Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ethics 101

In the past week, it has come to this writer's attention, that President Bush has ordered his staff to attend one hour daily "ethics" briefings. What is wrong with this picture? Besides it seeming to be too little too late, it brings into focus the fact that apparently ethics are a problem with those who are currently serving in the White House and in our government. Ethics should be a prerequisite in all things, but especially so in the public sector. Like Caesar's wife, those who are in office should be above reproach.

It surely is no surprise that the ethical behavior, of this administration, is an area that needs much help. Certainly more help than can be provided by a daily one hour briefing. Ethical behavior normally starts in early childhood when we are taught that there is a right way of doing things and a wrong way. We are taught not to lie, not to cheat and not to steal. It is not ethical to tell "stories" or gossip about others and certainly not okay to tell falsehoods about others. Most things, (lies, thefts, cheating) we soon learn, come to light and there are consequences.

Where are the consequences for the decidedly unethical behaviors that have been taking place in our Nation's capital these last four years? I fear the consequences have been working in the reverse, and those of us who have been lied to, are the ones who are suffering. Two thousand of us have suffered the ultimate price for this unethical behavior.

One of my favorite quotes, which I never tired of saying to my children, is Sir Walter Scott's, "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." Tell one lie and you have set yourself up for a continuing thread of lies. Making up more outrageous falsehoods to justify the original, This is exactly what we have seen happening the last four years in Washington. I am not naive enough to think that a certain amount of lies, innuendo and back stabbing is not par for the course in D.C., but never in living memory has such blatant and outrageous lying taken place in a city named for a man who, we were always taught, prided himself on NOT telling a lie. Or from a group which prides itself on being Christian.

Shortly after September 11th and the bombing of the WTC, those in charge of our National Security threw their hands in the air and said "Who knew!?" Well, it now appears, that they all did, at least much more than they would have us believe. The former administration had been tracking the activities of Al Quaeda for years, were aware of Bin Laden, and had passed along, to the incoming administration, the information regarding them. Some information had come directly from an operative whom the FBI had taken into custody when he, armed to the teeth, had tried to slip into the country from Canada. He was singing like the proverbial canary about the plans for terrorist attacks. Who knew indeed!

Our adventure into Afghanistan had the backing of most of the country and there was a definite goal...retaliation. The capture, either dead or alive, of Osama Bin Laden and his gang of henchmen, who had perpetrated the WTC bombings, was seen as the right thing to do. The manner in which we were presented this option, however, was hardly ethical. It preyed upon our fears at the moment. Fears having arisen, and rightly so, of the spectre of more attacks. But, as has come to light, more recently, that fear was manipulated, in order to promote a hidden agenda. Unethical.

We were also told that Saddam and Bin Laden were in partnership. Saddam was behind 9/11 in some shape or form. Never mind that the majority of the hijacker/WTC bombers were Saudis, with a couple of Egyptians, not Iraqis.
To have allowed Saudi nationals, friends of the Bush family, to leave the United States when there was a no fly order over the entire country, was unethical.

Next, we are told that Saddam had WMD's which could annihilate us in a heartbeat. When the weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998, they reported that 95% of his weapons had been either accounted for or destroyed. He had had twelve years, in which to wreck havoc on this country, and he did nothing. Some have argued with me that if we did nothing, and something did indeed happen, then we "liberals" would be up in arms. If in fact there had been hard, verifiable intelligence to that effect then probably I would have to agree with them. Instead, what we, and the United Nations, were fed were composite pictures, not even photographs, but drawings. We were warned of "mushroom clouds". In light of the Downing Street Memos, I think we have an idea of how this was used to promote this administration's global "War on Terror." Unethical.

If one has any questions about the true agenda for the war in Iraq they need to read about PNAC, whose charter members include, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Abrams and Wolfowitz. It is guaranteed to open your eyes and raise the hair on the back of your neck. In 2000 they issued a paper which outlined their determined plan for military buildup and global strategy, which shows that prior to 9/11, some of the subsequent actions had already been planned for. The WTC attack was the catalyst for their pushing forth this agenda. Unethical.

Apparently, feeling threatened by the truth spoken by Joseph Wilson, former Ambassador to Iraq, a distinguished career diplomat who had served under Bush #1, they felt it necessary to reveal the covert status of his wife, Valorie Plame, a decidedly unethical action which put not a few lives in grave danger. Again, they say, "Who knew!" but it is glaringly obvious that they did and the outing of this CIA agent was simply another weapon, used by them in order to exact their pound of flesh from those they were unhappy with. Unethical.

We have an administration which turns a blind eye to the overt use of torture. Indeed we have seen memos which specifically ask for means and methods to avoid having to answer for the use of it, and we have seen photographs of it. And then we are expected to believe that a young girl from the hinterlands is to blame. Anyone who buys that has no idea how the chain of command in the military works, or what is meant by "a fall guy."And speaking of fall guys, "Scooter" Libby, it appears, is the most recent victim of the unethical behavior running amok throughout this administration.

And last, but not least we have the recent events which unfolded, to our horror, here, on the Gulf Coast. It was Mother Nature's turn to "shock and awe" with Katrina. Should there have been a safety net in place for those so devastated by this killer storm? Yes there should. Was there grave concern on the part of those whose job it was to see to the safety of this Nation and her people? The answer would be yes if you consider vacationing and making speeches, out of harm's way, to have been the ethical thing to do. However, once again, we were, for four days. shown the total lack of concern on the part of those whom we trust with National Security. We have heard the phrase Ship Of State, and the President recognized as the Captain at the helm. With the debacle in New Orleans we now look more like the Exxon Valdez, with the captain asleep below decks, while those even less competent (uncaring?) steer us on. Unethical.

I cannot help but remember back, four and one half years ago, when we were promised that ETHICS would be returning to the White House. Truth (lies?), justice (Guantanamo?) and the American Way (pre-emptive war?) Highly unethical.

I do not know about you, but it is far easier to understand the unethical behavior of an illicit rendezvous than the unethical behaviors which have lead us to war and the corrupting of just about everything which my country has always stood for.

Susan B. Goodwin