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Last Thursday, ABC News announced that Barbara Walters would interview President Bush for the December 5th 20/20 broadcast. ABC News asked viewers to submit questions for Walters to ask Mr Bush.
The transcript of this interview is now up on ABC ‘s web site.
I think Ms. Walters softball questions, as shown in the transcript, illustrate the extent to which the news media is in the pocket of the White House.
What follows are some questions I submitted to ABC News for the interview:
Mr. President: In a 1998 ABC interview, Osama Bin Laden stated that a Jihad was justified because of America’s support for Israel against Muslim Palestinians. This past summer, Sharon attacked several Palestinian sites with US-made F-16 fighter jets –while the US government looked on. Yet now, several recent news stories based on White House sources have claimed that you were secretly promoting a Palestinian peace plan and a Palestinian state at the end of August. Question: If these stories are true, why did you approve Lockheed Martin’s sale of 52 new F-16 jet fighters to Israel on September 5, precisely one week prior to the September 11 attack?
The F-16s sale was criticized in the Arab world on Sept 8. In a November 9 interview with Pakistan’s Ausaf newspaper, Bin Laden justified the Sept 11attack by noting that the US government sells advanced weapons to Israel which Israel then uses to kill Muslim Palestinians. Wasn’t the Sept 11 attack triggered by the sale of the F-16s?
Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne Cheney, was on Lockheed’s Board of Directors from 1994 until January of this year. Did she have any influence on White House approval of the F-16 sale? Were the jobs provided to Fort Worth Texas by the sale a factor?
Mr. President: Several huge oil deposits have been found in the Caspian Sea area north of Afghanistan –especially in Kazakhstan. When VP Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, he served on Kazakhstan’s Oil Advisory Board and his recent energy report advocated that you direct the Cabinet to “deepen their commercial dialogue with Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and other Caspian states.” While CEO, Mr. Cheney lobbied for relaxation of US sanctions against Iran so that a pipeline could be built to carry Caspian oil to a tanker terminal on the Indian Ocean. Given China’s projected demand for oil over the next 30 years, the potential profits are huge. Question: Will US oil companies’s desire for a pipeline to Kazakhstan via Afghanistan/Pakistan influence who the US government supports for the post-Taliban government?
Mr. President: Your February 2001 budget indicates that you will pay for your income tax cut by borrowing heavily from the government Trusts (Social Security, Medicare,etc.) over the next ten years. By 2011, the Trust Funds will be holding $6 Trillion in IOUs, which your Economic Advisor Lawrence Lindsey has noted are “not real assets”. When the huge baby boomer generation begins retiring in 2011, the government will need to repay the IOUs in 2011-2031–i.e., the government will need to run a $300 Billion/year surplus for twenty years. How will they do that?
If we cannot run a real surplus today, in the boomers peak earning years, then how will we do so when a large portion of the population retires?
Follow-up: The US spends more on defense than the next 13 largest military powers. We spend $350 Billion/year while our major allies (UK, Germany,Japan) and our major competitors (Russia, China) only spend $20-$50 Billion /year. Why, then, did you push for an increase in the defense budget?
Mr. President: During 1995-2000, large numbers of personnel were laid off from the military and intelligence community due to budget cuts by the Republican-controlled Congress. For example, employment at Lockheed Martin, the large defense contractor, fell from 190,000 in 1996 to 126,000 in 2000. ( VP Dick Cheney’s wife was on Lockheed’s Board of Directors during this time.)
In 1998 and 2000, the Republican-controlled Congress raised the H-1B visa limit to allow US corporations to bring in 800,000 foreign professionals and to allow said workers to stay for 6 years. News reports stated that Congress did this at the urging of Silicon Valley campaign donors.
In view of the current high unemployment, the slump in the tech industries, the reluctance of industry to hire older workers, and the recession, should Congress rescind the increase in H-1B visas?
Don Williams lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania.