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LETTERS to the Editor

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THE GOOD FIGHT

The real fight is Republicans versus democracy -- will the Republicans use the so-called nuclear option so that the minority party has absolutely no say, and rule by the majority as absolute? Will the Republicans continue to moan about Democrats using Senate rules to hold them to task (rule 21) on a job they have yet to do? The filibuster and Rule 21 are part of the democratic process that the Republicans want to rid us of so that they can rule without objection.

"If you want abortion to be legal..."  It is legal and Bush wants to appoint judges that will decide legal issues based on the Christian faith. "Because our way of life is being changed," legalized abortion does not change the lives of those who choose not to have abortions, whereas making it illegal changes the lives of many people who want or need the procedure. Michael Graham says that he doesn't want to "impose my standard on others" ("Alito's Way," Usual Suspects, Views, Nov. 2), yet that is exactly what he is asking be done. The separation of church and state was put in place to keep the church out of the affairs of the secular government and not the other way around.

Final note, I implore Republicans and their followers to stop comparing everyone that disagrees with them to terrorists/Osama bin Laden/Saddam Hussein/9-11 hijackers. This country and government are designed to be questioned at every turn and doing so is the right of all Americans and the job of all of those people who are elected to serve.

Warren Haskell
Charleston

WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?

I have visited your city on several occasions and have had quite a pleasant time. The last time was in August and I snagged a copy of your Aug. 17 edition. I'm a little behind on my reading and have only recently got a chance to peruse it, so I hope this isn't too untimely:

Your letters page indicates that some are pushing for a smoking ban similar to the one we "enjoy" here in freewheeling, tolerant, sophisticated New York. Since the imposition of the ban, I don't patronize bars here (and my personal observations lead me to believe that lots of others are reacting in the same way), and I certainly don't spend my hard-earned money and precious vacation time traveling to places that have similar stupid laws.

Chris Sorochin
Brooklyn

[Mr. Sorochin donates money to CLASH, Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. --Ed.]

LEFTY SAYS GRAHAM 'RIGHT'

It's happened, and I'm so overwhelmed I don't know whether to drop to my knees and shout, "Hosanna," or look out my front door to see if Famine and Pestilence are grazing their horses on my front lawn: Mr. Graham and I finally agree on something -- he's not smart enough to write his column ("The Big Lie," Usual Suspects, Views, Nov. 16).

I'll ignore his Rovian tact (make the argument about something else), telling us Democrats lie -- ooh, I'm shocked, dishonest politicians -- and instead focus on his misunderstanding of the facts of the run-up to the war.

The IAEA did not say Saddam was reconstituting his nuclear program; in fact, in a Jan. 2003 report to the UN, it said the opposite. And those aluminum tubes that ended Colin Powell's career, the IAEA deemed them unsuitable for nuclear weapons.

W and Mr. Dick didn't say Saddam was responsible for 9/11, they said he protected and aided Al-Qaeda, which is why the war broadened from Afghanistan -- not so, and to date no documentation to prove such.

The yellow cake uranium scam started with bad Italian intelligence, forwarded by W's streetwalker, Tony "I used to have boyish charm" Blair, and was discredited almost immediately, not only by Joe Wilson -- hence the outing of his wife -- but by CIA boss George Tenet, who lost his job over those "sixteen words" in W's '03 State of the Union address.

There's so much more, but space limits me. There are really only two ways to look at this: either W lied, in the fine tradition of two-bit politicians like Caesar or Nixon, or he was told to tell lies and not smart enough to know it, in the fine tradition of Howdy Doody or Michael Graham.

Either way, is this the guy you want running the country ... no Graham, not you, the other dummy.

Wayne R. Marshall
Charleston

'READING HIS COLUMN IS LIKE WATCHING A TRAIN WRECK'

In this week's edition, columnist Michael Graham stated: "I thought I was doing a pretty good job of staying on top of the 'war on terror.' I've listened to Cindy Sheehan, I've attended anti-Bush/anti-war rallies. I even paid good money to watch Michael Moore's movie about it. And yet, I remain unenlightened. Could somebody please tell me precisely what it is that George W. Bush lied about? Where is the lie?"

I am surprised that anyone could have such a short and selective memory, but you never know. While the president may have only lied once or twice, many senior officials consistently did, with his knowledge and approval. I suppose its comes back to what the definition of "is" is. So, Mr Graham, here are just 10, and they are merely the tip of the iceberg (source: Christopher Scheer, AlterNet):

LIE #1: "The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program ... Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons." -- President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002, in Cincinnati.

FACT: This story, leaked to and breathlessly reported by Judith Miller in The New York Times, has turned out to be complete baloney. Department of Energy officials, who monitor nuclear plants, say the tubes could not be used for enriching uranium. One intelligence analyst, who was part of the tubes investigation, angrily told The New Republic: "You had senior American officials like Condoleezza Rice saying the only use of this aluminum really is uranium centrifuges. She said that on television. And that's just a lie."

LIE #2: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." -- President Bush, Jan. 28, 2003, State of the Union address.

FACT: This whopper was based on a document that the White House already knew to be a forgery thanks to the CIA. Sold to Italian intelligence by some hustler, the document carried the signature of an official who had been out of office for 10 years and referenced a constitution that was no longer in effect. The ex-ambassador who the CIA sent to check out the story is pissed: "They knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie," he told New Republic, anonymously. "They [the White House] were unpersuasive about aluminum tubes and added this to make their case more strongly."

LIE #3: "We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."-- Vice President Cheney on March 16, 2003 on "Meet the Press."

FACT: There was and is absolutely zero basis for this statement. CIA reports up through 2002 showed no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

LIE #4: "[The CIA possesses] solid reporting of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade." -- CIA Director George Tenet in a written statement released Oct. 7, 2002 and echoed in that evening's speech by President Bush.

FACT: Intelligence agencies knew of tentative contacts between Saddam and al-Qaeda in the early '90s, but found no proof of a continuing relationship. In other words, by tweaking language, Tenet and Bush spun the intelligence 180 degrees to say exactly the opposite of what it suggested.

LIE #5: "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases ... Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."-- President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002.

FACT: No evidence of this has ever been leaked or produced. Colin Powell told the U.N. this alleged training took place in a camp in northern Iraq. To his great embarrassment, the area he indicated was later revealed to be outside Iraq's control and patrolled by Allied war planes.

LIE #6: "We have also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We are concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] for missions targeting the United States."-- President Bush, Oct. 7.

FACT: Said drones can't fly more than 300 miles, and Iraq is 6,000 miles from the U.S. coastline. Furthermore, Iraq's drone-building program wasn't much more advanced than your average model plane enthusiast. And isn't a "manned aerial vehicle" just a scary way to say "plane"?

LIE #7: "We have seen intelligence over many months that they have chemical and biological weapons, and that they have dispersed them and that they're weaponized and that, in one case at least, the command and control arrangements have been established." -- President Bush, Feb. 8, 2003, in a national radio address.

FACT: Despite a massive nationwide search by U.S. and British forces, there are no signs, traces or examples of chemical weapons being deployed in the field, or anywhere else during the war.

LIE #8: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." -- Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5 2003, in remarks to the UN Security Council.

FACT: Putting aside the glaring fact that not one drop of this massive stockpile has been found, as previously reported on AlterNet the United States' own intelligence reports show that these stocks -- if they existed -- were well past their use-by date and therefore useless as weapon fodder.

LIE #9: "We know where [Iraq's WMD] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat." -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003, in statements to the press.

FACT: Needless to say, no such weapons were found, not to the east, west, south or north, somewhat or otherwise.

LIE #10: "Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq which the UN prohibited." -- President Bush in remarks in Poland, published internationally June 1, 2003.

FACT: This was reference to the discovery of two modified truck trailers that the CIA claimed were potential mobile biological weapons lab. But British and American experts -- including the State Department's intelligence wing in a report released this week -- have since declared this to be untrue. According to the British, and much to Prime Minister Tony Blair's embarrassment, the trailers are actually exactly what Iraq said they were; facilities to fill weather balloons, sold to them by the British themselves."

Donald L. Sparks
Charleston
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Letters to the editor are welcome and encouraged. Please include name, address, and daytime phone number for verification purposes. Limit yourself to 300 words or less; letters may be edited for space and clarity.

1049 Morrison Drive Charleston SC 29403Fax: 576-0380 • editor@charlestoncitypaper.com

CORRECTION

Last week we incorrectly identified who Tammy Hoy worked for in our cover story, "Middle Class Squeeze," by Bill Davis. She is actually executive director of the Lowcountry Housing Trust.We apologize for the error.

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