The Hightower Report

It’s 2006, George, Not 1706; and War Profiteers


WAR PROFITEERS

War is hell – unless you're the CEO of a corporation that profiteers on the hell of war. In that case, war literally is like manna from heaven!

While our soldiers are victims of an ever-rising death toll in Bush's war of lies and incompetence in Iraq, the top executives of corporations supplying the weapons and other supplies for his war are lolling around on soft cushions of unprecedented personal pay – money that comes right out of the pockets of us taxpayers. A new Executive Excess survey finds that the top dogs at 34 big Pentagon contractors have helped themselves to nearly a trillion dollars in pay since 9/11.

Among the top CEO profiteers: United Technologies ($200 million in pay); General Dynamics ($65 million); Lockheed Martin ($50 million); and Halliburton ($49 million).

Meanwhile, Army privates in Iraq, many of whom have died because the Bushites failed to provide them with the body armor they needed, are paid $25,000 a year for being war fodder. Yet, David Brooks, the CEO of a now-disgraced body-armor maker, took $192 million in pay in 2004 alone.

George W. likes to strut around crowing that his war is a noble cause and worth the sacrifices we are making. "We?" Not the CEOs. Their loved ones are not in Bush's war, facing death and carnage every day. The CEOs have even gotten massive tax cuts from Bush in the middle of this war, so they are not even being asked to pay for it.

Contrast Bush's plutocratic policy with FDR in World War II. Not only did his four sons serve in combat, but he declared: "I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster."

Today, the Bushites refuse even to allow a congressional investigation into the war profiteers. To download a copy of the Executive Excess report, go to www.faireconomy.org.


IT'S 2006, GEORGE, NOT 1706

Here's today's phrase: habeas corpus.

This phrase embodies the democratic principle enshrined in our Constitution that government officials cannot arbitrarily arrest you, lock you up, and throw away the key. Habeas corpus – which literally means "produce the body" – is an essential safeguard against a police state, for it allows anyone to go to a court of law to challenge their imprisonment.

The founders insisted that there be legal checks on our officials (even the president) to prevent them from the exercise of naked governmental power. Habeas corpus is the legal procedure requiring government officials to present evidence that there is a reason to imprison someone. They can't just do it on executive whim.

Until now, that is. George W. asserts that, as a "war president," he is not bound by such constitutional niceties as habeas corpus. Not only is he claiming that he can grab anyone off our streets and even have them tortured – he has been doing it.

The shameful case of Maher Arar is one glaring example. He was seized by federal agents in New York in 2002 and, denied the right to habeas corpus, was zipped away to Syria, where he was tortured for a year before it finally dawned on his brutal inquisitors that he was innocent.

Far from acknowledging their horrific error, much less apologizing to Arar and to our nation's founders, the Bushites have tried to brush off their responsibility. "We were not responsible for [Arar's] removal to Syria," lied Bush's boneheaded attorney general, Alberto "See No Evil" Gonzales. When the media caught him in this lie, Gonzales' spokesman blamed his comment on a bureaucratic misunderstanding, saying: "He had his timeline mixed up."

Damn right he did. The Bushites think this is 1706, not 2006, and that George is the royal highness – not merely a president who is required to honor the people's constitutional protections, including habeas corpus.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle