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 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: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Five impolite questions for the president on the occasion of his visit
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   01/09/2004)

Dear Mr. President,

If I knew you were reading this, I'd be grateful and surprised. You've been quoted as saying you don't read negative press. Recent reports suggest that your handlers arrange public appearances so that you seldom even see protesters against your policies. Still, should this find its way to your eyes, one day after your visit to our fair town, I have five impolite questions, along with a few follow-ups.

  • Why won't you tell us about those daily briefings you received in the nine months or so leading up to Sept. 11, 2001 (9-11)? Why won't you answer charges by Thomas Kean--the former New Jersey Republican governor you appointed to investigate 9-11--that your administration had ample warning that terrorists were capable of flying aircraft into buildings and had been discussing such actions for a decade? If you need a refresher, Mr. President, check out the story by CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston located on the homepage for Dec. 17, 2003. Kean's charges are spelled out there.
  • Would you please acknowledge that it was mostly elements in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia--not Iraq--who worked with al-Qaida to bring down the World Trade Center? It's pretty clear that your administration grossly exaggerated claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein had strong ties to Al-Qaida. I know your war in Iraq is popular now that you've caught Saddam, but the killing goes on. Nearly 500 American soldiers have died now, and about 11,000 are wounded or maimed. Some 10,000 Iraqis have been killed and tens of thousands more wounded. Maybe you were right to protect Pakistan and Saudi Arabia where we (especially your family) have many friends and business associates. Maybe you were right to invade Iraq, but you were wrong to lie about the reasons why. No Americans should die in a war based on falsehood and exaggeration.
  • Why is it taking so long to get to the bottom of the Valerie Plame Wilson affair? It's been more than six months since someone high in your administration leaked the CIA operative's identity to columnist Robert Novak. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, has said her identity was disclosed to punish him for saying you exaggerated Iraq's nuclear capabilities. Surely you, like George Bush the Elder, don't approve of betraying undercover intelligence agents. After all, your daddy was the former head of the CIA. Couldn't you have convened a meeting to find out who did this and knock some heads together? Frankly, your handling of this smacks of a cover-up. Can you imagine the mayhem that would've ensued had President Clinton or one of his top aides betrayed an American spy to the media?
  • Does some fundamental religious belief--say, that the end of the world is coming soon--influence your policies on the environment and on nuclear weapons? If not, how do you explain policies that seem designed to destroy the planet? Seriously, if you had run on a platform of destroying the earth, I don't think your policies would be much different. According to a list released Dec. 23 by the Sierra Club, you've tripled allowable levels of mercury pollution, shifted the burden of toxic cleanup from polluters to taxpayers, changed the rules for cleaning up America's dirtiest power plants, undermined the endangered species act, and lied about the air at Ground Zero after 9-11. You've made us more dependent on Arab oil, not less.

According to Sonoma State University's Project Censored, a 27-year-old program dedicated to shining light on the shortcomings of major news media, your administration has broken or otherwise compromised about ten international treaties. These include the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Commission, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Treaty Banning Antipersonnel Mines, the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the U.N. Convention on Climate Change. You've also made a lot of old friends angry.

  • Does it worry you that the dollar appears to be in freefall just now? Our currency has fallen dramatically when measured against the Euro and others. Analysts blame this largely on our increasing deficit, now running at about half a trillion annually. Despite this, there are reports you're planning more tax cuts and a dramatic--and expensive--new space program involving the moon and Mars. Could you hire an intern or somebody to do the math?

Oh, I forgot, you avoid the negative. Well, I know you're a busy busy man, so I'll stop asking such impolite questions. If you ever feel like answering questions, however--say, from those 9-11 widows who sued your administration under the RICO act--some of us have a few other questions you might ponder.

Sincerely yours,