Amount the Bush administration spends per minute in Iraq.
Percentage of Americans who believe the administration “deliberately misled the American public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.” (Via HuffPost)
President Bush spoke at length about isolationism in his State of the Union address, and he’s repeated the theme in subsequent speeches. In defending his actions, Bush builds up a straw man: “In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting — yet it ends in danger and decline.” So who exactly is isolationist?
Let’s look at Bush’s record over the past year:
Nonproliferation Treaty — May 2005: The President said that a nuclear weapon in the hands of a terrorist is the gravest threat to America. Yet in May 2005 at the five year international review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Bush administration sent mid-level representatives and blocked efforts to strengthen the treaty.
UN World Summit – September 2005: President Bush said that he was committed to reforming and modernizing the United Nations. Again his rhetoric proved empty. First, he bypassed Congress and appointed John Bolton, a man ideologically opposed to the United Nations. Second, the U.S. delegation under Bolton’s leadership tore up the draft agreement that had taken months to prepare – resulting in a September summit that failed to produce significant reforms on management, the Secretariat, and on human rights. Read more
The Department of Defense released their 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) today. Their report demonstrates a missed opportunity to make fundamental changes in their failed U.S. defense strategy. Two of their most egregious errors:
1. The Pentagon ignores the fact that the all-volunteer Army is at its breaking point. The evidence is in a recent report that the Pentagon itself commissioned titled “The Thin Green Line.” Instead of increasing troops or funding for personnel to meet new challenges, however, the Pentagon only adds more responsibilities to an already strained military.
2. The Pentagon fails to make any major cuts to its weapons systems. Most analysts thought weapons cuts were inevitable but the Penatgon actually increased funds for weapons systems by 8%. This means that taxpayer dollars will continue to be poured into inefficient programs at the expense of other important security priorities, such as personnel and homeland defense.
The Center for American Progress has its own Quadrennial Defense Review, entitled Restoring American Military Power. The Center’s review outlines a strategy that gives top priority to our men and women in uniform, the protection of the homeland and the prevention of conflicts. Understanding that we live in a budget-constrained environment, it makes the hard choices about where valuable U.S. resources and funding should be directed in order to reap the largest security gains.
– Caroline Wadhams
The five of us who write ThinkProgress are taking the rest of the day off (a few guests may be posting). We’re holding a retreat today where we’ll try to sketch out the direction of the blog (and our daily newsletter) over the next few months.
We want to know what you think. Share your ideas in the comments section or via email.
Yesterday, the nation’s top intelligence officials appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee for an annual hearing on national security threats. On at least three occassions, the officials refused to answer critical questions about the administration’s domestic surveillance programs in an open session. In each case, their non-answers spoke volumes.
The first question involved the existence of other domestic intelligence collection programs that have not been disclosed to the full intelligence committee (a CRS report this month found this practice illegal):
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D-WI): Mr. Ambassador, without getting into what the specific programs might be, can you assure us today that there are not other intelligence collection — and I emphasize collection — programs that you are aware of and that you are keeping from the full intelligence committee?
NEGROPONTE: Um”¦ Senator, I “¦ I don’t know if I can comment on that in an open session.
In the second exchange, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) asked officials to provide estimates of the number of communications, and the number of individuals affiliated with terrorist organizations, monitored by the NSA’s warrantless domestic spying program.
As Levin noted, both President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff have openly discussed these issues: Bush described the program as “one that listens to a few numbers,” and Chertoff hypothesized about “culling through literally thousands of phone numbers.” Yet the officials refused to answer Levin’s questions:
SEN. CARL LEVIN: Can you give us an estimate as to the number of such communications which were tracked by NSA last year? …
HAYDEN: I’d be very uncomfortable doing it in open session, and I don’t actually know that number. …
Total bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so far.
“A federal judge on Friday set former White House aide I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby’s trial date for January 2007, two months after the midterm congressional elections.”
Newly-elected House Majority Leader Rep. John Boehner’s (R-OH) close relationship with the private student loan company Sallie Mae came “under scrutiny by the news media and some lawmakers” during his race to replace Tom DeLay, and for good reason.
Sallie Mae and other loan companies have generously donated to him. In return, the former chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce “shepherded through Congress student-loan legislation that will affect Sallie Mae’s bottom line and offered assurances that he will protect such lenders’ interests.” Here are some of the lowlights:
SALLIE MAE SHOWERS BOEHNER WITH CASH: PoliticalMoneyLine examined the 2003-2004 financial disclosure forms from Boehner’s Freedom Project PAC. They found that out of $572,719 of individual donations, those “affiliated with the private student-loan industry gave the PAC $220,020, including $52,670 from officers of Sallie Mae.” In a separate analysis, the Center for Responsive Politics discovered that Sallie Mae is Freedom Project’s biggest donor, with donations totaling $122,470 since 1989.
SALLIE MAE HOSTED BOEHNER FUNDRAISERS AND GOLF TRIPS: Beyond donations, Boehner has personal ties to the company. For example, a Sallie Mae lobbyist “hosted a fund-raising dinner in her suburban Washington home for his leadership political action committee” and “a majority of the company’s top executives wrote checks for the event.” The Chronicle of Higher Education reported, “On several occasions, Mr. Boehner was a guest of Albert L. Lord, who was Sallie Mae’s chief executive officer from 1997 to 2005 and is now chairman of its board, on the company’s corporate jet, primarily for golf outings in Florida.”
SALLIE MAE SAYS JUMP, BOEHNER ASKS HOW HIGH: “Boehner has sponsored legislation strongly supported by private student lenders to restrict the ability of the U.S. Department of Education to make government student loans less expensive by cutting fees,” the Washington Post reported. Recently, Boehner supported a bill that “could deal a serious blow to the competing direct-loan program” by making student-aid budgets discretionary (variable from year to year), rather than mandatory. Sallie Mae and other private companies hope this change will allow Congress to reduce funding to their direct-loan competition.