Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

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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Don Williams comments

Lots of money for terrorists, and no congressional oversight
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   03/02/2007)

One of the unimpeachable truths about our unimpeachable president is that he's providing lots of money to terrorists, most recently to Sunnis linked to al-Qaeda.

This is the point at which readers of a certain stripe will shake their heads and start calling for mine. Maybe one in ten will double-check my source--famed journalist Seymour Hersh's latest article in the New Yorker, or his interview with CNN's Wolf Blizter last Sunday. If you tuned in, you heard Hersh say something that should've generated banner headlines. But then, what's the fate of the world compared to Anna Nicole Smith?

Still, it's worth noting that Bush is “pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight" into three jihadist groups… “connected to al Qaeda," in an effort to undermine Shiites, Hersh said.

A few of those critics mentioned earlier will consider Hersh's considerable evidence and reputation and begin to experience cognitive dissonance as they try to square their brand of patriotism with reality. For some, this cognitive dissonance will hold the seed of understanding. And that seed will mature into a better, more complex and ultimately more beautiful conception of the world. Experience has taught me that most, however, will fall back behind the circled wagons of their much simpler dogma:

America is good. Terrorists are evil. Our president is the leader of the Worldwide War on Terror, so he's good. Because America is good. A good president could not give money to terrorists. So people who say he is must be twisting the facts.

They will distract themselves from the circular nature of this logic by taking potshots at Hersh and other people, mostly by calling us names.

Such reactions are to be expected from people who have been spoon-fed patriotic pablum for so long they can scarcely conceive of a more complex world. And let's face it, that's what most people dine on. Most long ago dismissed Hersh's other scoops—the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, abuses at Abu Ghraib. Few even heard of Hersh's most damning story--that forces under control of the Bush administration not only helped members of al-Qaeda slip the noose at Tora Bora but that bin Laden and much of the hated Taliban were ushered out by our ally Pakistan while we cleared a zone of escape to the Afghan border. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_BS83BmTIQ). So why should we expect they would've heard that Bush is providing funds for Sunnis linked to al-Qaeda?

After all, they seldom heard of such things before, at least not in real time, despite a long, bloody tradition of secretly funding terrorists. Just consider the Iran-Contra intrigues of the 1980s, or our government's secret double dealing during the Iran-Iraq War, when we provided aerial targeting maps to Iraq while selling anti-aircraft weapons to Iran (Newsweek, Nov. 20). How cynical was that?

Starting in 2000, Bush began plucking perpetrators of such actions from the shadows for installation into his new administration, something I can easily demonstrate. Of course, even without their help, Bush has funded lots of terrorists, deliberately or not. Consider the rabbit hole of incompetence, graft and unaccountability down which billions have flowed, like the $12 billion in shrink-wrapped cash flown into Baghdad early in the war and distributed from pallets--no receipts required--according to congressional hearings earlier this month. Probably tens of billions have been squandered on failed public works projects. Much of that money wound up in the hands of Shiites, not linked to al-Qaeda, but many of which are linked to death squads now ravaging Sunni populations in Iraq.

Then there are the billions that Americans in over-sized cars have essentially paid to Saudis over the past decades. Yes, yes, I know, most of our oil comes from elsewhere, but in the global economy that's a distinction without a difference, as our appetite for oil makes oil worldwide more lucrative. Some of this lucre, no doubt, ends up financing Wahhabist schools (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saudi/analyses/wahhabism.html) that teach Sunni children throughout the Middle East to hate Israelis and Americans, along with more laudable ideologies. And it's the Sunnis, not the Shiites, that al-Qaeda tends to hook up with. Big Oil funds terrorists, and by not recognizing this and acting to reduce our dependence, Bush plays into hands of enemies. If such notions didn't spark headlines years back, why expect now to read headlines such as:

President Bush Secretly Funds al-Qaeda-linked Terrorists.

Let's be clear, Bush funds these terrorists, many of whom want to kill us, as a way of fighting other terrorists who want to kill us. But Bush's incoherent policies drove us to this pass.

There are no doubt myriad psychological reasons why Bush invaded Iraq. His main, stated goals were to eliminate WMDs and install a democracy—sort of like swapping out an engine in a '57 Chevy. You and I know it's more complicated, but even assuming that was Bush's true goal, the policy used to achieve it was incoherent. That's because—as a few of us tried to point out as early as 2002—if you put the majority in charge of Iraq, you'll end up with a Shiite state. That's who the majority is. And so it's coming to pass….

That Shiite dominated state naturally has lots in common with Iran, the Shiite state next door. Now the so-called Shiite Crescent, stretching from southern Iraq, through Iran and into Southern Lebanon, is on the rise, much to the chagrin of Israel and the anger of many Sunnis throughout the Middle East. Alarmed by this wholly predictable turn, Bush has accelerated his fight against Iran, whom he long since labeled part of the Axis of Evil. He might well bomb them unmercifully before leaving office.

This makes the Shiites we installed to govern Iraq angry and nervous. Al-Maliki and his sometime-ally, Muqtada al-Sadr, who essentially commands tens of thousands of Shiite militia in Iraq, are not fools. They know Bush and his top advisors made a calculated decision to fund and arm people they can only regard as enemies, including the al-Qaeda connected Sunnis inside and bordering Iran.

So, now that nearly the entire Middle East is mad at us, and millions of young Muslims are studying how to kill Americans and Jews, isn't it time our media and the far right faced the fact that Bush and Cheney built a faith-based policy on the unstable sands of Neo-conservative dogma, and that they did it with no fallback plan rooted in firmer reality?

Shouldn't all major networks and papers have led last week's news with the staggering revelation that our president is funding terrorists? I'd wager the reason they didn't, and the reason they won't, is the same reason my editors tried muzzling articles like this at my last job.

Cognitive dissonance, my friend. look it up.