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Jan. 6, 2005

Presidential Medals of what?!?

by Alex Mazerov, Page Editor
On Dec. 14, 2004, President Bush, in a shameless PR stunt, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, to three men who played a pivotal role in the decision to go to war against Iraq and in Iraq's reconstruction. Bush's decision to confer this distinction to former CIA Director George Tenet, former Iraqi reconstruction chief L. Paul Bremer and recently retired General Tommy Franks is a disgrace not only to the nation, but also to the previous honorees.

Let's start with Tenet, the man behind the massive intelligence failures surrounding 9/11 and the Iraq invasion outlined by the 9/11 commission. He's the one who called the case for proving that Saddam Hussein still possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) a "slam dunk." Soldiers in Iraq, however, have yet to discover any caches of WMDs. David Kay, the UN Weapons Inspector charged with hunting down Saddam's WMD stockpiles, has said, "I don't think they existed.” Also, in his presentation speech on Dec. 14, 2004, Bush told the audience that Tenet was "one of the first to recognize and address the growing threat to America from radical terrorist networks." Too bad that Tenet, leader of the government's intelligence-gathering operations pre- and post-9/11, recognized and addressed this threat after thousands of innocent Americans died at the hands of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Even more reprehensible, however, was Bush's choice to grant the Medal of Freedom to Bremer, the viceroy who presided over the first 14 months of reconstruction in post-war Iraq. Bremer made the calamitous decision to disband the Iraqi army, leaving thousands of disgruntled, out-of-work militants to trudge out into the Iraqi countryside, AK-47s in tow. Thanks to Bremer's shortsightedness, many of the now-jobless Iraqi soldiers who could have been helping U.S. forces put down the insurgency are instead helping to inflate it by supporting the rebels, according to Newsweek. Bremer also decided to oust Baathists from government jobs, a choice that contributed mightily to the current instability in Iraq that Bremer was unable to alleviate.

Now on to Franks, the architect of the plan that prompted the U.S. to send too few troops into Iraq to stabilize the country after the invasion. But overall, Franks served his country admirably, leading the relatively efficient invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq while in the military. Yet Bush granted him a civilian honor. Shouldn't Bush have instead awarded some sort of military medal to Franks? Franks' only action following retirement as a civilian was stumping for President Bush during his campaign for re-election. A better commendation for Franks might have been the Presidential Medal of Unequivocal Loyalty, a quality that Bush clearly values.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established in 1945 by President Truman to honor service during WWII. The medal was revived in 1963 by President Kennedy who expanded its purpose to recognize individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." Previous award winners include Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, Walt Disney and Mother Theresa. Bush' conferral of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to recipients as unlikely as Bremer, Tenet, and Franks did a great dishonor to the noble historical figures to whom the medal has previously been awarded.

Two of the three Medal of Freedom winners were government servants who deserved to be sacked for their miscalculations and incompetence but were not. So Bush, for some inexpressible reason, was really celebrating the failures of Bremer and Tenet as successes. In Bush's version of reality, however, where no one is held accountable for their actions and where colossal mistakes such as bungling intelligence that could have prevented a terrorist attack, going to war for a nonexistent reason and failing to plan for a post-war occupation do not constitute dismissible offenses, it's no real surprise that the president would choose to confer the highest of civilian honors to these three men.

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  • Anonymously Liberal on January 6, 2005 at 7:21 PM
    Tenet said it was a "slam dunk" in another of those "PR stunts." He actually objected to the yellowcake statement in Bush's State of the Union.
  • wow... on January 6, 2005 at 8:46 PM
    this is an article that could only be published in an overly liberal atmosphere like blair, and this kind of article is usually written by people who can't accept Bush won
  • let's put this in perspective on January 6, 2005 at 9:16 PM
    Robert McNamarra won a presidential medal of freedom. This has been going on for a long time on both sides of the political spectrum. Doesn't mean it's right...
  • woot on January 6, 2005 at 9:36 PM
    woot, liberal pride ness! yeah yeah yeah, its biased, so what? everything is biased in life. screw you "wow..."
  • Anonymous on January 7, 2005 at 7:12 AM
    I agree with wow...
  • jeff (View Email) on January 7, 2005 at 7:53 AM
    to wow...: this has nothing to do with whether bush won, this has to do with people failing their duties and then getting awarded Presidential Medals of Freedom.
  • 05 on January 7, 2005 at 8:33 AM
    Too bad no one really cares who Bush awarded those medals to. Not to mention the absolute unnecessary aspect of this opinion, plenty of reputable papers already wrote about it.
  • ?? on January 7, 2005 at 1:29 PM
    its all disgusting.

    democrat, republican, this, that, bush, clinton, kerry, blah blah blah.

    just do what's right for america.

    what ever that is
  • a different wow... on January 7, 2005 at 3:54 PM
    how absurd!
    too bad the "liberal" media didn't report on it more
  • 06 on January 7, 2005 at 6:05 PM
    General Schwarzkopf was awarded a Medal of Freedom for his service in Desert Storm and he was still in uniform when it was awarded to him so why can't Franks be awarded one for his service?
  • haha on January 9, 2005 at 8:05 PM
    so now sco is stealing ideas from the daily show? thats weak
  • um... on January 11, 2005 at 7:45 AM
    To a different wow:

    The liberal media DID report on it...have you not been reading/watching the news for the last month?
  • the republican on January 12, 2005 at 10:09 AM
    so now you cant present medals to people who arent liberal bush haters?
    i love my school
  • actual conservative on January 12, 2005 at 10:11 AM
    are there any republicans in silver chips at all
  • 06 on January 12, 2005 at 1:32 PM
    to the republican:
    it's not that you can't present medals to people who aren't liberal bush haters, it's that you can't present medals to incompetents who failed to serve their country and were not held accountable for their disastrous mistakes
  • guy on January 12, 2005 at 6:30 PM
    To everyone who says that this is liberal media that would only be published in a liberal atmosphere (i.e. wow...) that's totally not what it is. This is an OPINION stating that people who suck at their jobs shouldn't get awards for their incompetence. An opinion i happen to agree with.
    To 05:
    So what if other papers wrote about it? Just because one paper writes about something doesn't mean that another paper can't write about the same topic.
    To the author:
    I thought that this article was well, done and well supported (with the exception of the paragraph on Franks, the support was a bit weak). Overall good job.
  • Whitman conservative on January 16, 2005 at 1:56 PM
    Mazerov blames Tenet for failing to stop 9/11. What about the Clinton administration sitting on their butts while terrorists attack us with the WTC bombing, USS Cole bombing, African embassy bombings,etc. THEY were the ones that failed to protect us and did basically nothing to stop the terrorists. Who to blame for 9/11? I would have to say Osama bin Laden.
  • Redneck Boy on March 20, 2005 at 9:27 PM
    Yah i am a rep. i am not scared to say it
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