Monday, May 09, 2005


Niagara Falls Reporter Opinion: "When historians write about our times, they'll shake their heads and wonder how so many people could believe so many lies for so long. They might actually write two parallel books -- one describing the cascading lies and deceptions George W. Bush and the Republicans sold and the other telling the truth.

We're told, in effect, that trampling on civil liberties and eroding freedom are a sure way to protect us from terrorists who envy our freedom. That colossal lie will be one of the lasting stains on this era, and I fear the day coming when the Busheviks or their political heirs, gripped in fascist fever, will silence those who expose the fraud.

The latest assault on liberty cloaked as protection is the Republican campaign in Congress for national identity cards. Of course, they don't call them that. Such candor sparks opposition. It's much more benevolent sounding to call the measure the Real ID Act.

The plan is to impose national standards for driver's licenses and require four pieces of identification before states issue them. The House Republicans attached the proposed law to the bill for appropriating funds for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The proposal is really aimed at immigrants and has nothing to do with terrorism. It would create a bureaucratic nightmare, impose an unfunded mandate on state governments and do nothing to protect us from al-Qaeda. What it means is that many laborers in California and Texas will no longer have a driver's license.

While the ignorant are licking up the lie that national ID cards will make us safer, the Bush administration is making it easier for Saudis to get visitor visas. That's right. The same folks who brought us 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept 11, bin Laden himself, and the hateful Wahhabi sect will now have their tightened visa restrictions lifted.

While the American media devoted enormous resources covering Paula Abdul's fling with an "American Idol" contestant, an announcement last week from the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia was buried. We should be following Abdullah, not Abdul.

On the heels of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's visit to Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, we now know the prince and the president were doing more than holding hands in public. They were privately playing footsie to make it much easier for Saudis to enter the United States.

After Sept. 11, Bush reluctantly allowed the State Department to impose some tightened restrictions on Saudi visitors attempting to enter the United States. Up until then, all a Saudi citizen had to do was fill out a form at a travel agent's office and they were here in a jiffy. That's just what the 15 Saudi hijackers did.

But the tighter restrictions required security reviews and sometimes long waits. Saudi businessmen whined about the inconvenience, and after a few of them were denied visas, they went to the prince. He carried their complaints to the president, who listened.

In a remarkably under-reported story, the Arab News carried an announcement from James C. Oberwetter, the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, declaring that visa restrictions for Saudi visitors would be eased. "

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