Last week I was watching a PBS Frontline episode about the ‘return’ of the Taliban (remember them, Dubya?). At one point, former Bush deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage recounts a conversation he had with Pakistani ISI Director General Mahmood Ahmed on September 11, 2001. I believe Armitage’s remarks illustrate not only what is wrong with the mentality of the Bush administration specifically, but they represent a tendency endemic to the general U.S. mentality (I’m sure this mentality is not exclusive to our nation, but let us remain focused):

Frontline: On Sept. 11, you made a phone call over to [ISI Director] Gen. Mahmood [Ahmed], who was here in Washington visiting.

Armitage: He was a guest of [former CIA Director] George Tenet.

Frontline: And tell me what happened next.

Armitage: I asked him to come into my office and told him, basically, that he was here at historic and a momentous time and that Pakistan had an opportunity to change and make a decision to come with the United States, and that I was going to make a series of demands on him that would be very difficult to Pakistan. But he had to be under no illusions as to the difficulty or the amount of energy the United States was going to put into this.

I literally then took him privately to my room and said: … “No American will want to have anything to do with Pakistan in our moment of peril if you’re not with us. It’s black or white.” And he wanted to tell me about history. He says, “You have to understand the history.” And I said, “No, the history begins today.” (bold italics mine)

The ham-fisted arrogance on display in that exchange is indicative of the Bush administration’s way of doing business. Not only was the U.S. not exactly in ‘peril’ on 9/11/01 (the attacks were very precise both chronologically and geographically, very low-tech, and very specific tactically), but the history that Armitage so stridently waved off is a history of which any experienced U.S. diplomat (especially one with such crucial national security responsibilities) should have been painfully aware.

Of course, in light of Bush attorney general Alberto Gonzales’s denying the guarantee of habeus corpus rights by our Consitution, and the Bush administration’s general disdain for laws both domestic and international, Armitage’s attitude should come as no surprise. The following link will take you to another example of the attitude of the imperial presidency.

Gonzo is Stacking the Decks… er, the Courts
by Nicole Belle

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