.org/

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