While presidential libraries are usually seen as a coup for any university, bringing with them prestige and tourists, the Bush library has provoked anger among academics and religious leaders.
A number of academics at SMU and elsewhere in the US believe the war on Iraq and the president’s views on issues such as gay rights and torture made the university an unsuitable location.
Alarm has also been expressed over the independent institute that will fund research promoting Bush’s ideas and vision. Academics have also said that an executive order, signed by Bush, which gives presidents and their families more control over presidential papers, could result in material being censored.
Benjamin Hufbauer, an associate professor of art history at the University of Louisville, said the agreement at SMU was “totally different” to that of other universities hosting presidential libraries, reports the Inside Higher Ed website.
“Academics everywhere should be concerned about this. Clearly this goes against the idea of dispassionate inquiry, of looking at things on the basis of fact and merit. If it’s ideological, that’s opposed to the mission of a university,” Hufbauer said.
The Rev William McElvaney, a professor emeritus of preaching and worship at SMU’s theology school, added: “As long as that executive order is in place, it’s really a censored library. What self-respecting university would accept a censored library?”
The religious thinktank Ekklesia said some Christians believed Bush’s views were against church teachings, and reported that those opposed to the library would continue their fight in court.
The Rev Andrew J Weaver, a united Methodist pastor and SMU alumnus who has led a petition against the library plan, said: “SMU has signed something that is totally out of bounds, and it’s only a matter of going to court with them. It will be David vs Goliath, but David won the first time.”
Announcing the decision on Friday to house the centre at SMU, which counts the first lady Laura Bush among its alumni, the university’s president, R Gerald Turner, said it was a “great honour to be chosen as the site of this tremendous resource for historical research, dialogue and public programmes”.
The library will contain documents and artefacts from the Bush administration, while the museum will house permanent and travelling exhibitions. Both will be operated by the National Archives and Records Administration.
The institute will be run by the George W Bush Presidential Library Foundation. It will have its own board and at least one seat will be allocated to the university. Joint programmes may be run between SMU and the institute.
In a letter to the university, Bush said: “I look forward to the day when both the general public and scholars come and explore the important and challenging issues our nation has faced during my presidency – from economic and homeland security to fighting terrorism and promoting freedom and democracy.”
It must be such an honour for the Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
With her back against the wall, Hillary Clinton has been accused of turning to the sort of smear tactics more commonly associated with Republicans, in an attempt to block her opponent Barack Obama from getting the Democratic nomination. Over the weekend her campaign allegedly circulated a photograph of Mr Obama wearing the turban and traditional dress of a Somali elder.
For the past year the Obama team has been fighting back against a whispering campaign that he is a dangerous Muslim. Mr Obama was born a Christian and attends a United Church of Christ congregation in Chicago. Whoever is responsible for the release of the photograph, ahead of votes in Texas and Ohio next week, it appears to be an attempt to use rumour and innuendo to derail Mr Obama’s buoyant campaign.
Mr Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said: “On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election. This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world.”
Mr Obama’s foreign policy adviser, Susan Rice, who worked on Bill Clinton’s National Security Policy staff, said the circulation of the photograph was divisive and suggested “that the customs and cultures of other parts of the world are worthy of ridicule or condemnation“.
The photograph was taken while the African-American candidate was on a five-country congressional visit to the continent in 2006. It would be innocuous enough if Mr Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, was not seeking to become the first black president of the US and if his middle name was not Hussein.
In recent days, Mrs Clinton’s attacks on Mr Obama have become more strident and shrill, as he has narrowed her lead in the polls. A Quinnipiac University poll out yesterday showed her leading in Ohio by an 11-point margin with 51 percent, whereas less two weeks ago she had held a 21-point lead.
“We’ve seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security. We can’t let that happen again,” she said yesterday at a foreign policy speech in Washington.
Religion. Intolerance. Racism. Genocide. Culture. Murder. Rape. War. Farce. Tragedy. America.
Outside the Kodak Theatre, the Euro-crowd (Dior, Versace, Armani) will go head to head with the American natives (Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta). Here, the burning questions of the night will be answered: which fashion titan will manage to persuade Nicole Kidman to step out in its crystal-studded gown? What kind of pimp-cum-scarecrow get-up will Johnny Depp wear (and yet still manage to pull off)? And, of the actresses, who will look the most radiant, whose excessive thinness will spark health fears and who will look a bit awkwardly taller than her stocky actor hubby?
America is a force for good. They hate us for our freedom. Democracy is on the march. Capture and kill the terrorists. City upon a hill.
The taunts of prisoners and the things his superiors required him to do to them had a severe psychological impact on Mr H. “He was called upon to bring detainees, enemy combatants, to certain places and to see that they were handcuffed in particularly painful and difficult positions, usually naked, in anticipation of their interrogation,” said Smith.
On occasion he was told to make prisoners kneel, naked and handcuffed, on sharp stones. To avoid interrogation the prisoners would often rub their wounds afterwards to make them worse so that they would be taken to hospital.
Some of the techniques used by interrogators resulted in detainees defecating, urinating, vomiting and screaming.
Mr H told Smith he felt profoundly guilty about his participation. “It was wrong what we did,” he said.
The prisoners also threatened Mr H. “They would tell him they had networks of people throughout the world,” said Smith. “If he did not take letters out and mail them then they would see to it that his family suffered the consequences.”
Another guard whom Smith treated described an incident in which a prisoner had hanged himself in his cell after partially knawing his own arm off. The prisoner lost a substantial amount of blood but was cut down by guards and survived.
Spare a thought for the real victims of America’s reign of terror.