AskWHYBlog: Carol Harvey In San Francisco

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

WILL SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR HOUSE HOMELESS FAMILIES?












(This article also appeared in "The Street Spirit," "Street Sheet," and "BeyondChron" on-line)


On Thursday, September 20, 2005, San Francisco's Homeless families camped out at City Hall under the Mayor's office balcony. Their goal was to hold Mayor Gavin Newsom to his October 13 promise to focus on housing them "first." They presented their recommendations to him the previous month, on August 17, 2005.

Two weeks later, November 3, 2005, recalling their protest, I walked to the Presidio's Inspiration Point lookout over San Francisco Bay. Treasure island floated in a cobalt blue mist, Berkeley and Oakland in purple, and Alcatraz in pale yellow. Between whisps of clouds, tinged pink from the setting sun, a silver fingernail of a moon hung in a blue-gray evening sky.

At almost-dark, some mighty hand flipped a switch lighting the dome of the Palace of Fine Arts from inside like a big half peach. Sparkles of light studded The City and the East Bay shore. I thought how the money spent on the incredible power in those lights could, in this single instant, house for a year every homeless person who slept on streets or in shelters tonight.

I imagined a 15-year-old boy sitting alone in a room, his dark head bent over his book studying.for tomorrow's classes at SOTA, San Francisco's School of the Arts. Because of his talent, he and his mother had hopes for his future in art or theater. He auditioned and was accepted into this four-year unified school district's distinguished high school visual arts program. Recently, a congenital eye problem, exacerbated by his sudden teenage growth spurt and the stress of moving around, threw his artistic future into question. He is now legally blind in one eye.

When he was younger, he and his mother, Maxine Pauson, a disabled domestic violence survivor, roomed with other people. As he got older, that became increasingly difficult. He needed his own room and his own space. Yet, he is forced to share shelter with his mother, confined to the room together even when both are sick. Ironically, permanent housing rules require a teenager and parent have separate rooms.

His mother's congenital disc herniation left her in pain. She had to take anti-inflammatory pills and lie down during the day. Because she could not sit for long periods, she could not work. Her disability entitlement was so low they didn't have enough to rent their own place. Staying with others, they fell into the legal definition of "homeless."

Seven years ago, when her son was eight, Maxine put them on every subsidized Section 8 and public housing waiting list she could find in every county surrounding San Francisco, plus many further away --- even San Diego. They got no offers at all.

I pictured him studying tonight in a small shelter room in a former Catholic convent, the St. Joseph Family Center South of Market at 10th and Howard. For a year and a half they lived in five different shelters, waiting six months to be placed in the first one in Petaluma.

He loved his school, He took the long bus ride each day to continue to go there. It seemed ridiculous to Maxine that the McKinney act paid his fare back and forth when the money would be better spent on affordable housing.

Maxine feels the system is broken when priorities are so off balance.

She cited two factors creating this situation:

First was Reagan's 1980's political spin on poverty mothers as "welfare queens" and an attitude that placed less importance on stay-at-home women whose job is running a household and raising children. Though requiring massive skill sets, this is not seen as acceptable "work."

Mothers, especially poor ones, are subjected to a shame-blame game. People do not seem to recognize that children, secondarily, are the actual victims of this attitudinal and institutional child abuse.

Second, entitlement programs like food stamps and section 8 housing were closed out one by one to pay for the Iraq war. Maxine asserted that, when one fights to get out of poverty, there is less and less to work with.

ESTELLE MATA'S HOMELESS SHELTER ROULETTE

Maxine's friend, Estelle Mata, 44, immigrated 14 years ago from Lagos de Moreno in Jalisco State. Lagos is a semi-arid, cattle-raising and dairy production area of western Mexico where a Nestle plant is located. Lagos' residents have a 100-year history of U.S. migration.

Before her 18-month-old son, Steven Michael, was born, Estelle worked as a cashier, restaurant worker, dishwasher and housecleaner. Unable to afford childcare for her baby, she cannot work.

Estelle and Steven Michael currently stay at "44 McAllister," an SRO hotel. She is happier there than two previous shelters.

"I have my own room, an electric plate and a kitchen for cooking (for her baby). I have a place in the refrigerator for keeping my food."

"It was more difficult when I was living in the shelter because no single room. (Now) I have my single room."

Before 44 McAllister, Estelle lived in La Casa De La Madres and Hamilton Family Center, "a very bad place. Small mice walking on the floor."

The rules are strict. "You (must) get out of the place (when) it's rainy or cold with your small baby (at) 8:45 or 9:00 o'clock in the morning, and you cannot stay out after 8:30 p.m.

"La Casa De La Madres, very bad place, too. ...(rigid) rules and you don't have a place for cooking in the kitchen, (or) a place to keep food, like a refrigerator.

"The people put very heavy rules on me because I'm not speak very well English. I'm no resident.

"When I live in La Casa De La Madres, (I had) pain on my left side very strong. I was working too much, seven days in the week with my baby in the kitchen, breakfast and lunch, washing dishes, cleaning the stove, mopping, sweeping the floor." She was the only resident forced to work like a "slave" to stay there.

"They enforced this work on only me. I fight them. I make a big complaint, and cry" asking 'Why?' "They said, 'Because you don't have any care for your baby.'"

In January, Estelle must leave 44 Hamilton place.

"I don't want to go back to La Casa De La Madres (or) the shelters no more. I pray for my own place. I believe in God.

"At La Casa De La Madres every day I reading my Bible, and I pray. Now I have a clean room, a place in the refrigerator, and a place where I can cook."

"I don't worry too much because I pray. I told Jesus, 'You help me in three months. Please. Please. Help me.'"

HOMELESS FAMILIES TRUTH TO POWER

On Thursday, October 20, 2005, Homeless families camped out at City Hall under the Mayor's office balcony. Estelle and Maxine were part of this group demanding housing. Miguel Carrera, and Jennifer Friedenbach, Coalition on Homelessness, were lead organizers.

Miguel is from the Mexican State of Puebla, the town of Calipan, a farming community which grows sugar cane, beans, corn, tomatoes. He spent two years as a poverty activist working in the South East border city of Tapachula in Chiapas.

A single man in San Francisco, Miguel was homeless. He worked four years without pay at the Homeless Coalition. Now he is a paid coalition organizer, has a family, his wife Julie and two young children, "my daughter, Selene, 7, and my little son, Emilio, 5," and is housed.

His children sensitized Miguel to the pressures of homelessness on the very young.

"The shelter is not housing. (Children) need a real home. (Families) need a space for each child, a bedroom for the father and the mother to sleep in, a real kitchen, a diningroom. They need a playground where the children can play.

"The children need a real thing they have, that they can say, 'That's my home. That's my place.'

"What happens when the children go to school with their friends? When other children say, 'Can I go with you to your home to do my homework? Can I play with you?' What do they say? 'Um ---My mom don't allow (me to have) nobody in my home.' They invent some story because they are nervous and confused, and not feeling good because they don't have real housing. (Their housing) is a shelter."

Children don't want to say, 'I live in a shelter. I'm not like you. You have a home. I'm different.' They don't want to say, 'My family is poor.' They are ashamed, so, they give a cover story.

Miguel said this attack on the poor is also racist. "The majority of families who stay in the shelters or in SRO hotels are African Americans and Latinos."

FAMILIES VOICE THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS

Instead of Human Services dictating to them, homeless families want a voice in housing, homeless prevention, and shelter reform.

On August 17, they presented Mayor Newsom with the first three in a set of recommendations.

1. Set aside 25% of the Mayor's 3,000 units of housing for the 2,700 men, women, and children who are members of homeless families.

2. Create a local housing subsidy program for homeless families, approximately $500 a month for 120 families. (Homeless activists say it costs far more to keep families in shelter.)

3. Increase homeless prevention funds by 75%, and make them more flexible.

Additionally, Homeless Families want:

HOUSING

4. Funding paid for without cuts to needed services, such as Care Not Cash cuts to homeless stipends to house the "chronic homeless.".

5. "Housing First:" Place families directly in housing, bypassing required stays in shelters or transitional housing. (Estelle, Maxine and their children were shunted from shelter to shelter pointlessly, creating great insecurity for the children.)

6. Consider families part of the "chronic homeless" population, include them in "Housing First," and place them into units large enough for families.

7. Move families into vacant Housing Authority units with possible "sweat equity" program, fixing up units for lowered rent.

8. Place housing advocates in shelters to help families overcome credit issues, identify housing resources, and navigate the Housing Authority.

9. Create local housing fund by taxing major property developments.

10. Reinstate funding, rental subsidy level and income eligibility for section 8 vouchers released nationally.

11. Double the number of Section 8 certificates released nationally.

HOMELESS PREVENTION:

12. Ensure homeless parents access to higher education, with scholarhips, and funding for books, childcare, tuition, and living expenses.

13. Provide access to living wage jobs.

SHELTER REFORM

14. Families participate in shelter policy and running the shelters.

15. Maintain clean hygenic bathrooms and common spaces in shelters. (Maxine and Estelle complained of mice, and dirty bathrooms and kitchens.)

16. Ensure equal treatment in shelters. "Shelters held accountable to following and applying their own rules in a "fair and unbiased" manner. (Unlike the racism inflicted on Estelle.)

17. Shelters provide tutoring and mentoring for children.

As of Wednesday, November 2, 2005, Miguel Carrera confirms Homeless Families have not heard from Newsom or, his Human Services Department director, Trent Rhorer.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

WAS KATRINA THE CLASSIST-RACIST PERFECT STORM?












TV news from New Orleans was horribly real and really horrible. We saw poor people, mostly black, wading hip-deep in rushing water. Elderly women gripping walkers trudged down the freeway. Disabled folks in wheelchairs, slumped dying or dead.

A sign on a corpse read, "Here lies Vera. God help us!" --- A plea for Divine aid when humans didn't send it. A restored identity rescued Vera from the anonymous death of the countless who drowned.

St. Bernard Parish, a patchwork of marshes, refineries, rundown houses and suburbia, populated by the poor, lies across the Mississippi from New Orleans not far from Bourbon Street.

On August 29, rescuers discovered bloated bodies of 32 elders in St Rita's nursing home in Chalmette, St. Barnard Parish, with signs of desperate attempts to keep the water out. Homicide charges were brought against owners, Mable Mangano and Salvador Mangano Sr, who allegedly ignored evacuation warnings.

A few Vancouver Canadian Mounties showed up in two days, but the Louisiana National Guard was evacuated outside the Parish, which received no government assistance in the initial days following Hurricane Katrina.

Reptilian skin pulled away, Bush's covert elitism, classism, and racism, was revealed.

The narrow TV screen shrunk the unimaginable destruction. People huddled for days on rooftops or freeway overpasses above surging floods, without food or water, waving "Save us" signs.

RACISM AND CLASSICISM

As the President delayed sending the National Guard before hundreds of victims died, black and white leaders agreed. Racism and Classism factored into Hurricane Katrina's displacements and deaths.

Rev. Al Sharpton called the nonresponse "inexcusable," saying when a less violent hurricane hit Palm Beach, Jeb Bush alerted the National Guard before the storm struck.

Democratic Party Chairman, Howard Dean, told one of the country's largest black religious groups, the National Baptist Convention, "We must ... come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a deadly role in who survived and who did not."

Illinois Senator, Barak Obama, blamed class, citing black poverty as an decades-old tragedy.

Rapper Kanye West's agonized words startled his co-host Mike Myers and a Katrina benefit national TV audience: "George Bush doesn't care about black people.

"It's been five days," continued West ..."America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off --- as slow as possible."


Social Welfare Programs Destroyed In Class War Sortees

The very reason that the underfunded FEMA made such a disorganized, late response to desperate calls for help is itself based in the Bush Class War, the systematic defunding of social programs, entitlements and security to the economically challenged which would pave the road to homes for the homeless.

Bush gutted public works projects, anti-poverty and tax-funded programs for energy, environment, education, healthcare, unemployment, housing, safety, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He pumped the money into his Iraqi war, contrived for oil and war profiteering. In a dire national emergency, an administrative organization, FEMA, wasn't there.

THE ELITISM OF THE RICH

The Bush base is the world's Corporate rich. Their words betray their "Disconnect" from the "lower economic classes."

CASUAL "MALIGN NEGLECT?"

When multimillionaire Bush paused from golf, telling drowning New Orleaneans "Be Patient," he referred to gas price hikes from storm-damaged Gulf Coast derricks.

Barbara Bush's description of the Astrodome Homeless had the ring of Marie Antoinette's "Let Them Eat Cake." Repairing to her multimillion dollar Houston mansion, Barbara observed, "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality... the people in the arena here...were underprivileged anyway, so ...this is working very well for them." She thought it was "scary" they might want to stay.

INTENTIONAL "MALIGN NEGLECT?"

Was the President's slow response deliberate?

Seeing thousands cooking in the New Orleans Superdome, I thought of the gas chambers. Like the exterminated Jews, poor black people, lured by false promises of food and water, were confined by soldiers in an enclosure which quickly became a death trap.

If you delay emergency assistance to a stroke or heart attack victim during first critical moments, allowing conditions to run their course, you conduct an unprovable murder by "malign neglect."

On the September 4 MSNBC's "Meet the Press," Tim Russert cited 2002 "New Orleans Times-Picayune" stories predicting Katrina in minute detail. It was a matter of time before a hurricane could overtop the levees leaving thousands drowned, crushed by debris, trapped in homes, cars, on high ground or roofs, dehydrated and hungry for days.

Knowing three years ago of this most forecast disaster in American history, the Bush administration defunded the Army Corps of Engineers levee reconstruction. This raised storm surges many feet. Denial of global warming highlights the irony that the Gulf water's raised temperatures heightened wind intensity and flooding.

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco requested assistance two days before the hurricane struck. Evacuations were called. The poor had no money to leave.

Jefferson Parrish President, Aaron Broussard, told of an employee whose mother begged him for five days to "Send somebody" to her St. Bernard nursing home. On the fifth day she drowned.

"Nobody's coming to get us," Broussard sobbed. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody!"

On the radio Ray Nagin, frustrated new Orleans Mayor, yelled,"Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here! They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses, and let's do something. Let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country."

Under Michael D. Brown, FEMA delayed two days, rejected Amtrak's help with evacuations, rebuffed experienced firefighters, rejected Wal-Mart supply trucks, prevented Coast Guard diesel fuel and Red Cross food deliveries, barred morticians, blocked a 500-boat citizen flotilla delivering aid, ignored a Navy ship, the Baton, with a 600-bed hospital, and turned away power generators.

Too fast for a media or Congressional response, Bush made a weekend stealth appointment of Reagan era anti-civil and human rights judge, John Roberts, for Supreme Court Chief Justice.

The President bore ultimate responsibility. In dire emergency, states and cities lack the vast resources commanded by the Federal Government.

POPULATION CONTROL

US government official, Hugh Kaufman, an EPA expert on toxic waste and environmental disaster, told the "Independent News"(UK) that waste and toxic chemicals from 66 storage dumps, chemical plants, and oil refineries in the Delta's "Cancer Alley" were washed into flooding waters. This whistleblower reported that, despite Mayor Nagin's insistence New Orleaneans return immediately, the city would not be habitable for ten years. Kaufman insisted that the Bush administration was covering up the danger, withholding the results from EPA-analyzed water samples.

Does letting people drown or wander in a virulent sludge of e. coli and chemical carcinogens amount to a culling process? Rapture Right Christians, of whom Bush is reputedly one, believe an small elite will rule when the inferior poor die off.

Conspiracy theories or intention aside, a profiteering war undeniably caused mass deaths of Iraqi poor. Did Bush create a U.S. arm of the class war leaving more impoverished "collateral damage" in New Orleans?

TOTALITARIAN STATE

The Bush administration carries totalitarian markers George Orwell treated brilliantly in "1984."

Among them are destruction of democratic Constitutional ideals.

Problems are blamed on foreign scapegoats --- Osama, insurgents, Al Kaeda.

Rich and poor classes are strictly defined, the poor and homeless made internal enemy scapegoats, isolated and criminalized. Like Jews in Nazi Germany, they carry "inferior" status, lacking the coin of the realm with highest value--- money.

STEREOTYPING AND CRIMINALIZATION OF POOR AND HOMELESS

Corporatocracy Looting

One symbol of Corporate Classism was the floating Fugi blimp helping police spot "looters."

Accusing poor flood victims of looting food and water, rich white men raid the Treasury though social security privatization, let the EPA pillage the environment, and gouge the public with skyrocketing gas prices.

The Corporatocracy is making money from New Orleans displaced and dead. In Iraq, Bush hired Cheney's company, Halliburton with Kellogg-Brown-Root and Blackwater, subcontractors that bill the government exorbitantly using add-ons through the Cost-Plus mechanism. This amounts to the looting of American tax dollars. How predictable that Bush would bypass competitive bidding, supposedly for speed, awarding these same companies contracts to assess New Orleans' power infrastructure prior to rebuilding.

On PBS, New Orleans musician, Wynton Marsalis, discouraged property owners from selling to developers who would rebuild and gentrify, erecting hotels, and condos.

WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF HOMELESSNESS

Homeless Shelters As Prison

The Superdome seemed to be nothing but an enormous homeless shelter. San Francisco shelter dwellers describe similar unclean dangerous conditions --- bugs, rats, and criminal behavior. One "sheltered" San Franciscan told me he took his belongings to the bathroom at night, lest they be stolen. The staff are guards (sometimes armed) controlling entrance and egress from the facility.

"New Homeless" Encampment

On September 12, 2005, Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, convention attendees, paramedics from S.E.I.U Local 790, searched for water with several hundred others. Police advised they cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where there were buses. At the bridge, armed Gretna Parish sheriffs blocked them, firing weapons over their heads.

They sheltered from rain under an overpass, built an encampment and waited for buses on elevated Ponchartrain expressway.

Commandeering a water truck, they retrieved dropped C-rations, hung garbage bags from rebar poles, made beds from cardboard and wood pallets, used a storm drain for a toilet enclosed by broken umbrellas.

Basic needs met, they worked together and made a community.

This newly homeless band learned how hostile the police become to unhoused people in groups. They employed survival techniques homeless people have used for years.

NEW "EVACUEES" VS OLD HOMELESS

Katrina may spread new homeless people across America as they escape to cities and to the streets.

Not yet stereotyped as part of the old guard homeless, they were called "refugees" until some complained they are tax-paying citizens.

"Evacuees" were welcomed in Toledo (463), Michigan (500), and San Francisco where Laura Adelman of The San Francisco Office of Emergency Services said St. Mary's Cathedral, originally set up as a 300-bed shelter, will be used only as a center where "they are receiving services from the Red Cross, the City, and other nonprofit organizations." Red Cross, Catholic Charities, and the Salvation Army will help upwards of 400 "cases" obtain transportation, hotel vouchers, long term housing, medical services, and jobs. She said an individual "case" can constitute a single person or a several-member family, bringing many more than 400 evacuees through San Francisco.

She confirmed "the Mayor's Office of Housing has taken the lead on helping find longterm housing, and they've been talking to various organizations that represent building owners." Though she assured me, "No one will be taken off a list in favor of someone else," there is concern, with San Francisco's limited housing stock, evacuees will receive priority over those homeless already on the streets.

(Katrina survivors have, indeed, displaced striking service workers at the Sutter Health affiliate in San Francisco, California Pacific Medical Center.)

Willie Warren, San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, stated, "Look, it's cool you want to bring disaster refugees up here for a while into the housing because it is going to take a year or two or three for you to rebuild New Orleans. Nobody's got a problem with that.

"What takes precedence, rights or emergency? "(They) have been waiting on the list ... from two to seven years.

"You are using poor people against each other. When survival comes to town, ethics and morals take a vacation."

I asked Sister Bernie Galvin of San Francisco's Religious Witness With Homeless People about the "different" status apparently afforded the newly homeless evacuees.

She said, “‘Which desperate individuals should get the available San Francisco housing -- the San Franciscans who have long been on the waiting list for housing or those equally desperate individuals victimized by Katrina?’ This question invites our stepping into the trap of pitting one desperate group against another; to do so would be to dishonor the dignity of every person in each group.

“The more appropriate question should be, ‘Why is it that this wealthiest nation in the world is not able to simultaneously provide for the basic need for housing to both of these groups?’

"Or an (even) more basic question would be, ‘Why is it that the Bush administration prioritizes exorbitant funding for war and killing and gives immense tax cuts to the wealthiest 1% of this nation, thereby ensuring the deprivation of the most basic human needs to the poor people of our own nation?’

“These are the questions that we should be pondering at this time.”
DOWNING STREET MEMOS TO BUSH AS TAPES TO NIXON?










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LEST WE FORGET

A second leaked "Downing Street"-type memo has surfaced in the Sunday Times On Line (June 12, 2005) suggesting the Bush administration was contemplating "Running Start"/"Generated Start" military action against Iraq as early as November 2002.

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(Article originally published 12 June 2005)

Today, Sunday, June 12, 2005, under the headline "Cabinet Office paper: Conditions for Military Action," The Sunday Times - World online published a partial transcript of a second smoking gun memo.

Titled "Personal Secret UK Eyes Only," this second smoking gun memo, produced by the British Cabinet Office on July 21, 2002, details reaction to the Bush Administration's plans for military provocation of Saddam Hussein. Some speculate that the plan was to bomb Iraq in order to goad the dictator into giving them a rationalization to go to war.

So far, the two memos forecase events that, in fact, have taken place since these documents were composed and released to principles within the British Government.

The paper notes "the Prime Minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford (Texas) in April (2002)."

It states, "The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for miliary action, or the aftermath and how to shape it."

A key statement in the memo, under the heading "US Military Planning" suggests the direction the Bush administration is willing to go.

"6. Although no political decisions have been taken, US military planners have drafted options for the US Government to undertake an invasion of Iraq.

"In a 'Running Start,' military action could begin as early as November of this year, with no overt military build-up.

"All strikes and support for opposition groups in Iraq would lead initially to small-scale land operations, with further land forces deploying sequentially, ultimately overwhelming Iraqi forces and leading to the collapse of the Iraqi regime.

"A 'Generated Start' would involve a longer build-up before any military action were taken, as early as January 2003.

"US military plans include non specifics on the strategic context either before or after the campaign. Currently the preference appears to be for the 'Running Start.' CDS will be ready to brief Ministers in more detail.

"7. US plans assume, as a minimum, the use of British bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia. This means that legal base issues would arise virtually whatever options Ministers choose with regard to UK participation."

Read the memo in its entirety.

It notes that the second memo is a "briefing paper for participants at a meeting of Blair's inner circle on July 23, 2002."

A full interpretation of the Downing Street memoranda and minutes is available here


Among other things, the interpretation points out, "since regime change was illegal it was "necessary to create the conditions" which would make it legal."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

DID BUSH AND COMPANY FIX THE WAR?
















(Written: May 31, 2005)


On May 1, 2005, The Times of London printed a highly classified document containing minutes of a July 23, 2002 meeting at 10 Downing Street. This was the first in a series of what has come to be known as
"The Downing Street Memos."

This memo was sent during the time the White House was insisting it had no plans to invade Iraq.

"The Smoking Gun Memo," was included in a report sent by the head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, Sir Richard Dearlove, to Prime Minister Tony Blair regarding his talks in Washington with the Bush Administration to determine its plans for action in Iraq.

The Times quotes Dearlove's memo as saying "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD (weapons of mass destruction). But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The (National Security Council) had no patience with the U.N. route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regimen's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial: "Memorial Day/ Praise Bravery, Seek Forgiveness," now circulating the Internet at light speed, states that "former counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill were right. Both have been pilloried for writing that by summer 2002 Bush had already decided to invade."

It also throws kudos to Walter Pincus of The Washington Post, who on May 22, provided "further evidence that the administration did, indeed, fix the intelligence on Iraq to fit a policy it had already embraced: invasion and regime change."

Pincus wrote that, mere days before Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address, the National Security Council staff "put out a call for new intelligence to bolster (weak) claims" about Saddam Hussein's WMD programs.

The Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
website's May 20, 2005 Action Alert castigates the print media for downplaying this story. Its headline reads "Network Viewers Still in the Dark on 'Smoking Bun Memo.'"

Sources say a new memo has surfaced detailing the Bush Administration's military provocation of Hussein, bombing Iraq to goad him into giving them an excuse for going to war. Countless Iraqi citizens died during this "pre-emptive strike."

On May 20, 2005, the White House issued a pre-Memorial Day Press release:

It describes U.S. soldiers as "unrelentling in battle, unwavering in loyalty, and unmatched in decency." It further states, "Because of their selfless courage, millions of people who once lived under tyranny now are free, and America is more secure."

However, the Star-Tribune editorial, a lone media voice, sorrowfully observes, "As this bloody month of car bombs and American deaths --- the most since January --- comes to a close, as we gather in groups small and large to honor our war dead, let us all sing of their bravery and sacrifice. But, let us also ask their forgiveness for sending them to a war that should never have happened. In the 1960s it was Vietnam. Today it is Iraq. Let us resolve to never, ever, make this mistake again. Our young people are simply too precious."

By clicking on this link, you can sign a letter submitted to President Bush on May 5, 2005, by Representative John Conuers, Jr. and 89 members of Congress requesting a response to serious questions raised by the Downing Street Memo.