Dear President-elect Bush:
Congratulations on your first (and last) legitimate election as president of the United States of America. Normally, a president-elect would have to wait until January to begin the work of fixing the country, but since you're fortunate enough to sit in the president's seat already, you can get a head start. Why not start right now?
Reasonable people may disagree on which of them need to be done first, but all of the following need to be done in order to get this country back on track:
Fire Donald Rumsfeld. When America first met Rumsfeld in 1981, he poisoned our children with Aspartame. In 1983, as Reagan's special envoy, he shook hands with Saddam Hussein as we sold chemical weapons of mass destruction to Iraq, and helped Hussein target them. In 2004, as your Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld initiated a policy of sexual humiliation and torture of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib and other prisons.
When we called upon you to fire this man after Abu Ghraib, you ignored us. Well, now I'm asking you again: fire Donald Rumsfeld. If you don't fire him, I'll have to assume that you stand behind his actions and take full responsibility for them.
Repeal the USA PATRIOT Act. The USA PATRIOT Act is the most blatant attack on our Constitutional rights this country has ever seen. The worst parts of the law are scheduled to "sunset" (expire) at the end of 2005, but why wait? The Republican party has control of both houses of Congress. You could repeal it right now.
The USA PATRIOT Act was passed in a mad rush following the events of September 11, 2001. In your haste, you made some forgivable blunders. But now, over three years later, you've had a chance to analyze the situation more rationally. If you really want to strengthen national law enforcement against what you call "terrorism", then replace the USA PATRIOT Act with something that does the job you want without trampling our sacred liberty.
Dismantle Guantanamo and free the prisoners. You are holding hundreds of people, most of them innocent of any crime, in a legal black hole called Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, among other places. You hold these people without access to lawyers or family, indefinitely, without charging them with any crime or scheduling any trials. You mistreat and humiliate them. Some of them are children.
Stop this insanity now. Free the prisoners of Guantanamo, Camp Delta and other places where they are held. Either charge them with crimes and give them fair trials, or let them go.
Return Iraq to its own people. You invaded Iraq on the basis of a lie. When you couldn't find any of the chemical or biological weapons that Reagan and your father had supplied to Saddam Hussein, you changed your story to say that the war in Iraq was about "liberating" the people from a cruel dictator. But conditions in Iraq are worse now than they ever were under Hussein. You've made a bloody mess of their country, and now you have to help fix it -- but that does not mean giving no-bid contracts to Dick Cheney's company when the unemployment rate in Baghdad is 50%, and then sticking the American taxpayers with the bill. Let the people of Iraq rebuild their own country and choose their own government. Pull Halliburton out. They have no business there.
Tens or hundreds of thousands of people have died in Iraq (thousands of the casualties are American). There are so many that you don't even bother counting them all. How many billions of dollars has Cheney's company made in Iraq? I bet you can't count those, either.
I believe Senator Kerry was right on at least this one issue: America can't fix Iraq by ourselves. We need help. The Iraqi people can't trust us -- and how could you blame them? We need the United Nations, or at least someone with credibility in Iraq, to take over for us and help the Iraqi people rebuild their country. It will be difficult -- terribly difficult. I don't doubt the courage or the strength of our armed forces, but they aren't the right tool for this job. It will require subtlety, compromise, and respectful leadership. It's a job for diplomats and experienced civil administrators now, and they can't be Americans.
That's your job now, Mr. Bush. You signed up for it, you won the election, and now here we are. You could do the first three items by the end of the year. The fourth will probably take longer, but you need to start on it as soon as possible. Issues like the spiraling deficit, the deterioration of health care, and soaring unemployment -- those are important too, but they're largely the responsibility of Congress or the states, not the president alone.
You Republicans like to say that you're on the "Right", but you've been doing a lot of Wrong lately. It doesn't have to be that way. You can turn this country around, and bring us back to the days when we were the inspiration for a world in turmoil, not the cause of that turmoil. That's your job as president, and it's about time you got started.
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