Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill Investigated After Questioning Bush


Then they came for the Secretary of the Treasury
Op Ed
January 13, 2004

To modify Martin Niemollers often quoted, often altered confession that's inscribed on the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston; "First they came for the Muslims, but I was not a Muslim - so I said nothing. Then they came for the protestors, but I was not a protestor - so I did nothing.
Then came the liberals, but I was not a liberal. And then they came for the voices of dissent, but I was not a voice of dissent - so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left who could stand up for me." Of course in this famous quote from the 1930s it is the Jews and Catholics whoa are targeted. Niemoller recognized that it is in small increments that our rights are stolen. As fear grows the desire to speak out decreases and suffering increases.

This week, former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill asserted that President Bush planned to attack Iraq long before the 9-11 tragedy. O'Neill's bombshell was quickly followed by an announcement by the Federal Government that O'Neil will be investigated for this statement under charges of revealing top secret information. If former high officials in his own party cannot challenge President Bush, then who can? Certainly the attempted investigations by Congress into everything from the CIA identity leak, the false information about yellow cake uranium given in President Bushs State of the Union and questions about Bushs ties to the Bin Laden family to the refusal of the White House to release documents to the 9-11 investigation committee have been blocked at every turn. Luckily for O'Neil, his high profile should be enough to save him from the fate of many others, including citizens, who have simply been imprisoned without cause. If all this seems unlikely in suburbia then you should have been with me at church this weekend in Framingham where our guest pastor told us about the parishioner in his church (in the wealthy and elite community of Lincoln, Massachusetts) who was snapped up by the government without charge, without cause and without a lawyer under the guise of national security. Over 3000 people were sent to detainment in Guantanamo who have not been charged with any crime or been given the right to a fair trail as required by both US and international law. It has now been over two years since many of these people were imprisoned and still most have not had their day in court. Thousands of Americans who happen to have a Muslim heritage have been the victim of questioning, detainment and even seizure of assets without charge.

After the detainees, many of whom are Muslim, the administration has targeted protestors and others who disagree with President Bush. The Secret Service has set up free speech zones sometimes as far as a mile from the site where President Bush is speaking. Anyone holding an anti-Bush sign who refuses to go to these zones can be arrested. I don't remember anything in the First Amendment that said We guarantee free speech but only in special zones designated by President Bush. All citizens, regardless of political belief should be outraged by this.

In what has the potential to be one of the more extreme cases of retaliation against those who disagree with the administration, it is alleged that a senior administration official was the person who illegally revealed the identity of an undercover intelligence operative working for our government, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Ambassador Wilson has been quoted as saying that he believes that this was done in retaliation for his opposition of the Iraq invasion. If these news reports sound like the ranting of conspiracy nuts, one must keep in mind that both Wilson and O'Neil are the elite of America, highly connected and well respected. If wealthy and influential members of the Republican Party like O'Neil and Wilson do not feel safe from the administration, what are normal middle class citizens, let alone those who happen to have the wrong skin tone or are of Middle Eastern origin supposed to do?

For years I have been an active Republican, never a radical member of the religious right, more of a Weld Republican or the type of moderate that Arnold Schwarzenegger has attracted. I identified the values of the party to be good defense, a strong economy and sensible spending, things I have not seen with the Bush administration. When called anti-Republican by some of my friends for my defection to the Howard Dean campaign I answer that President Bush is not the only Republican, surely the rights of Wilson, O'Neil and others count more than President Bushs personal crusade, not to mention the rights of the rest of America. The seizing of our rights to opinion and free speech, just like the persecution of ethic groups mentioned in Niemollers quote happens in increments, we must take a stand for O'Neill's right to disagree, regardless of whether we are on his side or not.

They've come for the Muslims, the protestors and the voices of dissent, they've even come for holders of high office. Now I must speak. I just hope that someone else does before they come for me and you.