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By Bill Gallagher

DETROIT -- Bush hides from the truth, Cheney preaches fear and the American media largely ignore the important issues and stick to the administration's agenda of deception and diversion. Into mid-September the strategy is working and Karl Rove, the president's political brain, could not be happier.

We go from the folly of the Swift Boat ads to the fantasy of the Republican Convention to new discussions about George Bush's National Guard Service, or lack of it, while serious attention to terrorism, the endless war in Iraq and Bush's failed economic policies is lost in the fog of the fray. That's just the way Rove wants it.

Sovereign Immunity
Racial Discrimination
Fran Scarfone
District Swinging
Hanchette: Mt. Views
Staba: Citycide
Bradberry: Menagerie

The campaign is now focused on Vietnam-era typewriter fonts and questions about the authenticity of documents CBS News used in a report about George W. shirking his duty during his checkered time in the Texas Air National Guard.

Without documents from Bush's squadron commander cited in the CBS report, there are irrefutable truths about his military service. Daddy's influence got him into the unit, for long periods he showed up for drills when he felt like it, and he failed to undergo a flight physical -- a serious offense for which he apparently did not experience serious consequences.

Daddy's political connections did get George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard and anyone who says otherwise is a liar, blind partisan or fool. The president does deny this, scoring a hat trick in nonsense.

Former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes admits he put the fix in for George W. after a family intermediary approached him. The Bushes always use other people and family retainers to do their dirty work. That's how they were brought up.

Barnes said he got Bush pushed up on the waiting list for the Guard so he'd gain a political chit with George H.W. Bush, who was then a Houston congressman.

It was not unusual in Texas or anywhere else for the sons of the rich, the powerful and the politically connected to land slots in the Guard or Reserve units to avoid the draft and the hell of Vietnam. What is unusual is George W.'s refusal to admit his daddy's pals took care of him. Does anyone actually believe if his name were Jorge Abrusto he would have been able to jump the waiting list, be commissioned an officer without training and then land a coveted slot to train as a pilot?

Daddy's pals are working again for the president history will remember as the Protector of Great Wealth. We now know the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the front group producing TV spots to slur John Kerry's military service, got millions of dollars from George H.W. Bush's Texas oil money cronies.

The New York Times reports that wealthy donors have poured $6.7 million into the soft money campaign led by T. Boone Pickens, who coughed up a cool $500,000 to help attack John Kerry's distinguished military record.

The White House still insists it has nothing to do with the lies Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are spewing. Those who believe that are, again, liars, blind partisans or fools.

Vice President Dick Cheney shows every day he is shameless and will say anything to stay in power. He warned a crowd in Des Moines, Iowa, that if voters make the "wrong choice" in November terrorists will rejoice and "we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating." Cheney could have made his apocalyptic proclamation more candidly by simply saying, "Vote for us or die." He later back-pedaled, saying he wanted to "clean up" the impression he left, adding, "Whoever is elected president has to anticipate more attacks." Forget the feeble explanation. Cheney is selling fear and he wants people to believe a vote for John Kerry is a vote for another terrorist attack.

Under the heading of "never let an old lie die," Lord Halliburton is out on the hustings repeating the discredited Saddam-al-Qaida link. He said last week that Saddam Hussein "provided safe harbor and sanctuary ... for al-Qaida." Cheney forgot to mention the al-Qaida camps were in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq and that the 9/11 Commission found no evidence of any "collaborative relationship" between the Iraqi government and al-Qaida.

Bush and Cheney still lump Iraq in with Sept. 11 terrorism to try to justify the endless war with the $200 billion price tag that has diverted resources away from stopping Osama bin Laden's murderous crews and provided him with more terrorist recruits.

Richard Clarke, the former White House anti-terrorism chief, recently told an audience in California, "The pool of people who really hate us is so much greater than it was on 9/11 because of this needless and counterproductive war in Iraq."

Clarke says our money and resources would be much better spent improving airline safety and protecting chemical and nuclear plants, public buildings and infrastructure.

And under the Bush watch, the intelligence failures that preceded the Sept. 11 attacks remain largely unfixed. An editorial in the conservative Detroit News points to the problem, noting, "National leaders have simply lost their sense of urgency. ... There's no acceptable reason why holes exist in security and intelligence three years after September 11. ... The country simply has not engaged in the outside-the-box thinking suggested by the September 11 Commission." The national leaders who run the country are the Republicans in the White House and Congress, an obvious fact the Bush-supporting newspaper failed to note.

Colleen Rowley, the courageous FBI agent who blew the whistle on her superiors for bungling a chance to thwart the terrorist attacks, is sounding another alarm and let's hope this time the brass in Washington will listen.

Rowley says the FBI is now so swamped with intelligence that counter-terrorism agents are overwhelmed and that the shift in resources has resulted in "a huge pendulum swing ... from the mistakes of overcomplacency before Sept. 11. Now we're perhaps embarking on what I call the uncharted waters of massive intelligence collection. That changes the problem and it also changes the mistakes and errors that are being made now," she said in an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Rowley also had the guts to write a letter in 2003 to FBI Director Robert Muller telling him the invasion of Iraq could heighten the threat of terrorist attacks in the United States.

Sen. Bob Graham, who once chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chaired the congressional investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks, says the White House blocked a probe into alleged links between the Saudi government and some of the hijackers.

In his new book, "Intelligence Matters," Graham writes that Saudi government agents provided money and support to two hijackers who stayed in Southern California before taking flight lessons. He describes how the White House and the FBI stopped committee staffers from interviewing key figures involved in assisting the hijackers. The Bush administration blacked out 28 pages of the congressional Sept. 11 probe dealing with the purported Saudi links to bin Laden's operatives.

Graham writes, "It was as if the president's loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with American safety." It does. His loyalty is entwined with his family's growing wealth, protecting Texas oil barons and his other corporate sponsors, and those interests are inextricably tied to the Saudi royal family.

The Bushites are trying to convince us they are our great protectors, as White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card recently blurted, "This president sees America as we think about a 10-year-old child." Well, listen up, kids! They are selling you a bag of lies.

They want you to believe George W. Bush is a resolute, thoughtful president tirelessly working to protect you and the war in Iraq is a necessary part of that. He's also a respected leader on the world stage with great vision and understanding, doing God's work on earth. He's just an affable, regular guy doing his best to help working-class Americans.

In truth, he's a pampered child of privilege, an ill-tempered brat who could screw up a two-car funeral, even with adult supervision. His reckless, impetuous behavior has gotten our nation, especially our young people, into a horrible mess.

He doesn't want you thinking about that. He's better off when we're thinking about the arcane subject of old typewriter fonts and his flex-time service in the Texas Air National Guard.

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is gallaghernewsman@aol.com.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Sept. 14 2004