Bush administration as dangerous now as before
Haroon Siddiqui says Canada should remain vigilant about potential fallout



The crises engulfing the White House could not have come a day too soon, considering the consistent and blatant abuse of power by the Bush administration over five years.

The indictment against Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Dick Cheney, and the ongoing investigation of Karl Rove, the top political adviser to George W. Bush, speak to more than the crime of outing a secret CIA agent.

That was just a small part of a broad pattern of deceit and double standards set by the president and his cabal of ideologues.

Their mode of governance has been to do whatever they could get away with, including waging an unwarranted war on false pretences by fixing intelligence and exploiting public fears.

Libby was part of the neo-con clique of Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz (now at the World Bank), John Bolton (at the United Nations), Zalmay Khalizad (current envoy to Iraq) and others who, in the 1990s, called for invading Iraq to preserve "U.S. access to oil" and to foster the safety of "friends and allies like Israel."

Once in power, they wasted little time after 9/11 to put the Iraq plan into action, and fixed the facts to justify it.

Hence, the tall tales of Saddam Hussein's ties to Al Qaeda, his weapons of mass destruction and the phoney story of nuclear cake from Niger, which is what CIA agent Valerie Plame's husband Joseph Wilson discredited, only to see a vengeful White House blow her cover.

The probe into Libby and Rove will mean something only if it serves as the start of a process of holding this administration fully accountable for the deaths of 2,000 Americans and between 30,000 and 100,000 Iraqis, and the torture of hundreds in American detention centres.

The people who gave us Iraq are now targeting Syria and Iran, and are likely to get more belligerent in the days ahead to divert attention from their mounting domestic woes.

Canadians need to be alert to the possibility that Stephen Harper and other local chicken hawks, who wanted Canada to go to war in Iraq, may now want us to do Bush's bidding in his new ventures abroad.

The regimes in Iran and Syria do have a lot to account for.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants Israel to be "wiped off the map," a racist and anti-Semitic notion that Canada and others have rightly condemned. He also wants to pursue a nuclear program.

Syria is not co-operating with the United Nations' probe into its alleged complicity in the Feb. 14 killing of Rafik Hariri in Lebanon. It is also funnelling arms to Palestinian militias in Lebanon.

But Bush has a broader agenda against these two anti-American and anti-Israeli states: he wants to impose economic sanctions on both, and perhaps even engineer regime changes.

That's where much of the world, led by Russia and China, parts company with Bush. Canada should as well.

The Arabs, in particular, fear the kind of chaos Bush has created in Iraq, which threatens to destabilize the entire region.

His diplomatic offensive on Syria/Lebanon is also open to accusations of hypocrisy:

He wants the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon disbanded, while turning a blind eye to the Kurdish and Shiite militias in Iraq.

He strikes moral poses on Syria but sent detainees to the torture chambers of Damascus, which is how Canadian Maher Arar ended up there.

Canadian hands are not clean either. It was only after an independent inquiry concluded that Arar was indeed tortured in Damascus, as were three other Canadians, that Ottawa has now acknowledged that fact. Having done so, it is busy blaming Syria to deflect any questions about Canadian complicity.

Worse, even as Pierre Pettigrew demands that Damascus prosecute Arar's torturers, his government has been trying to deport Hassan Almrei, a Syrian detained in Canada, to the same Syrian torture chambers.

The Bush presidency has been dangerous to the world and to America itself. Canadians need to remain vigilant about its potential fallout on us.