Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at Opednews.com and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: http://www.mach2.com/williams/. Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email DonWilliams7@charter.net.


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Bush should dump Cheney (Part II)
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   02/06/2004)

Vice-president Dick Cheney should cite health problems and remove himself from the Bush re-election ticket or Bush should drop him. Cheney is not presidential or even vice-presidential timber, based on allegations documented in last week's column:

  • Under Cheney, Halliburton did business with Iran and Iraq worth many millions.
  • Halliburton is overcharging the U.S. in Iraq for often shoddy and corrupt services.
  • Cheney still profits from Halliburton to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.
  • He likely has compromised classified information for political ends.

Those charges, if true, should disqualify Cheney, but it gets much worse.

  • A column by Bob Herbert in the Jan. 30 issue of the New York Times outlines how Cheney, as Secretary of Defense under Bush the Elder, set himself up--whether consciously or not--to profit from war. Here's how:

    Under Cheney, in the early 1990s, the Department of Defense gave Halliburton subsidiary Brown & Root a lucrative contract "to determine what military functions could be outsourced to private profit-making companies," writes Herbert. In 1995, less than three years after Bush lost the '92 election, Cheney became chief executive of Halliburton. Defense contracts poured in through the pipeline he'd established through Brown & Root. By the time Cheney became vice president to Bush the Younger in 2001, "no firm was better positioned than Halliburton to cash in on the billions of dollars in contracts" that resulted from war, writes Herbert. Cash-in they did.
  • In the 1990s, under Cheney and others, Halliburton found ways to dodge most of its tax obligation by setting up offshore corporations in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Trinidad and other places not subject to U.S. taxes. Even as Halliburton was pocketing billions in U.S. government contracts, and even as it profited handsomely by dealing with rogue nations like Iraq and Iran, as documented last week, Halliburton dodged its fair share of the tax burden. Halliburton "paid only $15 million in federal taxes in 2002, pocket change for an empire like Halliburton," wrote Herbert. "Dick Cheney must be having a good laugh over the way his old company, following his road map, is taking the U.S. for such a ride." More than any other elected official, perhaps, Cheney advocated the bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq. Now Americans are dying from hostile fire at a faster rate than anytime since Vietnam. Cheney and Halliburton, who as recently as September was still giving him money, have profited from war more than most. With lives in the balance, this is the worst possible kind of conflict of interest.
  • Evidence is growing that Cheney deliberately distorted the truth to advocate war. For instance, Cheney, above all, was in a position to know those "16 little words" in Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, were untrue. According to virtually everyone who's reported on it, Cheney's office made the request in 2002 that sent former ambassador Joseph Wilson to Africa to investigate reports that Saddam had recently tried to buy weapons grade uranium from Niger. Wilson made the trip and reported back there was no evidence to support the claim, yet Cheney and others continued to repeat it. Not only that, someone revealed that Wilson's wife was a CIA operative, apparently from revenge. According to a Jan. 27 editorial in The New York Times, Cheney continues to make false statements about alleged mobile labs, aluminum tubes and other items that David Kay, the nation's top weapons inspector, CIA Director George Tenet and Secretary of State Colin Powell have acknowledged are not components of WMD programs. As recently as Jan. 22, Cheney referred to two mobile trailers as biological weapons laboratories. Cheney shows "a breathtaking unwillingness to accept reality," the Times stated.
  • According to a story in the Jan. 17 edition of the Los Angeles Times, a lawsuit now before the Supreme Court charges that Cheney violated an open-government measure known as the Federal Advisory Committee Act by meeting privately with lobbyists for the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries before proposing the "Clear Skies Initiative" and the "Energy Independence Act," which lavish billions of taxpayer dollars on energy companies, grant them immunity from lawsuits for damage done to public health and the environment, weaken the endangered species act, clean air and water acts and the Environmental Protection Agency, open wilderness lands to oil and timber interests, and more. Meanwhile, Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia have become hunting pals even as Scalia prepares to rule on the Cheney secret meetings case.
  • Cheney's bad heart and a tendency to work behind the scenes have served to shield him from the worst slings and arrows of critics, but you can bet he has the attention of Bush political adviser Karl Rove who doubtlessly has been busy connecting lots of dots when it comes to Cheney, a manipulative schemer who likes to pull strings behind the scenes. When asked to find a vice-presidential candidate to run with Bush the Younger in 2000, Cheney chose himself. The planet's been reeling ever since.