One nation, indivisible

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. One of the reasons I am allegiant to it is because of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Likewise, Judge Karlton in a California US District Court today found that it is unconstitutional to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools with the words “under God” in it. Call me a strict constitutionalist, but I believe that it does not matter what Thomas Jefferson wrote in his letter to the Danbury Baptists regarding the wall of separation between church and state. All that matters is what it says in our Constitution. Therefore, Judge Karlton was bound to uphold the Federal appeals court’s 2002 finding that reciting the Pledge in a public school is an unconstitutional “endorsement of religion.” Agreeing with them, I too omit the religious endorsement whenever I pledge allegiance to this republic.

Furthermore, the words “under God” were not part of the Pledge for most of its history anyway. It wasn’t until 1954, when Congress made a law adding the words to the Pledge (and again in 2002 when Congress made another law ratifying it) that they became part of the pledge. The key here is that Congress had to make a law for the religious establishment to come into effect. It seems there could be no more clear-cut violation of the Establishment Clause.

Thus, it was disappointing that the Supreme Court, in effect, punted when a decision on this matter was brought before them. Rather than settling the matter last year, the Court sent it back to the lower courts on a technicality. Five justices said that the father who brought the case on behalf of his daughter could not do so simply because the mother (not the father) had custody of the girl. Could it be that the real reason they shied away from the decision was because the only one they could reasonably reach would be so wildly unpopular with their conservative counterparts?

The case is sure to return to the Supreme Court, but the next time without the technicality to get out of making a decision. However, it’s unclear which way the Court will find because two of the three justices who previously stated their opinions on the merits of the case will not be sitting on the bench. The confirmation hearings also going on today made it no less clear how Judge Roberts will find (and few would argue that he will not be part of that decision). This is one nation that will have to wait a while longer to find out what the Pledge of Allegiance will sound like in your child’s class next school year.

Connecting the dots

Most Americans believe that the Bush administration thought military force against Iraq was necessary. However, it’s only because of the whitewash perpetrated on America by the Bush administration and its co-opted mainstream media. To find out the truth of the misuse and shaping of the intelligence on WMDs in Iraq requires research that few have done. No one source alone illuminates the grand deception: you need to connect quite a few dots.

The best place to start is by reading the Kent Papers on Intelligence Analysis. Written by Sherman Kent, the founding father of intelligence analysis and the preeminent expert at the CIA, they establish the practices that CIA analysts have applied for decades. To truly understand the manner in which the cover-up occurred, you must be familiar with the right way to perform intelligence analysis.

Although it’s complicit in the cover-up, the next source you need to read is the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. Even though it’s a whitewash, it provides a lot of excellent information on the intelligence activities going on during the time in question. Considering the Senate report in juxtaposition to the Kent Papers, then applying critical thinking to the contrast, is where the enlightenment begins.

You see, the Senate report shows that the way intelligence on Iraq’s WMD programs was analyzed was in direct contradiction to all the best practices the analysts were trained on. We learn in the Senate report that the CIA is steeped in an organizational culture that is not easily abandoned. So why would analysts suddenly throw out all the safeguards they applied in all intelligence they ever analyzed other than the intelligence on the threat Iraq posed?

It’s clear that the reason the analysts did so is because of the tried-and-true “carrot and stick” approach. The Bush administration created a shadow intelligence network that would tell the story about Saddam Hussein that Bush wanted told. Additionally, it pressured analysts in the traditional intelligence agencies. Intelligence officials have said that it’s unusual for a sitting Vice President to visit the CIA, yet Dick Cheny made numerous visits there in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. CIA officials said that the visits created an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments on Iraq fit with Bush Administration policy objectives. Subsequently, in spite of unprecedented professional failures, the analysts behind the faulty Iraq intelligence have since received numerous job performance awards.

Now your homework is almost done. The dots are leading to an inevitable conclusion: that Bush knew existing intelligence indicated Iraq was not a threat to the US. However, you need to also understand why Bush would want to invade Iraq to lay the foundation of his motive for deceiving the American people into fearing nonexistent WMDs. The final assignment is to read the policies established by the Project for the New American Century. You will find that the Project was already promulgating an invasion of Iraq long before George Bush was President.

Why is the Project relevant? Just look at who the signatories to the Project’s policies are. You will find that it includes all of the major players in Bush’s presidential administration. The policies were formed by Bush’s handlers and all of the most outspoken Neo-Cons: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Armitage, Kristol, Woolsey, Abrams…and the list goes on and on.

Finally, you need to validate your findings. To do so, you need look no further than the recently exposed “Downing Street memo.” The memo documents a top-secret meeting gathered by British prime minister Tony Blair with top members of his administration eight months before the US invaded Iraq. Their discussions in that meeting included the following:

“Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy…

It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran…”

That’s it—you’ve connected all the dots. You now know more about the truth behind Bush’s justification to the Iraq War than most Americans. That should come as no surprise; you’ve now done more research on it that they have.