In a ceremony that took place in the White House underground bunker, Mr.
Bush today awarded the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Dick Cheney,
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Chief Policy Advisor Karl Rove, and
"In addition to previous honorees Gen. Tommy Franks, CIA director George
Tenet and Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer, nobody has been more
responsible for the successful policies of this Administration, both here
and abroad, than these fine, dedicated public servants," Bush told a
hastily-called news conference. "In all my years in office, I have never
seen so many people work so hard to bring us to where we are today -- a
respected leader in the world, and a country where all citizens are
happily supportive of our policies.
"Well, yes, there were a few carpers and critics out there who called our
military/foreign policy a failure, and accused us of going outside the
Constitution to protect the lives and property of all American citizens
from the Islamic fascists who are trying to kill us. But most of those
terrorist-supporting nay-sayers have now been moved into FEMA's
re-education camps, and we expect and hope they will rejoin their normal,
law-abiding fellow citizens with a new, positive attitude.
"Naming myself as an honoree may seem self-serving to some, but I take
this action to demonstrate to the public my confidence in my policies.
Further, today I have ordered myself to conduct a thorough investigation
of any possible mistakes or wrongdoing that I may have committed; a report
has been submitted by me and is now on my desk, and without giving away
too much, I was delighted to read that it completely exonerates me."
LIBBY & ROVE GET A WALK
Bush also announced that he had granted a full pardon to I. Lewis
("Scooter") Libby, whose trial was scheduled to begin early next year.
Libby -- Cheney's former chief of staff and national security advisor, and
special assistant to the President -- was indicted by special prosecutor
Patrick Fitzgerald in the case of Valerie Plame Wilson. The covert CIA
agent's identity was made public by White House officials (widely believed
to include Libby and Rove) when her husband publicly said Bush had twisted
intelligence to support going to war against Iraq. Libby was facing
charges of lying and obstructing justice in the case; Rove may still be
under investigation, but Bush said he pardoned him pre-emptively, "just in
"I took this action today," Bush said, "because both Mr. Libby and Mr.
Rove are loyal patriots, who were only following orders from me to do
everything possible to ensure that our war against the terrorists in Iraq
went smoothly. As Commander-in-Chief, I am authorized to declassify
information, and I did so and properly told Mr. Libby in particular to
offer such information to the press as part of a national security
"Ms. Plame and her husband, who attempted to obstruct our war aims and
thus aided and abetted our enemies, have been detained and rendered to a
secure location, where they will stay until the war on terrorism has been
"The pardon of Mr. Libby and of Mr. Rove will ensure that classified
details about our war on terrorism will not make their way into the court
record and the press. I must protect the secrets of this administration
since they all touch on highly sensitive national-security matters. Mr.
Libby will join my staff as a special national security adviser. Remember,
this all has to do with national-security."
"I will now answer a few questions. David?"
VOTERS MOVING TO DEMOCRATS?
Question: Mr. President, the midterm elections are just a few months
away. Are you worried that these aggressive moves against your political
opponents may influence many middle-of-the-road voters to move toward the
Democratic candidates rather than stick with your party, which many
moderate conservatives find to be too extreme?
Bush: The American people have demonstrated, by not demonstrating, that
they are behind our policies 100%. They understand that whatever actions I
take are taken for the good of the country and all of our good citizens.
They will not change buses in the middle of a stream of war, I mean not
change horses in a time of great battle, during wartime. Everything
changed on 9/11, except the Democrat Party, which continues to clearly
demonstrate that they are on the side of al-Qaida.
Question: A follow-up first, if I may, Mr. President. Virtually all the
polls in recent months indicate that it's not just the Democrats who
believe Iraq is a disaster and was a terrible mistake -- about two-thirds
of the American people believe that and are ready for some sort of plan
for withdrawal. Are you saying that all those citizens are doing al-Qaida's
work, that they all are un-American by speaking out?
Bush: Not at all, David. The terrorists hate us for our freedoms, you
know, and one of the most important is freedom of speech. Everyone has the
right to speak out. But you have to watch what you say, because the
terrorists are listening and will act accordingly. So if you have
something critical to say, I advise you to think twice before saying it,
or anything. Loose lips sink boats; loose talk helps boats go aground --
you know what I mean. Helen?
NO MONARCHS IN AMERICA
Question: A federal district court judge has accused you of behaving
like a king in authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct
warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens' phone calls and emails --
which conceivably could mean listening in on your political enemies. Can
the American people be assured that you will obey the law and honor the
Bush: This is another bad decision by an activist judge, one appointed by
a Democrat, I might add. But this ruling cannot be allowed to stand, since
our terrorist-surveillance program is aimed at terrorists. So those who we
choose to spy on must be terrorists or in cahoots with terrorists. We are
taking this un-American decision to the appeals court and, if we don't win
there, to the U.S. Supreme Court where we are confident that more
patriotic activist judges will rule in our favor. In the meantime, we will
carry on our listening-in program because we need to know what the
terrorists know. American citizens can be assured that we only intrude on
their privacy when it is absolutely necessary, like when they make or
receive phone calls or emails.
Question: A follow-up about the spying, Mr. President. The Supreme
Court told you that your treatment of detainees is unconstitutional, and
now another federal court has decreed that your domestic spying program is
unconstitutional. But you are leaning on Congress to grant you absolution
for your illegal behaviors and to authorize you to carry them into the
future. You once said you wouldn't mind a dictator system of government as
long as you could be the dictator. Don't your actions lend credence to the
idea that you're trying to establish yourself as a dictator in our
Bush: Helen, the answer to your long speech and to your question is No.
NOBODY IS ABOVE THE LAW, EXCEPT...
Question: Various bloggers and even reporters in this room don't
hesitate to ask vicious, partisan questions to the President of the United
States of America. Isn't there something the government can do to rein in
the internet crazies and traitorous reporters?
Bush: Freedom of the press always must be respected. But this is wartime
and members of the media must be especially careful not to step over the
line of lawful questioning to insulting The Leader. Nobody is above the
law in this country -- except me, of course; since I am the final decider
on the law, any action I take to protect Americans is legal. Reporters and
judges should remember that before they open their mouths. Another
THE CEASE-FIRE ROUNDABOUT
Question: Your Administration has been roundly criticized for not
moving quicker to stop the destruction and deaths in Lebanon. One critic
said your policy seemed to be not to support a cease-fire until there were
no more deaths in the war, but a cease-fire is supposed to interpose
itself between the warring parties so there won't be any more deaths. Can
you explain your rationale, sir?
Bush: We didn't want to support a cease-fire without going to the root
causes of the war in the first place. We--
Question: So you wanted to try to solve Palestinian/Israeli conflict
Bush: No. By "root causes," I meant that Syria and Iran were using
Hezbollah to exacer--, to extrawariate, to attack Israel, the one
democracy in the Middle East. So we wanted there to be a quieting down of
the situation before we supported a cease-fire in Lebanon to quiet down
the situation. I mean --
Voice: Thank you, Mr. President.
Copyright 2006, by Bernard Weiner
Bernard Weiner, a poet and playwright, has written a
great many satires
and parodies about the Bush Administration. A Ph.D. in government &
international relations, he has taught at various universities, worked as
a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits
The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org).
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