The Presidency of George W. Bush began on his inauguration on January 20, 2001 as the 43rd and current President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former United States President George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush was elected president in the 2000 general election. Bush was re-elected in 2004 as president.
Running as a self-described "war president" in the midst of the Iraq War, Bush won re-election in 2004 and his presidential campaign against Senator John Kerry was successful despite controversy over Bush's prosecution of the Iraq War and his handling of the economy. After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism, even from former allies. His domestic popularity decreased due to the war and other issues such as the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy record budget deficits affecting the administration, and the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.
Bush places a high value on personal loyalty and, as a result, his administration has high message discipline. He maintains a "hands-off" style of management that he believes prevents him from being tangled by intricacies that hinder sound decision-making. "I'm confident in my management style. I'm a delegator because I trust the people I've asked to join the team. I'm willing to delegate. That makes it easier to be President," he said in an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC in December of 2003. Critics allege, however, that Bush is willing to overlook mistakes made by loyal subordinates.
There has been only one non-Republican present in Bush's cabinet: Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, the first Asian American cabinet secretary, who had previously served as Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton, is a Democrat. Mineta resigned from Bush's cabinet on July 7, 2006 to pursue "other challenges". Mary Peters, a Republican, was nominated and confirmed to succeed him as Transportation Secretary.
In 1998, following perceived Iraqi unwillingness to co-operate with UN weapons inspections, members of the PNAC, including former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, wrote to President Bill Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power using US diplomatic, political and military power.
In September 2000, the PNAC issued a report entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For A New Century, proceeding "from the belief that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces." The group stated that when diplomacy or sanctions fail, the United States must be prepared to take military action. The PNAC argued that the Cold War deployment of forces was obsolete. Defense spending and force deployment must reflect the post-Cold War duties that US forces are obligated to perform. Constabulary duties such as peacekeeping in the Balkans and the enforcement of the No Fly Zones in Iraq put a strain upon, and reduced the readiness of US forces. The PNAC recommended the forward redeployment of US forces at new strategically placed permanent military bases in Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia. Permanent bases would ease the strain on US forces, allowing readiness to be maintained and the carrier fleet to be reduced. Furthermore, PNAC advocated that the US-globalized military should be enlarged, equipped and restructured for the "constabulary" roles associated with shaping the security in critical regions of the world.
George W. Bush’s environmental record begins with promises as a presidential candidate to clean up power plants and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a speech on September 29, 2000 in Saginaw, Michigan, Bush pledged to commit two billion dollars to the funding of clean coal technology research. In the same speech, he also promised to work with Congress, environmental groups and the energy industry to require a reduction of the emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide into the environment within a “reasonable period of time.” He would later reverse his position on that specific campaign pledge in March 2001 in a letter to Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, stating that carbon dioxide was not considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and that restricting carbon dioxide emissions would lead to higher energy prices.
In 2001, President Bush appointed Philip A. Cooney, a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, to the White House Council on Environmental Equality. Cooney is known to have edited government climate reports in order to minimize the findings of scientific sources tying greenhouse gas emissions to global warming.
In March 2001, the Bush administration announced that it would not implement the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan that would require nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, claiming that ratifying the treaty would create economic setbacks in the U.S. and does not put enough pressure to limit emissions from developing nations. In February 2002, Bush announced his alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, by bringing forth a plan to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gasses by 18% over ten years. The intensity of greenhouse gasses specifically is the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions and economic output, meaning that under this plan, emissions would still continue to grow, but at a slower pace. Bush stated that this plan would prevent the release of 500 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, which is about the equivalent of 70 million cars from the road. This target would achieve this goal by providing tax credits to businesses that use renewable energy sources.
In late November 2002, the Bush Administration released proposed rule changes that would lead to increased logging of federal forests for commercial or recreational activities by giving local forest managers the ability to open up the forests to development without requiring environmental impact assessments and without specific standards to maintain local fish and wildlife populations. The proposed changes would affect roughly of US forests and grasslands. Administration officials claimed the changes were appropriate because existing rules, which were approved by the Clinton administration two months before Bush took office, were unclear.
In November 2004, Bush administration officials asked the United Nations to allow US industries to use an additional 458 tons of methyl bromide, an ozone-destroying pesticide that was slated for elimination by the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The additional increase request brings the US’s total exemption for the year 2005 to 9,400 metric tons of methyl bromide, more than all other nations’ requests combined, and well over the 7,674 metric tons used by US agribusiness in 2002.
In January 2004, Interior Secretary Gale Norton approved a move to open nearly of Alaska's North Slope to oil and gas development, citing claims from the energy industry that nearly of oil could be extracted from the region. The North Slope neighbor's the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary and habitat for migratory birds, whales, seals and other wildlife. Reports from the U.S. Geological Survey, however, estimate that less than one-third of the reported is economically recoverable in the entire National Petroleum Reserve.
In July 2005 the Environmental Protection Agency decided to delay the release of an annual report on fuel economy. The report shows that automakers have taken advantage of loopholes in US fuel economy regulations to manufacture vehicles that are less fuel-efficient than they were in the late 1980s. Fuel-efficiency had on average dropped six percent during that period, from 22.1 miles per gallon to 20.8 mpg. Evidence suggests that the administration’s decision to delay the report’s release was because of its potential to affect Congress’s upcoming final vote on an energy bill six years in the making, which turned a blind eye to fuel economy regulations.
In May 2006, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) allegedly blocked release of a report that suggested global warming had been a contributor to the frequency and strength of hurricanes in recent years. In February, NOAA (part of the Department of Commerce) set up a seven-member panel of climate scientists to compile the report. The panel’s chair, Ants Leema, received an e-mail from a Commerce Department official asking for the report to not be released as it needed to be made “less technical.” NOAA would later go on to say that the report was not released because it “was not complete” and was in reality not a report, but a “two-page fact sheet about the issue.”
Policies of the Bush administration have been criticized for allegedly subverting elements of the Constitution, violating treaty obligations, and obstructing justice. The suspension of habeas corpus for US citizens was reversed by the Supreme Court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004). Domestic spying has included undercover infiltration of political organizations with no suspected terrorist affiliations, telephone surveillance without a warrant, and the Carnivore program for internet surveillance. The policy of holding enemy combatants in a legal status outside of either due process of criminal prosecution nor the Geneva conventions for prisoners of war created a legal limbo without a process for adjudication or appeal. The extraordinary rendition of an innocent citizen of Canada, to Syria, caused an international incident involving kidnapping, wrongful imprisonment and torture. The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, stated in a white paper that "President Bush's constitutional vision is, in short, sharply at odds with the text, history, and structure of our Constitution, which authorizes a government of limited powers.
Ellen Mariani, widow of Louis Neil Mariani, killed in the September 11 attacks, has charged George W. Bush, et al., because "Defendant GWB has not been forthright and honest with regard to his administration's pre-knowledge of the potential of the "911" attacks" (Mariani v. Bush, Case number 03-5273, United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania). Former White House chief counter-terrorism advisor Richard A. Clarke has criticized both the failure to prevent the attacks of 9/11, and the response to them in both domestic and foreign policy, in his book Against All Enemies.
The Union of Concerned Scientists published a report, Scientific Integrity in Policymaking, in March 2004 that criticized the unprecedented "manipulation, suppression, and misrepresentation of science by the Bush administration ... World renowned scientific institutions such as that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health take decades to build a team of world-class scientific expertise and talent. But they can be severely damaged in short order by the scientifically unethical behavior such as that displayed by the current administration.
Third Way issued a new report on September 5 2006 analyzing the Bush administration’s record on national security. The report was released at a press conference in the Capitol with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, retired General Wesley Clark, Assistant Minority Leader Dick Durbin, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Carl Levin, and founding Third Way Co-Chair Senator Thomas Carper. In The Neo Con: The Bush Defense Record by the Numbers, Third Way analyzed available data across seven key national security indicators: Iraq, terrorism (broadly defined), Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, the condition of the American military, and China. The report finds that the numbers lead to an indisputable conclusion that incompetence and a failed strategy have "helped lead us to this dangerous situation".
Anti-crime tax funds have been appropriated to youth programs based on political connections instead of merit. Current and former Justice Department employees allege that the head of the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention ignored staff rankings in favor of programs that had political, social or religious connections to the Bush White House.
According to the book, the report of the International Committee of the Red Cross found that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major Qaeda figure captured by the United States, were “categorically” torture, which is illegal under both American and international law. A copy of the report was given to the C.I.A. in 2007. For example, the book states that Abu Zubaydah was confined in a box “so small he said he had to double up his limbs in the fetal position” and was one of several prisoners to be “slammed against the walls,” according to the Red Cross report. The C.I.A. has admitted that Abu Zubaydah and two other prisoners were waterboarded, a practice in which water is poured on the nose and mouth to create the sensation of suffocation and drowning. Lawrence Wilkerson, former army officer and chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, warned senior Bush Administration officials who formulated the U.S. torture policy that they should never leave the U.S., except perhaps to Israel or Saudi Arabia, because they "broke the law" and could in the future be prosecuted "in a foreign court, or in an international court" for their roles in authorizing torture.