Center for American Progress

White House Intimidation: A Brief History of Threats and Defamation
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White House Intimidation: A Brief History of Threats and Defamation

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A look at the historical record shows that the Bush Administration has summarily fired, threatened, intimidated and defamed anyone who has had the courage to tell the truth about major policies facing America.

MEDICARE ACTUARY THREATENED WITH FIRING IF HE TOLD TRUTH TO CONGRESS: “The government’s top expert on Medicare costs was warned that he would be fired if he told key lawmakers about a series of Bush administration cost estimates that could have torpedoed congressional passage of the White House-backed Medicare prescription-drug plan. Richard S. Foster, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told colleagues last June that he would be fired if he revealed numbers relating to the higher estimate to lawmakers.” [Source: Knight-Ridder, 3/11/04]

FMR. TREASURY SECRETARY THREATENED WITH INVESTIGATION AFTER TELLING TRUTH: Three days after Paul O’Neill criticized the Bush Administration’s Iraq policy, the Administration “began an investigation into whether any laws or regulations had been violated by O’Neill.” The probe came despite O’Neill having specifically “cleared all of the documents with the Treasury general counsel’s office.” The probe ended up fully absolving O’Neill. [Source: AP, 1/13/04; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/14/04; CNN, 2/6/04]

LINDSEY FIRED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT COSTS: “Top White House adviser Larry Lindsey [was fired] when he told a newspaper that an Iraq war could cost $200 billion.” [Source: Christian Science Monitor, 12/17/02]

ZINNI FIRED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREIGN POLICY: “General Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine general who was Bush’s Middle East mediator, angered the White House when he told a foreign policy forum in October that Bush had far more pressing foreign policy priorities than Iraq and suggested there could be a prolonged, difficult aftermath to a war. He was not reappointed as Mideast envoy.” [Source: AP, 7/27/03]

TROOPS THREATENED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT COMBAT IN IRAQ: After soldiers in Iraq raised questions about the Bush Administration’s deceptive WMD comments, Gen. John Abizaid said no soldiers “are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of defense, or the president of the United States. Whatever action may be taken, whether it’s a verbal reprimand or something more stringent, is up to the commanders on the scene.” [Source: ABC News, 7/16/03]

REPORTER DEFAMED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT TROOPS: “A White House operative alerted cyber-gossip Matt Drudge to the fact that [ABC News correspondent Jeffrey] Kofman is not only openly gay, he’s Canadian. Drudge said he was unaware of the ABC story until ‘someone from the White House communications shop tipped me to it’…White House press secretary Scott McClellan tried to be nonchalant, indicating that he wasn’t planning an investigation of the incident.” [Source: Washington Post, 7/18/03 and 7/20/03]

GENERAL DISPARAGED FOR TELLING TRUTH ABOUT TROOP LEVEL NEEDS: Despite the fact that it appears he was probably accurate, “Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz criticized the Army’s chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, after Shinseki told Congress in February that the occupation could require ‘several hundred thousand troops.’ Wolfowitz called Shinseki’s estimate ‘wildly off the mark.'” [Source: USA Today, 6/3/03]

CIA BLAMED FOR TELLING TRUTH ABOUT BOGUS IRAQ-NUCLEAR CLAIM: Despite the CIA having made advance objections to the White House about the false Iraq/nuclear claim, “President Bush and his national security adviser yesterday placed full responsibility on the Central Intelligence Agency for the inclusion in this year’s State of the Union address of questionable allegations that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was trying to buy nuclear weapons.” [Source: Washington Post, 7/12/03 and 7/14/03]

CIA OPERATIVE EXPOSED BECAUSE HUSBAND TOLD TRUTH ABOUT IRAQ: According to government sources, “Administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist after her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph c= Wilson IV, publicly challenged President Bush’s claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium ore from Africa. ‘Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge,’ a senior official said of the alleged leak.” [Source: Washington Post, 9/28/03]