George W Bush

George W. Bush
George W. Bush
Order: 43rd President
Term of Office: January 20, 2001-present
Predecessor: Bill Clinton
Date of Birth: Saturday, July 6, 1946
Place of Birth: New Haven, Connecticut
First Lady: Laura Bush
Profession: politician, businessman
Political Party: Republican
Vice President: Richard Bruce Cheney
George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States. His four-year term as President began on January 20, 2001. He is currently seeking a second term, which would last until January 20, 2009 (see George W. Bush presidential campaign, 2004).

Before assuming the presidency, Bush was a businessman and served as Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. He is the son of former President George Herbert Walker Bush and the brother of Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

1 Personal life and education

2 Business and political career

3 Popularity

4 Foreign policy and security

5 Domestic policy

6 Cabinet and advisors

7 Legislation

8 Assessments

9 Links and references

10 External links

Table of contents

Personal life and education

George W. Bush and Laura Bush with their daughters Jenna and Barbara, 1990Enlarge

George W. Bush and Laura Bush with their daughters Jenna and Barbara, 1990

George W. Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut to parents George and Barbara Bush, and grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas. He has four younger siblings: Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. A younger sister, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953 at the age of three.

Like his father, Bush was educated at Phillips Academy (Andover) (September 1961-June 1964) and Yale University (September 1964-May 1968). While at Yale he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon (where he was president from October 1965 until graduation), and the Skull and Bones Society. He played baseball during his freshman year and rugby during his junior and senior years. He received a bachelor's degree in history in 1968. Although he had an SAT score of 1206, 200 points below that of the average Yale freshman in 1970, he benefited from an admissions policy that gave preference to the children of alumni (his score was at roughly the 70th percentile nationwide).

Immediately after graduating from Yale, Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard. In 1970, he became an F-102 pilot and was promoted to First Lieutenant. In 1972 he was granted a transfer to Alabama in order to work as political director in the Senate campaign of Winton M. Blount. He lost his flight credentials in the same year after missing a physical exam. In September 1973 he received permission to end his six-year commitment six months early in order to attend Harvard. He transferred to inactive reserve status shortly before being honorably discharged on October 1, 1973. Questions about whether or not he fulfilled his service have been raised throughout his political career. See George W. Bush military service controversy for a full discussion.

Bush entered Harvard Business School in 1973. He was awarded a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 1975, making him the first U.S. president to hold an MBA degree.

George W. Bush in his national guardsman uniformEnlarge

George W. Bush in his national guardsman uniform

Bush married Laura Welch in 1977. In 1986, at age 40, he became a born-again Christian, converting from Episcopalian Christianity to his wife's denomination, Methodism. They have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, born in 1981. Barbara was a student at her father's alma mater, Yale University, while Jenna attended the University of Texas at Austin. Both graduated in May 2004.

Bush is the second person to become U.S. president whose father was also president (John Adams, the second President, and John Quincy Adams, the sixth, were father and son); Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, was the 41st President of the United States. See also Bush political family.

Bush has described his days before his religious conversion as his "nomadic" period and "irresponsible youth." On September 4, 1976, when Bush was 30, he was arrested and fined for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in Kennebunkport, Maine. This resulted in a US$150 fine and temporary suspension of his driving privileges in the state. He had been pulled over by police near his family's Kennebunkport summer home during the Labor Day weekend in 1976 with three passengers: his sister Dorothy, tennis champion John Newcombe, and Newcombe's wife. News of the arrest came to light just five days before the 2000 presidential election.

Bush admitted to drinking "too much" in those years. He gave up drinking for good shortly after his 40th birthday celebration. A number of reasons were cited for the change including a 1985 meeting with Rev. Billy Graham. CNN reported during the 2000 campaign that Bush said "I quit drinking in 1986 and haven't had a drop since then." class="external">[1, [1]

Business and political career

In 1978 Bush ran for the House of Representatives but lost the election to Democratic State Senator Kent Hance.

George W. Bush's portrait as Governor of Texas (1995-2000)Enlarge

George W. Bush's portrait as Governor of Texas (1995-2000)

Bush began his career in the oil industry in 1979 when he began active operations of Arbusto Energy, an oil and gas exploration company he formed in 1977 with leftover funds from his education trust fund. The oil crisis of the late 1970s hurt Arbusto Energy and, after a name change to Bush Exploration Co., Bush sold the company in 1984 to Spectrum 7, another Texas oil and gas exploration firm. Under the terms of the sale, Bush became CEO of Spectrum 7. History was repeated as the oil crisis of 1985-1986 bankrupted Spectrum 7. Spectrum 7 was subsequently saved by a buyout from Harken Energy Corp in 1986 with Bush becoming a director of Harken.

Bush was accused of using insider knowledge when selling stock while serving on the board of directors of Harken Energy Corp. in 1990. After his sale of the stock, Harken reported a US$23.2 million quarterly loss. An SEC investigation in 1992 found that Bush "did not engage in illegal insider trading". However the SEC noted that this "must in no way be construed as indicating that the party has been exonerated or that no action may ultimately result." Critics of Bush allege that the investigation was influenced by the fact that Bush's father was President of the United States, although no action was taken during Bill Clinton's presidency either. As President, Bush has refused to authorize the SEC to release its full report on the investigation.

After working on his father's successful 1988 presidential campaign, he assembled a group of partners from his father's close friends and purchased the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball franchise in 1989. (Bush later appointed one of these partners, Tom Schieffer, Ambassador to Australia.) Critics of Bush allege improprieties in the venture, which earned US$170 million, including tactics in acquiring both the team and the stadium and land on which it played, as well as its later sale to a family friend who would donate money to the Bush campaign in 2000. When the team was sold in 1998, Bush had earned US$15 million.

He served as managing general partner of the Rangers until he was elected Governor of Texas on November 8, 1994 over incumbent Democrat Ann Richards. He went on to become, in 1998, the first Texas governor to be elected for two consecutive four-year terms. His tenure in office featured a positive reputation for bipartisan leadership. While in office, he signed the death warrants of 152 criminals sentenced to death. One of the more controversial cases being that of Karla Faye Tucker [1].

In Bush's 2000 presidential election campaign, he campaigned on, among other issues, allowing religious charities to compete on an equal basis for participation in federally funded programs, reducing taxes, promoting the use of school vouchers, supporting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and restructuring of the U.S. military. In foreign policy, he stated he was against using the U.S. armed forces in "nation building" attempts abroad, and gave the impression he would send troops overseas only in response to a direct threat against the United States.

Bush listens as Democratic opponent Al Gore states a point during a debateEnlarge

Bush listens as Democratic opponent Al Gore states a point during a debate

Bush became President on January 20, 2001 as the winner of one of the closest general elections in U.S. history, defeating Democratic Vice President Al Gore in 30 of 50 states for a narrow victory by five electoral votes. Gore won a plurality of the nationwide popular vote by approximately 540,000 votes out of 105 million, a margin of barely one-half of one percent. This was the third consecutive presidential election in which no candidate received a majority of the popular vote. It was the first presidential election since the 1888 election in which a candidate lost the popular vote while winning the electoral college vote. The electoral college outcome could have been altered by a difference of only a few hundred popular votes in Florida.

The validity of the Florida vote was heavily disputed. After a U.S. Supreme Court decision in mid-December, Gore conceded the election. The election results are still disputed, though no longer contested in any legal venue. Some allege that supporters of Bush, including his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush, illegally interfered with the election. Some allege that the judiciary (U.S. Supreme Court) made partisan rulings on behalf of Bush. Bush's supporters counter-allege that an earlier ruling in Gore's favor by the Florida Supreme Court was made for partisan reasons. (see U.S. presidential election, 2000).


Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, President Bush briefly enjoyed approval ratings of greater than 85 percent, the highest approval ratings of any president since such measurements began in 1938. High approval ratings are common for wartime presidents. Bush maintained such extraordinary ratings in polls for a year after the attacks. As of November 2002, Bush had the highest approval rating of any president during a mid-term election since Dwight Eisenhower.

President-Elect Bush is greeted by Vice Pres. Gore at the White House in late December of 2000Enlarge

President-Elect Bush is greeted by Vice Pres. Gore at the White House in late December of 2000

In the 2002 midterm elections, the Republican Party retook control of the U.S. Senate and added to their majority in the House of Representatives, bucking a historic trend: the party holding the White House tends to lose seats in the mid-term elections. This marked just the third time since the Civil War that the party in control of the White House gained seats in both houses of Congress in a mid-term election (others were 1902 and 1934). One explanation for this historic event is that Bush's wartime popularity carried over to other Republicans in races for legislative office. Another is that the singularly close election of Bush in 2000 complicates expectations based on general historic trends.

In 2003, Bush's approval ratings continued their slow descent from the 2001 highs. By late 2003, his approval numbers were in the low to middle 50s. Nevertheless, his numbers were still solid for the third year of a Presidency, when the President's opponents typically begin their campaigns in earnest. Most polls tied the decline to growing concern over the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and the economy's slow recovery from the 2001 recession. Late during the Democratic primary, most major polls showed Bush losing to the various Democratic challengers by a narrow margin. Polls of May 2004 showed anywhere from a 53 percent approval rating [1] to a 46 per cent approval rating. [1] Composite histograms of Bush's approval ratings from January 2001 to May 2004 are available at [1] [1], a comparative histogram is available at [1], and an analysis is availiable at [1].

Bush is extremely unpopular in most of the world outside the U.S., with many holding a dislike of his person and policies - even amongst a significant part of the populations of U.S. allies such as the UK. He is quite often seen as the personification of all that people dislike about the US, cf. anti-American sentiment. [1] [1] [1] [1]

Foreign policy and security

George W. Bush flanked by wife Laura Bush, Marta Sahagún Fox, and Mexican Pres. [[Vicente FoxEnlarge

George W. Bush flanked by wife Laura Bush, Marta Sahagún Fox, and Mexican Pres. [[Vicente Fox

]] Bush's foreign policy is influenced by the goal to promote American global leadership as promoted by the right-wing think tank Project for the New American Century, many of whose members have prominent positions in the Bush administration. In addition, he promotes to spread democracy in many parts of the world.

During his campaign, Bush's foreign policy platform included support of a stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America, especially Mexico, and a reduction in involvement in "nation-building" and other small-scale military engagements.

Bush's decision to impose a tariff on imported steel, and to withdraw from global initiatives such as the Kyoto Protocol, the ABM Treaty, and an international land mine treaty, has been argued as evidence that he and his administration have a policy of acting unilaterally in international affairs.

On December 14, 2001, Bush scrapped the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a bedrock of U.S.-Soviet nuclear stability during the Cold War-era. Bush stated, "I have concluded the ABM treaty hinders our government's ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue state missile attacks." This decision encountered wide skepticism in Europe and Asia, where it prompted fears of another costly arms race. The National Missile Defense project Bush supports is supposed to detect intercontinental ballistic missiles and to destroy them in flight. Critics doubt that the project could ever work and point out that it will cost US$53 billion from 2004 to 2009, being the largest single line item in The Pentagon's balance.

During his first presidential visit to Europe in June 2001, Bush came under criticism from European leaders for his rejection of the Kyoto treaty, which is aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. He has asserted, for example, that the Kyoto Protocol is "unfair and ineffective" because it would exempt 80 percent of the world and "cause serious harm to the U.S. economy."

Many governments have criticized the failure of the United States to ratify the Kyoto protocol, which was signed by the previous administration. Former President Clinton recommended that his successor (Mr. Bush) not submit the treaty for ratification until the wording was altered to reflect U.S. concerns. Bush, who is opposed to the treaty, rescinded U.S. executive approval from the proposed treaty. It is doubtful that the treaty would become law in the U.S. if it were submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification as, in 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was to be negotiated, the Senate passed by a 95-0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which stated that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing nations as well as industrialized ones or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States." Regardless, Bush is a firm opponent of the treaty.

In July of 2002, Bush cut off US$34 million in funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This funding had been allocated by Congress the previous December. Bush claimed that the UNFPA supported forced abortions and sterilizations in China. His justification came from a bipartisan group of anti-abortion members of Congress and an anti-abortion organization called The Population Research Institute, which claimed to have obtained first-hand video taped evidence from victims of forced abortion and forced sterilization in counties where the UNFPA operates in China. The decision was praised by many in the anti-abortion movement, including the United States' largest public policy women's organization, Concerned Women For America.

Abortion-rights supporters criticized the decision and point out that the PRI refused to release information that would allow the team to locate the women, and thus no independent verification of PRI's claims was possible. Nor was it possible to confirm that UNFPA funding was actually behind the abortion and forced sterilizations alleged in the video. However, he sent a fact finding team to China to investigate the situation there, and the team reported that UNFPA funding did not go towards forced abortions or sterilizations. See [1] for more information on the PRI.

The Bush presidency has also been marked by diplomatic tensions with the People's Republic of China and North Korea, the latter of which admitted in 2003 to having been in the process of building nuclear weapons and threatened to use them if provoked by the U.S..


Bush with Pakistani President [[Pervez MusharrafEnlarge

Bush with Pakistani President [[Pervez Musharraf

. Musharraf is one of Bush's key allies in the Afghanistan war.]] On September 11, 2001 two hijacked planes crashed into and destroyed the World Trade Centers in New York City. A third plane crashed into The Pentagon in Washington, DC. The attacks were greatly shocking both for their element of surprise and their subsequent horror. Over 3000 people perished in the destruction. Bush himself, along with Vice President Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert were taken to secure, undisclosed locations for many hours on Septemeber 11th, as the extent of the attacks and the ambitions of the attackers remained uncertain for most of the day, and the following weeks. This was part of the plan that Richard Clarke, a White House adviser, had put into place for national emergencies.

A change of focus immediately followed the September 11 attacks. Through debate and discussion with his newly created War Cabinet on the weekend after September 11, Bush's foreign (and to a lesser degree, domestic) policy was subsequently defined, above all, by the War on Terrorism. This was first described in a special "Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People" on September 20, 2001 in which Bush announced that the U.S. was fighting a war on terrorism.

Once the source of the September 11 attacks was traced to Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network operating out of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, Bush gave an ultimatum to the Taliban to deliver Osama bin Laden to the United States as well as other demands. When the Taliban asked to see proof that bin Laden was behind the attacks the United States refused and instead threatened the Taliban with military action. As an attack became imminent, the Taliban offered to extradite bin Laden to Pakistan, where he could be tried under Islamic law. [1] [1] On October 7, the U.S. started the military campaign. Then, on November 13, 2001 with the help of Afghan warlords, U.S. troops seized control of the capital city, Kabul, and overthrew the Taliban government. Exiled President Burhanuddin Rabbani was returned to office, and was soon followed by a special interim government headed by former Afghani territorial governor Hamid Karzai. The government still has no means to control vast regions of the country. UN forces have helped to secure the area around Kabul and some other places. Osama Bin Laden, however, has not yet been found. Diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and the United States resumed, and Karzai became a close ally of Washington in the continued fight against terrorism.

The Bush administration has been criticized for holding several hundred individuals, including an undisclosed number of children, at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba without trial. The great majority were accused of connections to Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Several member states of the European Union and the Organization of American States, as well as non-governmental human rights organizations, have argued that the detainees must be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention and thus protected against indefinite detention as specified in international human rights law. Two federal U.S. appeals courts ruled that the prisoners should have access to lawyers and the U.S. court system. [1]The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over Guantanamo Bay. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the prisoners should have access to lawyers and the U.S. court system and that U.S. authorities did not have the power to detain José Padilla, a U.S. citizen seized on U.S. soil, as an "enemy combatant". The cases are pending review by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004.[1]

President Bush and his administration label the detainees as "unlawful combatants" deemed to pose a threat to the U.S. or to have information about terrorist structures, plans and tactics. The administration has said that such detainees can be held for "as long as necessary." Critics claim that anyone accused of a crime has a right to a fair trial and question whether people like Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, can be called an "unlawful combatant." In the case of Zaeef they claim he cannot be a "combatant" because he was crippled during the Soviet occupation and that he wasn't "unlawful" because he was ambassador of his country. The Bush Administration and its supporters claim that the war against America by Al-Qaeda is ongoing, that it is unconventional, and that the "battlefield" extends into the U.S. itself. ([1]), ([1]), ([1])

Although the Bush administration released over 100 detainees and authorized military tribunals for the rest, the legal framework governing them has been slow in the making. According to Human Rights Watch, as of January 2004, "the public still [did] not know who the detainees are, what they [had] allegedly done, and whether and when they will be charged with crimes or released. There [had] been no hearings to determine the legal status of detainees and no judicial review—in short, no legal process at all." [1] In February of 2002 the United States began releasing several dozen detainees to their home countries, including many British and Pakistani nationals. The British detainees were briefly investigated and cleared of any British charges within 24 hours of their arrival. [1]

The domestic political equation changed in the U.S. after the September 11 attacks, bolstering the influence of the neoconservative faction in the administration and throughout Washington. The conflict in Afghanistan, and the events that had launched the war, coincided with a reassessment of foreign policy by the administration, which President Bush articulated in his first State of the Union message on January 29, 2002. Previously, September 11 had underscored the threat of attacks from terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, as opposed to nation-states, and U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan targeted the ruling Taliban militia for having harbored al-Qaeda sponsor Osama bin Laden. Now speaking of an "axis of evil" comprising Iran, North Korea, and Iraq in his address to Congress, Bush claimed that he was preparing to open a new front in the U.S global "war on terrorism." Bush declared, "Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror." Announcing that he would possibly take action to topple the Iraqi government, he claimed, "The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade." (The full text of Bush's 2002 State of the Union address can be read in BBC News Online at [1])

For more details, see U.S. invasion of Afghanistan


In his [[2002Enlarge

In his [[2002

State of the Union address, Bush proposes an invasion of Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert are visible in the background.]]

Beginning with the Iraq Liberation Act signed into law by President Clinton in 1998, the U.S. government officially called for regime change in Iraq. The Republican Party's campaign platform of 2000 called for "full implementation" of the act and removal of Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, with a focus on rebuilding a coalition, tougher sanctions, reinstating inspections, and support for the Iraqi National Congress. In November of 2001, Bush asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to begin developing a plan for war. By early 2002 Bush began publicly pressing for regime change, indicating that his government had reason to believe that the Iraqi government had ties to terrorist groups, was developing weapons of mass destruction and did not cooperate sufficiently with United Nations weapons inspectors. In January of 2003, Bush was convinced that diplomacy was not working and started notifying allies such as Saudi Arabia that war was imminent. Although no agreement authorizing force could be found with the United Nations Security Council, the war was ultimately launched in March 2003, after Bush in a speech March 17 effectively had declared war on Iraq, and had declared his objectives as "assuring [the] national security" of the United States, and "no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms." [1]

Saddam Hussein was deposed and went into hiding on April 10 when Baghdad was captured, and was subsequently located and arrested in December. The occupation would ultimately prove difficult, with many Iraqis and foreigners launching attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. Eventually, the U.S. death toll in the post-war occupation surpassed that of the actual war itself. Thousands of civilians were killed during the invasion and by terrorists. Nevertheless, Bush remains optimistic, hailing the "victory" and such developments as the signing of the Iraqi Constitution.

Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in a flight suit for a photo opportunity on May 1, 2003. He announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq, with a Enlarge

Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in a flight suit for a photo opportunity on May 1, 2003. He announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq, with a "Mission Accomplished" banner, which would become a subject of controversy later, as the U.S. military suffered many more casualties

Throughout the course of the Iraq war, Bush was often the target of harsh criticism. Both in the U.S. and in the rest of the world there were numerous anti-war protests, particularly before the war's onset. On February 15 2003 there were estimated to be over 10 million protestors in the streets all over the world - the largest protest in world history [1], as of that date. See Popular opposition to war on Iraq, Global protests against war on Iraq (pre-war), and Global protests against war on Iraq. Criticism also came from the governments of many countries, notably from many on the United Nations Security Council, who argued that the war broke international law. [1] (Section VI of the U.S. Constitution states that "...all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land..." and that "...all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution...". This makes a violation of international law also a violation of the "supreme Law of The Land" of America, and withholds immunity from government officials, including the president.) See Worldwide government positions on war on Iraq and The UN Security Council and the Iraq war. For its part, the U.S. administration soon presented a list of countries called the coalition of the willing which supported its position. A later aspect of the criticism has been the increasing death toll in Iraq; it is estimated that over 10,000 Iraqi civilians and 700 U.S. soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the war.

In 2004, public assertions by Bush's former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill and counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke raised questions as to the credibility of the Bush administration's pre-war claims. Both presented evidence that questioned how focused the Bush administration was on combating Al-Qaeda (operating out of Afganistan, not Iraq) before September 11. Specifically, O'Neill presented classified and unclassified documents indicating that planning for a war with Iraq and the subsequent occupation began at the first National Security Council meeting and continued with each meeting. Clarke presented testimony and witnesses concerning how Bush and much of his cabinet tried to find excuses to attack Iraq immediately after September 11, such as associating it with September 11, claiming that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, and claiming that Iraq posed an imminent threat, which implied that a war against Iraq would be legal by Article 51 [1] of the U.N. Charter. On February 3, 2004, the CIA admitted that there was no imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Testimony at the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (ongoing during March 2004) has included claims of how much of the Bush administration's immediate post-9/11 emphasis on Iraq was appropriate and proportional to the overall picture of terrorism, especially in light of the administration's subsequent decision to pursue military action in Afghanistan first, the fact that organizations accused of 9/11 are in Afghanistan, not Iraq, and that no links have been found between these organizations and Saddam Hussein. The Commission's report is expected to be released before the Presidential election. On June 16, 2004, the USA's 9/11 Commission filed an initial report on its findings, stating that it found "no credible evidence" of a "collaborative relationship" between pre-invasion Iraq and al Qaeda or of Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 attacks.



Prime Minister Tony Blair moments after sovereignty was returned to Iraq on 28 June 2004.]]

The inability of the U.S. to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has led to greater domestic criticism of the administration's Iraq policy. Several of the statements that Bush and his administration made leading up to the war in Iraq, especially those involving claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, have been criticized as misleading or inaccurate. Particularly controversial was Bush's claim in the 2003 State of the Union Address that British Intelligence had discovered that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from Africa. Officials and diplomats disputed the evidence for this claim, especially after a document describing an attempted purchase from Niger, which was presented to the United Nations Security Council by Colin Powell, was found to be a forgery. This led to a public embarrassment for George Tenet, the director of the CIA, as well as the Valerie Plame scandal. Much criticism on these issues has come from political opponents of Bush. The Iraq war was a significant issue in the 2004 Democratic primary, including the campaigns of Howard Dean, John Kerry, Al Sharpton, and Dennis Kucinich.

On March 24, 2004, Bush joked about the weapons of mass destruction issue at a journalists' conference. While showing slides of himself searching the Oval Office, he joked, "those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere ... nope, no weapons over there ... maybe under here?" Some found it tasteless of him to be joking about the issue. Others defended the joke as being in line with the self-deprecatory sort of humor that has come to be expected of Presidents when they speak at that event.

The governments of allied countries such as Spain, France and Germany, as well as the U.S.-based organization Human Rights Watch criticized the Bush administration's refusal to sign the treaty for the International Criminal Court, thereby refusing that court's jurisdiction for war crimes prosecutions of U.S. nationals. Under the ICC, several U.S. soldiers photographed abusing Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison might be prosecuted in this manner if the U.S. refused to do so. (cf. Human rights situation in post-Saddam Iraq [1]

For more details see 2003 invasion of Iraq and Support and opposition for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Domestic security

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration asked Congress to approve a series of laws that it stated were necessary to prosecute the "war on terror." These included a wide variety of surveillance programs, some of which came under heavy fire from civil liberties interest groups that criticized the Bush administration of scaling back civil liberties. On the other hand, the administration has been criticized for refusing to back security measures such as port security, allocating no money for it in 2003 and 2004, and vetoing all US$39 million for the Container Security Initiative.

German Chancellor [[Gerhard SchröderEnlarge

German Chancellor [[Gerhard Schröder

walks with George W. Bush at the White House on Thursday, March 29, 2001]]

Bush security initiatives

  • Through an act of Congress, the creation of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a cabinet-level agency designed to streamline and co-ordinate the various agents of federal government bureaucracy charged with protecting domestic soil from terrorist attacks. (The White House had opposed the creation of this department for several months.)
  • A Total Information Awareness (TIA) program was proposed by the Defense Department. The TIA program did not receive funding from Congress, however, and is not currently operating. (Reports of similar [ARDA] program surfacing)
  • The USA PATRIOT Act which greatly expands the government's powers of surveillance and arrest. The act passed soon after September 11, 2001.
  • Creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review which will review government acts of domestic spying.
  • "Project Lookout," which distributes "watch lists" of people alleged to be suspicious, or have ties to terrorist groups to a variety of different organizations and institutions. These included specific "No-fly" lists of U.S. residents who should not be allowed to board any aircraft into or out of the United States.
  • "Operation TIPS," which would encouraged people who have access to U.S. homes, like plumbers, to report suspicious activity. This proposal was rejected after an initial outcry.
  • The Worldwide Attack Matrix, an intelligence document describing covert operations abroad to defuse terrorist threats to U.S. interests.
  • "NewRuleSets.project," which provides a strategic framework for intervening in countries to move them into the "functioning core" of world societies and out of the "non-integrating gap" from which national security threats arise.
Some accused the Bush administration of using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to clamp down on political dissent; many of Bush's critics were quick to allege that they were being unfairly targeted by the new security measures. Defenders of the president's security policies have said that the continual criticism of his policies in both print and visual media shows there is no such crackdown, and point out that other presidents have used the power of the government to stifle dissent during wartime as well.

Others accused the administration of over-reacting to the threat of terrorism, and participating in Big Brother style tactics with little justification. Critics of that view say that the prior administration under-reacted to the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993, treating it as a criminal matter rather than an act of war.

Currently, a major controversy in the United States Congress is the debate over whether or not to expand the USA PATRIOT Act into a new Act known as USA PATRIOT Act II (and whether or not to repeal some or all of the PATRIOT Act itself). This proposal would increase government surveillance on people in the United States suspected of terrorist activities and reduce judicial oversight over surveillance; authorize secret trials; and give the Justice Department the authority to revoke U.S. citizenship of anyone who belonged to an organization that the government deemed subversive. [1]

Supporters of the law cite the potentials of large-scale terrorism as justification that Americans need to shift their priorities more from civil liberties to security. Additionally, they point out that against earlier predictions, nearly two years have passed without a single terrorist act in the United States. Opponents allege that the new law enforcement powers have resulted in arrests of people who have not been publicly charged with anything, in violation of the U.S. Constitution and basic human rights.

In any event, the debate over the proper role of government in people's lives will continue. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court and lower Federal courts may rule on the constitutionality of the new laws.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, George W. Bush, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after reading statement to the press during the closing moments of the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, June 4, 2003Enlarge

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, George W. Bush, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after reading statement to the press during the closing moments of the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, June 4, 2003

Palestinian/Israeli conflict

Bush has maintained a desire to resume the peace process in Israel, and openly proclaimed his desire for a Palestinian state to be created before 2005. He outlined a roadmap for peace in cooperation with Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations, which featured compromises that had to be made by both sides before Palestinian statehood could become a reality. [1]

One particular proposal was his insistence on new Palestinian leadership; a stance that saw the appointment of the first ever Palestinian Prime Minister on April 29, 2003. The roadmap for peace stalled within months after more violence and the resignation of the new Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas.

By the end of 2003, neither side had done what was outlined in the plan. In April 2004 Bush announced that he endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to disengage from the Gaza Strip but retain Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He also announced agreement with Sharon's policy of denying the right of return. This led to condemnation from Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Arab and European governments [1] and was a major departure from previous U.S. foreign policy in the region. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak commented Bush's policies had led to an 'unprecedented hatred' of Arabs for the U.S. [1]

Domestic policy

President Bush and French President [[Jacques ChiracEnlarge

President Bush and French President [[Jacques Chirac

talk over issues during the G-8 sessions, July 21, 2001.]]

Civil rights

President Bush has endorsed an amendment to the United States Constitution that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, which would ban same-sex marriage, but leaves open the possibility of civil unions.

Bush has tended to be opposed to forms of affirmative action, but expressed appreciation for the Supreme Court's ruling upholding selecting college applicants for purposes of diversity, a ruling many conservativess balked at.


President Bush has implemented three tax cuts during his term in office: The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), the Job Creation and Workers Assistance Act of 2002 (JCWA), and Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA). While Bush's supporters claim that the tax cuts increase the pace of economic recovery and job creation, his opponents allege that they favor the wealthy and special interests and that Bush reversed a national surplus into a historic deficit. Of the US$2.4 trillion budget for 2005, about US$450 billion are planned to be spent on defense. Congress approved US$87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan in November, and had approved an earlier US$79 billion package last spring. Most of those funds were for U.S. military operations in the two countries. ([1])

George W. Bush speaks to firefighters on November 4, 2003, as California Governor-Elect [[Arnold SchwarzeneggerEnlarge

George W. Bush speaks to firefighters on November 4, 2003, as California Governor-Elect [[Arnold Schwarzenegger

and Gov. Gray Davis listen.]] Bush supports free trade policies and legislation but has resorted to protectionist policies on occasion. Tariffs on imported steel imposed by the White House in March 2002 were lifted after the WTO ruled them illegal. Bush explained that the safeguard measures had "achieved their purpose", and "as a result of changed economic circumstances", it was time to lift them. [1]

Bush is an advocate of the partial privatization of Social Security wherein an individual would be free to invest a portion of his Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts.

During Bush's presidency, the U.S. population has risen by about three million people per year. The unemployment survey that asks businesses how many workers they employ shows 2.4 million jobs were lost in the last three years. The household survey, asking individuals whether they have a job, shows that the number of jobs has risen by 450,000. The unemployment rate was 5.6% in June, 2004, compared to 4.2% when Bush came into office. [1] [1]

Health Care

Bush signed the Medicare Act of 2003, which added prescription drug coverage to Medicare and provided a financial boost to the companies that sell these drugs. Critics claim that health care plans still are not affordable for those in lower income brackets; Bush states his policies offered more choice and help with the high costs of health care.

Former [[JapanEnlarge

Former [[Japan

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori meets with George W. Bush in the Oval Office (March 2001)]]

Education and Science

In January of 2003, Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, which targets supporting early learning, measures student performance, gives options over failing schools, and ensures more resources for schools. Critics say schools were not given the resources to help meet new standards, and there are different views on whether the act goes too far in imposing federal influence on state rights. Some state governments are refusing to implement provisions of the act as long as they are not adequately funded.[1] Scientists have repeatedly criticized the Bush administration for reducing funding for scientific research, setting restrictions on stem cell research, ignoring scientific consensus on critical issues such as global warming, and hampering cooperation with foreign scientists by employing deterring immigration and visa practices. [1]


The Bush administration's plan to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was rejected twice by the U.S. Senate in 2002 for environmental concerns. [1] Supporters of this plan say that the lack of new domestic sources of energy would leave the United States at extreme risk if Middle Eastern oil production were interrupted. Opponents of this plan say that the lack of renewable domestic sources of energy would leave the United States at extreme risk if Middle Eastern oil production were interrupted.

Bush supports the Clear Skies Act of 2003 which, according to the EPA, will provide reductions in emissions of pollutants "faster, with more certainty and at less cost to America's consumers than would current law." [1] The act provides a market-based approach referred to as "cap-and-trade" based on the regulatory method used to deal with acid rain in which emission limits ("caps") are set and emission limits can be traded between emission sources. Environmental groups oppose the changes and say that the act weakens protections on the environment imposed by the Clean Air Act. [1] [1] [1] The EPA reports that air quality has declined in recent years.

Bush with [[South KoreaEnlarge

Bush with [[South Korea

President Roh Moo-hyun]] The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and other groups have routinely accused the administration of distorting or suppressing scientific findings. In a February 2004 report endorsed by 60 Nobel Laureates, the UCS alleged a pattern of manipulation of scientific findings for political goals. One example cited was that when the administration asked the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to review work by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the academy supported the panel's findings that human activity was playing a role in climate change. Nevertheless the administration excised this scientific information from official reports and statements of policy.

Cabinet and advisors

Other appointed administration officials: White House officials: Among the more criticized appointments have been John Negroponte, Elliott Abrams, Otto Reich, and John Poindexter for their roles in the Iran Contra Scandal and for allegedly covering up human rights abuses in Central and South America. Additionally, some appointments have been accused of being nepotism, including: Michael Powell (son of Secretary of State Colin Powell) as FCC Chairman, 28-year-old J. Strom Thurmond Jr (Sen. Strom Thurmond's son) as South Carolina's U.S. Attorney, Eugene Scalia (Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's son) as Solicitor for the Labor Department, Janet Rehnquist (Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist's daughter) as Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (later fired for firearms charges and inappropriate job terminations), and Elizabeth Cheney (Vice Pres. Dick Cheney's daughter) to the newly-created position Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near-East Affairs.

George W. Bush's cabinet is listed in the Guinness Book of Word Records(2004) as the wealthiest cabinet in U.S. presidential history. [1]


Partial list:


George W. Bush has been the subject of both high praise and stringent criticism, and has been called the "love him or hate him" president. The latter has focused on the clouded election of the President, on his policies (not least his abandonment of the Kyoto Treaty ratification, and particularly as regards his actions towards Iraq); the former on other policies, such as the economy and homeland security.

One of the most notably controversial critics of Bush and his administration has been Michael Moore, an American author and documentary film maker who stated that his intention in making his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 was to help prevent Bush's re-election. On the other hand, conservative radio talk-show hosts, such as Sean Hannity and Michael Savage have praised Bush in their respective books for policies such as his controversial tax cuts and handling of homeland security. However, conservative praise for Bush is not uniform on all issues. For example, Savage has assailed Bush for his stance on immigration.

Links and references


  • Bryce, Robert - Cronies: Oil, The Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate (PublicAffairs, ISBN: 1-58648-188-6).
  • Auletta, K. (2004, January 19). Fortress Bush: how the White House keeps the press under control. The New Yorker, LXXIX, 53.
  • B. Minutaglio, First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty (1999)
  • M. Ivins and L. Dubose, Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (2000) E.
  • Mitchell, W: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty (2000)
  • H. Gillman, The Votes That Counted: How the Court Decided the 2000 Presidential Election (2001)

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External links


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Preceded by:
Bill Clinton
President of the United States
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Ann Richards
Governor of Texas
Succeeded by:
Rick Perry