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A Referendum on Rumsfeld

George Bush brought it upon himself.

He could have seen out the 2006 campaign season without discussing the fact that no one – with the exception of some joker who rode out the Vietnam conflict defending Texas – thinks Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is doing a good job. Or, better yet, he could have acknowledged that there may be some, er, problems with Rumsfeld's approach to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and just about every other responsibility with which he has been entrusted.

But, no, the president chose the final week of the most critical mid-term election campaign of any president in recent history to declare that he would stand by his Rummy.

Asked about Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, Bush said that "both men are doing fantastic jobs."

He then hailed Rumsfeld's oversite of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I'm pleased with the progress we're making," the president said of Rumsfeld's work, before announcing that he wanted the defense secretary to remain on the job until the end of Bush's second term in January of 2009.

It was Bush who made this coming Tuesday's national vote into a referendum on Rumsfeld. And, when referendum elections are held, newspapers make endorsements.

To the question of whether the defense secretary should keep his job, the four newspapers that cover the branches of the U.S. military are answering: "No!"

The Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times newspapers, independent publications that are broadly distributed in the commissaries of military bases around the world, will on Monday jointly publish an editorial headlined: "Time for Rumsfeld to go."

The editorial begins with a quote from Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Marguerite Higgins during the Korean War: "So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion ... it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth."

Then it goes on to bemoan the fact that, "until recently, the ‘hard bruising' truth about the Iraq war has been difficult to come by from leaders in Washington."

Then the editors let loose:

One rosy reassurance after another has been handed down by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "mission accomplished," the insurgency is "in its last throes," and "back off," we know what we're doing, are a few choice examples.

Military leaders generally toed the line, although a few retired generals eventually spoke out from the safety of the sidelines, inciting criticism equally from anti-war types, who thought they should have spoken out while still in uniform, and pro-war foes, who thought the generals should have kept their critiques behind closed doors.

Now, however, a new chorus of criticism is beginning to resonate. Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the war's planning, execution and dimming prospects for success.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee in September: "I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it ... and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war."

Last week, someone leaked to The New York Times a Central Command briefing slide showing an assessment that the civil conflict in Iraq now borders on "critical" and has been sliding toward "chaos" for most of the past year. The strategy in Iraq has been to train an Iraqi army and police force that could gradually take over for U.S. troops in providing for the security of their new government and their nation.

But despite the best efforts of American trainers, the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition.

For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don't show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.

Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.

And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.

Now, the president says he'll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.

This is a mistake. It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.

These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.

And although that tradition, and the officers' deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.

Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.

This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:

Donald Rumsfeld must go.

The editors of the Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times newspapers are right: "This is not about the mid-term elections." No matter which party wins, the problem of the administration's approach to the Iraq War in general and to Rumsfeld in particular must be addressed.

But the mid-term elections will decide how seriously and how quickly that problem is addressed. And an editorial like this one, published on the day before national elections, cannot be read as anything but a clarion call to the American people to vote "no" in what the president has made a referendum on retaining Rumsfeld.

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John Nichols' new book, THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure for Royalism is being published this month by The New Press. "With The Genius of Impeachment," writes David Swanson, co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, "John Nichols has produced a masterpiece that should be required reading in every high school and college in the United States." Studs Terkel says: "Never within my nonagenarian memory has the case for impeachment of Bush and his equally crooked confederates been so clearly and fervently offered as John Nichols has done in this book. They are after all our public SERVANTS who have rifled our savings, bled our young, and challenged our sanity. As Tom Paine said 200 years ago to another George, a royal tramp: 'Bugger off!' So should we say today. John Nichols has given us the history, the language and the arguments we will need to do so." The Genius of Impeachment can be found at independent bookstores and at www.amazon.com

A Referendum on Rumsfeld

George Bush brought it upon himself.

He could have seen out the 2006 campaign season without discussing the fact that no one – with the exception of some joker who road out the Vietnam conflict defending Texas – thinks Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is doing a good job. Or, better yet, he could have acknowledged that there may be some, er, problems with Rumsfeld's approach to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and just about every other responsibility with which he has been entrusted.

But, no, the president chose the final week of the most critical mid-term election campaign of any president in recent history to declare that he would stand by his Rummy.

Asked about Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, Bush said that "both men are doing fantastic jobs."

He then hailed Rumsfeld's oversite of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I'm pleased with the progress we're making," the president said of Rumsfeld's work, before announcing that he wanted the defense secretary to remain on the job until the end of Bush's second term in January of 2009.

It was Bush who made this coming Tuesday's national vote into a referendum on Rumsfeld. And, when referendum elections are held, newspapers make endorsements.

To the question of whether the defense secretary should keep his job, the four newspapers that cover the branches of the U.S. military are answering: "No!"

The Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times, independent publications that are broadly distributed in the commissaries of military bases around the world, will on Monday jointly publish an editorial headlined: "Time for Rumsfeld to go."

The editorial begins with a quote from Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Marguerite Higgins during the Korean War: "So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion ... it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth."

Then it goes on to bemoan the fact that, "until recently, the ‘hard bruising' truth about the Iraq war has been difficult to come by from leaders in Washington."

Then the editors let loose:

One rosy reassurance after another has been handed down by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "mission accomplished," the insurgency is "in its last throes," and "back off," we know what we're doing, are a few choice examples.

Military leaders generally toed the line, although a few retired generals eventually spoke out from the safety of the sidelines, inciting criticism equally from anti-war types, who thought they should have spoken out while still in uniform, and pro-war foes, who thought the generals should have kept their critiques behind closed doors.

Now, however, a new chorus of criticism is beginning to resonate. Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the war's planning, execution and dimming prospects for success.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee in September: "I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it ... and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war."

Last week, someone leaked to The New York Times a Central Command briefing slide showing an assessment that the civil conflict in Iraq now borders on "critical" and has been sliding toward "chaos" for most of the past year. The strategy in Iraq has been to train an Iraqi army and police force that could gradually take over for U.S. troops in providing for the security of their new government and their nation.

But despite the best efforts of American trainers, the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition.

For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don't show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.

Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.

And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.

Now, the president says he'll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.

This is a mistake. It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.

These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.

And although that tradition, and the officers' deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.

Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.

This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:

Donald Rumsfeld must go.

The editors of the Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times are right: "This is not about the mid-term elections." No matter which party wins, the problem of the administration's approach to the Iraq War in general and to Rumsfeld in particular must be addressed.

But the mid-term elections will decide how seriously and how quickly that problem is addressed. And an editorial like this one, published on the day before national elections, cannot be read as anything but a clarion call to the American people to vote "no" in what the president has made a referendum on retaining Rumsfeld.

Neo Culpa

As I left work yesterday, on the eve of this referendum on the Bush Administration's failed, disastrous policies--especially the neocon-led invasion of Iraq, I got a PR email blast from Vanity Fair. "Perle and Adelman Blast Bush Administration....If Given Second Chance, Would Not support Invasion."

2,800 Americans dead, more than 20,000 wounded and maimed, 100s of thousands of Iraqis dead, and these two neocon thugs are having second thoughts? Shameless doesn't even begin to describe these characters. (And remember that Mr. Adelman coined the phrase about how it would all be a "cakewalk.")

In the last couple of hours, people have sent me emails about this forthcoming story, Almost all end up saying, "well, the rats are jumping the ship." I agreed at first. But then I thought--do not demean the good animal, the rat, by analogy. These two men and their neocon allies are political criminals, not rats, and they have much to answer for, in the court of history, and in the dock of judgment--down the road.

Bad News for Bush: He's Headed for Nebraska

Two years ago, George Bush beat John Kerry in Nebraska by a 66-33 margin. The Republican president carried all but one of the state's counties, as Republican candidates swept to easy victories in the state's three congressional districts.

So why has George Bush rushed to Nebraska to campaign on the eve of this year's mid-term congressional elections? Because, amazingly, in one of the reddest of the red states, a Democrat could pick up a GOP House seat. If Nebraska falls it will almost certainly be in the face of a Democratic wave that will sweep in a Congress capable of holding to account a president who has not previously experienced the joys of being checked and balanced.

That Democrats are likely to take control of the House Tuesday is no longer news. That they might take it with a substantial enough majority to get serious about presidential accountability is what the Bush White House now fears.

The fight in Nebraska offers evidence of just how real the threat has become.

The Republicans are in trouble in the rural 3rd district of the state, which gave Bush 75 percent of the vote in 2004, At the same time reelected Republican Congressman Tom Osborne with 87 percent of the vote.

As the 2006 election approaches, however, a Democrat is actually leading in some polls of the race to replace the retiring Osborne.

No Democrat has won this Nebraska seat since 1958, in the final mid-term election of Dwight Eisenhower's presidency. So how could this seat, representing a sprawling region of farms and smalltowns be so in play that the president must be called on to save the day for the Republicans?

It has something to do with issues: Even Nebraska Republicans are wary about the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war. Nebraska U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel has frequently compared the conflict to the Vietnam imbroglio, and the popular Republican's not alone in his concerns. Also, Republican ethics problems in general, and the controversy over Florida Congressman Mark Foley's emails to congressional pages in particular, have played especially badly for the GOP in a state that prides itself on following the rules.

But the GOP's problem in Nebraska has a lot to do with the candidate who is challenging their party's long-time dominance of the 3rd district. Democrat Scott Kleeb has run a remarkable grassroots campaign that has focused both on the ethics crisis created by Republican dominance of Washington and on the failure of DC politicians to protect farmers and rural economies. After years of failing to reach out to rural voters, national Democrats have recognized the strength of Kleeb's appeal, providing the Yale-educated rancher with last-minute infusions of campaign cash for the first-time candidate's final push in the race with Republican state Sen. Adrian Smith.

The combination's Kleeb's aggressive campaigning on rural issues and Republican disenchantment with Smith, who narrowly won a divisive primary, appears to be tipping the race toward the Democrat. An October 30 survey by the Democratic polling group Penn, Schoen, and Berland Associates had Kleeb leading Smith by a 46 percent to 40 percent margin among likely voters.

And Kleeb has begun picking up newspaper endorsements from key papers in the state, including the Omaha World Herald.

So President Bush has been pulled out of other states where the GOP is in trouble to campaign in, of all places, Nebraska. The president will be the state Sunday, begging wandering Republican voters in the 3rd district to return to the party fold.

Bush may succeed in saving a Nebraska seat for the GOP -- althopugh that is far from a certainty. But if the president and his Grand Old Party are fighting for Nebraska on the weekend before critical mid-term elections, the Republicans are in very serious trouble. Indeed, the president's decision to schedule a trip to the state confirms just how tough this election year has become for a man and a party that used to be able to take states this red for granted.

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John Nichols' new book, THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure for Royalism is being published this month by The New Press. "With The Genius of Impeachment," writes David Swanson, co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, "John Nichols has produced a masterpiece that should be required reading in every high school and college in the United States." Studs Terkel says: "Never within my nonagenarian memory has the case for impeachment of Bush and his equally crooked confederates been so clearly and fervently offered as John Nichols has done in this book. They are after all our public SERVANTS who have rifled our savings, bled our young, and challenged our sanity. As Tom Paine said 200 years ago to another George, a royal tramp: 'Bugger off!' So should we say today. John Nichols has given us the history, the language and the arguments we will need to do so." The Genius of Impeachment can be found at independent bookstores and at www.amazon.com

Soldiers Get Political

Vote Vets, a coalition of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, have produced three of the best and most powerful tv ads of this political season.

These ads show how profoundly anti-military the Republican Party has become, by cutting veterans' health care in a time of war, by sending our troops into battle without the body armor they needed and by hyping a non-existent threat in Iraq that has made America less secure and needlessly put our loved ones at risk.

A related group, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), recently released a report card grading how Congress voted on issues important to recent war vets. Eighty six members of Congress received a "D" or an "F." All of the twelve flunkees were Republicans. In contract, virtually the entire "A Team" is compromised of Democrats.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist, or even an A student, to figure out which party really supports the troops. That's why so many vets, from Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak and Chris Carney in Pennsylvania, to Tammy Duckworth in Illinois to Charlie Brown in California are in good shape 24 hours before the polls close.

The Peace Race (Continued)

Last November, when the falsehoods and deceptions that led our nation into the Iraq War were already clear, as were the staggering human and economic costs, The Nation made this pledge in its lead editorial: "We will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign."

We felt strongly – and still do – that antiwar candidates, with the other requisite credentials, can win these midterm elections as well as the 2008 national election. Peace Action – in the same spirit as our editorial – created its inspired Peace Voter Pledge, and has identified peace candidates who are locked in tough races as we enter the home stretch before Election Day. In the continuing effort to identify leaders who will fight to end this disastrous war and further the cause of peace, we are providing that partial list of peace candidates here.

"In general, ‘peace candidate' means wanting to bring our troops home from Iraq," says Peace Action's Organizing and Policy Director, Paul Kawika Martin. "Although some also believe in cutting military spending, diplomacy for Iran, nuclear disarmament and other important peace issues."

Here, then, are some peace candidates in tight races who are worthy of your support:

Charlie Brown (D-CA) for Congress
Charlie Brown is running for Congress in California's 4th District against Republican incumbent John Doolittle, who is losing ground due to links to Jack Abramoff. Brown is a retired Lt. Colonel in the US Air Force who voiced opposition to the war in Iraq before it began. Despite a district redrawn for Doolittle's benefit, recent polls show Brown in a statistical dead heat with the incumbent.

Jerry McNerney (D-CA) for Congress
Jerry McNerney is a progressive Democrat who has a good chance of beating the reactionary Richard Pombo (R-CA) in California's 11th District. He supports Rep. Murtha's plan for a speedy withdrawal of the troops, and The Cook Political Report now calls this once safe Republican seat a toss-up.

Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) for Congress
In the highly competitive race for the open seat in Colorado's 7th District, Ed Perlmutter has made his support for troop withdrawal well-known. He has said that one of his first acts in Congress will be to add his name to Rep. Murtha's list of co-sponsors for legislation calling for a speedy withdrawal. Perlmutter is also a strong advocate for alternative energy research and is effective at making the connection between US foreign policy and the need for a new energy policy at home.

Diane Farrell (D-CT) for Congress
Running against Republican Chris Shays in Connecticut's 4th District, Diane Farrell has taken a strong stance against nuclear proliferation. Farrell recognizes that the US needs to lead by example when it comes to nonproliferation and understands that investment in new nuclear weapons detracts resources from critical parts of the federal budget. She also knows that it's time to bring the troops home in a way that respects their safety and our obligations to the Iraqi people. Polling shows the candidates even in this race.

Ned Lamont (D-CT) for Senate
Running against war hawk Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont says: "Those who got us into this mess should be held accountable…the $250 million a day we are spending in Iraq is better spent on pre-school and healthcare, public transit and veterans benefits." Lamont praises the leadership of Rep. John Murtha and calls for a speedy withdrawal of troops.

Paul Hodes (D-NH) for Congress
Paul Hodes faces Republican Rep. Charles Bass in New Hampshire's 2nd District. Hodes believes that the US should lead global nuclear disarmament by example – ceasing new nuclear weapon development, maintaining the moratorium on nuclear tests, and reducing our current nuclear stockpile. Hodes also supports a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and pledges to work against permanent US military bases in Iraq.

Bob Menendez (D-NJ) for Senate
Sen. Bob Menendez opposed the Iraq War from the start, back when most of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate failed to take a strong stand. Although Menendez angered many in the peace movement with his vote for the Military Commissions Act, he supports beginning troop withdrawal this year. He faces a tough opponent in Tom Kean, Jr., and is locked in a tight race.

John Hall (D-NY) for Congress
Running in New York's 19th District, John Hall is a truly progressive candidate with pro-peace positions on important issues such as nuclear weapons and the occupation of Iraq. Hall calls for immediately beginning troop withdrawal. He also recognizes the urgent need to rebuild relationships with the international community, particularly by joining treaties to ban landmines, the International Criminal Court, and reducing global warming emissions. The redistribution of federal funds from nuclear weapons to funding human needs is another key issue for Hall.

Dan Maffei (D-NY) for Congress
Dan Maffei challenges 18-year incumbent Rep. Jim Walsh in New York's 25th District. Maffei is a strong advocate for an immediate and safe withdrawal of our troops. He also supports an independent investigation into the Bush administration officials' involved in leading us into a war under false pretexts.

Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for Senate
Progressive Rep. Sherrod Brown is in an extremely close race to oust the conservative Senator Mike DeWine (R). Although Brown angered many in the peace movement with his vote for the Military Commissions Act, over the past four years in the House he has averaged more than 94 percent on Peace Action's voting record.

Joseph Sestak, Jr. (D-PA) for Congress
Running against incumbent Rep. Curt Weldon in Pennsylvania's 7th District, retired three-star Admiral Joe Sestak calls for the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq by the end of 2007 and favors nuclear disarmament. Sestak would act far better on peace issues than ten-term incumbent Weldon who in the last six years averaged an appalling 11 percent on the Peace Action voting record.

Bernard Sanders (I-VT) for Senate
This isn't actually a "close race." Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is heavily favored to win Vermont's open Senate seat. But his wealthy opponent has spent more than $2,000,000 of his own money. If Sanders is indeed elected, he will be the most progressive member of that body and will continue to champion peace issues.

As these tight races go down to the wire, your contribution, GOTV efforts, and vote can make the difference between the continued occupation of Iraq, or contribute to electing those who could be instrumental in helping move a newly elected Democratic Congress to push for speedy withdrawal and the pursuit of peace.

Another GOP Sex Scandal

It's becoming to difficult to keep track of all the Republican sex scandals these days. The latest "moral values" offender is Reverend Ted Haggard, head of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Haggard resigned yesterday as president of the National Association of Evangelicals amid allegations that he paid for gay sex during a three-year tryst with a male escort and used drugs such as methamphetamines. According to the acting pastor of New Life, Haggard admitted that "some of the accusations against him are true." Today, Haggard told reporters that he bought meth, though never used it, and received a massage from the accuser.

This is not just any religious leader we are talking about. "No pastor in America holds more sway over the political direction of evangelicalism than does Pastor Ted," Jeff Sharlet of Harper's reported in a profile of Haggard last year. He talks to President Bush or his advisors every Monday.

Haggard, like his fellow Christian soldier James Dobson, also happens to be a leading opponent of gay marriage and an ardent critic of an amendment on the Colorado ballot November 7 that would give same-sex couples equal rights under the law and a supporter of another amendment that would prohibit gay marriage in the state. He's called gay marriage a "sin" and "devastating for the children of our nation."

It's a routine that's won Haggard praise since as far back as 1993. "During services at the New Life church," the New York Times reported back then, "Pastor Ted Haggard warns against the evils of homosexuality and adultery. His followers respond with exuberant clapping and shouts of 'Amen!' and 'That's right!'"

In 2004, he led the push with Dobson and other religious right leaders for a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Haggard's accuser, male escort Mike Jones, decided to finally speak up because "I felt like I had to take a stand, and I cannot sit back anymore and hear [what] to me is an anti-gay message."

Conservatives are worried that the allegations may further depress "values voters" already angry about the Mark Foley revelations. "If the story is true, Ted's a hypocrite of the worst kind," Sharlet writes on his blog. "Then again, he's also another victim of the very closet over which he publicly stands guard."

Women's Voices

Most Nation readers don't need to be told that they should vote. But an astounding number of eligible Americans regularly forgo their electoral rights.

Not many more than half of all eligible voters chose to pull the lever (or these days, push the button) in 2004's presidential race--often cited as the "most important election" of our collective lifetimes. The numbers of eligible voters coming out to midterm elections is even lower still--close to 35 percent in 2002.

Women's Voices, a non-profit group, is focusing its efforts on getting America's fastest-growing demographic out to the polls next Tuesday--Unmarried women. In 2004, the group held programs and ran ads in sixteen hotly-contested states. The result: unmarried female turnout increased by 8.25 percent over 2000. Now, the group is rolling out a new series of TV spots designed to motivate women to vote next week.

Click here to check out one of the most powerful ads of the group--a spot by New Orleans-based singer Renee Wilson on Hurricane Katrina and why it's important to vote, and volunteer to help Women's Voices get people out to the polls on Tuesday.

Shut 'Em Up

Shut 'em up – that's the tried-and-true policy of the Bush gang when it comes to people whose views contradict their own.

Scientists want to speak out on global warming? Muzzle them. Military advisors offer opinions they don't want to hear? Fire them. A Medicare official has information they don't want to see the light of day? Threaten him.

And the latest? "Virtual censorship" of the State Department's speakers bureau – the U.S. Speaker and Specialist Program – according to the department's own Inspector General.

The program guidelines call for the State Department to provide speakers "who represent a broad range of responsible and informed opinion in the United States" and are "not limited to the expression of U.S. government policies."

But, according to a 22-page "sensitive but unclassified" report obtained by McClatchy Newspapers – political appointee program managers screened potential speakers for opinions differing from the Bush administration's policies, "regardless of whether the speaker candidates' personal opinions had a bearing on the topical issues for which they were being considered for recruitment."

One example, an expert on conflict resolution was informed at the last minute that he was no longer invited to participate in a videoconference in Jerusalem. He had authored a book that was critical of the Iraqi Reconstruction program.

The bureau also delayed potential speakers in order to find others who it felt created a so-called "balance." For example, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta requested an appearance by Sen. Barack Obama who lived in Indoneisa as a boy. He was delayed for 7 months while Bush political appointees pushed for a Republican Senator to be included as well.

What arrogance for this administration to claim that it is working to promote democracy abroad. Isn't it time Bush & Co. understood that we teach more by example than by lecturing, bullying-- or launching unprovoked wars.