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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 November 2004

Colin Powell - a dodgy dove

BUSH'S FIRST Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has resigned. Powell had significant differences with the neo-conservative hard-liners who dominate Bush's cabinet. He thought more long-term about the future of capitalism but when it came to the crunch he toed the line for US imperialism.

A former field commander in Vietnam, Powell was the top uniformed military figure in the USA. He was the main architect of the 1990-91 Gulf War against Saddam Hussein and oversaw, as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the huge growth of US military power under George Bush senior.

After he became Bush junior's Secretary of State, his low point was speaking at the United Nations in February 2003, trying to get the fig-leaf of UN support for Bush's war.

Powell's speech relied on unproven and speculative accusations - he quoted forged documents to show that Saddam's dictatorship had tried to buy uranium from the African state of Niger.

He singled out for praise a student's thesis written 12 years earlier as proof that Saddam still had weapons of mass destruction in 2003 after one war and years of weapons inspections and punitive sanctions.

Powell did his worst to link Saddam to terror movements and especially to Osama bin Laden even after Hans Blix the chief UN weapons inspector said there was no such evidence.

This mishmash of lies and distortions led the Daily Mirror to carry the headline "Dodgy tape, grainy videos, great rhetoric but where's the proof Colin - Not Enough!"

His replacement, Condoleezza Rice may have fewer arguments with Bush and Co but Powell's role 'selling' the war to dubious world leaders using his authority as a 'moderate' helped send the world into a new epoch of war and terror.

Bush swaps one reactionary for another

COLIN POWELL wasn't the first of Bush's cabinet members to resign. The first casualty was the crude, racist John Ashcroft who gave up the US attorney-general post. But Bush showed how reactionary his second term could be when he replaced him with the equally vicious Alberto Gonzales.

Attorney-generals decide on legal matters including civil and human rights in the USA. Gonzales was already Bush's chief counsel. In this role, he agreed to a US Justice Department memo in 2002 that ruled that laws prohibiting torture "do not apply to the president's detention and interrogation of enemy combatants."

An earlier Gonzales memo said that "the war against terrorism is a new kind of war". This "new paradigm" makes the Geneva Convention's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners "obsolete" and indeed "quaint."

These legal thoughts provided a judicial backing for mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo and camps such as Abu Ghraib.

Gonzales, a former Texas Supreme Court judge, was Bush's adviser and secretary of state when the president was governor of Texas. He wrote a memo on the facts of every death penalty case but it seems Gonzales failed to point out such details as "ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence" for condemned prisoners.

The new attorney-general's contempt for the law can also be seen in who backs him politically. Energy company Enron - whose rise and spectacular fall showed up the greed, fraud and corruption of finance capital - and Enron's law firm were Gonzales' biggest contributors in 2000.

The energy industry gave him $100,000 after he gave them positive judgments in the Supreme Court, helping to create the unregulated sleaze-ridden environment where Enron could, very briefly, blossom. Gonzales will oversee US anti-trust investigations and corporate crime cases.

Bush's Patriot Act greatly expanded US police powers, including that of accessing private medical records etc. without telling the victim. The Act expires at the end of 2005 but Bush's administration, with Gonzales at the helm, is trying hard to make this act permanent.

US workers should mobilise against this reactionary nonsense which threatens civil rights worldwide and endangers the hard-won rights of the American working class.

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In The Socialist 20 November 2004:

The bloody cost of war

Ireland: Socialist Party MP attacks Irish Government

Colin Powell - a dodgy dove

Socialist Party campaigns

Come to ISR conference

Pensions: "Unity in action" call

Childcare plans ignore real needs

NUS extraordinary conference

International socialist news and analysis

Palestinians mourn Arafat but struggle for liberation will continue

Imperialism in new occupation

Socialist Party workplace news

UNISON elections - nominate Roger Bannister

Protecting jobs in outsourcing deal

Join the Jaguar demo

Agenda for Change ballot masks discontent


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