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Vermont labeled “rogue state” by Bush administration

By Shay Totten | Vermont Guardian

Editor's Note: Due to a last-minute legal challenge by federal lawyers, the Guardian was not able to post this story yesterday as scheduled. The administration's temporary injunction was not granted, so we are now posting the story.

posted May 17, 2006

This story was first posted on April 1, 2006 (please take note of the date this time!) and was widely circulated on the Internet, and even the subject of a short wave radio program. It remains in the minds of many as one of our best pieces of satire. Or, was it?

WASHINGTON — Efforts to impeach the president are helping to place Vermont on a new list of “rogue states” being circulated by the Bush administration, the Vermont Guardian has learned.

The designation comes just weeks after the Bush administration’s release a National Security Strategy (NSS), and outline of U.S. foreign policy aims, and how to achieve them. The policy, which is an update of a strategy first outlined in 2002, provides wide-ranging guidance for all U.S. agencies.

The NSS, released on March 16, continued the so-called pre-emptive doctrine that is exemplified by the 2003 invasion of Iraq. While the policy stresses that diplomacy should be a focus to deter the use of weapons of mass destruction, the documents states: "If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self defense, we do not rule out use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize."

The Bush administration is using the over-arching policy contained in the NSS as well as disparate, and little-known, federal laws to ensure that it can take swift action against a domestic population seen as an “emerging threat.” Those laws are contained in the updated USA PATRIOT Act, the Congressional authorization to use force in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, a weakening Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, a law that forbids active-duty military to be used to arrest or search U.S. civilians.

While military action against Vermont is not being contemplated at this time, there is growing concern within the Bush administration that Vermont “may be getting a little too big for its Carhartts,” said a White House source familiar with the memo.

The administration’s concerns are two-fold: That Vermont’s support of long-term nuclear waste storage, and an extended license for its lone nuclear power plant, is the first step toward developing a nuclear weapons program. The administration is concerned that the weapons could be used to retaliate against New Hampshire for its “Live Free or Die” motto and lack of a sales tax, or coerce Canada into expanding its health care system into the state.

The growing calls to impeach Pres. Bush, which gained international attention after six towns in recent Town Meeting Day votes urged Congress to start the process and are now being joined by state Democrats, are also of concern, the source said.

“We’ve seen this in states that harbor terrorists overseas, and we have grave concerns about the implications these converging events could have on the foundations of this great country’s democratic principles,” said the source.

The Bush administration is weighing several options in what may be the first case of domestic containment of a state. They are:

• Build a border checkpoint on Interstate 91 near White River Junction under the guise of looking for illegal aliens and suspected terrorists, but really it’s in case there needs to be a demilitarized zone along the New Hampshire border;

• Install computer chips in all Vermont license plates to track when residents travel to Canada, or across state lines;

• Pay bloggers to post comments that paint the Bush administration in a positive light, and question the patriotism of Vermonters pushing for impeachment, secession and easy border crossing;

• Identifty key news editors who can be swayed into not running certain stories, thereby ensuring they do not make the international and national news wires; and,

• Expand the use of fluoride as a way to funnel other potentially mind-altering chemicals through public drinking water systems.

The recent firing of Chris Graff, Vermont’s long-time Associated Press bureau chief, may have been the first casualty of Bush’s new policy of containment against Vermont. Graff was summarily dismissed on March 20 to the shock of colleagues and the state’s top politicians.

“The image coming out of Vermont was damaging to the president and our interests abroad,” said the source. “We can’t risk having people sympathetic with the [Congressional delegation], or the efforts at play in Vermont to be the media gatekeepers. Given their response to his firing, we’re more sure than ever that it was the right thing to do.”

The official said the administration has long considered Vermont’s congressional delegation a “serious threat to the president’s agenda for peace and prosperity.”

“We watch them on C-SPAN when they speak from the floor or during committee, as Sen. [Patrick] Leahy has suggested we do,” said the official.

Leahy criticized the administration for allegedly spying on Vermonters protesting the Iraq War, and said if Bush officials really wanted to know what Vermonters think about his war policies, or any other policy, all they had to do was turn on C-SPAN and listen to Leahy.

“We have been listening and, quite frankly, we’re now telling all of Vermont what the vice president told Leahy on the Senate floor back in 2004,” said the source.

During a photo session on the Senate floor, Leahy got into an argument about Cheney's ties to Halliburton and Pres. Bush's judicial nominees. Cheney turned and gave Leahy some blunt advice: “F*** yourself.”

While that conflagration epitomizes the feelings of the administration toward Vermont, the effort to “get” Vermont has been a long-standing goal of Bush.

In fact, Bush officials have had their retributive sights on Vermont ever since Sen. Jim Jeffords declared his independence in 2001 and left the Republican party, effectively turning the keys of the Senate over to the Democrats. Democratic control was short-lived, but the Bush administration is still smarting by the setback it forced on key policy efforts.

Shortly after, Vermont’s former Gov. Howard Dean became a leading anti-war voice and critic of the administration, before his campaign fell apart in Iowa.

Couple that with Rep. Bernie Sanders’ constant haranguing of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, and his close relationship with Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI, the administration has “simply put up with enough crap from you farmers, wealthy elite and Birkenstock-wearing carpenters,” the source said.

“You can have your lattes and Volvos for all we care,” the source added. “And, your Ben & Jerry’s.”

The source also said the administration was flabbergasted by opposition to the president’s plans to strengthen border security. “I mean even Republicans up there, if they can call themselves true Republicans, were against it,” said the source. “Why not hang up a sign that says, ‘Sleeper cells welcome.’ You folks are still living in a pre-9/11 world and the rest of us are tired of waiting for you to catch up. The train is leaving the station.”

Despite putting Vermont on its international terror watch list, the administration may not cut all ties with the rogue New England state.

The administration is likely to keep close ties with Camp Johnson in Colchester, as well as the operations the Pentagon maintains at the Burlington International Airport. With large numbers of Vermont National Guard troops overseas, the source said, the chance of armed resistance becomes less of a concern.

“We know how independent you folks can be, and they claim to be peaceful, but we’re not taking any chances,” said the source. “You [Vermonters] are fools.”