October 31, 2003

Answer the 9/11 families

Palm Beach Post editorial: Now the question turns on the askers: How can anyone block answers to the survivors' and families' questions?


Thursday, October 30
Answer the 9/11 families

Palm Beach Post Editorial
Thursday, October 30, 2003

In words of one syllable, the commission investigating
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks needs to know who knew
what and when. "We are looking backward," the panel
said in its latest interim report, "in order to look

That forward look is for ways to prevent more
surprises. President Bush needs this study as much as
anyone, so he shouldn't impede the commission's work.
But he and Chairman Tom Kean, the former New Jersey
governor, exchanged s-words about his files this week.
Mr. Bush said his daily briefing papers are sensitive.
Mr. Kean said he might subpoena them. At issue are
copies of the Presidential Daily Brief, a memo from
the CIA seen by only a handful of White House
officials. Former CIA Director Richard Helms called it
"the most important daily intelligence document in
Washington." Because of its limited distribution, it
can contain matters the CIA doesn't want to reveal
that it's even thinking about.

The White House didn't let the House-Senate
intelligence committee see the briefs. Without knowing
what's in them, though, Mr. Kean's panel can't know
whether Mr. Bush didn't get vital information or had
it and ignored it. It's in Mr. Bush's political as
well as official interest that there be no obvious
gaps in the commission's final report.

At his news conference Tuesday, Mr. Bush seemed to
back off. He said he thinks he can reach a "proper
accord" with commissioners that will "protect the
integrity" of the briefs and then let commission
members see what was in them. He didn't say how. He
had better mean it. He is not the commission's only
audience. Survivors and families of the 9/11 victims
keenly follow its work. In the run-up to war, the
president's spinners asked how anyone could look into
the survivors' eyes and not support attacking Saddam
Hussein. Now the question turns on the askers: How can
anyone block answers to the survivors' and families'

The committee issued a subpoena for Federal Aviation
Administration documents this month, after trying to
talk them out of the agency. It said, though, that
other agencies "significantly improved" their
compliance with its requests since its July interim
report. The commission has a tight May 27 deadline to
make its final report before the elections heat up. It
doesn't have time to dance minuets to get what it
needs to write a comprehensive report of what happened
and how to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Posted by richard at 07:37 AM

U.S. Deaths in Iraq Not Fully Reported

More simple arithmatic for the intellectually
challenged White House press corp, the morally
challenged investigative reporters for the WASHPs and
NYTwits, and the intellectually and morally challenged
network TV news anchors...

Editor & Publisher: In fact, 218 troops have been killed since May 1 from all causes (nearly doubling the combat-only count), and a total of 139 before May 1. This includes suicides, drownings, and the many military vehicle accidents.


OCTOBER 30, 2003
U.S. Deaths in Iraq Not Fully Reported
What's the Real Number: 115 or 218?

By Seth Porges

NEW YORK -- On Wednesday and Thursday, newspapers
around the country have reported that the number of
U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq following the official
end of major combat has exceeded the number killed
during the war.

This, however, continues the pervasive pattern of
downplaying U.S. deaths from all causes in Iraq, many
related to official duties and the stress of combat.

USA Today's report is typical: "the 115 American
troops killed in combat in Iraq since May 1 -- the day
Bush declared major combat operations over -- exceeds
the 114 killed by hostile fire during the war itself."
But these reports continue to ignore the total death

In fact, 218 troops have been killed since May 1 from
all causes (nearly doubling the combat-only count),
and a total of 139 before May 1. This includes
suicides, drownings, and the many military vehicle

In addition, the toll of injured U.S. soldiers has now
reached 2,084, including well over 1,000 since May 1.
In his New York Times column Thursday, Thomas L.
Friedman corrected his column of Oct. 23 when he cited
a figure of 900 wounded in Iraq since May 1.

Source: Editor & Publisher Online

Posted by richard at 07:34 AM

U.S. Contractors Reap the Windfalls of Post-War Reconstruction

2x2=4...$500K in campaign donations + $8 billion in
Iraq contracts = war profiteering...2x2=4...But does
the "US mainstream news media" have the cojones to
count or will they get weak-kneed? And yes, there are
Democratic hands in the House and the Senate that are
bloody too, but not as bloody as the _resident's or
the Republican Party, and not Dean (D-Jeffords), Clark
(D-NATO) or Kerry (D-Mekong Delta)...

Center for Public Integrity: More than 70 American companies and individuals have won up to $8 billion in contracts for work in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two years, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity. Those companies donated more money to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush—a little over $500,000—than to any other politician over the last dozen years, the Center found.


Published on Thursday, October 30, 2003 by the Center
for Public Integrity
U.S. Contractors Reap the Windfalls of Post-War Reconstruction

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2003 — More than 70 American
companies and individuals have won up to $8 billion in
contracts for work in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan
over the last two years, according to a new study by
the Center for Public Integrity. Those companies
donated more money to the presidential campaigns of
George W. Bush—a little over $500,000—than to any
other politician over the last dozen years, the Center

Kellogg, Brown & Root, the subsidiary of
Halliburton—which Vice President Dick Cheney led prior
to being chosen as Bush's running mate in August
2000—was the top recipient of federal contracts for
the two countries, with more than $2.3 billion awarded
to the company. Bechtel Group, a major government
contractor with similarly high-ranking ties, was
second at around $1.03 billion.

However, dozens of lower-profile, but well-connected,
companies shared in the reconstruction bounty. Their
tasks ranged from rebuilding Iraq's government,
police, military and media to providing translators
for use in interrogations and psychological
operations. There are even contractors to evaluate the
contractors. (See company list.)

Nearly 60 percent of the companies had employees or
board members who either served in or had close ties
to the executive branch for Republican and Democratic
administrations, for members of Congress of both
parties, or at the highest levels of the military.

The results of the Center's six-month investigation
provide the most comprehensive list to date of
American contractors in the two nations that were
attacked in Washington's war on terror. Based on the
findings, it did not appear that any one government
agency knew the total number of contractors or what
they were doing. Congressional sources said they hoped
such a full picture would emerge from the General
Accounting Office, which has begun investigating the
postwar contracting process amid allegations of fraud
and cronyism.

The Center's investigation focused on the three
agencies that awarded most of the Iraq and Afghanistan
contracts in 2002 and 2003—the Pentagon, the State
Department and the U.S. Agency for International
Development. It found that nearly every one of the 10
largest contracts awarded for Iraq and Afghanistan
went to companies employing former high-ranking
government officials or individuals with close ties to
those agencies or Congress.

In addition, those top 10 contractors were established
political donors, contributing nearly $11 million to
national political parties, candidates and political
action committees since 1990, according to an analysis
of campaign finance records.

Indeed, most of the companies that won contracts in
Iraq and Afghanistan were political players. According
to the Center's analysis, the companies, their
political action committees and their employees
contributed a total of nearly $49 million to national
political campaigns and parties since 1990. Donations
to Republican Party committees—the Republican National
Committee, the Republican Senatorial Campaign
Committee and the National Republican Congressional
Committee—outpaced those to Democratic committees,
$12.7 million to $7.1 million. Among individual
candidates, President George Bush received more money
from these companies than any other, a little over

The Center's investigation found that 14 of the
contractors were awarded U.S. government work in both
Iraq and Afghanistan. Combined, those companies gave
nearly $23 million in political contributions since
1990, and 13 employ former government officials or
have close ties to various agencies and departments.

Although Afghanistan was once ground zero in
Washington's war on terrorism, spending on Iraq was
more than double that on Afghanistan. According to the
Center's investigation, which examined contracts
awarded in 2002 through September 2003, at least $5.7
billion in government funding was slated for U.S.
contractors in Iraq, compared to nearly $2.7 billion
for Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network,
blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United
States, had been based in Afghanistan, and prior to
the March 2003 war on Iraq, U.S. officials had said
that a democratic Afghanistan was central to winning
the war on terror.

The Center's findings are based, in part, on 73
Freedom of Information Act requests and appeals to
USAID, the Pentagon and its various uniformed services
and the State Department, as well as an analysis of
the General Services Administration database of
contracts from 1990 through fiscal year 2002—more than
7 million federal contract actions, in all.

Response to the Center's FOIA requests was sporadic,
at best, and on Oct. 29, the Center filed suit in the
U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against the
State Department and the Army after both agencies
failed to respond fully to its request for information
as outlined under FOIA law.

For example, media accounts have noted that the State
Department has a contract with DynCorp for work in
Iraq worth at least $50 million, which reportedly
could grow in value to as much as $800 million under
the administration's new spending request for Iraq.
The Department of State did not respond to Center
requests for information about this or any of its
other contracts in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a contract to
the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root,
potentially worth billions under an omnibus military
contract known as "indefinite quantity-indefinite
delivery," which is one of the largest of its kind in
U.S. history. Although the Pentagon released one KBR
"task order," or work assignment, to the Center, there
are more than 30 such orders for Iraq. (See
Outsourcing Government sidebar.)

Because of inconsistent and scarce information, the
total value of contracts awarded for reconstruction
work in Iraq and Afghanistan may be greater than what
is publicly known. The Center found that there was no
uniformity across the government in how contract
values were reported. For example, the amount listed
for an individual contract either represented only
what had been paid to date on a multiyear contract, or
a minimum and maximum dollar range of the contract,
or, in some instances, a single figure, without any
specification as to whether it represented a first
payment, a first-year total, or a multiyear total. In
some instances, the Center could determine nothing
about what a particular contract cost or entailed
because neither the company nor the government agency
responsible for it would divulge that information.

Contractor confusion
The difficulty in obtaining contract amounts and the
contradictory information coming from within
government departments raise questions about
management and oversight of the reconstruction effort.
Although USAID has said that "to ensure that U.S. tax
dollars are utilized efficiently and effectively,
USAID is providing a transparent monitoring and
evaluation system to ensure that contractors are
meeting their goals and staying on schedule," the
Center's investigation suggested otherwise.

For example, in a list of contracts initially provided
to the Center under FOIA, both USAID and the Pentagon
omitted the largest contracts they had awarded in
Iraq—to Bechtel and to Halliburton's KBR subsidiary.
Also omitted from the Pentagon's list were major
defense contractors such as Fluor, Washington Group
International and Perini Corporation, each of which
stands to earn up to $500 million for its Pentagon
work in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.
Combined, the three companies and their subsidiaries
have won more than $11 billion dollars in U.S.
government contracts from 1990 through fiscal year
2002. (See contractor rankings.)

Contracts awarded by USAID to Chemonics International
Inc., a private, for-profit aid company based in
Washington, D.C., provide a textbook study in the
apparent confusion surrounding the contracting

According to information provided by USAID under a
Freedom of Information request, Chemonics was
contracted to work in Afghanistan for just over $600
million. That total would rank Chemonics third among
all U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, behind
only Halliburton and Bechtel. However, the company
disputed that total when contacted, at first insisting
it had three contracts with USAID worth just $133.9
million, then changing its figures a day later to say
that one multiyear contract it had originally put at
nearly $1.2 million actually had a potential worth of
$35 million for work in Afghanistan and several other

Getting clarification of the numbers from USAID was
difficult. "I don’t know where the FOIA office got
that information," said one USAID press officer.
Chemonics refused to release copies of its contracts,
and a Center FOIA request for the contracts is
pending. After several queries, the FOIA office told
the Center that the contract it had listed as being
worth $600 million was actually worth between $599,000
and $1.2 million, which was still inconsistent with
the numbers Chemonics provided.

"We don’t dispute it," Chemonics spokesperson Denise
Felix told the Center when asked about the USAID
number. "It is not accurate for us." In general,
contract amounts provided under FOIA varied widely;
often the value given by an agency was for the first
year's work only, not the designated total on a
multiyear contract. When the Center obtained copies of
contracts, it became clear that at least some
departments calculated the total cost of a contract by
tallying all its option years. (See FOIA sidebar.)

In other instances, contract lists provided by the
agencies did not correspond with information on the
agencies' Web sites or with public announcements by
companies receiving the contracts. Often, the agency
was at a loss to explain these discrepancies. In
addition, when asked for copies of contracts which
USAID told the Center it had awarded, agency officials
responded that it would take an indeterminate amount
of time to produce some of them because they would
have to be retrieved from global field offices.

Even when FOIA requests were granted, key information
about government contracts often was redacted, or
blacked out. For example, the Pentagon provided the
Center copies of seven contracts awarded to Science
Applications International Corporation for work in
Iraq. The total contract value was omitted, although
some unit pricing—typically redacted under a rule that
gives companies a right to oppose FOIA requests about
their government contracts—was left in. That same rule
was cited by one Pentagon FOIA officer as
justification why the department was not releasing a
Raytheon Aerospace contract worth more than $7
million. Raytheon Aerospace, along with its affiliated
companies, was the 11th–ranked government contractor
among companies with contracts in Iraq and
Afghanistan, earning $2.7 billion since 1990,
according to the Center's analysis.

SAIC officials refused to discuss their contracts with
the Center, directing all calls to the Pentagon press
office, which did not answer Center queries. However,
a congressional source, speaking on condition of
anonymity, told the Center that one SAIC media
contract in Iraq likely would be worth more than $50
million by the end of 2003. The total value of SAIC's
contracts could not be determined.

Since February 2003, SAIC—the country's largest
employee-owned research and engineering company—has
been in charge of the Iraqi Reconstruction and
Development Council, a Pentagon-sanctioned group of
Iraqis that is effectively functioning as the
country's temporary government. The senior members of
IRDC hold positions at each of 23 Iraqi ministries,
where they work closely with U.S. and British
officials, including L. Paul Bremer, head of the
Coalition Provisional Authority. The Council's
official task is to rebuild the structures of a
government that are expected eventually to be handed
over to the new Iraqi authority. Members of the IRDC
are officially employed by SAIC, according to the

SAIC has also been hired to rebuild Iraq's mass media,
including television stations, radio stations and
newspapers. SAIC, which is not generally known for its
media expertise, runs the "Voice of the New Iraq," the
radio station established in April 2003 at Umm Qasr
with U.S. government funds. (For more information see
SAIC Reconstruction Contracts and company profile.)

Revolving doors
In many ways, SAIC is typical of the kinds of American
contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among
companies with contracts in the two countries, SAIC
was the third-largest recipient of U.S. government
contracts over the last 12 years; the company, its
employees and PAC contributed $4.7 million to national
political campaigns, the Center's investigation found.

SAIC's largest customer is the U.S. government, which
accounts for 69 percent of its business, and its
company roster is a revolving door of
government-corporate influences.

David Kay, the former U.N. weapons inspector who was
hired by the CIA to track down weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq, is a former vice president of
SAIC. Kay left SAIC, where he oversaw homeland
security and counterterrorism work, in October 2002.

Christopher "Ryan" Henry left SAIC, where he was vice
president for strategic assessment and development, in
February 2003 to become principal deputy
undersecretary of defense for policy. Henry now works
for the office overseeing his former employer,
directly under Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of
defense for policy who has been deeply involved in
postwar planning.

SAIC's Executive Vice President for Federal Business
and Director Duane P. Andrews served as assistant
defense secretary from 1989 to 1993, when he joined
SAIC. Board member W.A. Downing served as deputy
assistant director for international counter-terrorism
initiatives on the National Security Council and
joined SAIC after retiring as an Army general in 1996.
Bobby Ray Inman, a board member until October 2003, is
a retired U.S. Navy admiral who once directed the
National Security Agency and served as deputy director
of central intelligence. Inman is also a member of the
board of directors of Fluor, another contractor in
Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chemonics International, which according to
information provided by USAID's FOIA office holds the
third-richest contract of all American companies in
Iraq and Afghanistan, offers another interesting
case-in-point. Founded by a former State Department
foreign service officer, the company receives 90
percent of its business from USAID. Scott Spangler,
the company's principal owner with 52 percent of the
company's stock, was a senior USAID official during
the first Bush administration. While at USAID,
Spangler served as assistant administrator for the
Africa Bureau, associate administrator for operations
and acting administrator. Spangler became principal
owner of Chemonics in March 1999 and chaired the board
until April 2002. His wife, Jean Spangler, is also on
Chemonics' board of directors. Together, the Spanglers
have contributed $98,460 to Republican Party causes
since 1990, according to the Center's campaign finance
records analysis.

Perini Corporation, working in Iraq and Afghanistan on
contracts worth up to $525 million, is owned by a
group of investors that includes Richard Blum, husband
of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California
who serves on the Appropriations Committee and the
Select Committee on Intelligence.

Sullivan Haave Associates Inc.—identified by the
Pentagon as a contractor, though the company says it
was a subcontractor to SAIC—was founded by Carol A.
Haave, currently the deputy assistant secretary of
defense for security and information operations. (See
Small Company sidebar.)

Another contractor with interesting ties is the Center
for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska,
Omaha, which was established in 1972 and claims to be
the only institutional base in the United States
exclusively concerned with Afghan affairs. The
center's director, Thomas E. Gouttierre, is an old
friend of Zalmay Khalilzad, President's Bush's nominee
as ambassador to Afghanistan and a former paid adviser
to Unocal. The oil company, which until 1998 was
working on a plan to construct trans-Afghan natural
gas and oil pipelines, has funded the CAS' work in
Afghanistan and hosted members of the Taliban on
visits to the United States. The CAS also reportedly
has longstanding ties to Washington policymakers and,
especially, the intelligence community.

In January 2002, USAID awarded the Center for
Afghanistan Studies $6.5 million to provide books and
training for Afghanistan's interim government to
resume schooling. However, critics charged that the
books, written in the 1980s, contained Islamic
material and verses from the Koran in violation of the
U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.
That followed earlier criticism of the CAS' ties to
members of the Taliban leadership during its previous
U.S. government contracts.

In January 2003, the CAS, which had been involved in
Afghanistan education projects since 1973, lost the
USAID contract for Afghan educational textbooks and
teacher training to Creative Associates International
Inc., a private for-profit aid company based in
Washington, D.C. Though the CAS did not get a new
contract, it received a no-cost extension of its 2002
contract from USAID to continue training teachers from
its office in Afghanistan.

Raheem Yaseer, the CAS assistant director and a former
Kabul University professor, said efficiency and
quality were secondary to politics in the process of
selecting companies and organizations to work in

"It depends on who knows who in the administration,
USAID and the State Department," Yaseer said in an
interview. "Universities try their best to recruit
professionals, but these Belt[way] bandits … just grab
anybody that comes in handy."

In addition to its USAID contract for educational
reform in Afghanistan, worth at least $60 million,
Creative was awarded a USAID contract in March 2003
for educational development work in Iraq. That
contract, which may be extended by two years, is meant
to cover everything from desks and blackboards to
textbooks, curriculum reform, academic standards and
teacher training and is worth up to $157 million.
Creative was the 11th largest recipient of
government-funded contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan,
according to the Center's analysis.

Four months before the Iraq contract was awarded,
USAID hosted a roundtable discussion of Iraq's
educational system, which a Creative representative
attended. It was the only company later invited to bid
on the contract present at that meeting. Although
Creative refused to answer Center questions about the
meeting, USAID identified its representative as Frank
Dall and said he was invited not on behalf of the
company but because he was "literally the only
available education authority to have worked directly
with the Saddam regime." USAID noted Dall's previous
work in the Middle East with UNICEF and UNESCO, but
did not mention that Dall was a former USAID employee,
having served as the agency's education director for
the Middle East.

USAID's comments came in response to an internal
inspector general report, commissioned after questions
arose about possible impropriety surrounding
Creative's selection as a contractor in Iraq. The
other companies invited to bid were given only two
weeks notice to submit their bids.

"The documentation is clear that only one of the five
contractors that were subsequently invited by USAID to
bid on the contract participated in an initial
roundtable discussion," a June 2003 USAID memorandum
detailing the IG's findings said. "In addition, we
conclude that USAID Bureau officials did not adhere to
the guidance on practical steps to avoid
organizational conflicts of interest."

Another onetime senior USAID official is also on the
Creative staff. In July 2002, the agency's former
chief of staff Richard L. McCall Jr. was selected to
direct Creative's Communities in Transition division.
Before joining USAID, McCall was a senior policy
adviser to the deputy secretary of state and spent
many years working on Capitol Hill, including as a
staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and
the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

Close ties
The Center's investigation also found that many
contractors had close working relationships with one
another. For example:

Creative International subcontracted three of the four
other companies that were invited to bid on the USAID
contract in Iraq, including Research Triangle
Institute and DevTech Systems Inc. Creative is also a
subcontractor to Research Triangle Institute on RTI's
Iraq contract.
In addition to its Afghanistan contracts, Chemonics is
a subcontractor in Iraq to Research Triangle Institute
and BearingPoint, which also has a contract in
Vinnell Corporation—which became the first American
private military company in 1975 with its contract to
train the Saudi National Guard—is using SAIC and
Military Professional Resources Inc. to help train the
New Iraqi Army. SAIC and MPRI separately also have
contracts in Iraq.
The Center did not examine subcontractors in any
systematic way, and it was not clear how much of the
reconstruction business they held. USAID Administrator
Andrew Natsios has said that more than 50 percent of
the money that goes to contractors actually ends up
with subcontractors.

In addition to contracts awarded by the three
departments that were a focus of the Center for Public
Integrity's investigation, a handful of other major
American companies won contracts for work in Iraq,
including ChevronTexaco, JPMorgan and MCI/WorldCom.
(See ChevronTexaco and JPMorgan sidebar.)

ChevronTexaco, a major U.S. government contractor and
political party donor, joined five other international
oil companies selected by the Iraqi State Oil
Marketing Organization to market Iraqi oil. The
expected revenue of $300 million from the sale of oil
will be controlled by the U.S. government for use in
rebuilding Iraq. Including Chevron, there were only
two contracts for oil-related work among the dozens
reviewed by the Center.

JPMorgan, the nation's second-largest bank, which was
implicated in the Enron scandal, has been contracted
by the Coalition Provisional Authority to run a
consortium of 13 banks from 13 countries that will
constitute the Trade Bank of Iraq. Bank consortium
members are not expected to earn much revenue
initially, but banking publications report the real
windfalls will come once Iraq's oil production resumes
full capacity and anticipated billions of dollars flow
through the Trade Bank for financing large development

MCI, formerly WorldCom, was hired by the Pentagon to
build a wireless phone network for officials and aid
workers in the Baghdad area. MCI's reconstruction
activities in Iraq were not disclosed in documents the
Defense Department provided to the Center under a
Freedom of Information Act request. However, an MCI
spokesperson said the Pentagon-led Coalition
Provisional Authority awarded the contract to MCI in
late May 2003. The contract was part of a short-term
communications plan costing the Pentagon approximately
$45 million. The MCI spokesperson would say only that
the company's contract amounted to less than $20
million. When it was still named WorldCom, the company
paid a $500 million fine to the Securities and
Exchange Commission for overstating its cash flow by
nearly $4 billion, and it was temporarily banned from
receiving federal contracts.

Seeking oversight
In April 2003, the General Accounting Office, the
investigative arm of Congress, announced it would
launch a broad investigation into methods used to
award contracts to rebuild Iraq. The awarding of
no-bid or closed-bid contracts in Iraq to Halliburton
and Bechtel prompted the calls for investigation,
although, as the Center investigation found, a
majority of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan have
significant government ties.

"There is growing evidence that favored contractors
like Halliburton and Bechtel are getting sweetheart
deals that are costing the taxpayer a bundle but
delivering scant results," said Rep. Henry Waxman, a
California Democrat and the administration's most
vocal critic on the contracting process.

Vice President Dick Cheney is a former defense
secretary and former CEO of Halliburton and still
receives deferred compensation from the company.
Bechtel's ranks of executives and board members
include former Secretary of State George Shultz,
former State Department official Charles Redman and
former Marine four-star Gen. Jack Sheehan, who served
as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for the Atlantic
before his retirement in 1997 and now sits on the
Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon-appointed body that
advises on defense issues.

GAO sources told the Center that the agency is
conducting two separate probes of contracts awarded
for work in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first covers all
civilian contracts for Iraq reconstruction involving
appropriated funds and stemmed from requests by two
Democratic congressmen, who complained of cronyism in
the contracting process. That report is expected to be
completed in late 2003 or early 2004. A second probe
involves a handful of multibillion-dollar, multiyear
military contracts that cover work in both countries.
The primary focus of that probe will be the Army's
LOGCAP (Logistics Civil Augmentation Program) contract
held by Kellogg, Brown & Root and one held by Johnson
Controls Co., which created Readiness Management
Support LC to manage AFCAP, the Air Force Contract
Augmentation Program. GAO officials estimate the
second probe will take about a year to complete.

Many of the companies initially selected for work in
Iraq and Afghanistan were awarded contracts because
they had the necessary security clearance or
established contracting reputations with the
government departments and agencies assigning the
work, officials have said. But U.S. lawmakers have
been pressing for a more transparent process in the
next round of reconstruction contract awards.

Waxman, in an Oct. 15 statement, said "the root cause
of these problems is the administration's insistence
on virtually absolute secrecy about how it is spending
the taxpayer's money."

Acknowledging a lack of general oversight in the
previous contracting process, the government has
announced that it will consolidate all future
contracts under a new Baghdad-based office as of
November. The office is to be set up under the
Coalition Provisional Authority and headed by a
retired U.S. Navy admiral, David Nash, reporting
directly to CPA head L. Paul Bremer.

"Now the whole contracting procedure is confusing,"
John Shaw, deputy undersecretary of defense for
international security, told a London conference in
mid-October, where he announced the new office.
"There's been many complaints. This new procedure we
hope is going to bring greater accountability and

Kevin Baron, Maud Beelman, Neil Gordon, Laura
Peterson, Aron Pilhofer, Daniel Politi, André Verlöy,
Bob Williams and Brooke Williams contributed to this
report, which was written by Ms. Beelman.

© 2003, The Center for Public Integrity


Posted by richard at 07:32 AM

October 30, 2003

Wesley Clark's Gutsy New Tack: Blame Bush for not Preventing 9-11

Until now, only Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fraudida) had been
courageous enough to go down this dark political road.
Unfortunately, Graham could not get traction. Now, at
last, we have one national leader willing to pull the
pin out of this political grenade and hurl it where it
belongs...And unlike Sen. Graham, Wesley Clark
D-NATO)is in position to take the fight to the enemy
and win...There is hope...

American Prospect: Clark, assaying pre-9-11 intelligence failures, said that responsibility for those failures can't be fobbed off on "lower-level intelligence officers," and he came within a few inches of saying outright that the Bush administration was responsible for the attacks having happened.


Published on Thursday, October 30, 2003 by the
American Prospect
Wesley Clark's Gutsy New Tack: Blame Bush for not Preventing 9-11
by Michael Tomasky

Wesley Clark, speaking on Tuesday to a liberal
foreign-policy conference sponsored by the Prospect,
the Center for American Progress (John Podesta's new
outfit) and The Century Foundation, could have gone in
any of several directions in attacking the Bush
administration's foreign policy. The $87 billion, so
unpopular with voters, would have been the obvious
target. The lack of a postwar plan, a close second.
The intentionally failed diplomacy in the run-up to
hostility, a pretty clear bronze medalist.

He didn't ignore those issues entirely, but the heart
of his attack came in the form of "a blistering
review" (The New York Times' words) of the
administration's actions prior to September 11. Clark,
assaying pre-9-11 intelligence failures, said that
responsibility for those failures can't be fobbed off
on "lower-level intelligence officers," and he came
within a few inches of saying outright that the Bush
administration was responsible for the attacks having

"Shocking" might be putting it too strongly, but
certainly it was surprising that Clark chose to reopen
that temporarily sealed can of worms. Politicians
don't often say something you don't expect to hear,
and when they do, you wonder why. Clark either took a
major risk here to breath some life into a campaign
that nearly every Washington insider thinks is melting
(which probably means it's just fine, thanks) or he
knows something the rest of us don't. But first, some

The question of Bush administration responsibility for
9-11, you may recall, was explored by some in the
media in May 2002. Newsweek offered the most notable
entry, with a 3,300-word cover package headlined "What
Went Wrong?" In it, some of the magazine's lead
writers on intelligence and foreign policy (Michael
Isikoff, Mark Hosenball, Christopher Dickey) delved
into various aspects of the story and came up with
several tantalizing angles that had the potential to
do real political damage to the White House. Bill
Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger,
briefed successor Condi Rice on al-Qaeda -- and she
yawned. John Ashcroft nixed an FBI request for
"hundreds more counter-intelligence agents," as the
magazine put it, and reduced Justice Department
funding for anti-terrorism activity. Donald Rumsfeld
chose not to renew the Predator Drone, which tracked
terrorist cells, and emphasized Star Wars Redux.

It was tough stuff. Other outlets piled on, and for
two weeks the administration was playing defense. The
problem was that no one -- the Democrats, say -- was
playing offense. The charges dissolved into a fog of
unprovables; the story lost its momentum; George W.
Bush seized the security issue during the midterm
elections. And that was the end of that.

Fast-forward now to the independent 9-11 commission,
chaired by former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean. In an
amazing interview with Philip Shenon of The New York
Times published this past Sunday, Kean tore into the
administration for withholding information from his
commission. "I will not stand for" stonewalling, Kean
said. "That means we will use every tool at our
command to get hold of every document."

With a Republican talking like that, the
administration -- and remember, it resisted the
creation of this commission to begin with -- is going
to face tremendous pressure to produce the relevant
information. And the relevant information brings us
back to Clark.

It is exceedingly difficult for a candidate running a
presidential campaign against an incumbent to
establish a favorable story line and make it stick.
And, of all possible story lines, Clark has landed on
one of the most difficult: He will apparently seek in
the coming weeks and months to convince Americans that
a failure of presidential leadership before 9-11 may
have been partly responsible for the disaster's
occurrence in the first place.

On the surface, it seems the odds against his
succeeding here might be long ones. But the surface is
the surface. It could be that Clark -- who surely has
his own sources in the U.S. intelligence world, after
all -- has drawn a bead on certain pieces of
information that are bound to come out one way or

And, more important, it is also the case, as the old
dialecticians used to say, that the historical
circumstances have changed. In May 2002, when Newsweek
did its cover story, neither the major media nor the
Democrats nor, arguably, the average American citizen
was quite ready to hear the most candid unpleasantries
about whether this administration had acted seriously
on any pre-9-11 warnings it may have received. But
that was then. The Democrats have since learned how to
flex their biceps (at least some of them, some of the
time; hey, it's a start), and the average citizen is
now roughly as likely to be dubious of this president
as not.

The Dems are doing their part. Will the media do its?
Two months before the Newsweek cover package ran,
Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie took part
in a panel discussion at the Kennedy School's
Shorenstein Center on the future of investigative
reporting. The conversation zigged and zagged about
the then-current Washington climate, until finally
Downie weighed in with this: "So if you do tough
investigative reporting about Democrats or about
issues that are important to the left, you'll get a
strong backlash from the left. Similarly, if you do
tough investigative reporting of the Republicans or
people on the right, you'll get a strong backlash from
them. And I think this is also having an impact on the
media. It's scaring people." (Click here and scroll to
page 17.)

I scarcely need to comment on the idea that the man
sitting in Ben Bradlee's old chair is afraid that
doing tough reporting is too scary. Rather, in a
spirit of positive thinking and uplift, I will merely
hope that his attitude may have changed. As Clark and
Kean advance their story line, we may behold our

Michael Tomasky is the Prospect's executive editor.

Copyright © 2003 by The American Prospect, Inc

Posted by richard at 07:28 AM

Filmmaker predicts Bush loss in 2004

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Documentary filmmaker and political commentator Michael Moore told a packed house at the College of Wooster yesterday that growing anger among Americans over the Iraq war could bring down the Bush White House in 2004.


The Plain Dealer


Filmmaker predicts Bush loss in 2004


Damian Guevara
Plain Dealer Reporter

Wooster - Documentary filmmaker and political
commentator Michael Moore told a packed house at the
College of Wooster yesterday that growing anger among
Americans over the Iraq war could bring down the Bush
White House in 2004.

"Americans don't like being lied to," Moore said.
"More and more of our fellow Americans have figured
out that we were led to war on a lie."

Moore's visit - held in a gymnasium at the Armington
Physical Education Center to accommodate 4,000 people
- comes days after the release of his latest book
"Dude, Where's My Country?" Moore was invited to speak
as part of the school's Wooster Forum series.

Mixing his commentary with wit, Moore said Bush had
manipulated the American public with fear during the
buildup to war. But, he said, "Once educated, the
shift takes place."

Moore, famous for his irreverent humor, gained
national attention in 2002 with his Academy
Award-winning film "Bowling For Columbine" and
best-seller "Stupid White Men."

Last night, Moore made fun of right-wing political
pundits, whom he called "angry white guys," and said
conservatives already owned the White House, Congress
and the Supreme Court. He said conservatives are angry
because Americans favor higher minimum wage, strong
environmental laws and are pro-choice.

He said conservatives also were upset because women
and people of color make up two-thirds of the country.

"The angry white guys have been running the show for
10,000 years," Moore said. "We've got to be the
generation to see it end."

Moore wondered aloud why the United States adopts
domestic policies that leave the disadvantaged even
deeper in a hole.

"Why do we pick on the weakest members of our society?
People from other countries don't understand that
about us," he said.

One student who attended Moore's speech said she
agreed with him on voting Bush out of office.

"I don't think that he should have been there in the
first place," said Jennifer Culver, an 18-year-old
communications and black studies student.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

dguevara@plaind.com, 216-999-4334

© 2003 The Plain Dealer.

Posted by richard at 07:26 AM

October 29, 2003

Bush Steps Away From Victory Banner

The _resident is a disturbed individual.

New York Times: Gen. Wesley K. Clark, for one, said that Mr. Bush's comments blaming the sailors "for something his advance team staged" were "outrageous."

Published on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 by the New
York Times
Bush Steps Away From Victory Banner

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 — The triumphal "Mission
Accomplished" banner was the pride of the White House
advance team, the image makers who set the stage for
the president's close-ups. On May 1, on a golden
Pacific evening aboard the carrier Abraham Lincoln,
they made sure that the banner was perfectly captured
in the camera shots of President Bush's speech
declaring major combat in Iraq at an end.

Bush said the "Mission Accomplished sign, of course,
was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln,
saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it
was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man
from my staff. They weren't that ingenious, by the
(DOD Photo)

But on Tuesday in the Rose Garden, Mr. Bush publicly
disavowed the banner that had come to symbolize what
his critics said was a premature declaration that the
United States had prevailed.

"The `Mission Accomplished' sign, of course, was put
up by the members of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln,
saying that their mission was accomplished," Mr. Bush
told reporters. "I know it was attributed somehow to
some ingenious advance man from my staff. They weren't
that ingenious, by the way."

Well, yes and no. After the news conference, the White
House press secretary, Scott McClellan, carefully
elaborated on the president's words.

The banner "was suggested by those on the ship," he
said. "They asked us to do the production of the
banner, and we did. They're the ones who put it up."

The man responsible for the banner, Scott Sforza, a
former ABC producer now with the White House
communications office, was traveling overseas on
Tuesday and declined to answer questions. He is known
for the production of the sophisticated backdrops that
appear behind Mr. Bush with the White House message of
the day, like "Helping Small Business," repeated over
and over.

Mr. Bush's Democratic competitors for president
immediately pounced on his disavowal.

Gen. Wesley K. Clark, for one, said that Mr. Bush's
comments blaming the sailors "for something his
advance team staged" were "outrageous."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Posted by richard at 07:23 AM

Sick soldiers wait for treatment

UPI: "I don't mind serving my country," Talley said. "I just hate what they are doing to me now." Talley has served for 30 years. He was awarded two Purple Hearts in Vietnam.


Sick soldiers wait for treatment
By Mark Benjamin
UPI Investigations Editor
Published 10/29/2003 3:58 PM
View printer-friendly version

FORT KNOX, Ky., Oct. 29 (UPI) -- More than 400 sick
and injured soldiers, including some who served in
Operation Iraqi Freedom, are stuck at Fort Knox,
waiting weeks and sometimes months for medical
treatment, a score of soldiers said in interviews.

The delays appear to have demolished morale -- many
said they had lost faith in the Army and would not
serve again -- and could jeopardize some soldiers'
health, the soldiers said.

The Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers are in
what the Army calls "medical hold," like roughly 600
soldiers under similar circumstances waiting for
doctors at Fort Stewart, Ga.

The apparent lack of care at both locations raises the
specter that Reserve and Guard soldiers, including
many who returned from Iraq, could be languishing at
locations across the country, according to Senate

Representatives from the office of Sen. Kit Bond,
R-Mo., were at Fort Knox Wednesday looking into
conditions at the post.

Following reports from Fort Stewart, Senate
investigators said that the medical system at that
post was overwhelmed and they were looking into
whether the situation was Army-wide.

Army officials at the Pentagon said they are
investigating that possibility. "We are absolutely
taking a look at this across the Army and not just at
Fort Stewart," Army spokesman Joe Burlas said

"I joined to serve my country," said Cpl. Waymond
Boyd, 34. He served in Iraq with the National Guard's
1175 Transportation Company. He has been in medical
hold since the end of July.

"It doesn't make any sense to go over there and risk
your life and come back to this," Boyd said. "It ain't
fair and it ain't right. I used to be patriotic." He
has served the military for 15 years.

Boyd's knee and wrist injuries were severe enough that
he was evacuated to Germany at the end of July and
then sent to Fort Knox. His medical records show
doctor appointments around four weeks apart. He said
it took him almost two months to get a cast for his
wrist, which is so weak he can't lift 5 pounds or play
with his two children. He is taking painkilling drugs
and walks with a cane with some difficulty.

Many soldiers at Fort Knox said their injuries and
illnesses occurred in Iraq. Some said the rigors of
war exacerbated health problems that probably should
have prevented them from going in the first place.

Boyd's X-rays appear to show the damage to his wrist
but also bone spurs in his feet that are noted in his
medical record before being deployed, but the records
say "no health problems noted" before he left.

"I don't think I was medically fit to go. But they
said 'go.' That is my job," Boyd said.

Fort Knox Public Affairs Officer Connie Shaffery said,
"Taking care of patients is our priority." Soldiers
see specialists within 28 days, Shaffery said and Fort
Knox officials hope to cut that time lag.

"I think that we would like for all the soldiers to
get care as soon as possible," Shaffery said.

Shaffery said of the 422 soldiers on medical hold at
Fort Knox, 369 did not deploy to Operation Iraqi
Freedom because of their illnesses. Around two-thirds
of the soldiers at Fort Stewart did serve in Operation
Iraqi Freedom.

Soldiers at Fort Knox describe strange clusters of
heart problems and breathing problems, as did soldiers
at Fort Stewart and other locations.

Command Sgt. Major Glen Talley, 57, is in the hospital
at Fort Knox for heart problems, clotting blood and
Graves' disease, a thyroid disorder. All of the
problems became apparent after he went to war in
April, he says. He is a reservist.

Talley said he was moved to Fort Knox on Oct. 16 and
had not seen a doctor yet, only a physician's
assistant. His next appointment with an
endocrinologist was scheduled for Dec. 30.

"I don't mind serving my country," Talley said. "I
just hate what they are doing to me now." Talley has
served for 30 years. He was awarded two Purple Hearts
in Vietnam.

Sgt. Buena Montgomery has breathing problems since
serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. She said she has
been able to get to doctors but worries about many
others who have not.

"The Army did not prepare for the proper medical care
for the soldiers that they knew were going to come
back from this war," Montgomery said. "Now the Army
needs to step up to the plate and fix this problem."

In nearly two dozen interviews conducted over three
days, soldiers also described substandard living
conditions -- though they said conditions had improved

A UPI photographer working on this story without first
having cleared his presence with base public affairs
officials was detained for several hours for
questioning Tuesday and then released. He was told he
would need an Army escort for any further visits to
the base. He returned to the base accompanied by an
Army escort on Wednesday.

This reporter also was admonished that he had to be
accompanied by an Army public affairs escort when on
base. The interviews had been conducted without the
presence of an escort.

After returning from Iraq, some soldiers spent about
eight weeks in Spartan, dilapidated World War II-era
barracks with leaking roofs, animal infestations and
no air conditioning in the Kentucky heat.

"I arrived here and was placed in the World War II
barracks," one soldier wrote in an internal Fort Knox
survey of the conditions. "On the 28th of August we
moved out. On 30 Aug. the roof collapsed. Had we not
moved, someone would be dead," that soldier wrote.

Shaffery said all of the soldiers have moved out of
those barracks. "As soon as we were able to, we moved
them out," Shaffery said. The barracks now stand empty
and have been condemned.

Also like Fort Stewart, soldiers at Fort Knox claimed
they are getting substandard treatment because they
are in the National Guard or Army Reserve as opposed
to regular Army. The Army has denied any discrepancies
in treatment or housing.

"We have provided, are providing, and will continue to
provide our soldiers -- active and Reserve component
-- the best health care available," Army spokesman
Maj. Steve Stover said Oct. 20. He said Army policy
provides health care priority based on a "most
critically ill" basis, without differentiation between
active and our Reserve soldiers.

"Medical hold issues are not new and the Army has been
working diligently to address them across the Army,"
Stover said.

"They are treating us like second-class citizens,"
said Spc. Brian Smith, who served in Operation Iraqi
Freedom until Aug. 16 and said he is having trouble
seeing doctors at Fort Knox. The Army evacuated him
through Germany for stomach problems, among other
things. "My brother wants to get in (the military). I
am now discouraging him from doing it," Smith said.

"I have never been so disrespected in my military
career," said Lt. Jullian Goodrum, who has been in the
Army Reserve for 16 years. His health problems do not
appear to be severe -- injured wrists -- but he said
the medical situation at Fort Knox is bad. He said he
waited a month for therapy. "I have never been so
treated like dirt."

Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press International

Posted by richard at 07:21 AM

Military families grow angry with state of Iraq war

Several more US GIs have died in Iraq. For what? The
_resident, in his pretend press conference, actually
said, "the world is a more peaceful place under my
leadership." YES, the world is under his "leadership,"
and it is "a more peaceful place." What a disgrace...

Chicago Tribune: Cherie Block, 29, could barely contain herself while watching President Bush's news conference Tuesday from her home in Sac City, Iowa, especially when he insisted the vast majority of Iraqis are with Americans, not against them. "Look at everything that's going on there this week," Block said, "And (Bush) still has this perfect picture in his head that they want us there. To me, they're already against us."


Posted on Tue, Oct. 28, 2003

Military families grow angry with state of Iraq war
Chicago Tribune

DENVER - (KRT) - They are angry and disillusioned,
frustrated and full of doubt. This war is not going
the way they hoped it would.

They are wives and husbands of the 129th Army Reserves
Combat Transportation Company, stationed in Kansas,
and they are terrified for spouses who are conducting
missions in Iraq.

A month ago, these family members launched a "bring
our soldiers home" petition drive when, with no
advance notice, the 129th Company's tour of duty was

Today, after a string of recent suicide bombings in
Iraq, they stand with a growing number of military
families who are convinced that the war is going awry
and who think the American public isn't getting a
straight story on the conflict.

Cherie Block, 29, could barely contain herself while
watching President Bush's news conference Tuesday from
her home in Sac City, Iowa, especially when he
insisted the vast majority of Iraqis are with
Americans, not against them. "Look at everything
that's going on there this week," Block said, "And
(Bush) still has this perfect picture in his head that
they want us there. To me, they're already against

"Either he doesn't really understand what's going on,
or he's not telling it the way it really is," said
Block, whose husband Wallace is a sergeant with the
129th Company.

Around the country other military families are
increasingly voicing concerns over the war, some
through organizations such as Military Families Speak
Out, a Massachusetts group that claims support from
about 1,000 families nationwide. Some marched in
protests against the war in Washington, D.C., last

While many of these families are adamantly anti-war,
others embrace the administration's rationale for
going to war in Iraq, while criticizing its conduct in
the post-war period.

Among them is Trisha Leonard, 27, of De Soto, Kan.,
who declined to name her husband, a captain in the
129th Company Army Reserves. "I think taking out
Saddam's regime was a good move. But there is no
post-war plan or exit strategy. It's a mess."

To be sure, the vast majority of military families
support the war, at least in public. They don't want
their wives and husbands, sons or daughters to return
home to a country that has adopted a negative view of
the conflict, like that faced by soldiers who came
home from Vietnam.

Overwhelmingly, families are against a massive pullout
of troops that would leave Iraq destabilized and
vulnerable. The U.S. has to finish what it has begun,
or risk an even greater surge of terrorism, they

But reservists like those in the 129th Company, which
operates huge trucks that haul tanks and other heavy
equipment into Iraq, are in an especially tough
position. Planning for their service in the Iraq war
has been particularly chaotic, families charge,
insisting that the military has given them inadequate
information and assistance.

Initially, most of the 129th Company reservists
believed their tour of duty would be three to six
months. Then they were told it would be a year from
the time they arrived in Iraq, not including the three
months they spent prior to be deployed.

Finally, last month, they were told the 270-member
129th Company might not come home before 2005. That's
when Rachel Trueblood, 42, of Lees Summit, Mo., a
mother of three whose husband Rony is a staff sergeant
with the company, went from "sucking it up," as she
puts it, to getting mad.

Her bottom line: no National Guard or reservist should
be deployed for more than 12 months at a time. After
e-mailing other families in the company, Trueblood
mounted a petition drive last month that has already
gathered almost 13,000 signatures.

"Once-proud Army Reserve families are being
disillusioned by the decision to keep reservists
beyond their original orders," the petition reads. "We
ask for your help in getting our loved ones home by
the end of their 12-month tour of active duty."

As for the war, though her husband supports it,
Trueblood has serious doubts. "We've committed
ourselves to something that's bigger than any of us
ever bargained for," she said. "My feeling is, we
can't leave, but this might be a cause we'll never
win. We're trying to lead something that should have
been led from the inside (of Iraq)."

Every time Bush gets up and says the U.S. won't back
down until it wins the war against terrorism, as he
did Tuesday, Trueblood wonders "How? We're already
stretched to the absolute limit. Where are you going
to lead us next, into Iran or Syria?"

For Jodie Holm, 38, faith is the answer to the nagging
questions she tries to keep at bay as violence in Iraq
escalates. Every day, she prays her husband Jeff, a
sergeant with the 129th Company, will return home
safely, and tries not to imagine how she would survive
if he didn't. Her pride in his service is mingled with
anxiety about his welfare and a feeling of constantly
being on edge.

"If it wasn't for God, I'd be a basket case right now.
… I'm so scared," said Holm from her home in Council
Bluffs, Iowa, breaking into tears over the phone.
"More and more, it seems the Iraqi people don't want
us there. My husband says don't worry, but I can't
help myself. It's the not knowing what is going to
happen next that's killing me."


© 2003, Chicago Tribune.

Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information

Posted by richard at 07:20 AM

October 28, 2003

Taking Bush head-on, Dean is riding high: His 'fire in the belly' is drawing fervent support from war critics -- and increasing attacks from his Democratic rivals.

Politically astute, politically tough, politically
adept...Do not dimiss him Dean...I often remember the
story above Rove standing up at a July 4th parade and
cheering on a contingent of Dean supporters, Rove said
"He's the one we want!" Well, I think Rove might have
been doing what scared people do...whistling in the
dark...Clark/Dean, Dean/Clark. It's a strong
combination either way, not directly in relation to
the Electoral College (they both have challenges in
that regard), but directly in relation to the twin
engines of 2004 anxiety -- the war (Clark) and the
economy (Dean), and most importantly, such a ticket
would directly address the bully in the playground
issue, someone has to stand up to the Little Dictator,
and these two have...

Sacramento Bee: "He is as angry as a lot of the rest of us," said Peter Greenough, a Manhattan businessman who attended the rally at the park on 42nd Street and who wrote a $250 check to Dean's campaign.


Taking Bush head-on, Dean is riding high: His 'fire in the belly' is drawing fervent support from war critics -- and increasing attacks from his Democratic rivals.
By Rob Hotakainen -- Bee Washington Bureau
Published 2:15 a.m. PST Monday, October 27, 2003
Second in a series of profiles on the 2004 Democratic
presidential candidates that will appear on Mondays.

NEW YORK -- After making her way to the front of the
crowd of 10,000 people at Manhattan's Bryant Park,
Heather Palazzo, 32, let out a scream: "I touched

Then the desktop publisher from New Haven, Conn.,
explained her delight in making contact with Howard
Dean, the former governor of Vermont: "He has a ton of
charisma! He's very sexy!"

Plenty of folks are trying to get their hands on Dean
these days, particularly his Democratic rivals for the
party's 2004 presidential nomination. Polls show that
Dean has emerged at the top of the Democratic heap,
and that means fending off attacks.

They're coming from all sides.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts says Dean is out to
raise taxes.

Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri says he once wanted to
cut Medicare.

And Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut suggests that
Dean is too liberal and would lead the party back into
the "political wilderness."

Dean's fight for the nomination grew more complicated
when another Washington outsider, retired Gen. Wesley
Clark, entered the race. But Dean has a strong
organization and plenty of money.

Dean, who describes himself as "a common-sense
moderate," says his fellow Democrats "have had the
greatest time" running against him.

"First they said I was George McGovern and I couldn't
win, and now they're saying I'm Newt Gingrich and I
couldn't win," Dean said at a recent debate.

Dean's supporters are confident that he will survive.
They say Dean, a physician before he entered politics,
is the only candidate with any real passion for taking
on President Bush and his policies.

"He is as angry as a lot of the rest of us," said
Peter Greenough, a Manhattan businessman who attended
the rally at the park on 42nd Street and who wrote a
$250 check to Dean's campaign.

As an anti-war candidate, Dean has surged as
opposition to the war in Iraq has grown. He calls it
"a mistaken war" and says the Democratic Party
establishment "rolled over and provided no opposition"
when Congress authorized the use of military force in
October 2002.

Dean, who says his campaign is based on "mouse pads,
shoe leather and hope," last week became the first
Democratic candidate to visit all 99 of Iowa's

And from July through September, he raised nearly $15
million, a single-quarter record for any Democratic
presidential candidate.

"There's no doubt about it. ... All objective evidence
clearly points to Dean as the front-runner," said
Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University
of Virginia.

According to Dean, 168,000 Americans gave him money
during the three-month period, in contributions
averaging $73.69. Half of his third-quarter donations
were raised on the Internet, which Dean is using to
mobilize his troops as he seeks to register from 3
million to 4 million new voters.

Dean jokes that this time the candidate who receives
the most votes will actually be elected president.

"That is the way that we are going to take back our
country, is to give the 50 percent of the people in
this country who have given up on politics a reason to
vote again," says Dean.

Dean, 54, was born to wealth in New York City and grew
up in East Hampton on Long Island. His father worked
as a stockbroker, his mother as an art appraiser.
After he graduated from Yale, he and his wife, Judith
Steinberg, ran an internal medicine practice before
Dean entered politics. That happened in 1980, when
Dean volunteered for Jimmy Carter's re-election

In 1982, Dean was elected to the Vermont House, where
he served until 1986, when he was elected lieutenant
governor. In 1991, when Gov. Richard Snelling died,
Dean became the state's chief executive, serving as
governor until January 2003.

In 2000, Dean gained national attention when he signed
a civil unions bill that gave gay couples the benefits
of marriage. And under Dean's leadership, Vermont, the
second-smallest state in the nation, began providing
access to health care to all children under 18.

He was known as a fiscal watchdog, cutting income
taxes and reducing the state's long-term debt.

Dean calls the Bush presidency "a credit-card
presidency," and he is promising to balance the
budget, something he did with regularity as governor
of Vermont. He says the president doesn't know how to
manage money, as evidenced by a deficit that's
approaching a half-trillion dollars per year.

"The fact is that no Republican president in the last
34 years has balanced the budget," Dean says. "If you
want to trust your hard-earned taxpaying dollars to
the federal government, you better hire a Democrat,
because you can't trust a Republican."

Dean throws out plenty of red meat for partisans at
his rallies.

He says Bush has lost nearly 3 million U.S. jobs since
becoming president, giving him the worst record since
Herbert Hoover. He says the United States needs an
energy policy that seeks more than drilling for oil in
national parks, a reference to Bush's proposal to
allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

He links Bush to the Enron scandal, saying Bush
provided plenty of help for "(former Enron Chairman)
Ken Lay and the boys." And he says Bush likes to "talk
so big about those tax cuts for the fat cats." If Dean
is elected president, he says, he'll get rid of those
tax breaks.

"The next time we have a tax cut, it's going to go to
middle-class and working people, and not the Ken Lays
of the world," he says.

The middle class is paying for the tax cuts with
higher property taxes and higher college tuition, Dean
says. And the United States should be spending more on
education, homeland security, roads, bridges and
renewable energy, among other things, he says.

Dean backs abortion rights. He wants to raise the
minimum wage to $6.65 an hour (from $5.15), spend more
on health insurance and special education, repeal all
of the Bush tax cuts and increase taxes on
corporations. In 1973, he said, corporations paid 40
percent of federal tax revenues, but the corporate
contribution declined to 16.8 percent last year.

At a speech at Georgetown University in Washington,
D.C., in mid-October, Dean announced his economic
plan, which includes a $100 billion "Fund to Restore
America." It aims to create 1 million new jobs by
distributing money to states and cities that have been
hardest hit by the economic downturn. Dean says his
top domestic priority is putting people back to work.

Dean is trying to broaden his base beyond Democrats.
He says the ailing economy is making that easier to

"There's so many Republicans that are worried about
what's going on that we're actually seeing Republicans
come to our rallies," says Dean.

At a rally in Falls Church, Va., just outside
Washington, 22-year-old Matt Larkin, a student from
Seattle, scrambled to get near the front of the stage
to pose for a photograph with Dean after the candidate
gave his speech. Larkin considers himself an
independent voter and said he supported Bush in 2000,
but that could change.

"I don't agree with Bush on a lot of things," he said.
Of Dean, he said: "I like the passion. I like the fact
that he can get a crowd going. You know, that really
gets me excited."

In 2000, many Democrats worried that Al Gore was too
stiff. Dean supporters say their candidate can create
a buzz.

"Howard Dean is the only candidate who is actually
making the Democratic Party exciting again," said Rep.
Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

Ron Taylor, 56, a biochemist from Charlottesville,
Va., said Dean is creating such a big buzz because of
his courage in taking on Bush, and his honesty.

"There's an awful lot of passion for Dean," said
Taylor, who also saw Dean speak at the Falls Church
rally. "If you look around, this is not a bunch of
left-wing flower-power type of people. This is
mainstream America that's disgusted with Bush's

"I feel like there's some hope," said Marty Cathcart,
55, a high school administrator from Washington, D.C.,
who attended the Falls Church rally. "I haven't been
to a campaign rally for 20 years. There's something
about this guy. He's the only person who came out
against the war. That was the biggie that attracted my

Dean says he's no pacifist. He supported the Persian
Gulf War in 1991, he says, because a U.S. ally had
been attacked. And he says that launching war in
Afghanistan was the right thing to do after more than
3,000 Americans were killed in the attacks of Sept.
11, 2001.

"This time, the president told us that Saddam Hussein
was making a deal with Osama bin Laden," says Dean,
referring to an alleged link between Iraq and
al-Qaida. "That turned out not to be true. He told us
that Iraq was buying uranium from Africa. That turned
out not to be true."

As commander in chief, Dean says he would be willing
to use U.S. troops, but adds: "I will never send our
sons and daughters and our brothers and sisters to die
in a foreign country without being truthful to the
American people."

While Dean's position on Iraq is energizing the
party's liberal base, his position on guns is making
many liberals nervous. He believes states, not the
federal government, should have the main
responsibility for controlling guns.

When Dean went to Georgetown, Isaac Halpern, 23, a
second-year graduate student from Philadelphia,
greeted him with a sign that read: "NRA-powered

"We want students to really understand Howard Dean's
position on guns," said Halpern, who's supporting
Kerry. "He doesn't bring up his record on guns."

Indeed, Dean made no mention of guns at Georgetown or
at his rallies in New York and Falls Church.

"I'd prefer a little bit stricter gun control, but
there's no such thing as a candidate that agrees with
every single thing you think," said Andrew Bleeker,
18, of McLean, Va.

But many Dean supporters say his position on guns will
help when the campaign moves beyond Iowa and New

"If people in the South realize that he's not opposed
to the right to own guns and that his philosophy is
less regulation ... that's not a liberal stance," said
Greenough, the Manhattan businessman. "There are lots
of people in New York City who would say that's

As a front-runner, Dean is coming under intense
scrutiny on his record, and he has been forced to play
defense in recent debates.

After Kerry said Dean was out to raise taxes, Dean
accused Kerry of using misleading numbers. And when
Gephardt suggested that Dean might tinker with
Medicare, Dean shot back that Gephardt was engaging in
"the politics of the past."

Paul Perry, 18, a student at American University in
Washington, D.C., said it's no surprise that other
Democratic candidates are trying to gang up on Dean.

"The electorate wants a Democrat who's willing to
represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,
and that's what Dean is," said Perry. "He's not Kerry.
He's not Lieberman. He's not these other candidates
who are trying to be Bush Lite."

Dean borrowed his trademark line -- that he represents
the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party -- from
the late Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota,
who said that too many Democrats have been behaving
like Republicans.

When Dean first used the line, leaders of the centrist
Democratic Leadership Council pounced on him, saying
that wing of the party represents the
"McGovern-Mondale" wing. That's a reference to the
party's losing nominees in 1972 and 1984, McGovern and
former Vice President Walter Mondale of Minnesota.

Dean's supporters say it's wrong to describe him as
just another Northeastern liberal, such as Michael
Dukakis, the former governor of Massachusetts and the
party's failed 1988 presidential nominee.

"Dukakis didn't have a passionate bone in his body,
and Howard Dean has fire in his belly," said John
Clewett, 53, a former arts administrator from Falls
Church. He said the notion that Dean can't be elected
is "a right-wing red herring."

Sabato attributed Dean's rise to his opposition to the
war, his ability to connect with Democratic activists
and his status as a Washington outsider.

"As we've learned in modern times, governors have
major advantages, just being disconnected from
Washington," Sabato said.

But with the general election a year away, Dean faces
a challenge in keeping the excitement of his campaign
going. Much will depend on how he fares in Iowa and
New Hampshire, where voters go to the polls in

If he wins one of those states, Sabato said, it will
give Dean even more momentum: "The question is always,
'Is it Big Mo? Or is it Little Mo?' "

Howard Dean
Born: Nov. 17, 1948, in New York City; grew up in East
Hampton, N.Y.
Hometown: Burlington, Vt.

Education: Bachelor's degree, Yale University, 1971;
medical degree, Albert Einstein College of Medicine,
New York City, 1978.

Career: Completed medical school in three years rather
than the traditional four and was sent to Vermont for
his residency in 1978. In 1981, opened his medical
practice in Shelburne, Vt., with another doctor. His
wife, Dr. Judith Steinberg, joined the practice in
1985. Dean entered politics in 1980 as a volunteer for
Jimmy Carter. Served in Vermont House, 1982-86.
Elected lieutenant governor in 1986. Became governor
in 1991 on death of Gov. Richard Snelling. Re-elected
five times and served until January 2003.

Family: Met his wife at medical school. The Deans have
two children, Anne, who attends Yale, and Paul, a high
school senior.

Campaign Web site: www.DeanForAmerica.com

- Bee Washington Bureau

Posted by richard at 07:17 AM

Bill Moyers is Insightful, Erudite, Impassioned, Brilliant and the Host of PBS' "NOW"

Bill Moyers: And, a phalanx of conservative publications and right-wing radio and television talk shows has created a cavernous echo chamber for a Republican agenda, with no real-time opportunity for rebuttal of the propaganda or the refutation of the lies. Everyone operates today in what a friend of mine calls "the blinding white light of 24/7 global medium" -- an increased conglomeration of megamedia corporations has essentially stripped journalism of purpose except pleasing consumers.


October 28, 2003
Bill Moyers is Insightful, Erudite, Impassioned, Brilliant and the Host of PBS' "NOW"


Bill Moyers will be the keynote speaker at the
National Conference on Media Reform
(http://www.mediareform.net/conference.php) in
Madison, Wisconsin, on Nov. 8. Media reform is a
subject near to his heart and a topic central to this
BuzzFlash interview with him.

Moyers is someone who knows both sides of the world of
political media coverage, having served as Lyndon
Johnson's press secretary. Over the years, we have
come to know him as a thoughtful, impassioned
journalist who has developed a voice and vision
uniquely his own. Unlike today's crop of
cookie-cutter, blow-dried corporate television news
celebrities, Moyers is a man who chooses his words
carefully because he values and respects the power of
language and the importance of his own integrity. He
is a craftsman in an age that values the assembly line
production of indistinguishable news churned out at a
numbing pace.

Moyers is host of the PBS news and public affairs
program "NOW with Bill Moyers," airing Friday nights
at 9 p.m. (http://www.pbs.org/now -- check local
listings, because some affiliates air NOW at different
times). BuzzFlash readers who complain about the vast
right-wing wasteland of television news and commentary
should watch "NOW," if they don't already. It's an
oasis of journalistic integrity and pro-democracy

But for right now, you don't need to turn on the
television to partake of the incisive, erudite
perspective that Bill Moyers brings to an
understanding of what's gone wrong with today's media.
For right now, Bill Moyers will enlighten you right
here on BuzzFlash.com.

* * *

BUZZFLASH: You served as a press secretary for Lyndon
Johnson. Based on your personal experience, how do you
think the relationship between the White House and the
White House press corps has changed since the l960s?

BILL MOYERS: Every era has its own unique issues, but
the basic tension between president and press is
always there. Presidents want their options protected,
their good intentions emphasized, their sins
unreported, and their mistakes forgiven; journalists
want to find out what's going on. That much hasn't

LBJ was waging an unpopular war and that made the
usual tensions even more acute, especially with
reporting from Vietnam that was at odds with the
official view of reality. Since the 60s, the number of
reporters covering the place has grown almost
exponentially. Government's bigger and its expertise
in public relations more sophisticated. Access to
officials is much harder except when they want to leak
or spin. And, a phalanx of conservative publications
and right-wing radio and television talk shows has
created a cavernous echo chamber for a Republican
agenda, with no real-time opportunity for rebuttal of
the propaganda or the refutation of the lies. Everyone
operates today in what a friend of mine calls "the
blinding white light of 24/7 global medium" -- an
increased conglomeration of megamedia corporations has
essentially stripped journalism of purpose except
pleasing consumers.

There was a study not long ago that asked mainstream
journalists how they view their own professional
situations. Not happily, it turns out. A majority felt
that much of the control over their work has passed
from editors to corporate executives and stockholders
whose interest is not necessarily informing the public
with the information we need to have to function as
citizens. Journalists who don't serve a partisan
purpose and who try to be disinterested observers find
themselves whipsawed between these corporate and
ideological forces. I agree with Eric Alterman that
"the constant drumbeat of groundless accusation
[against mainstream journalists] has proven an
effective weapon in weakening journalism's watchdog

I think these forces have unbalanced the relationship
between this White House and the press. Frankly, even
if we had tried it in LBJ's time, we wouldn't have
gotten away with the kind of press conference
President Bush conducted on the eve of the invasion of
Iraq -- the one that even the President admitted was
wholly scripted, with reporters raising their hands
and posing so as to appear spontaneous. Matt Taibbi
wrote in The New York Press at the time that it was
like a mini-Alamo for American journalism. I'd say it
was more a collective Jonestown-like suicide. At least
the defenders of the Alamo put up a fight.

BUZZFLASH: That's a good point for my second question.
We have seen many trends in how media organizations
are structured. Let me ask you about two of these
trends. First, to what degree have news divisions at
television stations become less independent than they
were in the l960s, to the extent that they are more
integrated into the overall ratings and profit
strategy of their parent corporations?

MOYERS: Well, I don't want to suggest some Golden Age
of Broadcast Journalism -- with the possible exception
of that remarkable period when Murrow's Boys, as they
were called, showed what radio could do. Broadcast
journalism came wrapped in an entertainment medium and
was compromised early on because of it. The conflict's
just become more pronounced through the years with one
merger after another, so that Harold Evans [former
editor of The Times of London] says: "the problem that
many media organizations face is not to stay in
business, but to stay in journalism."

I'll give you a very recent example, one read in the
Washington Post. Seems the NBC affiliate in Tampa is
selling segments on its morning "news" show. You pony
up $2,500 and get four to six minutes of what is in
fact an infomercial. I'm not making this up. One of
the show's hosts confessed: "You pay us, and we do
what you want us to do." So Wendy's restaurant chain
paid to have a chirpy co-host tout the company for its
awards program for young football players who perform
community service. According to the Post, the
conglomerate that owns WFLA, Media General, wasn't at
all embarrassed by the disclosure. The Post went on to
say that stations in Washington and Baltimore are
running health segments featuring hospitals and
medical centers that pay for the pieces. Whether we're
being pushovers or prostitutes, it's a sad day for
what used to be called "a free and independent press."

There's a price for this, and democracy pays it.
Somewhere around here I've got a copy of a study The
Project for Excellence in Journalism that examined the
front pages of The New York Times and The Los Angeles
Times, looked at the nightly news programs of ABC, CBS
and NBC, read Time and Newsweek, and found that
between 1977 and 1997 the number of stories about
government dropped from one in three to one in five,
while the number of stories about celebrities rose
from one in every 50 stories to one in every 14. More
recently the nightly newscasts gave four times the
coverage to Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign in
California than to all gubernatorial campaigns in the
country throughout 2002.

Does it matter? Well, governments can send us to war,
pick our pockets, slap us in jail, run a highway
through our back yard, look the other way as polluters
do their dirty work, slip tax breaks and subsidies to
the privileged at the expense of those who can't
afford lawyers, lobbyists, or time to be vigilant.
Right now, as we speak, House Republicans are trying
to sneak into the energy bill a plan that would
prohibit water pollution lawsuits against oil and
chemical companies. Millions of consumers and their
water utilities in 25 states will be forced to pay
billions of dollars to remove the toxic gasoline
additive MTBE from drinking water if the House gives
the polluters what they want. I can't find this story
in the mainstream press, only on niche websites. You
see, it matters who's pulling the strings, and I don't
know how we hold governments accountable if journalism
doesn't tell us who that is.

On the other hand, remember during the invasion of
Iraq a big radio-consulting firm sent out a memo to
its client stations advising them on how to use the
war to their best advantage -- they actually called it
"a war manual." Stations were advised to "go for the
emotion" -- broadcast patriotic music "that makes you
cry, salute, get cold chills…." I'm not making this
up. All of this mixture of propaganda and
entertainment adds up to what? You get what James
Squires, the long-time editor of the Chicago Tribune,
calls "the death of journalism." We're getting so
little coverage of the stories that matter to our
lives and our democracy: government secrecy, the
environment, health care, the state of working
America, the hollowing out of the middle class, what
it means to be poor in America. It's not that the
censorship is overt. It's more that the national
agenda is being hijacked. They're deciding what we
know and talk about, and it's not often the truth
behind the news.

BUZZFLASH: Are you saying the bottom line corporate
culture of large media conglomerates such as the
Tribune Company, Time Warner, New York Times Company,
Clear Channel or Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp affects the
perspectives of their individual media outlets -- as
well as the reporting of political and governmental
news in particular?

MOYERS: Sure. Rupert Murdoch is in a category by
himself -- overtly political. He makes no bones about
it. Sure, he wants NewsCorp to turn big profit, as it
does. But he'll take losses on the New York Post and
subsidize The Weekly Standard to advance his political
agenda, which, of course, is ultimately aimed at the
kind of government favoritism that boosts his
corporate earning. I'm sure you know he's lobbying
hard right now for FCC approval of his purchase of
DirectTV, which will give him a network of satellite
systems spanning Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He's
starting all-news networks in Italy and India, and
he's so desperate to please the Chinese that he
dropped the BBC from his satellite operation in China
just to please the communist leaders there who didn't
like the coverage.

Few journalists have the guts to take on Murdoch the
way columnist Richard Cohen did. He described
Murdoch's properties -- including his Fox News Channel
-- for what they are: "blatantly political, hardly
confining Murdoch's conservative political ideology to
editorials or commentary but infusing it into the news
coverage itself."

That's the political side of it. Then there's the
commercial side. Look, the founders of our government,
the fellows who gave us the First Amendment, didn't
count on the rise of these megamedia conglomerates.
They didn't count on huge private corporations that
would own not only the means of journalism but vast
swaths of the territory that journalism is supposed to
cover. When you get a handful of conglomerates owning
more and more of our news outlets, you're not going to
find them covering the intersection where their power
meets political power.

The fact is that big money and big business,
corporations and commerce, are the undisputed
overlords of politics and government today. Barry
Diller came on my PBS program and talked about what
can happen when the media and political elites gang up
on the public. Diller says we have a media oligopoly.
Kevin Phillips says we have a political oligarchy.
Talk about a marriage made in hell! Listen, these guys
are reshaping our news environment. They're down in
Washington wining and dining the powers-that-be
insisting that any restriction on their ability to own
media properties is a violation of their corporate
First Amendment rights. They want to be the
gatekeepers not only over what we see on television
and hear on the radio but how we travel online.

Journalists feel squeezed -- those who simply believe
we are here to practice our craft as if society needs
what we do and expects us to do it as honorably as
possible. There's another study around here somewhere
done by the Pew Research Center for the People and the
Press and The Columbia Journalism Review. More than a
quarter of journalists polled said they had avoided
pursuing some important stories that might conflict
with the financial interests of their news
organizations or advertisers.

My favorite example is what happened during the nine
months when Congress was considering the
Telecommunications Act of 1996. That legislation
amounted to some of America's richest and most
powerful corporations picking the taxpayers' pockets
of many billions of dollars. The three major network
news broadcasts, whose parent companies were part of
the heist, aired a sum total of only 19 minutes about
the legislation. None of those 19 minutes included a
single mention of debate over whether the broadcasters
should pay for use of the digital spectrum that would
make them richer.

Another example: Everyone knows political campaigns
have become a get-rich quick scheme for local
television station owners. But almost nobody knew in
the winter of 2002 -- because the media weren't
telling us -- that the broadcast lobbyists were
strangling in the crib a requirement that the networks
offer candidates their least expensive advertising
rates, so campaigning wouldn't cost so much.

Take the big story this year -- the White House and
its big corporate allies prodding the FCC to relax the
rules to allow the conglomerates to get even bigger.
Practically no major news outlets bothered to cover
it. Our little program on PBS stayed on the story --
the FCC became our beat -- and we kept throwing our
spotlight on it until the public caught on. Over two
million citizens bombarded the FCC and Congress with
protests. Suddenly Congress woke up and realized
people really care about these media issues. The
Senate has stopped the FCC from acting and there are
votes in the House to do the same except that Tom
Delay won't let it come to the floor. I was
flabbergasted to read the other day that even the FCC
chairman, Michael Powell, had to acknowledge that if
it hadn't been for PBS, there wouldn't have been any
media coverage of the most important media story of
the year.

BUZZFLASH: Many books and theses have been written
about this question, but just give us your quick take.
How has the prevalence of television in our lives
affected how we view news events and public policy?
How does the emphasis on the visual image in the
nightly television news impact public perceptions?

MOYERS: I don't have the social science skills to
answer that with authority. One of my heroes is Norman
Corwin, who wrote some of radio's greatest shows a
long time ago. He's still very much alive, in his 90s,
his spunk and spirit as vital as ever. He wrote a book
some years ago called Trivializing America. He was
prophetic about how media is saturating us with
violence, nonsense and trivia. Neil Postman died just
the other day -- a great professor of culture and
communication at New York University. He wrote a small
classic about how we are Amusing Ourselves to Death.
Let me read you from a Nation essay he also wrote: "If
knowledge is power, if the function of information is
to modify or provide direction to action, then it is
almost precisely true that TV news shows give nearly
no information and even less knowledge. Except of
course through their commercials. One can be told
about Bounty, Braniff and Burger King, and then do
something in relation to them. Everything on a TV show
is arranged so that it is unnecessary, undesirable
and, in any event, very difficult to attend to the
sense of what is depicted."

Now, it's possible to combat the trivializing, numbing
and dumbing down proclivity of manipulated images.
Many broadcast journalists have done so. Back in the
early 60s, I watched an NBC program -- I think the
name of it was simply The Tunnel -- about people
trying to dig their way under the Berlin wall to
freedom. I have never forgotten how moved I was at so
indelible a reminder of what people would do to be
free. Ken Burns's series on the Civil War connected me
to that seminal experience in our history much as
Bruce Catton's wonderful books had done on the same
subject many years earlier. I'd rather watch a
baseball or football game on television than in the
stadium, because the beauty of both sports -- the
double play, the long bomb -- can be savored in the

Broadcast journalism can be truthful about reality,
too. I've been fortunate during my own three decades
in television to work with producers and editors and
other colleagues who think that images can be as
faithful to the truth as words and who strive to keep
faith with the viewer just as scrupulously as writers
do with the reader. One of my teams went back often
over 10 years to document the lives of two working
class families in Milwaukee as they struggled with the
economic realities of globalization. I don't think any
book I've read on the subject could have done those
families greater justice. Keeping faith with your
craft is more important than ever when we are
bombarded by propaganda, pornography, and
sentimentality. You have to work at it, of course; you
have to take care and time and vow to do the best you
can. Like words, images can honor the truth or subvert

BUZZFLASH: Some studies have indicated that many
Americans can't tell the difference between news they
have seen on newscasts, news they have received from
entertainment sources (Jay Leno, David Letterman and
Jon Stewart, for instance), and political ads.
Supposing this theory is true, is there any hope of
creating a more informed public?

MOYERS: I think Jon Stewart is the most astute
political analyst working today. He has more moments
of "Eureka" in a single broadcast than a month of
editorials. Who else sets off laughter and light bulbs
in your head at the same time? If I believed in
reincarnation, I would believe Mark Twain alive and

But your question was whether people distinguish
between a comedy show, a news show, and a commercial.
It seems to me they do. I think people know what they
are watching. The problem, once again, is whether they
know what they are not learning from a news broadcast,
or how the story's being spun. Print, too. I still
have in my files a headline that ran the day after the
bombing of Baghdad began: "Anti-War, Pro-Troops
Rallies Take to Streets as War Rages." There was
another one, too: "Weekend Brings More Demonstrations
-- Opposing War, Supporting Troops." That's a mistaken
and misleading formulation. You can be opposed to war
because you support the troops and don't think they
should be put in jeopardy in the wrong place for the
wrong reason at the wrong time.

Back to your question, though. Yes, I think people
distinguish between comedy, news and commercials.
Television's power of juxtaposition, however, and its
ability to arouse emotions at the expense of analysis
can take us down the slippery slope and over the edge.
I know from my own experience many years ago in the
1964 campaign against Barry Goldwater how tempting it
is to let images do your thinking for you. They're
like heroin, mainlined right into the emotional
vortex. How we feel becomes more decisive than how we

BUZZFLASH: Certainly with media consolidation, the
line between news and entertainment appears to
becoming more and more blurred. In the Iraq war, for
instance, the Pentagon paid to have a Hollywood-style
briefing room constructed, as though it were a
television show set. As another example, Arnold
Schwarzenegger announces he is running for governor on
Jay Leno. Morning news programs push news, products,
shows and movies that benefit the bottom line of their
parent corporations. So has the wall fallen between
news and entertainment, at least on the broadcast side
of the media?

MOYERS: Yes. Shakespeare said "all the world's a
stage." Today it would be "television studio." There
are exceptions, of course, but by and large most of
what happens on television is for entertainment.
Nothing wrong with entertainment, unless it leads to
thinking that everything is entertainment -- religion
and politics in the same dimension as sports and
sitcoms. And there is always the fact that if all the
world's a stage -- pardon me, television set -- we
don't see the reality off-stage, where the camera
can't go. That's where the money changes hands and
deals are done.

For years now small arcane provisions have been
written into legislation that nobody pays attention to
until years later, when we learn each one transferred
hundreds and billions of dollars from the pockets of
wage earners into the coffers of huge corporations and
wealthy individuals.

BUZZFLASH: Do you agree that war coverage, because of
government "news management," has generally become
more antiseptic and, therefore, made war more
palatable to the American public? We rarely, if ever,
see a shot or video of dead American soldiers, in
contrast to the coverage of Vietnam.

MOYERS: Or the wounded. The wounded get dumped at home
and soon forgotten. But you're right about the
antiseptic nature of coverage. There was a story by
Dana Milbank recently in the Washington Post that the
Pentagon is not going to allow news coverage and
photography of dead soldiers' homecoming on military
bases. Show 'em marching off to war but make damned
sure we don't see 'em coming back in pieces. It's the
Barbara Bush syndrome as official policy. Remember
what she told Diane Sawyer earlier this year. "Why
should we hear about body bags, and deaths … Why
should I waste my beautiful mind on something like
that …" No wonder her son is the only president in our
time who has not attended any memorials or funerals
for soldiers killed in action on his watch.

Something else: Did you notice last spring how the
news media here at home seemed more obsessed with the
deaths of journalists in Iraq than of civilian
casualties? It reminded me of what I think may have
been a defining moment in the history of broadcast
news -- back when Roone Arledge ordered ABC News to
broadcast the funeral of the anchor Frank Reynolds. I
knew and liked Frank; I think he would have been
embarrassed by the spectacle. It was as if the media
were announcing to the public: "We are more important
than you are. We want you to care more about us than
we do about you." Bizarre! We're such a
self-referential bunch.

BUZZFLASH: The drive for war appeared to be driven by
a public relations effort by the Bush administration,
using a willing media as its megaphone, particularly
television. How should the media, particularly
television, have covered the selling of the Iraq war
to the American public?

MOYERS: Here's where I question using the word "media"
as a catch-all. There are media and there are media.
You could find a lot of dissent on the Internet. There
were serious and challenging discussions on some
television shows. On the whole, however, it was a
stacked deck. Hussein, of course, was an undebatable
target -- the world really is better off without him.
You wouldn't want to stage an even-handed debate about
him! But on everything else we were at the mercy of
the official view that he was an "imminent threat"
without any reliable information to back it up. Here's
where we needed a strong opposition party to ask hard

The constitutional scholar Raul Berger once told me
that the main purpose of one party is to keep the
other party honest. We didn't have that. And the
burden on journalism was overwhelming to what too few
are equipped to do -- go to original material, provide
plenty of airtime to dissenting opinions. We wound up
with far more airtime going to official spokesmen than
to skeptics. I've gone back and reviewed transcripts
of many of the interview programs conducted in the
build-up to the invasion. Hawks like Richard Perle
were thrown softball after softball, and their
assertions for invasion basically went unchallenged.
Our mandate at NOW is to provide alternative voices
and views and when we started fulfilling that mandate,
the hawks wouldn't come on. They didn't want to be
challenged. Colin Powell's now largely-discredited
speech to the U.N. was hailed at the time as if it
were an oration by Pericles; there was no one with the
evidence to challenge him until some time had passed.

I guess I was most astonished at the imbalance of the
Washington Post -- something like three-to-one pro-war
columns on the op-ed page. The press seemed to throw
to the wind Ben Bradlee's Watergate requirement of two
sources for every allegation. Or some sense that
people other than the establishment should have been
heard on war and peace.

BUZZFLASH: Have we created a circumstance where we
have little perspective beyond the most recent news
cycle? The words of the White House on one morning,
for instance, may be contradicted by events in the
afternoon, but the news coverage rarely seems to bring
any information or comments from the past to compare
them to the unfolding news of the moment. It's almost
as if news no longer has a historical context.

MOYERS: Down the memory hole, as George Orwell would
describe it. And yes, it's all about stimulation now.
Watching the opening of the second game of the World
Series, I was struck at how effectively the Fox
producers mixed patriotic imagery with prurient
promotions for upcoming programming in what amounted
to a sedation of the viewer's critical faculty. It's a
fitting metaphor, I think, for what's happening in
politics as the mainstream media have been silenced
and the partisan media have turned propaganda into
"news." Wave the flag, stroke the sentiments, stir the
prejudices -- and you can keep the masses distracted
from the real game happening out of sight, behind
closed doors in boardrooms and oval offices.

BUZZFLASH: And what is that game?

MOYERS: Class war. The corporate right and the
political right declared class war on working people a
quarter of a century ago and they've won. The rich are
getting richer, which arguably wouldn't matter if the
rising tide lifted all boats. But the inequality gap
is the widest it's been since l929; the middle class
is besieged and the working poor are barely keeping
their heads above water. The corporate and governing
elites are helping themselves to the spoils of victory
-- politics, when all is said and done, comes down to
who gets what and who pays for it -- while the public
is distracted by the media circus and news has been
neutered or politicized for partisan purposes.

Take the paradox of a Rush Limbaugh, ensconced in a
Palm Beach mansion massaging the resentments across
the country of white-knuckled wage earners, who are
barely making ends meet in no small part because of
the very policies of those corporate and ideological
forces for whom Rush has been a hero. I recently came
across an account of the tabloid era of British
journalism in the late 1950s when the Daily Mirror,
for one, presented itself as the champion of the
working man, fearlessly speaking truth to power, when
out of sight its gluttonous and egomaniacal chairman
was demanding and extorting favors from frightened or
like-minded politicians and generally helping himself
to greater portions of privilege like any other press
baron. It's the same story for Limbaugh, Murdoch and
his minions, and the tycoons of the megamedia
conglomerates. They helped create the new Gilded Age
to whose largesse they have so generously helped
themselves while throwing the populace off the trail
with red meat served up in the guise of journalism.

As Eric Alterman reports in his recent book -- a book
that I'm proud to have helped make happen -- part of
that red meat strategy is to attack mainstream media
relentlessly, knowing that if the press is effectively
intimidated, either by the accusation of liberal bias
or by a reporter's own mistaken belief in the charge's
validity, the institutions that conservatives revere
-- corporate America, the military, organized
religion, and their own ideological bastions of
influence -- will be able to escape scrutiny and
increase their influence over American public life
with relatively no challenge. Eric calls it "working
the refs," and it's worked.

BUZZFLASH: You will be the keynote speaker at the
National Conference on Media Reform
(http://www.mediareform.net/conference.php) in Madison
on Nov. 8. It is described as a groundbreaking forum
to democratize the debate over media policymaking. How
do you give optimism to those who feel that the
struggle against multi-billion dollar media
conglomerates is hopeless, considering their financial
and political power?

MOYERS: By reminding ourselves of what's at stake.
We're not just talking about the media here; we're
talking about democracy and what kind of country
America's going to be. It's too late to transform the
global structure of media ownership or Wall Street's
appetite for higher and higher profits no matter the
cost to journalism. But we can fight for more
accountability to democracy by the big companies, we
can encourage alternative and independent journalism,
and we keep our searchlights trained on the towers of
power, including the contradictions, absurdities and
excesses of the right-wing media that now dominate the
public discourse.

That's just the beginning. We have to get people
involved in the crucial public policy fights that are
taking place. Over the last decade there's been an
astonishing explosion of new-media diversity, as
online and other digital media have made more outlets
for expression possible. The Internet has enabled many
new voices in our democracy to be heard, including
those of advocacy groups, artists and nonprofit
organizations. Just about anyone can speak up online,
and often with an impact far greater than in the days
when orators had to step onto a soap box and address
passersby in a park. The virtual soap box has the
potential to reach anyone, anywhere, anytime -- and to
spread virally good ideas and good works of
journalism. It's where people can fight back.

Now, media industry lobbyists point to the existence
of the Internet, as well as to the many new digital TV
channels now found on cable, when they argue that
public policies to ensure ownership diversity or
promote competition aren't really necessary today.
They argue that concerns about media concentration are
ill founded in an environment where anyone can speak,
and when, they suggest, there are literally hundreds
of competing channels. I grant this is a dramatic
change from the time, not so long ago, when just three
TV networks dominated American political and cultural
life. However, there's less here than meets the eye.

This seeming diversity of programming choices that we
are presented with today is more illusory than real.
The Internet may have made it easier to speak than
ever before, but finding an audience for that speech
is as difficult as ever. Jupiter Media Metrix has done
a study showing that AOL Time Warner (as it was then
called) accounts for nearly a third of all user time
spent online, and two other companies -- Yahoo and
Microsoft -- bring that figure to fully 50 percent.
The traffic patterns of the online world, in other
words, are beginning more and more to resemble those
of TV and radio. While there is an abundance of
alternative voices at the margin of the system, the
mega-gatekeepers would like to move that margin
farther from the center, so that those independent
voices grow fainter and fainter.

As for the growing number of channels available on
today's cable systems, most of these channels, it
turns out, are owned by a handful of companies. Jeff
Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy reminded
me just the other day that of the 91 major networks
that appear on most cable channels, 79 are part of
such multiple network groups as those of Time Warner,
Liberty Media, NBC and Disney. So in order to program
a channel on cable today, you must either be owned or
affiliated with one of the giants. The Writers Guild
of America, as I am sure you know, represents
virtually all of the writers who work on entertainment
programs, films and much of TV news. The Guild told
the FCC earlier this year that "consolidation and
control of program production, distribution, and
exhibition … had contributed to an already steep
decline in diversity, variety and quality" in the
programming that Americans see.

I know most of what I know about media policy from the
Media Access Project -- the public interest
communications law firm that, along with Jeff Chester,
does a great job of following these debates. I think
they are right when they warn even the wide-open
spaces of the Internet may soon be fenced off, that it
will be transformed into a system in which a handful
of companies use their control over high-speed access
to ensure they remain at the top of the digital heap
in the broadband era. The many noncommercial and civic
voices -- representing the democratic potential of the
Internet -- could be driven into digital twilight.
They will be harder, or more expensive, for users and
viewers to reach than the readily available commercial
fare, which will be bundled into our cable and
Internet access service.

Jeff Chester can get you very excited about the
opportunity before us to re-envision our
communications system and the ways that it can serve
both community and commerce. Thanks to technological
innovations, we now have the opportunity to
accommodate competing points of view and invite user
participation. Channels can be freed to serve the
civic and noncommercial needs of communities. Space
can be provided for free political debate,
eliminating, maybe, one of the most lethal cancers on
our body politic -- the need for politicians to raise
enormous sums of money to pay for commercials. The
Supreme Court has called the Internet the "most
participatory form of mass speech yet developed."
Maybe -- if we maintain those qualities as it evolves
into the high-speed multimedia system known as

That will take vigilance, because none of this will
happen if the public doesn't wake up to the
possibility that a handful of cable and local
telephone giants would like to be the only gatekeepers
of cyberspace, and that they would like to create and
control the content according to Hollywood and Madison
Avenue. Even as we speak, federal policymakers are
considering proposals that threaten the ability of our
media system to serve democracy. Media critics and
watchdog groups have spoken out, but few in power
appear to be listening, in part -- and this brings us
back to square one -- because the message is about the
role and future of our country's principal messengers,
the media themselves, the very business that won't let
its own watchdogs bark, much less bite, over the theft
of the public interest.

My friend Chuck Lewis runs the Center for Public
Integrity, the watchdog organization that I've
supported journalistically and financially. The Center
has gotten great play in mainstream media with its
investigative reports through the year. But when it
released an in-depth study of the new media's lobbying
efforts a year ago, you could have choked on the
silence. The TV networks were nowhere in evidence.
They just coughed politely and went back to cancer
cures and Michael Jackson. Let me read you what Chuck
Lewis said: "In this difficult time of recession and
massive media industry layoffs, what journalist is
going to propose to his editors or owners that they
expose the special interest influence peddling of the
media? There's an idea that will kill a promising
career. Most editors and reporters exercise
self-censorship or anticipatory restraint, when it
comes to investigating the media … Meanwhile, the
American people are not informed about how the media
barons are profiteering from democracy, and why it
matters. An entire part of our national discourse is
muted, with no debate, because the media doesn't want
to shine a spotlight on itself."

So we have our work cut out for us. If we don't do it
-- every one of us who has any measure of independence
and any forum whatsoever -- no one will. I just count
on our keeping in mind the news photographer in Tom
Stoppard's Night and Day who says, "People do terrible
things to each other, but it's worse in places where
everybody is kept in the dark." We have to turn on
some lights around here.


* * *

For more information on the Bill Moyers' "Now"
program, go to:

For more information on the National Conference on
Media Reform, go to:

(This interview was conducted via e-mail.)

Posted by richard at 07:13 AM

Editorial: Colin Powell/He let the nation down

OK. Sometimes I wonder where the LNS goes...I sent out
the Army Times poll on Sunday (of course, it is not
*scientific* -- but it is of political importance), no
one in the "US mainstream news media" has mentioned
it, BUT sure enough Monday SeeNotNews runs a story on
their latest CNN/GALLUP poll, which supposedly shows
support for Clark (D-NATO) "eroding." Scrutinzing the
story, you discover that "eroding" constitutes being
in a statistical dead-heat (within the margin error)
with the established front runner in contributions and
ink: Howard Dean (D-Jeffords) and several others.
Conveniently for the _resident, the "poll" shows that
Kerry (D-Mekong Delta) too is "fading" and that the
Democrats want a "liberal" candidate now. Remember,
last week's Orwellian twist was from the WASHPs, they
said the Democrats prefered a candidate who *had* been
*for* the war but was *now* *against* it. It is all
fantasy *cooked* up at Rove's bidding. The Democratic
Party will speak soon enough -- in 1Q04, and Liiberman
("d"-Sanctimonicutt), Gephardt (D-Misery), etc. will
be gone. Clark, Kerry and Dean will still be standing.
MEANWHILE, prepare yourselves for a shake-up in this
corrupt, illegitimate and incompetent regime. They may
well throw Rumsfeld and Woefullwits to the dogs. They
may well prop up Secretary of State Calm 'Em Powell
(much to Pat "Nuke Foggy Bottom" Robertson's dismay)
to save the _resident. SO IT IS TIME TO REMEMBER
SPEECH TO THE UN...For many months prior to the
_resident's foolish military adventure in Iraq, I saw
Calm 'Em and
the-shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony-Blair as
moderating, enlightened influences, as principled men
struggling to avert disaster...But of course that was
wishful thinking, even if it was their original
intent, they both danced too long with the Devil, they
both lost their souls...Ask Dr. Kelly's wife and
children...Ask the parents of the 300+ dead US
GIs...Ask the widow of the UN special envoy...Here is
a reminder to keep on file for the days ahead, as the
spin doctors and the propapunditgandists try to save
the _resident from his psychotic penchance for
PNACuckle....And if all of that isn't enough evidence
of Calm 'Em lack of principle, consider his bratty
son, Michael who was appointed FCC chairman so that he
could preside of the further and perhaps final and
total corporatizing of the "US mainstream news media"
and the air waves it flows through. Of course, no one
ever mentions Powell's large holding of AOL
Time-Warner stock in relation to his son's disgraceful
handiwork, but then no one mentioned Microsoft's
campaign donations either when Ashcroft ended the
DoJ's anti-trust battle against it, and so it
goes...Remember, 2x2=4

Star Tribune Editorial: "Now comes more news that suggests Powell isn't the man many thought him to be. It's a yearlong State Department study that anticipated difficulties the United States would encounter in Iraq. Indeed, it anticipated many of the problems that have arisen during the U.S. occupation. It was ignored."


Editorial: Colin Powell/He let the nation down

Published October 27, 2003 ED1027A

One of the puzzles of America's war in Iraq has been
the role of Secretary of State Colin Powell. When
President Bush took office, many thought that Powell
-- with his moderate views on social issues, his
experience as the nation's top general and his
leadership skills -- would be willing and able to dull
the extreme worldviews of the more ideological people
in the administration like Defense Secretary Donald

He may have tried, and may still be trying, judging
from the cat fights now taking place within the
administration. But few can forget Powell's
presentation on Iraq to the U.N. Security Council. He
sounded so sure, and seemed to offer quality evidence.
Many believed him -- and thus believed Bush.

Hardly had Powell finished speaking, however, than
large holes began to appear in the case he'd laid out.
Over time, it has proven to be a case based on
imagined dangers and flawed and exaggerated
intelligence -- no case at all to justify a war. Why
did Powell let himself be used in this way? Because
he's a good soldier? In a case so crucial as Iraq,
that won't wash. Because he was duped? That's hardly
more flattering to Powell.

Now comes more news that suggests Powell isn't the man
many thought him to be. It's a yearlong State
Department study that anticipated difficulties the
United States would encounter in Iraq. Indeed, it
anticipated many of the problems that have arisen
during the U.S. occupation. It was ignored.

Asked about the report during a TV interview, Powell
said it was "a good, solid piece of work that was made
available to the Pentagon." But what parts of the
report the Pentagon put to use, Powell didn't know.
Reporters would have to ask Rumsfeld about that.

Powell is secretary of state; the study was prepared
in his department on his watch. He had more obligation
than just to "make it available to the Pentagon." If
Powell believed Rumsfeld was about to make mistakes
that would put U.S. prestige and American troops at
risk, he had an obligation to ensure everyone knew of
the dangers that were being ignored. It appears that
Powell failed to protect the country from what he knew
was bad prewar intelligence and bad postwar planning.

Back in July, an excellent Knight-Ridder article
reported how badly the Pentagon planned for postwar
Iraq. The small circle of Pentagon officials who
dominated the discussion, it said, "didn't develop any
real postwar plans because they believed that Iraqis
would welcome U.S. troops with open arms and
Washington could install a favored Iraqi exile leader
as the country's leader. Pentagon civilians ignored
CIA and State Department experts who disputed them,
resisted White House pressure to back off from their
favored exile leader and when their scenario collapsed
amid increasing violence and disorder, they had no
backup plan."

Rumsfeld is an ideologue wearing blinders. At times,
even his military commanders have had to go around
Rumsfeld to make the point that the secretary's
approach wasn't working.

But Powell isn't an ideologue. He was one person
everybody hoped would serve as a consistent, moderate
counterbalance in this administration. Again and
again, however, he has failed to do that, to the
nation's great regret.

Posted by richard at 07:11 AM

October 27, 2003

Diebold threatens publishers of leaked electronic-voting documents

Delightful. Diebolical. Tom Paine is laughing.
Associated Press: "Despite lawsuit threats from one of the nation's largest electronic voting machine suppliers, some activists are refusing to remove from Web sites internal company documents that they claim raise serious security questions. Diebold Inc. sent ``cease and desist'' letters after the documents and internal e-mails, allegedly stolen by a hacker, were distributed on the Internet."

Posted on Mon, Oct. 27, 2003

Diebold threatens publishers of leaked electronic-voting documents

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Despite lawsuit threats from
one of the nation's largest electronic voting machine
suppliers, some activists are refusing to remove from
Web sites internal company documents that they claim
raise serious security questions.

Diebold Inc. sent ``cease and desist'' letters after
the documents and internal e-mails, allegedly stolen
by a hacker, were distributed on the Internet.
Recipients of the letters included computer
programmers, students at Swarthmore College and at
least one Internet provider.

Most of the 13,000 pages of documents are little more
than banal employee e-mails, routine software manuals
and old voter record files. But several items appear
to raise security concerns.

Diebold refused to discuss the documents' contents.
Company spokesman Mike Jacobsen said the fact that the
company sent the cease-and-desist letters does not
mean the documents are authentic -- or give credence
to advocates who claim lax Diebold security could
allow hackers to rig machines.

``We're cautioning anyone from drawing wrong or
incomplete conclusions about any of those documents or
files purporting to be authentic,'' Jacobsen said.

But the activists say the mere fact that Diebold was
hacked shows that the company's technology cannot be

``These legal threats are an acknowledgment of the
horrific security risks of electronic voting,'' said
Sacramento-based programmer Jim March, who received a
cease and desist order last month but continues to
publish the documents on his personal Web site.

In one series of e-mails, a senior engineer dismisses
concern from a lower-level programmer who questions
why the company lacked certification for a customized
operating system used in touch-screen voting machines.

The Federal Election Commission requires voting
software to be certified by an independent research

In another e-mail, a Diebold executive scolded
programmers for leaving software files on an Internet
site without password protection.

``This potentially gives the software away to whomever
wants it,'' the manager wrote in the e-mail.

March contends the public has a right to know about
Diebold security problems.

``The cease-and-desist orders are like a drug dealer
saying, 'Hey, cop, give me back my crack.' It's an
incredible tactical blunder,'' he said.

The documents began appearing online in August, six
months after a hacker broke into the North Canton,
Ohio-based company's servers using an employee's ID
number, Jacobsen said. The hacker copied company
announcements, software bulletins and internal e-mails
dating back to January 1999, Jacobsen said.

In August, someone e-mailed the data to
electronic-voting activists, many of whom published
stories on their Web logs and personal sites. A
freelance journalist at Wired News, Brian McWilliams,
also received data and wrote about it in an online

The data was further distributed in digital form
around the Internet and it is not known how many
copies exist.

Wendy Seltzer, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, said she has been contacted by about a
dozen groups that received cease-and-desist letters.
Among them is Online Policy Group, a nonprofit ISP
that hosts the San Francisco Bay Area Independent
Media Center, which published links to the data.

Seltzer encouraged them to defy the Diebold
cease-and-desist letters.

``There is a strong fair-use defense,'' Seltzer said.
``People are using these documents to talk about the
very mechanism of democracy -- how the votes are
counted. It's at the heart of what the First Amendment

Although Seltzer believes Diebold's legal case to be
weak, she worries about a chilling effect.

Angered last week after Swarthmore College told them
they could not link to the documents from
college-sponsored sites, some students at the liberal
arts school near Philadelphia found Internet providers
abroad to host the content. Others took down the
offending material at their dean's request, but they
promised to put the documents back online if Diebold
doesn't provide a more detailed explanation within two
weeks. Branen Salmon, 22, president of the Swarthmore
College Computer Society, said Diebold's threats put
the documents in the spotlight.

``A week ago, this was still a murmur,'' Salmon said
last Thursday. ``Now this is front page stuff that
people are talking about.''

Posted by richard at 07:08 AM

Computers threaten accountability of voting system

Please read this message and share it with others.

"Matthew Pascarella: Perhaps the biggest danger to the voter rights of Americans lies in the software used in voting machines, which is proprietary and cannot be tested by outside parties. A lack of independent testing allows the security flaws of the software to stand uncorrected, and potentially allows for manipulation of election outcomes. Computer scientists assessing the software of the leading voting machine manufacturer Diebold found that, “Anyone in the country—from a teenager on up—could produce these smart cards that could allow someone to vote as many times as they like” (New York Times, July 24, 2003)."


Helping America Vote? by Matthew Pascarella
Friday, October 24, 2003
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote
shall not be denied or abridged by the United States
or by any State on account of race, color, or previous
condition of servitude.” —Sec. 1, 15th Amendment

Despite differences in ethos and political ideology,
we can agree that the most fundamental and essential
aspect of the democratic process is one’s right to

The 2000 Presidential election debacle brought to
light massive problems with the way that Americans
vote. Due to mechanical problems with voting machines,
and partisan fighting, many voters were left
completely disenfranchised. In response to public
outcry, Congress adopted the “Help America Vote Act”
(HAVA) in 2002. This act, originally designed to
safeguard voter rights, in fact, contains flaws so
major that it has the opposite effect; the Act puts
one of our most basic rights in peril.

Conflict of Interest
One of the first mandates in HAVA is that older,
‘punch card’ voting systems be replaced with
computerized voting machines. These machines are
manufactured by private companies, raising the
potential for foul play due to special interests. It
would seem appropriate for companies manufacturing
voting machines to remain neutral and unbiased, but
most voting machine companies are financially involved
in political campaigns and many active and former
politicians are employed by these companies. Here are
just a handful of examples:

• In 2000, 5 of the 12 directors of Diebold, a leading
voting machine manufacturer, made donations totaling
$94,750 to predominately Republican politicians;

• Former Florida Secretary of State Sandra Mortham (R)
and Former State Election Supervisor of California Lou
Dedier (R) both have ties to Election Systems and
Software (ES&S), one of our nation’s leading voting
machine manufacturers and tabulators. Sandra Mortham
was a lobbyist for ES&S and the Florida Association of
Counties during the same time period. The Florida
Association of Counties made $300,000 in commissions
from the sale of ES&S’s voting machines;

• In Georgia’s most recent election, William Wingate,
a lobbyist for ES&S, contributed $7,000 to Gov. Roy
Barnes (D), $1,000 to Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor (D), and
$500 to Secretary of State Cathy Cox (D);

• Michael McCarthy is the Chairman of the McCarthy
Group, of which ES&S is a subsidiary. According to
Federal Elections Commission (FEC) filings, McCarthy
is also the Primary Campaign Treasurer for Republican
Senator Chuck Hagel, who (according to FEC filings) is
also financially tied to the McCarthy Group by
substantial investments (valued between one and five
million dollars). According to officials at Nebraska’s
Election Administration, ES&S machines tallied around
85 percent of votes cast in Hagel’s 1996 and 2002
senatorial races.

Occasionally, politicians have used their ties to
voting machine companies for fraud and illegal

• Former Louisiana State Elections Official Jerry
Fowler (D), is currently serving five years in prison
for charges related to taking hundreds of thousands of
dollars in kickbacks from voting machine scandals.

• Bill McCuen (D), former Arkansas Secretary of State,
pled guilty to felony charges that he took bribes,
evaded taxes, and accepted kickbacks. Part of the case
involved Business Records Corp. (now merged with ES&S)
for recording corporate and voter registration

Software Imperfections
Perhaps the biggest danger to the voter rights of
Americans lies in the software used in voting
machines, which is proprietary and cannot be tested by
outside parties. A lack of independent testing allows
the security flaws of the software to stand
uncorrected, and potentially allows for manipulation
of election outcomes. Computer scientists assessing
the software of the leading voting machine
manufacturer Diebold found that, “Anyone in the
country—from a teenager on up—could produce these
smart cards that could allow someone to vote as many
times as they like” (New York Times, July 24, 2003).

Despite the software errors and other significant
problems with computerized voting machines in the 2000
election, HAVA fails to provide any type of audit

Many software professionals and voting experts have
called for a provision for paper printouts of each
ballot cast in order to verify the accuracy of voting
machines, however, voting machine companies are
reluctant to introduce such a measure. To ensure the
legitimacy of the voting procedure, there is vital
need for an audit trail: In Texas in 2002, Comal
County’s election supervisor found that polling and
election returns produced dramatically different
results. It was discovered that a faulty chip in one
machine’s optical reader had recorded votes
incorrectly. The chip was replaced; a new electronic
tabulation run and two recounts of paper printouts
were performed. The election results had to be

Who is Managing the Voter Rolls?
The new HAVA requirements also fail to ensure fair
elections by requiring that the task of managing voter
rolls be centralized, and put under the control of
notoriously partisan Secretaries of State.

While the mainstream media covered the 2000 Florida
recount, they relaxed their investigative spirit (if
such a spirit still exists in modern journalism) and
tried to turn a complex story into something simple:
‘hanging chads’ and ‘stupid Floridians.’ Here is what
they failed to tell you:

In 2000, the Florida Secretary of State was Katherine
Harris (appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush), who was also the
chairwoman of the “Bush for President” campaign in
that state. In order to remove convicted felons (who
are ineligible to vote in that state) from their voter
rolls, Florida paid the private company Database
Technologies (DBT/Choicepoint) $1 million for a list
of names matching those of felons across the U.S. Even
though there were many obvious flaws in the matching
criteria (including conviction dates as far in the
future as 2007, and names barely approximating those
of actual felons), neither the state nor the private
contractor attempted to verify the accuracy of the
list. According to a study by Harvard University, 95
percent of the people denied their right to vote by
the purge were not felons, and therefore legal voters.
About 54 percent of those purged were African
Americans (an overwhelmingly Democratic group in
Florida). This led researchers to conclude that Al
Gore lost at least 22,000 votes through the purge. The
election in Florida was decided by a margin of 537.

What You Can Do
This system should not be spread nationwide as HAVA
requires, unless critical loopholes in the legislation
are closed by way of a stringent system of checks and

In order to correct the inconsistencies in the Help
America Vote Act, we urge you to join us in endorsing
the following petition by Martin Luther King III,
President of the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC), and Greg Palast, BBC journalist and
author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Already,
over 48,000 people have signed the petition.

Matthew Pascarella is a student at Marymount Manhattan
College in NYC and is a staff researcher for Greg
Palast. This article was influenced by the work of
investigative journalist Greg Palast and voting
experts Bev Harris, Rebecca Mercuri, and Kim
Alexander. And oh yeah—the 12th and 15th Amendments to
the Constitution of the United States.


The Petition

Stop the Florida-tion of the 2004 election

Computers threaten accountability of voting system

Join SCLC President Martin Luther King III and
investigative reporter Greg Palast in opposing the
“Florida-tion” of the 2004 Presidential election by
signing this petition, which will be delivered to
Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Dear Attorney General John Ashcroft,

Today, there is a new and real threat to voters, this
time coming from touch-screen voting machines with no
paper trails and the computerized purges of voter

In 2002, Congress passed the wrongly named “Help
America Vote Act” which requires every state to
computerize, centralize and purge voter rolls before
the 2004 election. This is the very system that the
state of Florida used to remove tens of thousands of
eligible African American and Hispanic voters from
voter registries before the Presidential election of

The Act also lays a minefield of other impediments to
voters: an effective rollback of the easy voter
registration methods of the Motor Voter Act; new
identification requirements at polling stations; and
perilous incentives for fault-prone and
fraud-susceptible touch-screen voting machines.
We, the undersigned, demand security against the
dangerous “Florida-tion” of our nation’s voting
methods through computerization of voter rolls and
ballots. Computers were part of the problem in
Florida, not the cure. We, the undersigned, hereby
demand that no voter be purged from centralized voter
rolls without proof positive that the voter is
ineligible. We also demand a halt to further
computerization of balloting until such methods are
made unsusceptible to political manipulation, fraud,
and racial bias.

Martin Luther King III
President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Greg Palast
Author, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

To sign the petition online go to www.gregpalast.com.
You can read the Help America Vote Act in full (with
special attention to Section 303) at
www.fec.gov/hava/hava.htm. For a short flash
documentary on the 2000 Florida election, check out
www.ericblumrich.com/gta.html. To request screenings
of Counting On Democracy, a documentary film about
what really happened in the 2000 Florida Presidential
Election contact Matthew Pascarella at
matt@gregpalast.com or (212) 505-8912.

Posted by richard at 07:06 AM

Families of US Soldiers in Iraq Lead Anti-War Protests

There is one chance left to save the US from this
slippery slope which the Bush cabal has forced us
down, one chance to avoid a deteriorating situation
which will lead to a Third World War that will look
more like World War I than World War II: the 2004
presidential election. This is not the time for
"leftism," (e.g., linking the anti-war sentiment on
Iraq to the situation in Palestine or to
anti-globalization, etc.) this is the time for
striking a tone of inclusiveness and clarity within
the electoral process, this struggle is about rescuing
the US GIs mired in Iraq, restoring the US to its role
in the world and the Western Alliance, saving of the
environment, restoring the integrity of the electoral
process, restoring the integrity of the media, when
and IF these battles are resolved victoriously there
will be plenty of time and new space for other issues

Guardian (UK): In researching this story, we received more than 70 emails and phone calls from relatives of US forces overseas. All but two were negative - about the treatment of soldiers, the reasons for the Iraq war, the pain of family separation and the insensitivity of the military bureaucracy.


Published on Saturday, October 25, 2003 by the
Dissent on the Home Front: Families of US Soldiers in Iraq Lead Anti-War Protests
Troops' relatives speak out as death toll rises and
morale falls

by Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington

News of the death of Jane Bright's son, Evan, arrived
with the US military's greatest triumph in Iraq since
the fall of Baghdad. In Mosul, the 101st Airborne
cornered and killed Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and
Qusay. Outside town, a US patrol came under attack,
and Ms Bright's son, an infantryman, was killed along
with two other soldiers.

That was on July 24. Her anger has not abated. "There
are some terrible things going on there," she says.

Yesterday, other American families waited for official
confirmation of death, after reports arrived of one
soldier from the 101st Airborne killed near Mosul and
two members of the 4th Infantry Division killed in a
mortar attack near Samara. This brought to 108 the
number of US troops to die under hostile fire since
May 1, when President George W Bush declared an end to
major combat.

The growing toll and reports of poor conditions and
low morale among troops have produced an undercurrent
of dissent among US military families. The Guardian
has found that 75% of the 478 troops removed from the
Iraqi theatre because of mental health issues have
been reservists.

In researching this story, we received more than 70
emails and phone calls from relatives of US forces
overseas. All but two were negative - about the
treatment of soldiers, the reasons for the Iraq war,
the pain of family separation and the insensitivity of
the military bureaucracy.

The criticisms - a breach of military culture - is
viewed with concern at the Pentagon, which sent a team
to Iraq this week to investigate 13 cases of suicide
in recent months. It has also promised better
treatment of sick soldiers, and has vowed to expand
the program of 15-day furloughs introduced last month
- despite the failure of about 30 soldiers to catch
their flights back to Iraq. But many on the home front
remain furious, and today's anti-war protests in
Washington and others US cities will kick off with
candlelight vigils by families of soldiers serving in

Ms Bright's unease set in soon after her son arrived
in Iraq, and grew deeper with calls and emails home in
the months before he was killed. "He had lost 25
pounds from dysentery. My daughter-in-law told me he
called one day and he sounded very upbeat. She said,
'Why are you so happy?' He said he had just got food
and water.

"I don't care what the administration says about
flag-waving and children throwing flowers. It is just
not true. The stories coming back are horrific. All he
told me was that he had seen and done some horrible
things, that they had all done and seen some terrible

The stories coming back from Iraq have helped to chip
away at the culture of stoicism. So have the
circumstances of the deployment. An underclass that
grew up to view military services as a ticket to
advancement or a college education now finds itself
going off to two distant wars - in Afghanistan and
Iraq - in less than two years.

It is still uncommon for families of soldiers to voice
criticism. Some are afraid of retaliation against
their relative serving in Iraq. But there are signs of
growing outspokenness, in part because of the Bush
administration's decision to rely heavily on
reservists and National Guard members to fights its

Almost half of the 130,000 US troops on the ground are
drawn from these sources - weekend warriors now
serving overseas tours of duty that were recently
extended to 12 or 15 months. The Pentagon is planning
to send another 30,000 reservists to Iraq next year.

On the home front, families may be less than
understanding of having their lives interrupted. Not
knowing how long their relatives will stay in Iraq has
fueled resentment and deepened anxieties about losing
jobs, falling behind on mortgage payments, and family

For Barbara Willis, whose son is a reservist serving
in a postal unit at Baghdad airport, it is the idea
that he was pulled out of college in his final term of
study for a degree in business education, only to sit
at Fort Dix, New Jersey, for three months, waiting to
be sent to Iraq. "If only they'd have said, 'Stay at
home until you finish your education,'" she said. "I
am not against President Bush but it gets very
aggravating the way he is ruining all these young
people's lives."

The families of reservists have taken the separations
harder than those on active duty, who are used to
military life. The experience of war, with its mix of
tedium, brutality and the capriciousness of the US
military bureaucracy, also appears harder for the
reservists and National Guard members to bear.

Reservists are beginning to speak out, saying they are
made to do the "grunt work", and are treated unfairly
in provision of supplies - especially of bulletproof
vests for which there are shortages - and of military
furloughs. "The equipment they tried to hand us was
items that were bound for the trash pile," Nicholas
Ramey, a reservist from Indiana working in a public
affairs unit, writes in an email.

"Vietnam-era flack vests held together by dental floss
and a prayer would keep us safe ... It was like
pulling teeth trying to get the things we needed. As
'dirty reservists', we didn't deserve the same
respect, even though we're supposed to watch the
active duty's backs."

Such stories are increasingly common among reservists,
and circulated among family members at home. The
friction, combined with growing confusion about their
mission in Iraq, has rattled even longstanding members
of the reserves.

None of the people the Guardian contacted said their
family member would re-enlist. Some have taken a
decision to get out - even those who have devoted
their lives to the reserves. "My husband has 20 years
in the military, and loved every minute of it," says
Candance Gordon, the wife of a reservist from Texas.
"He will be resigning his commission the minute he
steps foot on American soil, and he says almost
everyone he knows is doing the same. The only ones
staying in are those who have long contracts, or no
family, or make more money being in the reserves than
in their civilian life."

The biggest complaint is the one most difficult for
the Pentagon to remedy: that service personnel are
under strain from long deployments in Iraq. Families
described the slow agony waiting for details about
each fallen soldier. They are also thinking about
homecoming. Several said they feared their children or
spouses would be unrecognizable.

Others said they detected anger and depression in
their emails that would be difficult to fix when they
returned. "They're changing. They have dehumanized the
Iraqis. They call them 'hajji' now - that's like
'gook'. I am old enough to remember the Vietnam war,
and I remember," says Adele Kubein, whose daughter is
a National Guard mechanic serving in Iraq.

On one occasion, her daughter telephoned her, sobbing.
"She said, 'Mom, I have shot people. I am never going
to be able to come home and live a normal life again.
How can I come home and live a normal life when every
second I am trying to be alert to see if I will be

Dear Mom... Emails from the war zone

From a female member of the National Guard serving in
northern Iraq
"I don't see anything wrong with doing whatever it
takes to stay alive. There is nothing sacred about
kids with guns. There is nothing sacred about anybody
trying to kill anybody else, it don't matter how old
they are. I hate this shit ... I don't mind Iraq, I
don't mind war, but I absolutely hate the situation
I'm in, and I'm beginning to hate most of the people
I'm surrounded by."

From a reservist serving as a mechanic near Baquba
"I was offered to go on a convoy today but I did not
go. They came back late tonight, and it turns out that
the Iraqi people opened fire on them from a rooftop in
a small town. We returned, but did not kill any of
them, no one was hurt. This happens all the time. No
one really aimed at the enemy. You just get scared and
pull the trigger and open up in the direction you
think they are firing from."

From an artilleryman's wife
"The morning they shipped out they handed them their
papers and things were missing that were supposed to
be in there. Now I talk to him via the computer
because the phones are never working. I'm on
anti-depressants and sleeping pills. I try to make it
through the day without crying but lately that's
impossible. I never thought that this would be so
hard. I wake wondering if my husband is still alive
and I turn on the news to see more soldiers dead in

From a reservist from Indiana
"Everyone hears that morale is high and it is a
bold-faced lie. The only people they ever talk to are
these commanders. The reserve soldiers never get to
speak their mind. We are the pawns of this war. We
watch the active duty retire, and move to new
assignments. We watch their tours end as we are still
trapped because of poor post-war planning."

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003


Posted by richard at 07:01 AM

Civil Rights Groups Blast Bush Court Nominee

Where is Ralph Nada today? No difference? Yes, *some*
of the Senate Democrats have shown themselves craven
and cowardly at times since the coup of 2000 (and
before it as well, of course), BUT they have
distinguished themselves in these four filibusters and
now must begin a fifth against Janice Brown...They
cannot hold out forever. The electoral battle in 2004
is really the last chance for a long time in this
country. Will the electoral process be derailed as it
was in 2000 and probably 2002 as well? Yes, it will
be...The only antidote is massive voter turnout AND a
powerful awareness campaign about the dangers of black
box voting, etc. We must do this ourselves, because
the "US mainstream news media" are far more craven
than even most Senate Democrats...

Jim Loeb: "To date, four nominees to federal appeals courts--Texas judge Priscilla Owen, District of Columbia attorney Miguel Estrada, Mississippi Judge Charles Pickering, and Alabama Attorney General William Pryor--have been the subject of successful filibusters by Senate Democrats. "


Published on Monday, October 27, 2003 by OneWorld.net

Civil Rights Groups Blast Bush Court Nominee
by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON -- Civil rights groups, which have been
pressing Senate Democrats to filibuster a series of
important judicial nominations by President Bush, are
now mobilizing opposition to the latest nominee,
California Supreme Court justice Janice Rogers Brown.

Brown, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit, has also come under fire
from other sources, including the New York Times,
which on Saturday described her nomination as "among
the very worst ...of the many unworthy judicial
nominees President Bush has put forward." The D.C.
Circuit is widely considered to be the second-most
important court in the United States, after the
Supreme Court itself.

Among other positions she has taken over the years,
Brown once attacked the New Deal as "the triumph of
socialist revolution" and, as noted by the Times, she
praised a series of Supreme Court decisions in the
early 20th century that found laws approved by
Congress to protect the health and safety of workers
to be illegitimate interference by the state in

A large coalition of women's, civil rights, labor, and
environmental groups is already on record against
Brown whose ultra-conservative views on many
public-policy issues are similar to those of Supreme
Court Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence

Her views were the major focus of her first
confirmation hearing before the Senate Judicial
Committee last Thursday. Democrats bombarded her with
questions about her past statements. Brown, who is
African-American, generally stood by them, although
she insisted that there was a difference between her
personal political views and her responsibilities as a

"I absolutely understand the difference between being
a speaker and being a judge," she told the committee
at one point.

When Sen. Richard Durbin asked her about her
comparison of the New Deal to socialist revolution,
she replied that she was addressing law students in
order to provoke discussion at the time. Pressed on
the issue, however, she said, "The speech speaks for

Durbin charged that Brown's opinions on the California
Supreme Court, which she joined in 1996, "are outside
the mainstream of America." In some of her decisions,
he asserted, she had ignored clear judicial precedent
and based her opinions on purely personal views.

In one case cited by her critics, Aguilar v. Avis Rent
a Car Systems, Inc., Brown dissented from a majority
decision that ordered the company to stop its
supervisor from calling Hispanic workers by racial
epithets. In a lone dissent, she argued that racially
discriminatory speech in the workplace, even if it
rises to the level of illegal discrimination, is
protected by the company's First Amendment right to
free speech.

"Justice Brown's opinions on civil rights and
discrimination cases are perhaps the most troubling
part of her record," according to a resolution
approved recently by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.,
an national African-American women's service and
education organization, "revealing a blatant disregard
for judicial precedent and a desire to limit the
ability of victims of discrimination to sue for

In a letter sent to senators earlier this month, the
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) also came
out in strong opposition to her nomination. "Not only
does she show an inability to dispassionately review
cases," the letter said, "but her opinions are based
on her extremist ideology and also ignore judicial
precedent, even that set by the United States Supreme

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has opposed her
nomination for the same reasons.

The American Bar Association gave her an unusually
poor rating. None of the members of the evaluation
committee found that she was "well qualified." A
majority found her to be "qualified," while a minority
gave her a rare "not qualified" rating.

Brown enjoys support among Republicans, however, who
have complained that Democrats have transformed
judicial confirmations into partisan fights. "She is a
conservative African-American woman," said Committee
chairman Orrin Hatch, "and for some that alone
disqualifies her nomination to the D.C. Circuit."

But Democrats points out that they have approved twice
as many judicial nominations at this point in Bush's
term as Republicans had approved at a comparable point
in former President Bill Clinton's term. Noting that
Republicans charged that Democratic opposition to
Estrada was also grounded in the fact that he was a
conservative Latino, Democrats have complained that
the administration has been playing a race card of its

To date, four nominees to federal appeals
courts--Texas judge Priscilla Owen, District of
Columbia attorney Miguel Estrada, Mississippi Judge
Charles Pickering, and Alabama Attorney General
William Pryor--have been the subject of successful
filibusters by Senate Democrats.

Of these, only Estrada withdrew his name from
consideration. Estrada, who worked in the Justice
Department under Attorney General John Ashcroft,
provoked even Republican ire by refusing both to
answer questions about his judicial philosophy and to
hand over memoranda he had prepared while serving
under Ashcroft.

The other nominations are still pending. Republicans
said they were hoping to move Pickering's nomination
to the floor in the coming week, but Democrats say
they will filibuster against him, as they have
successfully in the past. Breaking a filibuster
requires that a minimum of 60 senators vote to close
debate. Pickering's foes charge that his views on
abortion and race are too far outside mainstream views
to hold a powerful position in the nation's judicial

Mississippi Republican Sen. Trent Lott, a sponsor of
Pickering's nomination, said that if he is not
approved this week, Pickering will have to consider
withdrawing. "We are going to get him confirmed, or
he's going to probably, at the end of the session,
have to re-evaluate whether he wants to continue the
battle," Lott said.

Copyright 2003 OneWorld.net


Posted by richard at 07:01 AM

October 26, 2003

Memo to Central Intelligence Agency

Instead of dithering of its hemline on the 9/11
commission story, the NYTwits could have been
following up on the CIA scape goat story...Here is an
excellent piece from Rivers Pitt...
William Rivers Pitt: " This memo is being written not to tell you about Senator Roberts, for it is sure you know all about him. This memo is being written because of your poor response to these accusations. "


Memo to Central Intelligence Agency
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

From: William Rivers Pitt

To: Central Intelligence Agency

Date: Friday 24 October 2003, 10:30 a.m.

Re: The scapegoating process


This morning’s front page of the Washington Post
carried a story entitled, “Inquiry Faults Intelligence
on Iraq.” The story described statements by the
Republican-dominated Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence. The first two paragraphs read as

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is
preparing a blistering report on prewar intelligence
on Iraq that is critical of CIA Director George J.
Tenet and other intelligence officials for overstating
the weapons and terrorism case against Saddam Hussein,
according to congressional officials.

The committee staff was surprised by the amount of
circumstantial evidence and single-source or disputed
information used to write key intelligence documents
-- in particular the October 2002 National
Intelligence Estimate -- summarizing Iraq's
capabilities and intentions.

The committee is chaired by Senator Pat Roberts,
Republican of Kansas. Some background on Senator
Roberts is noteworthy. On June 26, I did an interview
with 27-year CIA senior analyst Ray McGovern on a wide
array of issues. That interview can be found here.
The discussion turned, at one point, to Senator
Roberts. From the interview:

Take Pat Roberts, the Republican Senator from
Kansas, who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence
Committee. When the Niger forgery was unearthed and
when Colin Powell admitted, well shucks, it was a
forgery, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat
on that committee, went to Pat Roberts and said they
really needed the FBI to take a look at this. After
all, this was known to be a forgery and was still used
on Congressmen and Senators. We’d better get the
Bureau in on this. Pat Roberts said no, that would be
inappropriate. So Rockefeller drafted his own letter,
and went back to Roberts and said he was going to send
the letter to FBI Director Mueller, and asked if
Roberts would sign on to it. Roberts said no, that
would be inappropriate.

What the FBI Director eventually got was a letter
from one Minority member saying pretty please, would
you maybe take a look at what happened here, because
we think there may have been some skullduggery. The
answer he got from the Bureau was a brush-off. Why do
I mention all that? This is the same Pat Roberts who
is going to lead the investigation into what happened
with this issue.

There is a lot that could be said about Pat Roberts.
I remember way back last fall when people were being
briefed, CIA and others were briefing Congressmen and
Senators about the weapons of mass destruction. These
press folks were hanging around outside the briefing
room, and when the Senators came out, one of the press
asked Senator Roberts how the evidence on weapons of
mass destruction was. Roberts said, oh, it was very
persuasive, very persuasive.

The press guy asked Roberts to tell him more about
that. Roberts said, “Truck A was observed to be going
under Shed B, where Process C is believed to be taking
place.” The press guy asked him if he found that
persuasive, and Pat Roberts said, “Oh, these
intelligence folks, they have these techniques down so
well, so yeah, this is very persuasive.” And the
correspondent said thank you very much, Senator.

So, if you’ve got a Senator who is that inclined to
believe that kind of intelligence, you’ve got someone
who will do the administration’s bidding. On the House
side, of course, you’ve got Porter Goss, who is a CIA
alumnus. Porter Goss’ main contribution last year to
the joint committee investigating 9/11 was to sic the
FBI on members of that committee, at the direction of
who? Dick Cheney. Goss admits this. He got a call from
Dick Cheney, and he was “chagrined” in Goss’ word that
he was upbraided by Dick Cheney for leaks coming out
of the committee. He then persuaded the innocent Bob
Graham to go with him to the FBI and ask the Bureau to
investigate the members of that committee. Polygraphs
and everything were involved. That’s the first time
something like that has ever happened.

Be aware, of course, that Congress has its own
investigative agencies, its own ways of investigating
things like that. So without any regard for the
separation of powers, here Goss says Cheney is bearing
down on me, so let’s get the FBI in here. In this
case, ironically enough, the FBI jumped right in with
Ashcroft whipping it along. They didn’t come up with
much, but the precedent was just terrible.

All I’m saying is that you’ve got Porter Goss on the
House side, you’ve got Pat Roberts on the Senate side,
you’ve got John Warner who’s a piece with Pat Roberts.
I’m very reluctant to be so unequivocal, but in this
case I can say nothing is going to come out of those
hearings but a lot of smoke.

Ray McGovern is one of your people, and has been
since the Kennedy administration. He knows that
Senator Roberts is nothing more or less than a shill
for the White House. The Washington Post article
referenced above comes to essentially the same
conclusion in the first sentence of the third
paragraph: “Like a similar but less exhaustive inquiry
being completed by the House intelligence committee,
the Senate report shifts attention toward the
intelligence community and away from White House
officials, who have been criticized for exaggerating
the Iraqi threat.”

This memo is being written not to tell you about
Senator Roberts, for it is sure you know all about
him. This memo is being written because of your poor
response to these accusations. At 9:43 a.m. on
Friday, a story hit the Associated Press wires
entitled, “CIA Rebuffs Senate Criticism of its Prewar
Intelligence.” According to the AP story, your
“rebuff” consisted of the following:

The CIA on Friday rejected Senate criticism of its
prewar reports on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein,
saying it's too soon to conclude the intelligence was
unfounded while the search for weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq continues. "It is hard to
understand how the committee could come to any
conclusions at this point, particularly while the
efforts of (weapons search leader) Dr. David Kay in
Iraq are at an early stage," said CIA spokesman Bill

The rest of the AP story goes on to describe the
argument from the Senate committee’s perspective.
This, simply, is unacceptable, for three reasons.

1. The National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE: This
was referenced in the above-captioned Washington Post
article as follows: “The committee staff was surprised
by the amount of circumstantial evidence and
single-source or disputed information used to write
key intelligence documents -- in particular the
October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate --
summarizing Iraq's capabilities and intentions.”

This description of the NIE does not wed to reality.
A conservative columnist and avowed Bush-voter named
Paul Sperry wrote an article entitled, “Yes, Bush
Lied” on October 6 2003. He writes:

Page 4 of the report, called the National
Intelligence Estimate, deals with terrorism, and draws
conclusions that would come as a shock to most
Americans, judging from recent polls on Iraq. The CIA,
Defense Intelligence Agency and the other U.S. spy
agencies unanimously agreed that Baghdad: 1) Had not
sponsored past terrorist attacks against America, 2)
Was not operating in concert with al-Qaida, and 3) Was
not a terrorist threat to America. "We have no
specific intelligence information that Saddam's regime
has directed attacks against U.S. territory," the
report stated.

Sperry goes on to state:

Now turn to the next page of the same NIE report,
which is considered the gold standard of intelligence
reports. Page 5 ranks the key judgments by confidence
level – high, moderate or low. According to the
consensus of Bush's intelligence services, there was
"low confidence" before the war in the views that
"Saddam would engage in clandestine attacks against
the U.S. Homeland" or "share chemical or biological
weapons with al-Qaida." Their message to the
president was clear: Saddam wouldn't help al-Qaida
unless we put his back against the wall, and even then
it was a big maybe. If anything, the report was a
flashing yellow light against attacking Iraq.

Bush saw the warning, yet completely ignored it and
barreled ahead with the war plans he'd approved a
month earlier (Aug. 29), telling a completely
different version of the intelligence consensus to the
American people. Less than a week after the NIE was
published, he warned that "on any given day" –
provoked by attack or not, sufficiently desperate or
not – Saddam could team up with Osama and conduct a
joint terrorist operation against America using
weapons of mass destruction.

Again, you at CIA know this about the NIE. Your
response to the characterization of this report by
White House defenders, a characterization that has
been ongoing for months now, allows the ones truly
responsible for the shoddy Iraq data to continue to
avoid responsibility. In short, given the facts, your
response was unacceptable.

2. The Office of Special Plans: Paragraphs seven and
eight of the Washington Post article described above
reads as follows: “Sen. John ‘Jay’ Rockefeller IV
(D-W. Va.) said yesterday he had secured a promise
from Roberts to ask one executive agency, the Defense
Department and, in particular, its Office of Special
Plans, for information about the intelligence it
collected or analyzed on Iraq. The office has been
accused by some congressional Democrats and
administration critics of gathering unreliable
intelligence on Iraq that bolstered the
administration's case for war. Those allegations have
not been substantiated, and the director of the
office, William Luti, has denied them.”

Luti’s denials do not wed with reality. Reporter
Julian Borger of the UK Guardian did an extensive
report on the Office of Special Plans in an article
dated July 17 entitled “The Spies Who Pushed For War.”
Portions of this article are below:

According to former Bush officials, all defence and
intelligence sources, senior administration figures
created a shadow agency of Pentagon analysts staffed
mainly by ideological amateurs to compete with the CIA
and its military counterpart, the Defence Intelligence
Agency. The agency, called the Office of Special
Plans (OSP), was set up by the defence secretary,
Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information and
operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives
in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon
and at the White House, including Vice-President Dick

The ideologically driven network functioned like a
shadow government, much of it off the official payroll
and beyond congressional oversight. But it proved
powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the
State Department and the CIA by establishing a
justification for war. Mr Tenet has officially taken
responsibility for the president's unsubstantiated
claim in January that Saddam Hussein's regime had been
trying to buy uranium in Africa, but he also said his
agency was under pressure to justify a war that the
administration had already decided on.

The president's most trusted adviser, Mr Cheney, was
at the shadow network's sharp end. He made several
trips to the CIA in Langley, Virginia, to demand a
more "forward-leaning" interpretation of the threat
posed by Saddam. When he was not there to make his
influence felt, his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter"
Libby, was. Such hands-on involvement in the
processing of intelligence data was unprecedented for
a vice-president in recent times, and it put pressure
on CIA officials to come up with the appropriate
results. Another frequent visitor was Newt Gingrich,
the former Republican party leader who resurfaced
after September 11 as a Pentagon "consultant" and a
member of its unpaid defence advisory board, with
influence far beyond his official title.

Democratic congressman David Obey, who is
investigating the OSP, said: "That office was charged
with collecting, vetting and disseminating
intelligence completely outside of the normal
intelligence apparatus. In fact, it appears that
information collected by this office was in some
instances not even shared with established
intelligence agencies and in numerous instances was
passed on to the national security council and the
president without having been vetted with anyone other
than political appointees."

Far more damning than Borger’s article are the words
of Air Force Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, a career
Pentagon officer who worked with Luti’s office until
her retirement last April. In an article from August
5 entitled, “War Critics Zero In on Pentagon Office,”
Lt. Colonel Kwiatkowski makes her feelings clearly

On most days, the Pentagon's 'Early Bird', a daily
compilation of news articles on defence-related issues
mostly from the U.S. and British press, does not shy
from reprinting hard-hitting stories and columns
critical of the Defence Department's top leadership.
But few could help notice last week that the 'Bird'
omitted an opinion piece distributed by the
Knight-Ridder news agency by a senior Pentagon Middle
East specialist, Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski,
who worked in the office of Under Secretary of Defence
for Policy Douglas Feith until her retirement in
April. "What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and
contrary to good order and discipline," Kwiatkowski
wrote. "If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar
bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a
presidential speech, or why the post-Saddam (Hussein)
occupation (in Iraq) has been distinguished by
confusion and false steps, one need look no further
than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of
Defence" (OSD).

Kwiatkowski went on to charge that the operations
she witnessed during her tenure in Feith's office, and
particularly those of an ad hoc group known as the
Office of Special Plans (OSP), constituted "a
subversion of constitutional limits on executive power
and a co-optation through deceit of a large segment of
the Congress". Headed by a gung-ho former Navy
officer, William Luti, and a scholarly
national-security analyst, Abram Shulsky, OSP was
given complete access to reams of raw intelligence
produced by the U.S. intelligence community and became
the preferred stop, when in town, for defectors
handled by the Iraqi National Congress (INC), led by
Ahmed Chalabi. It also maintained close relations
with the Defence Policy Board (DPB), which was then
chaired by neo-conservative Richard Perle of the
American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Feith's mentor in
the Reagan administration.

"I personally witnessed several cases of staff
officers being told not to contact their counterparts
at State or the National Security Council because that
particular decision would be processed through a
different channel," Kwiatkowski wrote.

Again, you at CIA are well aware of the OSP. It was
their data that was used to justify this war, and not
yours. CIA and the intelligence community as a whole
was completely usurped by the OSP, and by its sponsors
Rumsfeld and Cheney, whose ideological motivations
caused the creation of this outsider agency to
manufacture evidence for a decision to go to war that
had already been made. Yet your defense of Friday 24
October did not mention the Office of Special Plans.
Senator Rockefeller said the words. Now, you must.

3. The White House: The Valerie Plame incident
should tell you all you need to know about the people
you are dealing with. The White House destroyed one
of your NOC agents to silence a critic of the war, a
NOC agent who was running a network that worked to
make sure weapons of mass destruction did not fall
into the hands of terrorists. Senator Roberts and the
rest of that Senate committee are doing the bidding of
this White House with the accusations leveled today.

Do not let this stand. Say the words “Office of
Special Plans.” A Washington Post staff writer named
Walter Pincus has been providing an excellent
perspective on these matters since the summer scandal
over the Niger uranium claims about Iraq, another
incident in which the White House tried to pin the
blame on you. Provide Mr. Pincus with the data he
needs. Waiting for vindication from Dr. David Kay is
a dangerous and foolhardy exercise in futility.


William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of
truthout.org. He is a New York Times and international
best-selling author of three books - "War On Iraq,"
available from Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition
is Silence," available from Pluto Press, and "Our
Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available in
August from Context Books.

Posted by richard at 11:25 PM

9/11 commission considering White House subpoenas

Of course, this stonewalling is an outrage, but still a lesser outrage than the
Corporatist media's refusal to deliver the story with
appropriate import and context. NEVERTHELESS, the
woods are relentlessly inching closer to MacBush's
castle walls...

"A federal commission investigating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has been unable to obtain classified White House documents, and is now considering issuing subpoenas for them, a commission spokesman said."


9/11 commission considering White House subpoenas
Sunday, October 26, 2003 Posted: 1:13 PM EST (1813

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal commission investigating
the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has been
unable to obtain classified White House documents, and
is now considering issuing subpoenas for them, a
commission spokesman said.

"It's not a means that you want to use lightly or
overuse," Al Felzenberg, spokesman for the National
Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United
States, said. "It is an instrument we have at our

September 11 attacks

White House

or Create your own

Manage alerts | What is this?

The New York Times reported Saturday that the
commission's chairman, Thomas Kean, was prepared to
subpoena the White House to get access to several
highly classified intelligence documents that so far
have not been turned over.

White House spokesman Jimmy Orr said the White House
"believes it is being fully cooperative with the

"We hope to meet all of the panel's demands for
documents," he said.

Felzenberg said there was some impatience on the part
of the commission to get all the necessary documents
because members "take the job seriously" and have a
May deadline to meet.

The 10-member commission, he said, also wants to begin
to have more focused hearings to determine whether
there were intelligence or law enforcement failures in
the months leading up to the attacks that killed
nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Pentagon and

"To have those, we have to get through these piles of
material and to start writing a report that is a
definitive account of the events of 9/11. We need the
evidence. We need the data," he said.

"Both sides are negotiating in good faith, but at some
point there needs to be an end to negotiations about
process and a focus on progress," Felzenberg added.

He acknowledged that issuing subpoenas may not result
in a more rapid release of the documents, and said
commission members have not decided whether to issue

"They have not reached that decision now," Felzenberg
said. "Negotiations are in their final stage and we
hope they're resolved quickly."

"We hope that we get access to the material we need in
a very timely manner."

He said Kean, the former governor of New Jersey,
"wants this resolved because he wants to get on to
substantive issues, not procedural issues."

In the past several months, the commission has
complained that several federal agencies were slow in
turning over requested documents.

The law that created the commission last fall mandates
nine areas of inquiry, including terrorist financing
and aviation security.

A congressional investigation into the attacks has
largely explored possible counterterrorism lapses,
such as the CIA and FBI failing to share information
or to "connect the dots" between bits of intelligence
obtained from monitoring al Qaeda.

Posted by richard at 11:24 PM

In Army Times survey, Wesley Clark easily outpolls _resident

More US GIs have died in the _resident's foolish
military adventure. For what? MEANWHILE, the Army
Times conducted and *PUBLISHED* a poll asking who
would you vote for President right now?
Here are the highlights...
Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.) 38.74%
George W. Bush 28.94%
Sen. John Kerry 19.58%
Howard Dean 7.59%
Dick Gephardt 2.02%
Al Sharpton 1.39%
Sen. Joe Lieberman 0.71%
Sen. John Edwards 0.52%
Dennis Kucinich 0.28%
Carol Mosely Braun 0.26%
Yes, Clark (D-NATO) outpolls the _resident easily,
yes, Kerry (D-Mekong Delta) is in a strong third place
position...Everyone else eats dust, BUT even more
importantly -- consider the combined total of votes
for the would be anti-Bushes, rounded off: Democrat
70+%, _resident 29%

If you were going to vote for president right now,
which candidate would you support:

Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun 0.26 % (15)
Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.) 38.74 % (2,230)
Gov. Howard Dean 7.56 % (435)
Sen. John Edwards 0.52 % (30)
Rep. Dick Gephardt 2.02 % (116)
Sen. John Kerry 19.58 % (1,127)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich 0.28 % (16)
Sen. Joe Lieberman 0.71 % (41)
Rev. Al Sharpton 1.39 % (80)
President George W. Bush 28.94 % (1,666)
Total votes

Posted by richard at 11:21 PM

October 25, 2003

Arctic Ice Cap Melting at Worrying Rate: NASA

Vital news from NASA delivered to you via Agence
France Press and the Information Rebellion, BUT not
from the Corporatist media...Remember, Nero fiddled
while Rome burns, well, Bush the Lesser (what
Arundhati Roi calls him) plays PNACkle while the
planet burns...

"It is happening now. We cannot afford to wait a long period of time for technological solutions," said David Rind of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. "Change is in the air -- literally," he told a press conference here Thursday.


Published on Friday, October 24, 2003 by the Agence
France Presse
Arctic Ice Cap Melting at Worrying Rate: NASA

WASHINGTON - The polar ice cap is melting at an
alarming rate due to global warming, according to NASA
scientists, with satellite images showing the ice cap
has been shrinking by 10 percent per decade over the
past quarter century.

"It is happening now. We cannot afford to wait a long
period of time for technological solutions," said
David Rind of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space
Studies in New York. "Change is in the air --
literally," he told a press conference here Thursday.

This undated NASA composite image shows a fully dark
(city lights) full disk image centered on the North
Pole. The image was made from a combination of AVHRR,
NDVI, Seawifs, MODIS, NCEP, DMSP and Sky2000 catalog
data. (AFP-NASA/File)

By means of a special satellite launched last year to
measure the thickness of the polar ice cap, NASA has
confirmed that part of the Arctic Ocean that remains
frozen all year round shrank at a rate of 10 percent
per decade since 1980, NASA researcher Josefino Comiso

"The extent of Arctic sea ice that remains frozen all
year reached record lows in 2002 and 2003," he added.

The polar ice cap expands in winter and contracts in
spring and summer. The part of the ice cap that never
melts, even in the warmest summers, is called the
"perennial sea ice."

The oceans and land masses surrounding the Arctic
Ocean have warmed one degree Celsius (two degrees
Fahrenheit) during the past decade, scientists said.

Researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration are worried because global warming
speeds up as the ice cap melts, forming a vicious

"Snow and sea-ice are highly reflective because they
are white," Comiso said.

"Most of the sun's energy is simply reflected back to
space. With retraction of the ice cover, that means
that less of surface is covered by this highly
reflective snow and sea ice, and so more energy has
been absorbed and the climate warms."

The warming trend has brought spectacular
consequences. US and Canadian scientists reported in
September that the largest ice shelf in the Arctic off
Canada's coast has broken up due to climate change and
could endanger shipping and drilling platforms in the
Beaufort Sea.

The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf had been in place on the north
coast of Ellesmere Island in Canada's Nunavut
territory for at least 3,000 years.

"Small changes in ice could mean big impacts on the
water cycle and ultimately the global climate," warned

The changes could alter ocean currents, the
distribution of fish populations and precipitation
averages over a wide area.

"One activity in the north is hunting of marine
animals using sea-ice as a platform. When sea-ice
retreats, it affects the communities up there," said
University of Washington oceanographer Michael

"The Arctic is changing rapidly. We should be
concerned in the sense we need to simply recognize the
change is here, is occurring and we may have to adapt
to it," University of Colorado researcher Mark Serreze
told reporters.

"Why the increase in global temperature?" he asked.

"Part of this is probably simply due to natural
variability in the climate system," he added. "But the
general consensus of the climate community is that
part these changes are due to human impact."

Copyright © 2003 AFP


Posted by richard at 11:18 PM

Naming of agent 'was aimed at discrediting CIA'

As www.buzzflash.com points out the NYTwits and the
WASHPs, not to mention SeeNotNews, MustNotBeSeen and
Faux News, churned out 24x7 coverage of the
investigation into Bill Clinton's oral office sex, BUT
they seem to have misplaced this story. Well, in
fairness and accuracy, I will clarify and expand. Oh
no, they reported the "news" yesterday, yeah, that
"the Senate is attacking the CIA for its
inaccuracies," but of course that is a LIE, the Senate
Republicans, who have control of the committees, are
attacking the CIA to divert attention from the actual
source of the intel manipulation (i.e. "all the
_resident's men" and the White House au pair).
Understand? They reported the cover story, not the
story. They ate once again straight from Rove's
hand...Meanwhile, here is real news from a
conservative UK business newspaper, the Financial
Times. FT, of course, is not only the premiere
business newspaper in the UK, it is also the best
business newspaper in America. And like the Economist
(the best news weekly magazine in America), it proves
that good journalism has nothing to do with right or
left philosophy, it has to do with integrity and a
society where their press is still free (not only of
government censorship, which we are approaching more
openly in the US, but also Corporatism which has
wholly devoured the air waves and too a massive degree
the big city newspapers as well)...Hopefully, the
resistance within the intelligence community, the
military and the foreign policy establishment will
continue to fight the Bush cabal and their foolish
miklitary adventurism, hopefully the "US mainstream
news media" will at least to continue to *somewhat*
honesttly report the tragic and pointless death of US
soldiers in Iraq, they are certainly missing the
opportunity to report on the full scope of an
extraordinary confrontation with government, one that
shakes the very premise of the Republic...


Naming of agent 'was aimed at discrediting CIA'
By Edward Alden in Washington
Published: October 25 2003 5:00 | Last Updated:
October 25 2003 5:00

The Bush administration's exposure of a clandestine
Central Intelligence Agency operative was part of a
campaign aimed at discrediting US intelligence
agencies for not supporting White House claims that
Saddam Hussein was reconstituting Iraq's nuclear
weapons programme, former agency officials said

In a rare hearing called by Senate Democratic leaders,
the officials said the White House engaged in pressure
and intimidation aimed at generating intelligence
evidence to support the decision to make war on Iraq.

Senior administration officials in July revealed the
name of Valerie Plame, a former clandestine CIA
officer and the wife of Joseph Wilson, who was sent by
the CIA in 2002 to assess claims that Iraq was trying
to buy enriched uranium from Niger.

Mr Wilson had angered the White House by concluding
that there was no evidence to support the claim, and
then going public with that information after the war.

The Justice Department has launched a criminal
investigation to determine the source of the leak,
which in effect ended Ms Plame's career as a CIA
operative and may have endangered agency sources who
came in contact with her.

Vince Cannistraro, former CIA operations chief,
charged yesterday: "She was outed as a vindictive act
because the agency was not providing support for
policy statements that Saddam Hussein was reviving his
nuclear programme."

The leak was a way to "demonstrate an underlying
contempt for the intelligence community, the CIA in

He said that in the run-up to the Iraq war, the White
House had exerted unprecedented pressure on the CIA
and other intelligence agencies to find evidence that
Iraq had links to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda and
that Baghdad was trying to build a nuclear bomb.

While the intelligence agencies believe their mission
is to provide accurate analysis to the president to
aid policy decisions, in the case of Iraq "we had
policies that were already adopted and they were
looking for those selective pieces of intelligence
that would support the policy", Mr Cannistraro said.

In written testimony, he said that Vice-President Dick
Cheney and his top aide Lewis Libby went to CIA
headquarters to press mid-level analysts to provide
support for the claim. Mr Cheney, he said, "insisted
that desk analysts were not looking hard enough for
the evidence". Mr Cannistraro said his information
came from current agency analysts.

Other agency officials, who said they had been
colleagues of Ms Plame when she was trained as a CIA
agent, said the leak could do severe damage to the
morale of the intelligence agencies. "The US
government has never before released the name of a
clandestine officer," said Jim Marcinkowski, a former
CIA case officer. "My classmates and I have been

Senate Democrats are pressing for an independent
investigation of the intelligence leading up to the
war, and are calling for a special counsel to
investigate the leak.

The Republican-controlled Senate intelligence
committee is preparing a highly critical report of the
pre-war intelligence, the Washington Post reported
yesterday, which will conclude that the CIA overstated
any evidence about Iraq's weapons programmes and ties
to terrorism.

But the report will not look at the issue of whether
the White House put pressure on the CIA to reach such

The administration has refused to appoint an
independent special counsel on the leak investigation,
and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials said
this week that John Ashcroft, attorney-general and
close political ally of President George W. Bush, was
involved in the investigation.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst who said he voted
for Mr Bush and contributed to his campaign, said the
White House needed to authorise a more independent
investigation. "Unless they come up with a guilty
party, it will leave the impression that the
administration is playing politics."

Posted by richard at 11:17 PM

October 24, 2003

Bush's Afghanistan predicament

Three more US GIs have died in Iraq. For what? Here's
some news I doubt you will hear tonight or tomorrow
night on NotBeSeen or Faux News. Post-9/11, the US,
with the good will of its true allies in the West, had
an historic opportunity to crush al-Qaeda and also
right one of modern histiry's wrongs in Afghanistan,
but -- because of the small-mindedness,
mean-spiritedness and hubris of the _resident and
because of the looney-tune fantasy life of the ne-con
wet dreamers -- this corrupt, illegitimate and
incompetent regime frittered away the opportunities to
what was right and needed, squandered the good will of
our true allies, AND INSTEAD placed us on a slippery
slope to a world war with a foolish military adventure
in Iraq. MEANWHILE...


Bush's Afghanistan predicament
Bill Berkowitz - WorkingForChange

10.24.03 -

After nearly two years of upbeat progress reports by
President Bush, thanks to Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld's recently disclosed memo, we now know -- to
put it in Rumsfeld-speak -- we know what we knew: The
global war on terrorism is not going as well as the
administration would have us believe. Case in point:

While most Americans paid little attention to anything
other Arnold Schwarzenegger's impressive victory in
the California gubernatorial recall election on
Tuesday, October 7, a bunch of guys who have proudly
rejected most things Western and modern were at the
tail end of the mother of all shopping sprees. On the
second anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan,
London's Telegraph reported that more than 2,500
Taliban have been gathering in the Baluchistan
province of Pakistan in preparation for what appears
to be a major attack on Afghanistan. Along with
purchasing more than 1,000 mostly Honda motorcycles --
apparently the vehicle of choice for attacking Taliban
-- they have also bought hundreds of satellite
telephones from the Arab Gulf states, "because those
bought in Pakistan are closely monitored by America's
Central Intelligence Agency." The Taliban, it is being
reported, have been stashing significant amounts of
arms and ammunition inside Afghanistan.

Taliban shoppers have also bought up hotels, houses
and shops, and after evening prayers they are seen
gathering to "take tea, eat ice-cream and plan their
raids." The Telegraph report claimed that the Taliban
have "virtually taken over several suburbs of Quetta,
the capital of Baluchistan, and are being supported by
Pakistani religious parties, the drug trade and
Al-Qaeda." The drug trade has been especially
profitable, raising as much money for the Taliban as
the country has received in reconstruction aid.

Two years & counting

Being a few weeks past the second anniversary of the
U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, it's worth checking in on
the country the U.S. rescued from the Taliban and

That was then: Thousands of civilians were killed by
U.S. bombs.

This is now: Civilians, many of them children,
continue being killed and severely injured by
previously unexploded ordinance, US bombs going
astray, and thousands of buried landmines.

That was then: The Taliban was driven from power and
Mullah Omar disappeared into the sunset. Al-Qaeda
operatives were dispatched to ____, and Osama bin
Laden was forced to flee to _____ -- you fill in the

This is now: According to the New York Times, the Bush
administration's special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay
Khalilzad -- who is awaiting Congressional hearings on
his appointment to be the next ambassador to
Afghanistan -- is warning "that the Taliban movement
and its Al-Qaeda partners in the region may be
planning larger or 'more spectacular attacks' in
Afghanistan as part of a campaign against the
reconstruction process."

That was then: The people of Kabul were free to listen
to the music of their choice and dance in the streets
if they wanted to. Hamid Karzai was installed as
President, and elections were going to be held.

This is now: The Karzai government is pretty much
limited to the Kabul city limits and he is guarded by
a contingent of 50 U.S. soldiers, according to
University of New Hampshire Prof. Marc Herold. The
rest of the country is divided among longtime warlords
with their own well-armed militias. U.N.-organized
elections could be endangered by the lack of security.

That was then: Reconstruction aid was promised.

This is now: Little aid was delivered and not long
ago, a United Nations official said that as much as
one-third of the country was "off limits to U.N.
reconstruction, aid and political personnel." The Bush
Administration's currently pending $87 billion aid
package for Iraq includes some $2 billion for

That was then: The drug trade had been diminished.

This is now: The opium trade is flourishing and,
according to Reuters, spreading into new regions of
the country. Antonio Maria Costa, executive director
of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,
pointed out that Afghanistan has retained its spot as
the number one opium producer in the world.

That was then: President Bush promised to finish the
job in Afghanistan. Six months after October 7, 2001,
the president said: "We will stay until the mission is
done. We know that true peace will only be achieved
when we give the Afghan people the means to achieve
their own aspirations. Peace will be achieved by
helping Afghanistan develop its own stable government.
Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan train
and develop its own national army. And peace will be
achieved through an education system for boys and
girls that works."

This is now: President Bush is promising to finish the
job in Afghanistan.

Where has the media gone?

Although more or less out of sight -- especially on
the 24/7 cable news networks -- news from Afghanistan
hasn't totally disappeared from mainstream media
outlets. Periodically there's a report chronicling
another colorful-sounding U.S. "Operation" intended to
strike a crippling blow at the Taliban and remnants of
Al-Qaeda that are left in country. There are also
occasional stories about a significant Taliban leader
killed in action or a major Al-Qaeda figure captured
by U.S. forces.

But these reports often lack context. Larry Goodson,
author of a 2001 book about Afghanistan and professor
of Middle East studies at the Army War College in
Carlisle, Pa., recently told the Associated Press that
"Afghanistan has flipped off the radar screen to some

How will the Pentagon respond to these new threats
from the Taliban and Al-Qaeda? Will the administration
be forced to request more troops for the region?
Thomas Gouttierre, the dean of international studies
at the University of Nebraska who sees some progress
being made in Afghanistan, says that the 9-12,000 U.S.
troops and 5,500 NATO peacekeepers are not nearly
enough to do the job. "They need at least five times
that number of troops to provide the kind of security
that will reduce the dependency of the Afghans on
regional warlords and drug lords," Gouttierre told AP.

Is the $2 billion earmarked for Afghanistan enough to
even begin the reconstruction process? And does it
matter how much money is promised if the country
remains in the hands of thugs and outlaws? Will the
U.S. continue to cast its lot with President Karzai?
Can the warlords be brought under control? Has the
administration misunderstood the terrorist threat?

President Bush is fond of citing the number of Al
Qaeda leaders killed or captured as his way of
trumpeting the success of his war on terrorism, as if
the success or failure of this kind of all-out
never-ending war turns on the capture or deaths of one
or two or ten major figures. As British journalist
Jason Burke, the author of "Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow
of Terror" pointed out in a recent interview with
Buzzflash.com: "Al-Qaeda is commonly perceived to be a
tight-knight terrorist organization led by bin Laden.
Something that comes close to that description existed
in Afghanistan between around 1997 and 2001. That
entity no longer exists. What we have now is something
far more diverse -- a whole series of groups, cells,
and even individuals who are dissimilar in many ways,
but are united by certain fundamental ideological
ideas, and a particular way of viewing the world."

Whether it's frozen off the front page or whether the
cable news networks have moved on, there is no denying
that the news coming from Afghanistan is grim. "Since
August Taliban attacks have killed almost 400 Afghan
soldiers, aid workers and civilians," and four US
soldiers have also been killed, the Telegraph

And, even if we doubt the efficacy of remarks from a
Taliban mullah in a Pushtunabad bazaar, who told the
Telegraph that "We have the American forces and the
puppet regime of [President Hamid] Karzai on the run,
[and] [t]hey will collapse soon," a recent Reuters
report pointing out that Taliban commanders "secretly
met" with Mullah Mohammad Omar, "and vowed to step up
attacks on Afghan government and U.S.-led allied
troops," is proof that more destabilization is on the

Secretary Rumsfeld's October 16 memo predicted that
the U.S. would win the global war on terrorism but it
would be "a long, hard slog." Rumsfeld writes: "With
respect to global terrorism, the record since
September 11th seems to be: We are having mixed
results with Al Qaida, although we have put
considerable pressure on them -- nonetheless, a great
many remain at large... .USG has made somewhat slower
progress tracking down the Taliban -- Omar, Hekmatyar,

October 7, 2003 was an anniversary the Bush
Administration and much of the media allowed pass
under the radar. And while most Americans aren't
paying much attention to events tearing Afghanistan
apart, the boys in Baluchistan are dropping cash like
William Bennett in Vegas, and getting ready to launch
another round of bloody attacks on U.S. and
Afghanistan troops. It's time for Americans to hold
the Bush Administration accountable for its failed
policy in Afghanistan. That can only be done if a
disinterested media is forced to pay attention to
Bush's Afghanistan predicament.

(c) 2003 Working Assets Online. All rights reserved

Posted by richard at 11:13 PM

£3bn Iraq rebuilding cash 'goes missing'

Well, let's see what the Corporatist "US mainstream
news media" does with this story. Don't hold your
breath for an in-depth investigation. Meanwehile, here
is the skinny --- from The Scotsman...

'A NEW Iraq scandal erupted today as a report claimed billions of dollars earmarked for rebuilding the country have vanished after being handed to the United States-controlled governing body in Baghdad. "


Thu 23 Oct 2003

£3bn Iraq rebuilding cash 'goes missing'


A NEW Iraq scandal erupted today as a report claimed
billions of dollars earmarked for rebuilding the
country have vanished after being handed to the United
States-controlled governing body in Baghdad.

At least $5 billion (£3bn) has been passed to the
ruling Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), a
leading UK aid agency has calculated.

But only a fifth of those development funds have been
accounted for, figures unearthed by Christian Aid

And that missing four billion dollar "black hole" will
double by the end of the year unless the CPA’s
accounts are made public.

The allegations emerged as British aid agencies
claimed millions of pounds of government aid cash will
have to be diverted from poor countries in South
America, Eastern and Central Asia to rebuilding Iraq.

And they threaten to undermine a conference in Spain,
where the United Nations and World Bank hopes to raise
£20 billion to pay for the reconstruction of the
country following the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

Prime Minister Tony Blair was today challenged by the
charities to account for the missing $5bn, mainly from
oil revenue, as donors conference involving 60
countries got under way in Madrid.

A spokesman for the CPA denied that the money had been
lost or misused and promised that all the cash would
be fully accounted for.

The Mr Blair and US President George Bush last week
won a new UN resolution calling for international
contributions of money and troops.The donations will
go into a new fund overseen by the UN and the World

But failure to show where the existing cash has gone
will fuel suspicion among Iraqis that large amounts
are being creamed off by US firms given contracts to
rebuild the country, Christian Aid said.

One senior European diplomat told the charity: "We
have absolutely no idea how the money has been spent.

"I wish I knew, but we just don’t know. We have
absolutely no idea."

Roger Riddell, Christian Aid’s international director,
called the situation "little short of scandalous". He
said: "The British Government must use its position of
second in command of the CPA to demand full disclosure
of this money and its proper allocation in the future.

"This is Iraqi money. The people of Iraq must know
where it is going and it should be used for the
benefit of all the country’s people - particularly the

The UN transferred $1 billion from its old Oil for
Food Programme to the new Development Fund For Iraq
earlier this year.

The same UN resolution was supposed to set up an
International Advisory and Monitoring Board to oversee
the accounts.

It has not materialised and the only funds accounted
for so far are one billion dollars spent by the
Programme Review Board.

However, the CPA has received $2.5bn in assets seized
from Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and abroad,
Christian Aid reveals.

And it calculates oil revenue has contributed at least
another $1.5bn since the war.

Officials in Madrid admit that the latest allegations
will make it even more difficult to raise the £20bn
needed to rebuild Iraq and fuel potential donor
countries’ suspicions that the main beneficiaries of
the reconstruction programme are big US firms.

They expect little more that £3 billion to be raised.

And further concerns have been voiced over the news
that the UK is reducing overseas aid to South
American, Eastern European and central Asian countries
because of the cost of rebuilding Iraq.

A group of UK overseas aid charities said at least
£100 million would have to be diverted to help pay for
Britain’s commitment to provide £267 million over the
next two years to deal with the aftermath of the Gulf

International Development Secretary Hillary Benn
admitted the shift in resources today but said that
Iraq now qualified as a low income country.

This article:


Posted by richard at 11:12 PM

Rupert vs. the BBC -- The 'Foxification' of Britain

It's the Media, Stupid.

Dame Anita Roddick: "The attacks on the BBC by Tony Blair and his government, joinging forces with Rupert Murdoch and his executives at BSkyB, must be viewed in the context of what's already become a fait accompli in the United States -- the diminution of public space, especially public broadcasting space, by the ever more powerful forces of privatization. "


Published on Thursday, October 23, 2003 by
Rupert vs. the BBC -- The 'Foxification' of Britain
by Dame Anita Roddick

LONDON, October 23, 2003 -- If you live any decent
amount of time in the USA, as I do, broadcast media
will drive you nuts. So it's been fascinating watching
what has been going on in our media over the past few
months. The attacks on the BBC by Tony Blair and his
government, joinging forces with Rupert Murdoch and
his executives at BSkyB, must be viewed in the context
of what's already become a fait accompli in the United
States -- the diminution of public space, especially
public broadcasting space, by the ever more powerful
forces of privatization.

The effort in America dates back more than a decade,
with attacks on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
as a 'left-wing' network; with US$300 million in
appropriations from Congress being held up by
then-Senator Robert Dole; and with carefully
co-ordinated conservative ad hominem blasts against
such supposedly 'left-wing presences' on public
television as Bill Moyers, David Fanning (who produces
the pre-eminent documentary strand "Frontline,") and
Rory O'Connor and Danny Schechter of Globalvision, and
their purportedly 'hard-line Marxist' human rights
series "South Africa Now" and "Rights and Wrongs."

Eventually the Republican-controlled House of
Representatives, led by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich,
went so far as to attempt to get rid of PBS entirely.
Although the Gingrich effort failed to destroy public
broadcasting, it was left weakened and more vulnerable
than ever -- dependent on an increasingly polarized
Congress for funding, and prone to staving off
extinction and striving for more 'balance' by funding
explicitly conservative programmes, producers and

Here in Britain, of course, the BBC has one great
advantage over PBS in America -- the freedom from such
political pressure that is afforded by the annual
license fee that TV owners pay to fund BBC
programming. This ensures that the Beeb is far less
vulnerable to political pressures than PBS, which must
get its appropriations approved every year from

The BBC is supported instead by an annual tax of £116
(US$195) paid by every British household that owns one
or more televisions. The tax raises as much as $4.2
billion for the BBC every year and nobody in
government can reapportion it or redistribute it. Thus
the BBC, unlike every other public-broadcasting system
in the world, is not only well funded but also well
protected from politicians.


Every ten years, though, there's a charter review in
which the budget and performance of the BBC is
re-assessed. The next one is in 2006 and as the BBC is
one of the most influential institutions in British
life, the upcoming review will be one of the nation's
most profound political battles. As media maven
Michael Wolff puts it, it's all "about getting a piece
of the pie. Or at least it's a fight about Murdoch's
piece of the pie."

Not surprisingly, then, Rupert Murdoch and his
political cronies have begun to lay the groundwork for
an all-out assault on the BBC and the annual fee.
While they will probably not be able to eliminate it,
their endless attacks, slanted polls, and political
pressuring may well result in a lessening of the
amount the BBC gets annually, thus weakening the BEEB
as a 'public' competitor to all private interests, but
especially to the multi-channel Murdochian news and
entertainment network BSkyB.

All this must be viewed through the prism of what
otherwise appears the oddest of couplings: Rupert and
Tony Blair. Blair first became Prime Minister owing in
large measure to the endorsements of the traditionally
right wing Murdoch press. It now seems apparent that
Blair made a devilish pact years ago to garner
Murdoch's support, despite their obvious political
differences, and Murdoch is now collecting his payback
on the instalment plan.

Couple this scenario with the BBC's controversial Iraq
War reporting, the drama over reporter Andrew
Gilligan's accusation that the Blair government "sexed
up" the WMD dossier, (which led, in turn, to the
suicide of weapons expert and BBC source David Kelly,)
and the Blair government's resultant assault on the
BBC -- and the interests of Blair, Murdoch and the
American right-wing can be seen to merge.

Part of the Blair animosity toward the BBC is that he
is in partnership with Murdoch, and this is in part
Murdoch's war with the BBC.

Thus Blair and his then-mouthpiece Alastair Campbell
went to war against the BBC with two aims: one, to
distract attention from whether the nation and the
world was deceived on the road to war against Saddam;
the other to soften up the BBC for Rupert down the
line, and reduce British broadcasting to what one
Labour Party renegade, Claire Short, has termed "the
sort of commercially dominated, biased news reporting
that controls the US airwaves."


Announcing the formation of a charter advisory panel,
Tessa Jowell, Labour's culture secretary, recently
announced that everything was up for grabs, including
how the BBC "should be funded and regulated and
whether it delivers good value for money."

And Gerald Kaufman, the Labour member of Parliament
who, as chairman of the Commons committee on culture
and the media, has emerged as one of the BBC's most
vocal opponents, was even more blunt. "The BBC is no
longer relied on in the way it was," claimed Kaufman.
"It's placed itself in a situation where its word
isn't accepted automatically anymore. It's gone from
being an institution to just another broadcaster, and
a shoddy one at that."

Add to all this the next salvo -- Murdoch crony Tony
Ball's recent claims that growing public antagonism is
the real threat to the BBC's future. Citing his own
poll, Ball claimed that more than half of all Brits
don't think they are getting their money's worth from
the license fee (or 'unfair tax' as Ball terms it,)
that money spent by the BBC is 'money coerced,' and so

Ball posits that "today, television is much more
democratic," and that "anyone can launch a TV
channel." And he adds that the forthcoming BBC charter
review provides an opportunity to start "from first
principles." In other words, let's throw out the past
and re-examine from scratch, a highly dangerous
proposition of course when dealing with "compulsory
taxes" like the license fee.

In the ideal world then, from Murdoch's vantage point,
the BBC would become something much more like public
television in the U.S. -- there, but hardly there.
Now, with charter review coming up, if he can grab a
little more leverage and power at the expense of the
BBC, he will certainly do it -- and his lapdog Tony
Blair will be yipping along with him every step along
the "fair-and-balanced" way to the Foxification of

-- Dame Anita Roddick is a board member of
Mediachannel.org, the global media watchdog.

© MediaChannel.org, 2003.


Posted by richard at 11:10 PM

The Politics of Media Filtration

In 1992, Carville articulated the winning formula:
"It's the Economy, Stupid." Now, twelve years later,
the emphasis has shifted to psi-war: "It's the Media,
Normon Solomon: "Now, after all the national media have done for George W. Bush, the guy's complaining. "There's a sense that people in America aren't getting the truth," he says. What an ingrate! "


Published on Thursday, October 23, 2003 by
The Politics of Media Filtration
by Norman Solomon

Now, after all the national media have done for George
W. Bush, the guy's complaining. "There's a sense that
people in America aren't getting the truth," he says.
What an ingrate!

"I'm mindful of the filter through which some news
travels," the president groused a few days ago, "and
sometimes you have to go over the heads of the filter
and speak directly to the people."

Some con artists are never satisfied.

The big media's filtration process has worked to
Bush's great advantage. During the 2000 campaign, his
dismal record as governor -- complete with a truly
awful environmental scorecard and a heinously cavalier
approach to executions in Texas -- got woefully
insufficient media attention. During his first months
as president, with many Americans doubting the
legitimacy of his electoral victory and sensing that
he had risen way above his level of competence, the
overall media coverage of the new chief executive was

In mid-September 2001, with Bush suddenly ascending to
the media stratosphere, Karl Rove and other political
strategists in the White House began their relentless
exploitation of Sept. 11.

But they couldn't have pulled it off without the avid
participation of mass media. Numerous mainstream news
outlets swiftly hailed George W. Bush as FDR
incarnate. They marveled at his consummate ability to
use TelePrompTers and talk seriously in front of
cameras. Exceeding low and narrow expectations, his
stock spiked upward in the political marketplace.

From war on Iraq to abrogation of key civil liberties
to further skewing of the federal tax structure in
favor of the wealthy, everything on the Bush team's
wish list has been shamelessly pitched as part of the
"war on terrorism."

But even cowboys get the blues, especially when their
imperial zeal turns out to be imprudent. Despite the
world's most powerful military under their command,
the global reach of the current empire-builders in
Washington is exceeding its grasp. They're now facing
some very tough quandaries.

With the U.S. economy still slumping and the
occupation of Iraq still in what Daddy Bush might call
"deep doo-doo," we can expect the political
exploitation of 9/11 to intensify between now and
November 2004. Get ready for an election year full of
efforts to wring every drop of media juice out of what
happened on Sept. 11.

In the new edition of her book "W: Revenge of the Bush
Dynasty," journalist Elizabeth Mitchell notes that
"the Republican National Convention will take place in
New York City on the latest date in the party's
148-year history to inch it near to the anniversary of
Sept. 11." Only a few days will separate the GOP
convention in Manhattan and the 9/11 commemorations.

The steady decline of Bush's approval ratings
nationwide in recent months has surely accentuated the
Rove administration's view of the 9/11 card as its ace
in the hole.

In the real world, his complaints notwithstanding,
President Bush can "speak directly to the people" like
no one else. The extent of his unfiltered media access
-- including live coverage of rhetorical speeches and
smarmy photo-ops -- is enormous. What's more, every
day, media outlets are choking with Bush appointees,
Republican leaders in Congress, supportive pundits and
corporate-backed think tankers who tirelessly tout the
president and his policies.

And we ain't seen nothing yet. Much of Bush's
anticipated $200 million campaign war chest next year
will be devoted to purchasing entirely "unfiltered"
access to the public in the form of commercials
lauding the man's supposed greatness.

Bush does have one thing right: By and large, the news
media are functioning as a filtration system in this
country. Of course, he wants it to filter out a lot
more of the news and views he doesn't like. But Bush
would be truly shocked if the nation's mass media
acted less like a filtration system and more like a
means for widespread democratic communication.

If we were to compile a long list of people with
perspectives, opinions, analysis and information
routinely excluded by U.S. media filtration, George W.
Bush and his buddies certainly wouldn't be on it.

In the United States and around the world,
impoverished people who suffer because of the
administration's policies are among the real victims
of media filtration. But evidently their complaints
aren't newsworthy.


Posted by richard at 11:08 PM

October 23, 2003

Bush Brothers Become Big Brother

No, they do not let him on the air waves. Yes, it is
just an op-ed piece on their Web site. But if Dick
Meyer still has a editorial director of the SeeBS News
web site next week, we might have a fighting chance of
saving the already dangerously compromised US
Constitution...Here it is. Take hope and solace in
this story...There is a lot of powerful news today:
for example, the brave protest of Australian Labor and
Green MPs who got in the _resident's face and on the
air waves (even here is Oceania). Their names are
going on the John O'Neil Wall of Heroes. AND Amy
Goodman's DemocracyNow! broadcast a wonderful and
brilliant talk Michael Moore gave last week in
SF...BUT this story (considering its source)is very,
very important. Yes, Meyer has written some
hard-hitting stuff before, but believe it or not the
headline of the story reads: Bush Brothers become Big
Brother...Remember, you are not alone...

"This has been terrifying week for people who are concerned about big government meddling in families’ most personal and painful decisions. I would say it’s been a terrible week for conservatives, but most of the people who call themselves conservatives are celebrating and crowing. I think they’re radicals. "


Bush Brothers Become Big Brother

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2003

The idea of legislatures, governors and presidents
dictating what families can do in these most private
situations is mind-boggling. It is as intrusive as
government can be.

(CBS) In his latest Against the Grain commentary,
CBSNews.com's Dick Meyer looks at government
interference in personal decisions.

This has been terrifying week for people who are
concerned about big government meddling in families’
most personal and painful decisions. I would say it’s
been a terrible week for conservatives, but most of
the people who call themselves conservatives are
celebrating and crowing. I think they’re radicals.

I’m referring, of course, to the unprecedented
intervention of Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida
legislature in the tragic case of Terri Schiavo, and
to the Senate vote, supported by President Bush,
banning a certain type of procedure to terminate
pregnancies in cases where the mother’s life or health
are at risk. The idea of legislatures, governors and
presidents dictating what families can do in these
most private situations is mind-boggling. It is as
intrusive as government can be. It is, in both cases,
almost certainly unconstitutional.

The courts have spoken at length and clearly on both
of these issues. The Senate, the Florida legislature
and the Bush brothers are doing end-runs to circumvent
the rulings.

In the case of Terri Schiavo, 19 judges in six
different courts have weighed the evidence and heard
the arguments. They have all found that Michael
Schiavo, Terri’s husband, has the legal authority to
discontinue the artificial feeding and hydration that
has kept his brain-damaged wife biologically alive for
13 years. No court has found that Terri Schiavo has
even the remotest chance of leaving her present, sad
condition. And the Supreme Court, in the 1990 decision
involving a Missouri woman named Nancy Cruzan,
affirmed the right and legality of terminating
artificial feeding and hydrating in these situations.

As for the Senate bill, the Supreme Court three years
ago overturned a very similar bill passed in Nebraska.
Legislatures in 31 states have passed similar bills
dealing with the controversial procedure and courts
have nixed most of them already. The bill will be in
court soon after the president signs it.

The political energy behind both of these government
interventions comes from the right-to-life movement. I
do not in any way dismiss or disrespect their views
and their devotion to protecting the sanctity of all
human life. Every family should be free to refuse the
termination of life support or artificial feeding if
that is their considered judgment. Every woman and
every couple should have the right to refuse a
late-term abortion procedure if they are in that
painful situation.

And every family should be free to decide otherwise,
unconstrained by a Big Brother government.

Opponents of late-term abortion and the “right to die”
do not have a state morality imposed on their most
personal choices. They may not care to live in a
society where such things are allowed, but nothing is
imposed on their lives. Our rights are about the
prohibition of government intrusion in the most
personal and valued parts of our lives.

What I cannot stomach is hearing the Brothers Bush,
who have presided over a sibling world-record number
of executions, talk about the sanctity of all human
life. The sanctity of the right-to-life interests in
the Republican Party -- maybe.

Dick Meyer, the Editorial Director of CBSNews.com, is
based in Washington. For many years, he was a
political and investigative producer for The CBS News
Evening News With Dan Rather.

Posted by richard at 10:20 PM

October 22, 2003

How the Poll Results on Iraq Were Manipulated

Fascinating story. Zogby, although a Republican
pollster, is also an Arab-American. Here is provides a
glimpse into how poll data is skewed and cooked for
the propapunditgandists, etc.

James Zogby: It is disturbing that the AEI and the vice president could get it so wrong. Their misuse of the polling numbers to make the point that they wanted to make, resembles the way critics have noted that the administration used "intelligence data" to make their case to justify the war.


Published on Wednesday, October 22, 2003 by the Arab
How the Poll Results on Iraq Were Manipulated
by James Zogby

Early in President Bush's recent public relations
campaign to rebuild support for the US war effort in
Iraq, Vice President Cheney appeared on "Meet the
Press." Attempting to make the case that the US was
winning in Iraq, Cheney made the following

"There was a poll done, just random in the last week,
first one I've seen carefully done; admittedly, it's a
difficult area to poll in. Zogby International did it
with American Enterprise magazine. But that's got very
positive news in it in terms of the numbers it shows
with respect to the attitudes to what Americans have

"One of the questions it asked is: 'If you could have
any model for the kind of government you'd like to
have' - and they were given five choices - 'which
would it be?' The US wins hands down. If you want to
ask them do they want an Islamic government
established, by 2: 1margins they say no, including the
Shiite population. If you ask how long they want
Americans to stay, over 60 percent of the people
polled said they want the US to stay for at least
another year. So admittedly there are problems,
especially in that area where Saddam Hussein was from,
where people have benefited most from his regime and
who've got the most to lose if we're successful in our
enterprise, and continuing attacks from terror. But to
suggest somehow that that's representative of the
country at large or the Iraqi people are opposed to
what we've done in Iraq or are actively and
aggressively trying to undermine it, I just think
that's not true."

In fact, Zogby International (ZI) in Iraq had
conducted the poll, and the American Enterprise
Institute (AEI) did publish their interpretation of
the findings. But the AEI's "spin" and the vice
president's use of their "spin" created a faulty
impression of the poll's results and, therefore, of
the attitudes of the Iraqi people.

For example, while Cheney noted that when asked what
kind of government they would like, Iraqis chose "the
US... hands down," in fact, the results of the poll
are actually quite different. Twenty-three percent of
Iraqis say that they would like to model their new
government after the US; 17 .5 percent would like
their model to be Saudi Arabia; 12 percent say Syria,
7 percent say Egypt and 37 percent say "none of the
above." That's hardly "winning hands down."

When given the choice as to whether they "would like
to see the American and British forces leave Iraq in
six months, one year, or two years," 31.5 percent of
Iraqis say these forces should leave in six months; 34
percent say a year, and only 25 percent say two or
more years.

So while technically Cheney might say that "over 60
percent (actually it's 59 percent) ... want the US to
stay at least another year," an equally correct
observation would be that 65.5 percent want the US and
Britain to leave in one year or less.

Other numbers found in the poll go further to dampen
the vice president's and the AEI's rosy
interpretations. For example, when asked if "democracy
can work well in Iraq," 51 percent said "no; it is a
Western way of doing things and will not work here."

And attitudes toward the US were not positive. When
asked whether over the next five years, they felt that
the "US would help or hurt Iraq,"50 percent said that
the US would hurt Iraq, while only 35.5 percent felt
the US would help the country. On the other hand, 61
percent of Iraqis felt that Saudi Arabia would help
Iraq in the next five years, as opposed to only 7.5
percent, who felt Saudi Arabia would hurt their
country. Some 50. 5 percent felt that the United
Nations would help Iraq, while 18.5 percent felt it
would hurt. Iran's rating was very close to the US',
with 53. 5 percent of Iraqis saying Iran would hurt
them in the next five years, while only 21. 5 percent
felt that Iran might help them.

It is disturbing that the AEI and the vice president
could get it so wrong. Their misuse of the polling
numbers to make the point that they wanted to make,
resembles the way critics have noted that the
administration used "intelligence data" to make their
case to justify the war.

The danger, of course, is that painting a rosy picture
that doesn't exist is a recipe for a failed policy.
Wishing something to be can't make it so. At some
point, reality intervenes. It's a hard lesson to
learn, but it is dangerous to ignore its importance.

For the administration to continue to tell itself and
the American people that "all is well," only means
that needed changes in policy will not be made.

Consider some of the other poll findings:

Over 55 percent give a negative rating to "how the US
military is dealing with Iraqi civilians." Only 20
percent gave the US military a positive rating.

By a margin of 57 percent to 38 . 5 percent, Iraqis
indicate that they would support "Arab forces"
providing security in their country.

When asked how they would describe the attacks on the
US military, 49 percent described them as "resistance
operations." Only 29 percent saw them as attacks by
"Ba'ath loyalists."

When asked whom they preferred to "provide security
and restore order in their country," only 6 . 5
percent said the US. Twenty-seven percent said the US
and the UN together, 14 . 5 percent preferred only the
UN. And the largest group, 45 percent, said they would
prefer the "Iraqi military" to do the job alone.
There are important lessons in all of this. Lessons
policy makers ought to heed if they are to help Iraq
move forward. What the Iraqi people appear to be
telling us is that they have hope for the future, but
they want the help of their neighbors more than that
of the US.

That may not be what Washington wants to hear, but it
ought to listen nevertheless. Because if policy makers
continue to bend the data to meet their desired
policy, then this hole they are digging will only get

Copyright: Arab News C2003


Posted by richard at 10:17 PM

Gene Lyons, Political Columnist and Co-Author of "Hunting of the President," Chats with BuzzFlash About General Wesley Clark

The LNS has studied the propapunditgandists for a long
time. They are already trying to tell you that "most
Democrats prefer a candidate who was for the war but
now is not." Geez. They are going to expend a
tremendous load of hot air trying to twist the reality
of the Democratic Party today into something that fits
the script their corporate overlords limit them too
(e.g., promote to Democrats who do not fight back,
promote Democrats who can be more easily mocked). Yada
yada yada. Put wax in your ears and listen to the
internal sound. Does Dean (D-Jeffords) have Electoral
College weaknesses? Of course. Is Clark (D-NATO) a
political gamble? Of course. But they both stand for
something, they have both struck at the _resident
(hard) and they are both on the right side of history
on Iraq. It is a sad and strange time. The _resident
now has his first blow at Roe v. Wade. Remember, Mr.
Nada, Clinton vetoed partial birth ban twice and Gore
certainly would have as well. Still no difference, you
are not unintelligent so you must be ammoral not to
retract your lie of 2000. Meanwhile, the "vast
reich-wing conspiracy" is getting another Bush Cabal
LITE candidate ready for California: Dennis Miller
will challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA.) Yes, these
are strange and difficult days...Here is some
commentary on Clark, the Electoral College and the
rest of it from the brilliant Gene Lyons courtesy of


October 22, 2003

Gene Lyons, Political Columnist and Co-Author of "Hunting of the President," Chats with BuzzFlash About General Wesley Clark


Gene Lyons is one of BuzzFlash's favorite writers and
thinkers. He along with co-author Joe Conason wrote
the seminal book on how the right-wing tried to tear
down a duly elected and popular president and first
lady in The Hunting of the President. Always
insightful and to the point, we're honored to bring
you our third interview with Gene Lyons about another
intelligent Arkansas candidate, Wesley Clark, who is
seeking the presidency.

Gene Lyons won the National Magazine Award in 1980. He
has written extensively for Newsweek, Harper's, The
Nation, The New York Review of Books, Texas Monthly,
Entertainment Weekly, and many other magazines. His
books include The Higher Illiteracy (1988), Widow's
Web (1993), and Fools for Scandal (1996). Gene
currently writes a political column for the Arkansas

(Just a reminder: BuzzFlash has not endorsed any
Democratic candidate for the presidency in the
primaries. We believe that democracy should takes its
course. We try to run pieces on all the leading

* * *

BUZZFLASH: What's your take on how Ret. Gen. Wesley
Clark has shaken up the Democratic field?

GENE LYONS: I wrote a couple of columns in the summer
when the talk was starting, sort of urging Wesley
Clark to run. I suggested in a column that he ought to
hear the call of duty. Given the views that Clark had,
and his unique status and political gifts, I felt he
almost had a duty to run because his candidacy would
affect a lot of Democrats like an electrical charge.
And I think it has to the extent that people have
heard of him. The people who know about him and who
have heard of him, and are not committed to a
candidate, have been very turned on and excited by his
candidacy. I think that he has a reasonably good
chance to end up with the nomination.

BUZZFLASH: What advantages do you perceive, both
professionally and personally, that Clark brings to
the table that could really give him the edge in not
only getting the nomination, but also defeating Bush?

LYONS: What I wrote a long time ago was we didn't know
if Clark had the "political hunger." We didn't know if
his value as a symbol would be equaled by his value as
a politician -- as an actual candidate with the nuts
and bolts of going from town to town, trying to sell
yourself to people.

And some of those unknowns I think have been allayed.
I think what they call it in the army -- his command
presence -- is very noticeable. When you meet him,
even privately, one-on-one, or in small groups, his
personal charisma, which is very real and also very
different from Clinton's, is apparent.

It's also true that quality of command presence is
partly theatrical. You get to be a general partly by
acting like a general. You command respect by acting
authoritatively. At the same time, he's affable and

Clark's intellectual brilliance may be more apparent
than Clinton's, because Clark doesn't do the
"aw-shucks Southern country boy" act the way Clinton
can do it. So you're struck immediately with how
intelligent he is. At the same time, he listens to
people and pays attention to what they're saying, and
responds like a human being.

I want to be careful how I say this, but he has an
almost feline presence -- and by that I don't mean
"catty," as in bitchy. I mean like a big cat. I once
encountered a mountain lion in the Point Reyes
National Seashore in California, on a rainy day in
winter, when I was all by myself. We stood stock still
staring at each other for a few seconds. And there was
this moment of "Gee, that's a cougar, this is really
cool." And then an instant later, came the feeling of
"My God, that's a lion!" There's nothing between me
and him, no fence. Clark has a little bit of that kind
of presence. You sense a tremendous personal authority
about him held in and contained by self-discipline.
Not somebody to fuck with, is another way of putting

BUZZFLASH: You look at his background -- Rhodes
scholar, decorated war hero, Supreme Commander of
NATO. It gives him a unique position to criticize Bush
on terrorism and the decision to invade and continue
to occupy Iraq. It seems that his status allows him to
make those criticisms without looking as political as
the other candidates -- that Clark's basing his
criticism on professional experience.

LYONS: I think that it's hard to depoliticize a
candidacy. But I think one of his reasons for running
is his very obvious personal ambition, and I think
that's something he needs to be careful with. He's
clearly a very ambitious person. He clearly thinks
that he is among the best qualified people to be
President of the United States in his generation. I
happen to think he's probably right. But nevertheless,
people don't always react well to that quality in

I do think his concerns are honest. I think his
criticisms of Bush are exactly what he believes. One
reason that I think that is I have had an opportunity
to talk to him in a sort of a semi-private way.

Going all the way back to the summer of 2002, I got a
sense of how strong his feelings about Iraq were. Long
before it was clear that the administration was really
going to sell a war on Iraq, when it was just a kind
of a Republican talking point, early in the summer of
2002, Wesley Clark was very strongly opposed to it. He
thought it was definitely the wrong move. He conveyed
that we'd be opening a Pandora's box that we might
never get closed again. And he expressed that feeling
to me, in a sort of quasi-public way. It was a Fourth
of July party and a lot of journalists were there, and
there were people listening to a small group of us
talk. There wasn't an audience, there were just
several people around. There was no criticism I could
make that he didn't sort of see me and raise me in
poker terms. Probably because he knew a lot more about
it than I did. And his experience is vast, and his
concerns were deep.

He was right, too. How long ago was it that you were
hearing all this sweeping rhetoric from the Project
for a New American Century; that we were going to
essentially conquer the south of Asia, contain China,
and dominate the Middle East? And the United States
was going to stand astride the world like a colossus.
And all of a sudden, we invade a crummy, tin-pot,
little third-rate dictatorship like Iraq, and we've
already got more than we can handle. It's clear we're
not going to dominate the world. And the question is,
how in the world do we get out of there with our skins
intact? And how do we then find a foreign policy that
makes more sense?

BUZZFLASH: Do you think that the situation in Iraq is
going to play a significant role in the 2004 election
versus domestic issues and the economy?

LYONS: I think it is going to be a big issue. People
want to know how in the world we're going to get out
of there and not make things worse. I think
everybody's nervous about a precipitous pullout, but
there's also no reason to think things are going to be
markedly better by next fall. I think it's already
beginning to impact domestic issues, especially the
question of the budget. I think that a lot of people
who may not have felt this way before are beginning to
center on the question, "Is Bush in over his head?"

You always hear it expressed as a TV metaphor -- is
this guy ready for prime time? But then Bush gets in
office, and it suddenly occurs to you, "Well, gee,
he's not a game show host. He's supposed to run the
country." Does Bush know what he's doing? Do the
people around him have any sense of reality? Or are
they crackpot ideologues? I mean, I see them as
utopian fantasists myself. What the Disney people call
"imagineers" on a global scale. American foreign
policy has begun to resemble the scenario for a James
Bond film. And so I think, yes, for all those reasons
and more, I think the war's likely going to come down
on Bush's judgment.

BUZZFLASH: One of the things that Clark stressed when
he announced his candidacy for the Democratic
nomination was that criticizing George W. Bush is not
unpatriotic. And he is in that unique position of
being a decorated war hero and a general. It's hard to
call someone like that unpatriotic. But nonetheless,
if he gets the nomination or if he's asked to be a
vice presidential candidate, the right wing is going
to go after him.

LYONS: Absolutely.

BUZZFLASH: You're probably one of the most
well-informed journalists on how attack politics play
themselves out with a culpable media, based on your
extensive research and writing on the Clintons. How do
you think the right wing is going to go after Clark?
What can he expect? What advice would you give Clark
and the people who are working for him?

LYONS: Well, the outlines of it are already evident.
They're saying he's too tightly wrapped, which is kind
of akin to what they tried to do with John McCain.
They're saying he's a zealot and tends to become
unhinged. They're suggesting he's crazed with

I wrote in a column a couple of weeks ago that one of
their lines of attack would be to portray him as sort
of General Jack D. Ripper, who was the megalomaniacal
general in Dr. Strangelove who was so concerned with
his precious bodily fluids. And that's what I think
they will try to do. They might go all the way to the
edge of suggesting some kind of mental illness. I
don't think he's very vulnerable to that sort of

Clark gave a very interesting quote that I used in a
column in a profile in Esquire. He said the whole
question about running against George W. Bush boils
down to how much pain can you take. So I think he has
some idea of what's coming. I think he has some idea
that it will be shrill, it will come from that side of
the spectrum, and it will be harsh. I think they're
going to try to portray him as a crackpot and as
wildly ambitious, and therefore dangerous. The
right-wing will definitely label him an opportunist
and say he's switching parties simply to become
President and he's power-mad.

My view is that Clark's campaign -- any democratic
candidate's, really -- needs to take a page from the
Clinton '92 campaign, in which they set up a kind of a
counterintelligence staff which responded immediately
and hard to the attacks and lies. I suspect that,
given how good Clark is on his feet, and how clever he
is, he may be tempted to think he can go this alone --
that he himself can fend this stuff off by addressing
each smear one at a time and dealing with it. I don't
know if that's possible because the volume of it is
going to be beyond anything one person can cope with.

BUZZFLASH: Bush is no doubt going to run a two-sided
campaign where he is the friendly Texan trying to stay
above the fray, and all his minions such as Karl Rove
will be doing the dirty work. There's no better
example that what Bush's campaign did to John McCain,
claiming he only received medals just to make him feel
better for being a prisoner of war. Or, as you pointed
out, that he was mentally unsafe or unstable.

LYONS: That's what the Bushes do. George W. Bush plays
the affable back-slapper. And while he's slapping your
back, Rove and company are preparing the shiv.

People like you and me and most BuzzFlash readers are
always lamenting how people treat politics as if it is
a TV show, and one that they watch with only passing
attention. And so it does become a lot about
symbolism. And Bush just seems like -- as my mother
always used to say about Reagan -- too nice a fellow
for that kind of thing.

BUZZFLASH: BuzzFlash is not going to endorse any of
the Democratic candidates. And our position has always
been, bottom line, whoever is the Democratic nominee
to challenge Bush, in order to win, that candidate has
to do four things: 1) Define the terms of the debate
and the issues; 2) Defend themselves against the
right-wing attacks, wherever they come from; 3) Be
willing to go on the offensive and actually go after
Bush's credibility on some very key issues such as
Treasongate, the Iraq war, job losses, the deficit,
etc.; and 4) Not apologize for standing up for
Democratic positions and values, thereby activating
the Democratic base. Are you impressed with how
Clark's campaign is running? And do you foresee him
being able to execute those four components against

LYONS: In a word, yes. I'm like BuzzFlash -- I don't
really have a candidate. In fact, I sort of stayed
away from the Democratic race because I felt like 10
candidates (now nine since Sen. Bob Graham dropped
out) are too many to evaluate. I'm for the Democrat in
this race. That's been my sort of default position.
It's hard for me to imagine supporting Bush regardless
who the wins the Democratic nomination. I mean, the
record of failure to me is staggering. If Bush is a
success, how you would define failure?

In American political terms, I think Clark is doing
well or better than can be expected. I think he's
already out-run early expectations. People were saying
he was entering too late, and, all of a sudden, the
polls come out and he's one of -- if not the -- front
runners. The people on the Draft Wesley Clark website
were right about there being nine candidates running,
but more than half of the likely voters had made no
decision yet. So it was pretty clear that people were
not seeing what they wanted in the nine candidates.
And I think what most Democrats want most passionately
is somebody that can win.

BUZZFLASH: If Wesley Clark gets the nomination, it
upsets the Republican Southern strategy. Give our
readers a little bit of context and history to what
the Southern strategy is, and how Clark affects the
geo-political landscape and culture war.

LYONS: Well, basically the Southern strategy started
with Nixon in the late ‘60s. The idea was to convince
the core constituency -- Southern white men -- that
the Republican Party was their home and that the
Democrats were the women's party, the black people's
party, the homosexual party, the party of disgruntled
minorities who were anti-religious, anti-patriotic,
and anti-American, in a fundamental way. That
Democrats supported "race-mixing," immorality, and the
welfare state. It worked well enough to swing the
South to the Republicans in the wake of the Civil
Rights Act.

Lyndon Johnson is famous for having predicted this.
Dale Bumpers, the former Arkansas Senator, told me
that as a very young man he congratulated LBJ for
signing the Voting Rights Act of '64, and Johnson
said, "Well, just as long as you understand that the
whole South is going to be Republican in 10 years."
And it has worked for a long time.

But I think that as a person and as a symbol, Clark
has the potential to take all that away from the
right-wing. I might add that I also think that there
are an awful lot of genuine conservatives, in the
classical sense, who are uneasy about where Bush is
going. The conquer-the-world schemes, the giant
sinkhole of the federal budget. Some of the best
writing about Iraq has come from conservative or
libertarian columnists like Steve Chapman of the
Chicago Tribune or James Pinkerton of Newsday. Now
this is sad, but those conservatives aren't going to
listen to Carol Mosley Braun make the same criticism
as that coming from Wesley Clark, who is a Southerner
and a decorated military man. I think it's sad but
true. Again, I think it's a battle of symbols.

I think that in practical terms Clark puts several
Southern states back in play. Right now, Bush would be
very hard-put to win any of the states that Gore won
in the last election. So if you can take away from
Bush, or at least strongly compete in Arkansas, West
Virginia, Kentucky, possibly Georgia, Florida, with
all of its military people, you all of a sudden take
from Bush this air of invincibility and fundamentally
change the electoral map. When you look at it like
that you have to ask, how in the world is Bush going
to win this election? Where are his electoral votes
going to come from?

BUZZFLASH: There's this perception among progressives
and Democrats that because the Bush administration is
so right wing, and effectively all three branches of
government are in the control of the Republican Party,
that we're underdogs. But people forget that Gore won
the election by a half-million votes. And let's not
forget over 95,000 people cast their vote for Ralph
Nader in Florida, while Bush "won" by 537 votes. When
you look at the electoral map, the Democrats start out
much stronger than what you would think they do. I
think that the Democrats could feel a little bit more
aggressive and empowered based on those things. As
you've pointed out, if the Democratic candidate wins
every state that Gore won, all the Democrats have to
do is just pick off one more, whether it's Arkansas or
West Virginia, and the Democrats take the White House.

LYONS: Well, I've been reminding people of that all
along. But I also think Clark does more than that. My
subjective view was that culturally there was no way
that Dean, for example, could win in the South -- he
would be a complete non-starter. Dean has a terrific
line about this. He says he'd tell the pickup driving
set (a group that would include me, for what it's
worth) that they've been voting Republican for 30
years, and ask them "What have you got to show for
it?" Great line, but would they ever hear it at all
coming from a Vermont Yankee? I've got my doubts. And
that would allow the Republicans to spend a lot more
money in places like Missouri and Pennsylvania and
Michigan that are states that are very competitive.
And it would make it extremely difficult for Dean to
win in that he'd have to run the table in all the
other states and pick up one more state somewhere.

I'm just talking about pure symbolism now. I'm not
talking about the candidates or their virtues or
standards. The symbolism of Clark -- because we are
talking about a television show, after all, if we're
talking about a presidential campaign -- means you
have trouble finding a way for the Republicans to win.

I think Clark would bring back a lot of military
people. I think there's great disquiet among people of
the old-fashioned style of patriotism right now, and
it's looking for a place to go. And I think there's a
very good chance it would go to Clark. I think that he
would have a strong chance to unite that which has
been divided.

I'm not going to tell you everything's wonderful in
the South. But the amazing thing is how well the South
adapted personally and culturally, in a day-to-day
way, to all of the changes brought about forcibly by
federal law in the ‘60s as a result of various civil
rights acts. People manage to get along most of the
time, and there is a much smaller role that racial
hatred and racial prejudice plays out in everyday life
in the Southern quadrant of the country than it did 30
or 40 years ago -- in public, on the job, in sports,
and other areas of daily life.

You almost wouldn't know it from the campaigns of the
Republican Party that used the Southern strategy.
There is more open opportunity and more genuine
friendship among and between different racial groups
than ever before. The Republican campaigns in some
parts of the South would make you think that everyone
was a George Wallace supporter, or would be happy to
vote for George Wallace, which isn't true.

Even so, many people that won those kinds of elections
are sort of embarrassed by all that -- even people who
voted for Wallace are ashamed. Arkansas Republican
Gov. Mike Huckabee, for example, is neither racist nor
reactionary. I mean, yes, there's a subdued minority
who are both of those things. They were the core of
the Clinton haters, for example. But remember, Clinton
always won.

BUZZFLASH: I get the sense that there's something
going below the radar, and it has a lot to do with the
surge of Dean and progressives becoming more active.
Progressives feel there needs to be a primary goal of
knocking Bush out of office, and, secondly,
progressives could be more strategic in how they
approach presidential politics, at least. There is no
question that progressives should continue to work on
issue advocacy locally and in grassroots campaigns.
But when it comes to the presidential election, voting
for a third party is, in fact, helping the
Republicans. The difference between a Republican and a
Democrat really is quite devastating, as the record of
Bush would indicate. Do you get the sense that there's
an undercurrent of resentment among several groups
that are willing to focus on knocking Bush out?

LYONS: Yes, I do. I think that a lot of people are
thinking straight because they feel so endangered by
this administration. Fundamental American values seem
endangered in a way that they've not seemed before. I
think people on the left are going to be more serious
about the coming election. They don't want to play
around with their own kind of silly symbolism.

Let me suggest another way of putting it. One of the
things I've said is I think that Bill Clinton
symbolically represented the so-called Woodstock
values of the Democratic Party. A lot of people felt
that there was some kind of cultural divide. I think
that a Clark candidacy has the capacity to close that
divide. I've never shaken hands with his son -- I
wouldn't know him if he knocked on my door -- but the
kid's a Hollywood screenwriter, and his dad's a
four-star general.

Some of those cultural divides start to close, and
people are prioritizing in a useful way. They're
putting some of their own symbolic but relatively
trivial issues aside -- identity and gender issues,
for example -- and saying we need someone in the
country who can beat Bush. We need someone in office
who will defend American independence and freedom, and
would defend us physically if it came to that, and who
knows how to do that, but who doesn't think that we
need an American imperium and don't have to conquer
the world.

I think that Wesley Clark offers a tremendous
opportunity for people to think clearly about foreign
policy and re-think how important all kinds of
symbolic and "lifestyle issues" are to them -- whether
it doesn't make more sense to put some of those things
in your back pocket for a time and work on them later
after you've dealt with the big threat, which is a guy
who is bankrupting the nation and getting us involved
in foreign entanglements -- to use Gen. George
Washington's words -- of a kind we're not likely to
get out of very easily.

Let's just look at the situation like this: How much
of a partisan do you have to be to look at George W.
Bush and Wesley Clark standing side by side and say to
yourself, "I'd pick George W. Bush to lead this
country." How partisan do you have to be to decide
that Bush is more qualified in a national emergency --
a guy who can scarcely speak in complete sentences --
to handle a crisis over a decorated war hero, a Rhodes
Scholar, a retired four star general, and the former
Supreme Commander of NATO?

BUZZFLASH: Gene Lyons, always good to talk politics
with you. Thank you for your thoughts.

LYONS: Thank you.


* * *


Gene Lyons Columns [LINK]

Get "The Hunting of the President: The 10-Year
Campaign To Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton" by Gene
Lyons and Joe Conason [LINK]

BuzzFlash Interview, Gene Lyons on "The Hunting of the
President," Al Gore, and the right-wing attack
machine, November 2001 [LINK]

BuzzFlash Interviews Gene Lyons: Part II on Arkansas
Politics, January 22, 2002 [LINK]

Posted by richard at 10:15 PM

October 21, 2003

Curtains Ordered for Media Coverage of Returning Coffins

Remember the ancient philosophical question, "If a
tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, does it
make a sound?" Well, in the Orwellian America of the
Bush cabal, we must ask...
"If a US soldier comes home in a coffin and no one
takes a picture, does his family still weep?"
"If a US soldier dies in Iraq and there is a news
media blackout, will his countrymen still demand to
know why, was it worth it and who is responsible?"
Those who demand answers are true patriots.

Washington Post: Since the end of the Vietnam War, presidents have worried that their military actions would lose support once the public glimpsed the remains of U.S. soldiers arriving at air bases in flag-draped caskets. To this problem, the Bush administration has found a simple solution: It has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers' homecomings on all military bases.


Curtains Ordered for Media Coverage of Returning Coffins

By Dana Milbank

Tuesday, October 21, 2003; Page A23

Since the end of the Vietnam War, presidents have
worried that their military actions would lose support
once the public glimpsed the remains of U.S. soldiers
arriving at air bases in flag-draped caskets. To this
problem, the Bush administration has found a simple
solution: It has ended the public dissemination of
such images by banning news coverage and photography
of dead soldiers' homecomings on all military bases.

In March, on the eve of the Iraq war, a directive
arrived from the Pentagon at U.S. military bases.
"There will be no arrival ceremonies for, or media
coverage of, deceased military personnel returning to
or departing from Ramstein [Germany] airbase or Dover
[Del.] base, to include interim stops," the Defense
Department said, referring to the major ports for the
returning remains.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the military-wide policy
actually dates from about November 2000 -- the last
days of the Clinton administration -- but it
apparently went unheeded and unenforced, as images of
caskets returning from the Afghanistan war appeared on
television broadcasts and in newspapers until early
this year. Though Dover Air Force Base, which has the
military's largest mortuary, has had restrictions for
12 years, others "may not have been familiar with the
policy," the spokeswoman said. This year, "we've
really tried to enforce it."

President Bush's opponents say he is trying to keep
the spotlight off the fatalities in Iraq. "This
administration manipulates information and takes great
care to manage events, and sometimes that goes too
far," said Joe Lockhart, who as White House press
secretary joined President Bill Clinton at several
ceremonies for returning remains. "For them to sit
there and make a political decision because this hurts
them politically -- I'm outraged."

Pentagon officials deny that. Speaking on condition of
anonymity, they said the policy covering the entire
military followed a victory over a civil liberties
court challenge to the restrictions at Dover and
relieves all bases of the difficult logistics of
assembling family members and deciding which troops
should get which types of ceremonies.

One official said only individual graveside services,
open to cameras at the discretion of relatives, give
"the full context" of a soldier's sacrifice. "To do it
at several stops along the way doesn't tell the full
story and isn't representative," the official said.

A White House spokesman said Bush has not attended any
memorials or funerals for soldiers killed in action
during his presidency as his predecessors had done,
although he has met with families of fallen soldiers
and has marked the loss of soldiers in Memorial Day
and Sept. 11, 2001, remembrances.

The Pentagon has previously acknowledged the effect on
public opinion of the grim tableau of caskets being
carried from transport planes to hangars or hearses.
In 1999, the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, said a decision to
use military force is based in part on whether it will
pass "the Dover test," as the public reacts to

Ceremonies for arriving coffins, not routine during
the Vietnam War, became increasingly common and
elaborate later. After U.S. soldiers fell in Beirut,
Grenada, Panama, the Balkans, Kenya, Afghanistan and
elsewhere, the military often invited in cameras for
elaborate ceremonies for the returning remains, at
Andrews Air Force Base, Dover, Ramstein and elsewhere
-- sometimes with the president attending.

President Jimmy Carter attended ceremonies for troops
killed in Pakistan, Egypt and the failed hostage
rescue mission in Iran. President Ronald Reagan
participated in many memorable ceremonies, including a
service at Camp Lejeune in 1983 for 241 Marines killed
in Beirut. Among several events at military bases, he
went to Andrews in 1985 to pin Purple Hearts to the
caskets of marines killed in San Salvador, and, at
Mayport Naval Station in Florida in 1987, he eulogized
those killed aboard the USS Stark in the Persian Gulf.

During President George H.W. Bush's term, there were
ceremonies at Dover and Andrews for Americans killed
in Panama, Lebanon and aboard the USS Iowa.

But in early 1991, at the time of the Persian Gulf
War, the Pentagon said there would be no more media
coverage of coffins returning to Dover, the main
arrival point; a year earlier, Bush was angered when
television networks showed him giving a news briefing
on a split screen with caskets arriving.

But the photos of coffins arriving at Andrews and
elsewhere continued to appear through the Clinton
administration. In 1996, Dover made an exception to
allow filming of Clinton's visit to welcome the 33
caskets with remains from Commerce Secretary Ronald H.
Brown's plane crash. In 1998, Clinton went to Andrews
to see the coffins of Americans killed in the
terrorist bombing in Nairobi. Dover also allowed
public distribution of photos of the homecoming
caskets after the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in

The photos of coffins continued for the first two
years of the current Bush administration, from
Ramstein and other bases. Then, on the eve of the Iraq
invasion, word came from the Pentagon that other bases
were to adopt Dover's policy of making the arrival
ceremonies off limits.

"Whenever we go into a conflict, there's a certain
amount of guidance that comes down the pike," said Lt.
Olivia Nelson, a spokeswoman for Dover. "It's a
consistent policy across the board. Where it used to
apply only to Dover, they've now made it very clear it
applies to everyone."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Posted by richard at 10:12 PM

White House Plays Politics on Probe of 9/11

"All the _resident's men" continue to stonewall the
independent commission investigating 9/11, and the "US
mainstream news media" continues to give the _resident
a "Do Not Go To Jail, Collect $200 Million" card on
it...How long will this outrage go challenged? Will
the Democrats wimp out and not pick up the political
cudgel of 9/11 and savage this _resident's re-election
strategy with it? Boynton, the General in charge of
tracking down Osama and Saddam (NOT) is a right-wing
religious nut case. The US chemnical industry has
succeeded in compromising Homeland Security through
its influence in the Bush Cabal. A college student has
made a mockery of airline security. And this
illegitimate, corrupt and incompetent regime has the
gall to ignore the pleas of 9/11 widows and widowers.
Well, that is predictable -- if you know the history
of these men. But what is incomprehensible is the "US
mainstream news media" capitulation is burying the
story and not digging into it...


White House Plays Politics on Probe of 9/11
Marie Cocco

October 21, 2003

The Bush re-election team should get precisely what it
wants. A presidential campaign that centers on Sept.
11, 2001.

This is what the White House had in mind when it
decided to hold the 2004 Republican National
Convention in New York City. This is why the
convention is scheduled so late in the summer - later
than any nominating session in the party's history.
The grand finale, President George W. Bush's
acceptance speech, is set for Sept. 2.

Bush's team wants the ceremonial start of the
president's re-election campaign to merge in the
public mind with the ceremonial commemoration of the
third anniversary of the attacks that killed some
3,000 people and left a hole in the city's heart.

Republicans fully intend to politicize the
anniversary. So they cannot legitimately complain if
the national commission empowered to investigate the
9/11 attacks asks for more time to do its work. That's
more time that would, by necessity, take the inquiry
deep into the political season.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the
United States has issued three major statements on its
progress. All have said the Bush administration is
impeding its work by stalling the production of
documents needed to probe the worst attack on America
since Pearl Harbor.

Last week, the commission issued its first subpoena,
to the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA had
failed to turn over information related to the
tracking of the hijacked airliners that morning, as
well as its interaction with a defense unit that is
supposed to have protected our airspace.

Days before issuing the FAA subpoena, the 9/11 panel
had complained that the CIA and the Defense Department
still had not turned over "the key policy documents."
The White House, despite repeated public admonitions,
still constricts the commission's access to sensitive

Some White House documents still aren't being
provided. The commissioners must settle for hearing
the White House staff brief them about their contents.
We are to assume the briefings are done in good faith.

"We want to express our growing concern about whether
delays such as that we have encountered at the FAA
will prevent the commission from completing its work
and issuing its report within the time frame set by
statute," the panel said in a statement.

The statute calls for the commission to go out of
existence in May. The date was set at White House
insistence. Having failed at its first mission - to
prevent Congress from ordering an independent probe at
all - the Bush administration demanded that it have a
brief life span. May was the chosen closing date
because that would mean an investigative report, with
its potentially embarrassing detail, would come out
before the heat of the presidential campaign.

The repeated and now predictable statements from the
commission about barriers to its work lead to only one
conclusion. The administration strategy is to run out
the clock.

"We begged for two years," said Lorie Van Auken of
East Brunswick, N.J. Van Auken's husband, Kenneth,
perished in the Twin Towers. "They said no, 18 months.
Their reasoning had to do with elections."

Now the commission must decide if it wants to do a
good job or a rush job.

The belated handing over of tapes and other
communications between the FAA and the North American
Aerospace Defense Command is likely to provoke more
questions that beg answers. That is how it goes in
investigations. New leads point to new paths that must
be pursued.

The commission will fail if it does not have the time
and the money to do its job right. It hints, already,
at this possibility.

Congress will fail if it is eventually asked to
provide these and refuses. The president will fail if
he uses the weight of his office to stanch an inquiry
that seems thus far to have been conducted without the
usual partisan poison.

The failure of Sept. 11, 2001 was a failure of
intelligence and counter-terrorism policy. These were
compounded by a failure that day to defend against

Now we contemplate compounding these derelictions
because of a political equation that puts the pursuit
of office above the necessary pursuit of fact. If we
accept this calculation, we will fail ourselves.
Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.

Posted by richard at 10:09 PM

October 20, 2003

UN Report: US War on Terror Radicalizes Arabs

"The U.S.-led war on terror has radicalized more Arabs angry both with the West and their autocratic rulers who are bent on curbing their political rights, a U.N.-commissioned study released Monday showed."


Published on Monday, October 20, 2003 by Reuters
UN Report: US War on Terror Radicalizes Arabs
by Suleiman al-Khalidi

AMMAN, Jordan - The U.S.-led war on terror has
radicalized more Arabs angry both with the West and
their autocratic rulers who are bent on curbing their
political rights, a U.N.-commissioned study released
Monday showed.

The Arab Human Development Report 2003 said Arab
countries lagged other regions in dissemination of
knowledge. Readership of books was relatively limited,
education dictated submission rather than critical
thought, the Arabic language was in crisis.

Dozens of Indonesian Muslims hold up anti-U.S. banners
during a protest in front of the U.S. embassy in
Jakarta on October 17, 2003 prior to a scheduled visit
by President Bush on Oct. 22. The U.S.-led war on
terror has radicalized more Arabs angry both with the
West and their autocratic rulers who are bent on
curbing their political rights, a U.N.-commissioned
study released Monday showed. Photo by Supri/Reuters

The report, launched in Amman, blamed an absence of
"effective and peaceful channels for dealing with
injustices" for pushing radical political groups to
seek change by violence.

Rima Khalaf Hunaidi, the top U.N. official behind the
team of Arab intellectuals who wrote the report, said
anti-Arab sentiment in the West after the September
11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities was a further factor
radicalizing Arabs.

The U.N. Assistant Secretary General and regional
director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Arab states
said educational opportunities were further limited as
an anti-Arab backlash made young Arabs retreat from
studying in the United States.

Arab student numbers in the United States dropped
between 1999 and 2002 by an average 30 percent,
Hunaidi added.

Arab disenchantment was deepened by autocratic rulers
who were given a "spurious justification for curbing
freedoms on the pretext of fighting terrorism" by
Washington's war on terror.

The report, on Arabs by Arabs, cited wider censorship
-- from restricting internet access to suppressing
publication of material deemed encouraging to

Non-governmental groups suffered more legal and
practical constraints in 2003, while progress toward
women's empowerment regressed in some countries and
slightly progressed in others.


The U.N. report that focused on addressing challenges
of modernity illustrated how far the 270 million Arabs
lagged behind other regions in 'acquisition of

The report said even a best selling novel sold on
average only 5,000 copies compared to hundreds of
thousands elsewhere.

In general, the usual print run for novels ranges from
a meager 1,000 to 3,000 copies. The number of books
published in the Arab world did not exceed 1.1 percent
of world production though Arabs constitute 5 percent
of the world population.

It cited official educational curricula in Arab
countries that " bred submission, obedience,
subordination and compliance rather than free critical

The U.N. also touched on the state of Arab
universities, decrying lack of autonomy and the direct
control of governments that ran them on political
whims. Arab universities were overcrowded with old
laboratories and poor libraries. Enrolment figures
were a political gesture to appease society more than
a product of educational needs. The Arabic language
was in crisis, as it confronted the challenges of
globalization. No more than 10,000 books were
translated into Arabic over the entire millennium,
equivalent to the number translated every year into

Research and Development in the Arab world did not
exceed 0.2 percent of Gross National Product (GNP).
Fewer than one in 20 Arab university students were
pursuing scientific disciplines, compared to one in
five in South Korea.

The number of telephone lines in Arab countries was
barely one fifth of that in developed countries.

Access to digital media was also among the lowest in
the world. There are 18 computers per 1,000 people
compared to a global average of 78. Only 1.6 percent
of over 270 million Arabs have internet access, one of
the lowest ratios in the world, the report said.

© Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd


Posted by richard at 10:06 PM


Tell us, again, Mr. Nada about how there is no
difference between Bush and Gore? No difference, I
suppose between Bader-Gunsburg and Estrada, Pickering
and the rest of these judicial ghouls? No difference
between the Democrats that flibuster and block these
nominations and the Republicans that push them
forward? But I really do not expect you to understand,
after all, there was even a Green running against Paul
Wellstone (D-MN)...

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX): “Judge Janice Rogers Brown must not be confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She is an activist judge who has a record of opposing the civil and constitutional rights of women, African Americans, and other people of color. We have seen such a pattern before in the person of Justice Clarence Thomas. Needless to say, it is not a pattern that we support, nor is it one that is good for our country.”



10/17/03Washington, DC – “Judge Janice Rogers Brown
must not be confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the D.C. Circuit. She is an activist judge who has a
record of opposing the civil and constitutional rights
of women, African Americans, and other people of
color. We have seen such a pattern before in the
person of Justice Clarence Thomas. Needless to say,
it is not a pattern that we support, nor is it one
that is good for our country,” said Congresswoman
Sheila Jackson Lee. Today, the Congressional Black
Caucus (CBC) announced its strong opposition to the
confirmation of Judge Brown. Congresswoman Jackson
Lee is First Vice Chairperson of the CBC.

Congresswoman Jackson Lee also stated:

“There is no more important legal matter than the
protection of civil rights for all. Judge Brown’s
opinions are hostile to that view. In fact, she has
attempted to inject her conservative personal and
political views into her appellate opinions. She has
tried to reverse fundamental principles and laws
protecting civil rights. Moreover, Judge Brown wrote
the majority decision that effectively ended
meaningful affirmative action programs in California.”

“In addition to Janice Rogers Brown’s political
activism on the bench and her antipathy toward the
rights of women and minorities, she is also
antagonistic toward laws protecting workers, seniors,
the environment, and consumer interests. That type of
skewed approach to the law and the Constitution cannot
be allowed on the D.C. Circuit. That particular Court
of Appeals is frequently described as the second most
important court in our country; second only to the
U.S. Supreme Court. That is because the D.C.
Circuit’s decisions affect the lives of millions of
Americans, through its decisions in the areas of
worker rights, environmental protections, and civil
rights. Also, we know that the court is a
stepping-stone to the U.S. Supreme Court because the
D.C. Circuit has produced more justices of the U.S.
Supreme Court than any other court.

“It is also important to point out that Janice Rogers
Brown has been nominated to a seat that should already
have been filled. In 1999, the Republicans refused to
confirm Elena Kagan, now dean of Harvard Law School.
She was nominated by President Clinton, but her
nomination was blocked by partisan action of the
Senate Republicans. They argued that the D.C. Circuit
did not hear enough appeals to require an additional
judge. Now, at a time when there has been a 22
percent drop in the number of appeals before the
circuit, President Bush wants to appoint another
judge. This nomination smacks of politics and pure
partisan action. We know a scheme when we see one and
we know that political plays should not be made with
our courts.”

“The Administration’s nomination of Janice Rogers
Brown represents yet another assault on women and
people of color in America. The rights of Americans
must be protected and the Constitution must be
preserved. Therefore, we stand united against the
confirmation of Janice Rogers Brown.”


Posted by richard at 10:01 PM

Electronic Voting: What You Need To Know

The story below is as important to you as your social
security number, your passport, your health insurance
(if you have any)...Believe me, the US Constitution is
under sustained attack in more ways than one. And the
implications of what Diebold is doing are far more
dangerous than the amendment-eating Patriot Act or
even the _resident's hideous judicial
appointments...If you do nothing else for your
country, your world and your own future, read this
piece and share it with others TODAY...

"My feeling is that it is a bamboozling of the American public. We're trading away a lot of the checks and balances that we have always had in elections. We're trading this off for high-tech, for faster returns, and it's not true, what we're being told is not the full truth about what is actually going on and I think that we're giving away much more than we're getting. We're giving the opportunity to have an entire election stolen, just because of bad code, not even stolen, just screwed up, fouled up."


Electronic Voting: What You Need To Know
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Interview

Monday 20 October 2003

Author's Note | In July of 2003, I sat down for
an extended, free-wheeling interview in Denver with
three of the smartest people I have ever met. Rebecca
Mercuri, Barbara Simons, and David Dill have been at
the forefront of the debate surrounding the rise of
electronic touch-screen voting machines in our
national elections. Sufficed to say, they are three
computer scientists/engineers who are as well versed
on these matters as anyone you will ever meet. Scroll
quickly to the bottom of this interview before reading
to view their CVs.

If you are completely new to this, the issue in
brief: In the aftermath of the 2000 election, Congress
passed the Help America Vote Act. After much
wrangling, it appears the powers that be have settled
upon electronic touch-screen voting machines as the
solution. There are, however, a number of serious
concerns about the viability of these machines that
have been raised. The matter strikes to the heart of
our democracy. If the votes are not counted properly,
our democracy is broken forever. More data on this is
linked below, after the CVs.

Key: 'WP' is me; 'RM' is Rebecca Mercuri; 'DD' is
David Dill; 'BS' is Barbara Simons. These three
scientists deserve great thanks for making this
complicated and important issue so clear.


WP: The ideal voting technology would have five
attributes: anonymity, scalability, speed, audit and
accuracy. Explain the importance of these five

BS: Voting has to be anonymous; that's how we do
voting in this country. Scalability means that when
you build the system, you have to be able to use it
for however many people who come to vote. It might
work well for a small number of people, but not work
for a large number of people. Speed is pretty
clear-cut; it has to be fast and convenient, so there
are no long lines of people waiting to vote. Audit
means you must be able to know what happened after you
vote. You must be able to prove the votes.

WP: So with 'audit,' you're talking about

DD: The basic idea of audits in banks, for
example, is that you can reconstruct the results from
the original records. In voting that means being able,
even if your election system fails, or if you question
it, being able to figure out what the vote totals are
for an individual candidate from the original records.
The original records were the paper ballots.

BS: Accuracy simply means we want to be sure the
votes are accurately reported and counted.

WP: How does this Direct Recording Electronic
Voting Machine (DRE's) abrogate any of these five

BS: It doesn't necessarily abrogate all these
requirements. We are particularly concerned about
audit ability.

RM: But it's not just that. With these machines,
two of these requirements turn out to be in provably
direct conflict. You want anonymity, but you also want
audit ability. The problem you have is that those two
things cannot really coexist to the fullest extent.
The way that we do audit ability is that we track all
transactions that happen.

Say you go to a bank ATM. The entire transaction
is auditable because there's a camera, you put in a
card, you have a password, and so on. At the end of
the day, the withdrawal record matches the amount of
money that was taken out of the bank. Audit ability
and anonymity are in direct conflict because with
these voting machines you have to, in some sense, shut
off the audit capabilities during most critical part,
which is the casting of the vote. The normal audit
trail that we in computer science are used to
providing is every transaction. It is everything that
is happening. If something happened at 4:15, say,
we're involved in proving what happened at 4:15.

What we're asking for in these Direct Recording
Electronic machines is to have anonymity as well as
audit ability coexisting. What the vendors have
provided is an elaborate scheme whereby the votes are
recorded on some sort of cartridge or recording
device, but they are not recorded in sequence. They
actually randomize them. They are not recorded
sequentially, and by virtue of not being recorded
sequentially, we don't know exactly what happens in
the voting process. Something could happen in the
randomization process, and that's part of the issue.

WP: It is sounding like you have to sacrifice
either anonymity or audit ability, or else come up
with a way to have both coexist peacefully.

RM: That's exactly it.

BS: What we are talking about is in some sense a
simpler problem, which is still not done properly,
which is just making sure the vote gets accurately
recorded. Even on this simpler problem, these Direct
Recording Electronic machines fail, because they don't
have any way to verify the votes.

DD: If you look at this auditing problem, there's
an audit gap between the voter's finger on the touch
screen and the record that is made inside the machine.
With DRE's as they currently work, the voter cannot
tell what is being recorded inside the machine. What
you really need to have is a workable audit trail,
when you've got this funny anonymous system, is that
the voter, before they leave the voting booth, has to
be able to check that their vote has been properly

There's another company that has a fancy
cryptographic scheme called VoteHere. The way they
explain some of what we've said is that there are two
phases to voting where you want two guarantees. One of
them is making sure the voter's vote is correctly
recorded. The way they say it is, "Cast As Intended."
The second phase is adding up all the votes from all
the precincts, which they call "Counted As Cast."
These fancy schemes deal with the "Counted As Cast"
problem very well, and they have various ways to deal
with the "Cast as Intended" problem.

The more primitive solution that is talked about
- what is available now that we can do - is either use
a paper ballot system like an optical scan system,
where you're filling out a paper ballot and you just
put that in the ballot box, and that's the voter
verified audit record. Or, and this was Rebecca's
idea, is to take the touch screen machines and put a
printer on it - in fact, they already have printers -
and it will print the ballot, and the voter can look
at that to make sure it has the right stuff on it.
That then goes into the ballot box.

WP: It strikes me - and you can correct me if I'm
wrong about this - but it seems like these things you
are describing with the verified voting records
technologies are pretty profoundly revolutionary, over
and above whatever is going on with these DRE's. I've
been voting for a while now. My precinct in Boston
uses those old-school monster voting machines where
you yank the big lever and the curtain comes across
behind you in the booth, and you throw all the vote
switches, and you yank the handle back. I don't have a
clue if the machine recorded my vote. I get no
verification. I just haul the handle, make the sign of
the cross, and hope it got recorded.

You are talking about not only making sure that
the technology within these systems functions in such
a way that the votes are actually recorded, but you're
adding the extra layer - giving the voters
verification that their vote has been counted and
recorded. Given what happened in Florida, that strikes
me as one of the better ideas I've heard in a very
long time.

BS: I don't think it is all that revolutionary. I
voted on those old handle machines when I lived in New
York, and of course there was no way to verify. But
there are other systems people use to vote, like
optical scans, which have been around for a while.
With those, you do see your vote, and you do get a
piece of paper. There is no additional technology
needed. In the old days, people used paper to vote.
Actually, in some sense, the lever machines you use
are a step backwards. They took away the ability of
the voter to make sure that the vote was at least cast
the way they intended.

WP: In Massachusetts, we had an interesting
little mini-scandal with these old handle machines
after the 2000 election. They realized that the
machines, the interior works, hadn't been cleaned in
something like thirty years, and this led to
substantial vote loss.

RM: Those traditional lever machines were
actually invented by Thomas Edison. They came up with
those machines because there was so much vote fraud
going on - ballot stuffing and so forth - but the
traditional lever machine is fully mechanical. The
great thing about them is that you can crack open the
back and see how it works. If there is a question
whether one specific machine is working correctly, you
can open up and look at the gears and the odometers
like they have in cars, and you see the gears
connected to the levers. It is like looking into a
piano - you can watch the hammer strike the string and
make the tone.

The problem, and the difference between those
lever machines and these new DRE's, is that the DRE's
are basically using electrons. I actually have a lot
more faith in the old lever machines. I can't open the
DRE and look inside and see that the button I pushed
on the touch screen is being recorded inside the
device. It's invisible. You can see in the old
machines if a lever is connecting to the wrong place,
or if there was some foul play.

The other issue is that if someone were going to
do some foul play and throw an election, they'd have
to go around and mess up an incredible number of those
old machines, one machine at a time and one lever at a
time. With these DRE's, if there's some mistake in the
programming - even if it is not intentional, just some
bad code - it could affect all of them, the whole
quantity of the DRE's. It might not just be your city.
It might be your state. It might be all the DRE's in
all the counties in all the states that were provided
by the manufacturer who let the bad code get by them.

WP: Explain to me what kind of non-malicious,
general screw-up errors can manifest themselves in
these DRE's.

BS: Your readers will recall when our spaceship
crashed into Mars because one group involved was using
feet to measure things and another was using meters.
That's one example, but you might say that this was
not a software error. The point is that the code was
written such that it didn't work.

RM: Some of these problems are very simple. The
addition of a semi-colon or an equals sign in the
wrong place in a line of code can completely change
the programming. This would be someone who just
slipped up. There are plenty of examples of this
happening. In the midterm elections down in Dallas,
Texas, people tried to vote on the new touch-screen
machines. They found that, no matter where they
touched on the Democratic side, it would vote for the
Republican candidate. These people were pretty upset,
and it just kept happening and happening. In Texas
they have early voting, and this problem showed up in
the early voting. If this had happened on Election
Day, who knows what would have transpired? They might
have had to shut down voting in all of Dallas.

The Democratic Party went to court over this.
They had affidavits demonstrating that there were
machines making this error. Ultimately it was decided
that seventeen of the machines were somehow
misaligned. I don't know how that could happen, but it
was decided that they were misaligned, and those
machines were taken out of service.

WP: What are the names of the companies making
these DRE's?

RM: Diebold, Sequoia and ES&S. Those are the big

WP: What kind of testing are these three main
companies doing to ensure that the misplaced equals
sign, the misplaced semi-colon, the misaligned
machine, is not happening?

DD: I've tried to find out. What kind of testing
that goes on in these companies is something we don't
know. They won't tell us a thing about their code or
what they do to test it.

BS: Even if we could see the code, that wouldn't
be sufficient. Even if we could see the code, and even
if we could convince ourselves that the code was
correct, we still wouldn't know that it was the code
that was running on election day.

DD: That is actually a much harder technical
problem than most people would think. With current
hardware, it is very difficult to make sure that the
program running on the machine is the program we think
is running on the machine.

There is a general theme of secrecy, which is
frustrating to me. I understand some of the reasons
for secrecy. It is frustrating to be because claims
are made about these systems, how they are designed,
how they work, that frankly I don't believe. In some
cases, I don't believe it because the claims they are
making are impossible. I am limited in my ability to
refute these impossible claims because all the data is
hidden behind a veil of secrecy.

What testing do the manufacturers do? Who the
hell knows? Once it gets out of the manufacturers, we
are reassured by everyone about the qualification
process. There is something called the NASED
Qualification Process. NASED is an organization called
the National Organization of State Election Directors
which has affiliated with it something called the
Election Center, which I believe is a private
organization. The Election Center oversees the NASED
qualification process. There are Independent Testing
Authorities, though their level of independence is
unknown. There are three of them, called SYSTEST,
CYBER and WYLE. The conventional wisdom about WYLE is
that they deal with hardware and firmware. Some
vendors have found out the hard way that they actually
deal with all of the software that goes into the
voting machine. They are the ones dealing with the
software that I am most concerned about.

If you go to their web pages, it says, "If you'd
like to know something about us, please go to hell" in
the nicest possible way. They refer you to the
Election Center, which will carefully explain to you
that they scrutinize every line of code. When I was on
the California Task Force dealing with all this, along
with another computer scientist named David Jefferson,
we wanted to know what these Independent Testing
Authorities (ITA's) do. They were all invited.
Everybody else on the Task Force, which included some
election officials at both the state and local level,
and a few people of various political affiliations,
wanted to know what these Test Authorities do. So we
invited them to speak to us.

SYSTEST came and spoke to us. It turns out that
they are one of the small ones. They don't deal with
the big stuff, and they don't deal with the software
inside the voting machines. The other two, which are
apparently very close, are CYBER and WYLE. They
refused to come visit us. They were also too busy to
join us in a phone conference. Finally, out of
frustration, I wrote up ten or fifteen questions and
sent it to them via the Secretary of State's office.
They didn't feel like answering those questions,

These Test Authorities use the word 'Certified'
as if it were some magical holy blessing. It's been
'Certified.' Well, what does that mean? We didn't get
any answers. My friend David Jefferson has been
involved in internet voting and some other
election-related issues for a while now. A couple of
years ago, he got the right passwords to call up WYLE
and ask them what they do, and he got a description.
The basic description, according to David, is that
they bake the machines to see if they die. The drop
them to see if they break.

And then what they do is run scripts over the
computer program to check for bugs. A script is just
another computer program to check for superficial
things. There is no human involved. They don't want
functions that are too long, and they don't want
functions with multiple exit points. They say
'Modules,' but they are basically talking about chunks
of code. It is basically nothing more than a
style-checker, like running a spell-check. The problem
with running a spell-check...

WP: ...is that you miss the homonyms.

DD: Right. The concept of running one of these
style-checkers on a program is, at the end of the day,
you know the functions are short and they don't have
multiple exit points. You don't have any clue if they
are doing the right thing at security holes or
anywhere else. After this process, there are several
other steps. There is something called an 'Acceptance
Test.' When the machines get delivered to either the
state or county government, they power them up and put
them through the paces to make sure they work.
Basically, they sign a form that says they got the
thing and it's not busted. Before each election, and
sometimes after each election, they have something
called a Logic and Accuracy Test where, to one degree
or another, they will try casting some votes on the
machine to make sure they come out right. That's
basically all there is to it.

As a computer scientist, I know that the worst
problem that could happen is that you have someone at
the company, such as a programmer who knows all the
details of the code, or a mysteriously overqualified
janitor, who could basically insert something
malicious into the code. Given the fat that they are
using the 'C' programming language, we know that such
an act can be concealed. They wouldn't even have to
change the program. They could just change some of the
results of the program. Malicious code could be
concealed in ways that are practically impossible to
detect by any means, and certainly wouldn't be
detectable given what we understand to be the
detection and inspection process.

The computer scientist who oversees elections in
Georgia told us yesterday that, by Black Box Testing,
this logic and accuracy testing, he could catch any
malicious code. It is completely ridiculous. If you go
to the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program, and go to
row 2000, column 2000 and type a specific thing, you
will get something like a flight simulator. The
Microsoft programmers, even though it is a firing
offense, can slip this stuff into the programming code
so none of the testing people can discover it. They
are called 'Easter Eggs.' If you type 'Easter Eggs'
into a Google.com search, you'll get instructions on
how to find all these things in Microsoft software

Without even knowing very much about how these
systems work, computer scientists know that you can
put malicious code into a program, you can change the
results of an election, and it can't be detected by
inspection or testing. Period.

RM: You have to give at least some credit to this
computer scientist from Georgia. He at least tests
these machines. Some states just take the things out
of the box from the manufacturer, plug it in and run
their hands over it a few times, and then send it off
for the voters to use. He, at least, takes the trouble
to try and test them out.

DD: Yes. This man does the best testing of
anybody in the country.

WP: That's not very comforting.

DD: There is just no way to test for the problems
we are worried about. He is doing the best job he can.

BS: We actually heard on Tuesday morning from one
of these software representatives that their software,
which is 100,000 lines of code, is bug-free. That is
highly unlikely.

RM: If that is true, there is a way to confirm
it. We have a thing we use in the United States called
the "Common Criteria." The highest level under the
certification process of the Common Criteria is Level
7. This means you have to have mathematical proof for
every single line of your code that it all works
exactly as specified. To date, no one has done that
with anything but the most simplest module. The claims
we heard on Tuesday are impossible. He'd have to be
super-human to accomplish this. It could be done,
theoretically, but it would take forever, for that
length of code, to achieve Level 7 certification. It
would take longer to prove it than it would to write
the code.

DD: Let me be clear. I am not a security expert,
and my voting expertise is what I have picked up in
the last six months. My research area is formal
verification, which is mathematical proofs of the
correctness of things, so I can confirm what Rebecca
just said.

RM: I am a security expert.

WP: We have talked about the non-malicious errors
and glitches that can take place in these DRE codes,
and in the machines themselves. What kind of malicious
actions could be taken by someone against these
machines? What are the security gaps? What are the
ways that this process could conceivably be subject to

DD: There are insider attacks, which we know
could be successful if someone chose to do that. What
people worry about with PCs is not so much Microsoft
hacking them, but outside people coming in over the
internet with viruses or something you download. That
is an outsider attack. In order to be confident about
your code, about a system that is security-sensitive,
you have to do a very careful analysis of the design
and the software itself. It has to be done by real
pros, and it is a very labor-intensive process. That
has not been done, to my knowledge, with any of these
voting systems. Without that kind of analysis, you can
be guaranteed that there will be gaping security
holes. People are just going to make mistakes, because
it is too hard to do otherwise.

Without a careful security analysis, you can't
know what kind of outsider attacks may be possible.
Except in the case of the Johns Hopkins paper from
last week, where they managed to get their hands on
the code through Diebold's carelessness and lack of
security. Two graduate students noticed what turned
out to be severe security blunders. I don't think it
is important to emphasize whether people can hack
these particular machines in these particular ways,
although I find the problems these grad students found
to be worrying. I think the most important thing about
that is that it disproves any claim that the
manufacturers or the independent testing authorities
are actually carefully scrutinizing this code, or for
that matter, know anything about computer security. I
think we have conclusively disproven that there is
anything in this process that guarantees these things
are secure.

BS: Diebold has claimed that the code which was
downloaded is not the code running on their machines.
There is no way to verify that this is true or not.
There is reason to believe that the code which was
downloaded is certified.

RM: One of the other problems brought out by the
Johns Hopkins report was this issue of "Smart Cards,"
the things you use to cast your vote. If you had this
Diebold code, you could manufacture your own Smart
Cards and have a pocket full of them, and maybe cast
additional votes. My issue, simply, is that it is
easier than that. You don't have to be an insider in
the vote machine company.

At the polling places, you have the people who
are making the Smart Cards. The Smart Cards are
sitting there in a pile. The interesting thing about
these Smart Cards is that the voter comes to the
polling place, and data is put on the Cards. The idea,
as the vendors have been telling us, is that the
voters take that card and go to the machine, and the
card only lets them vote once. Otherwise, you could
vote 20 times. What happens when there are no voters
in the room at the end of the day, or in the middle of
the day? What if some of the other poll workers have
walked away?

There is nothing to prevent a poll worker from
manufacturing some more Smart Cards, sticking them
into the machine, and voting several times? There is
absolutely nothing to stop some corrupt poll workers
from doing this. In fact, what this whole thing was
trying to prevent - they say we are using DRE's
because we don't want to have these problems with
paper ballots, with people taking the papers out and
substituting another ballot - these same crooked
people who would tamper with ballots are the same
people who would make a few more Smart Cards and vote
extra at the end of the day.

BS: One of the things you can do, and you don't
have to be all that clever to do it, is change a small
percentage of votes one way. If you're really smart,
you'll change an even smaller percentage of votes the
other way, so it won't be obvious. If you're smarter
still, you'll do this randomly. If you're smarter
still, you have something called a Random Number
Generator, and maybe every hundred votes you make sure
is Republican, and every five hundred votes you change
to Democrat. If you try to repeat this, if you run the
code again on the same input, you'll get different
results, because you randomly decide what to change.
Because it is random, it is different each time. You
will still do the changing of 100 in one column and
500 in the other, but it will be different.

RM: These are parts of the basic underpinnings of
computer science, but in actual fact, the more simple
things are the ones we have been able to observe.
There have been precincts where vote totals for entire
candidates on these machines have come up to zero.
This has happened to Republicans and Democrats. There
is something wrong there.

When these vendors are asked by the newspapers
about this, the vendors claim those votes were never
cast. The vendors say those voters chose not to vote
in those positions. All of them? In every other
machines, those candidates had votes. These are simple
malfunctions. Once it's done, it's done, and there's
no way to go back and reconstruct it.

DD: Election officials love to believe that
people go into the voting booth just for show, just to
convince their friends that they are going in to vote,
and then they don't vote for anybody. This is how they
explain missing votes.

RM: They now have a fancy word for this:
"Undervoting." They believe that, in huge numbers,
people go in by the hundreds of thousands and
deliberately choose not to vote.

WP: Sounds like faking an orgasm.


DD: With something as important as elections, the
government and the sellers of the machines ought to
have the burden of proof on them to prove to us that
the machines are working correctly, and that the
election results are accurate. All of democracy is
founded on the idea that the loser of an election
understands that they lost fair and square, that the
election represents the will of the electorate, and
that they have to deal with that. If you have a
situation where there is any doubt about the election,
you have the kind of lasting bitterness that there is
from Florida in 2000, and from Georgia in 2002. If we
get into elections with outcomes that people don't
believe in, where the candidates challenge the honesty
of the machine, people are going to feel less and less
confident in the results of elections run on these

BS: I want to get back to those undervotes
quickly. I think it is very unlikely in major
elections, when there are only one or two candidates
or positions on the ballot that people would go in
with the intention of not voting. But when you have a
long ballot, like you get in California, and you get
to the point where you have to vote for judges, and
you've never heard of any of them, many people may not
vote for them. That kind of undervote is frequently
legitimate. It is when there are major races, races
that are pretty much what the election is about, and
you don't get votes. That's when you have to be

BS: I think that most of the comments we are
making about security apply to the big three
companies: Diebold, Sequoia and ES&S. What we see
these three companies doing is not adequate at all.

DD: I don't see the smaller companies being much
better than the big three. The basic problem is that
they all float down to the lowest level, because doing
everything right costs more money and takes more time.
They want to get the machines out as quickly and
cheaply as they can get away with, while still
satisfying their customers. They have a certain set of
regulations they have to satisfy. They know what the
independent testing authorities are going to look at,
and they don't do anything they don't need to beyond
that. We can pretty much count on the security of most
of these machines not being good. There are a few very
computer-science-oriented companies. VoteHere is the
only one I can think of. They have a different
attitude on security because that is their selling

RM: Now that there is increased interest in
voter-verified systems, there are companies coming out
with new systems. You can still stick with the
"mark-sense" systems, the optical scan systems, the
paper ballots. The problem with those is that there
are many people, blind or otherwise handicapped
people, who cannot use the mark-sense system. They
want to be able to vote, too. They don't want to just
vote at home, or vote with assistance. They want to
vote on their own in the polling places, and they
should be entitled to do that. That is what the Help
America Vote Act has granted them. It says people with
disabilities should have the same access. We believe
this completely, and also believe they should have the
same access to reliability.

WP: I suppose you talked about the insider
tampering, but I haven't heard you talk about the
outsider, and there's a couple of them, aren't there?
The judges or the poll workers. Are they able to tap

DD: Let me comment about that. So what I've said
about outsiders is that without a careful security
analysis, we don't know. Right? We don't know enough
about the machines, and you have to know about the
machines, you know, and what the outsider attacks are
going to be, except in the case of this Johns Hopkins
paper from last week, where they managed to get their
hands on the code through Diebold's carelessness.

WP: Lack of security.

DD: In a half an hour, two graduate students in
that group had noticed what turned out to be severe
security blunders. Now I don't think it's important to
emphasize whether people can hack these particular
machines in these particular ways, although I find the
problems they found to be worrying. I think the most
important thing about that is that this proves any
claims that the manufacturers or the independent
testing authorities are actually carefully
scrutinizing this code or, for that matter, know
anything about computer security. I think we've
conclusively disproven that there's anything in the
process that guarantees these things are secure.

BS: One quick comment. Diebold's response is that
the code that was downloaded is not the code that's
running on their machines; but, of course, they are
not willing to let us look at the code that's running
in the machines to verify whether or not that's true.
And there's reason to believe that the code that was
downloaded was certified.

RM: Well we believe that, though we've never
really confirmed that. But we do have someone who did
certification in Iowa for many years, and he saw
earlier versions of the code. And he said it was the
same and it had the same problems that he had told
them five years ago. So we really don't know for a
fact with that code, but what we can say is that one
of the problems with the Diebold code that was pointed
out by the Johns Hopkins Report was this business
about the Smart Cards. Pretty much, if you had this
code, you could manufacture your own Smart Cards and
have a pocket full of them and maybe cast additional
votes. But my feeling about that is that it's easier
than that. And it is to your question about not having
to be an insider in the voting machine company.

At the polling places, you have the people, who
are making the Smart Cards. The Smart Cards are
sitting there in a pile. What happens is the voter
steps up, they put some electronic stuff on the Smart
Card, which the idea the vendors have been telling us
is that the voter can take that card, they go to the
machine and it only lets them vote once. Otherwise you
could keep sticking it back in and vote 20 times.
Without the card you could just step up and vote 20
times. So they give them this card to enable them to
do that. What happens when there's no voters in the
room at the end of the day, or in the middle of the
day when there's no voters in the room? And maybe some
of the other poll workers have walked away?

There's nothing that prevents a poll worker from
manufacturing some more Smart Cards, walking around to
the machine, sticking a couple of them in, and then at
the end of the day, oh, there was these three guys who
didn't vote. Well, we'll just sign them in. Now you
have the numbers are even. So it's a perfect attack
and there's absolutely nothing that stops corrupt
coworkers. And, in fact, what this whole thing was
trying to prevent, these same crooked people who would
want to do that would be the same crooked people who
would make a few more Smart Cards, stick them in the
machine and vote extra at the end of the day. I don't
see why that wouldn't happen.

DD: There's sort of a hierarchy of potential
security problems, and you can look at who might be
the bad guy. Having the voters be the bad guys, that
has its plusses and minuses. You've got a whole
variety of voters you can't control, can't do
background checks. They're not necessarily people you
know. So it's perhaps more probable that they would be
bad guys. Having them be able to fool with the machine
would be especially bad. Pollworkers are somewhat the
same. It's very hard to get good pollworkers, you
know. You're really not going to do background checks
on them. There may be stuff where pollworkers have
access that voters don't have access. And there is a
difference between some voter like me making some fake
Smart Cards and a pollworker using their little
machine to make some fakes in Smart Cards. So there's
some subtle differences.

WP: So at the end of the day, basically, when
Snieder in The Denver Post today says "I have security
in my office. It's not like I let any Tom, Dick and
Harry into my alarmed, cameraed and locked server room
said Snieder. He uses 220 Diebold optical scanners for
elections in Adams County." That does not fill you
with warm and cuddly comfort.

DD: Well, first of all, I'm talking about the
insider attack, which is somebody changing the code in
his machines before he gets them. Secondly, you know,
I'm glad that he has physical security on his
machines. That's a good thing. How hard is it to bribe
the night watchman or whatever you need to do? It's
not that hard. On the other hand, people don't have to
work that hard to find some way to subvert these

DD: We talk about how lousy the security with
these machines is. That's really kind of a side issue.
I think it's very true and it's a big problem but it's
kind of a side issue. This problem with the insider
attacks, even with the best security, cannot be
stopped. We'd like to improve the security, but that's
not the main thing we want. The main thing we want is
this audit trail on the side to double check it, so if
there is a problem with the security, we can catch it.

RM: Or a malfunction.

DD: Yeah. Or a simple malfunction.

RM: Any problem, we're going to know it. At the
end of the day there's going to be a box of paper
ballots and if this secured properly and we're talking
about not just being secured by being in a locked
paper box. We can also put codes on the bottom using
all the pictographic schemes so that somebody can't
substitute it. It would be demonstrated that that had
to be the ones that were in the box on election day.
So you can't just take one out and put another one in
like people thought, you know, might be going on in
Florida or in places where the punch cards are in with
the optical scanning ones. If we make it a better
ballot box then we'll add additional code that would
make sure that that paper is actually secure.

WP: I have a multi-tiered question in which we'd
cover a couple of different issues. The sort of real
left wing progressive activist types are the ones who
are really worried about the problems with these newly
conceived voting systems, and one of the main things
that bugs them is some very simple research into who
the Board of Directors are for a number of these Big
Three companies. That simple research reveals these
Boards as being comprised of some serious hard-core
conservative Republican activists. How much you might
know about that? I also want to get into the fact
that, despite the uproar that this has caused within
the ranks of the left wing, there are some very
interesting groups of people who are having trouble
accepting the information that you are bringing to
them. I also want to talk a little bit about how this
is not some sort of bipartisan, one sided partisan

DD: So the first thing is, is it a right wing
conspiracy? It bothers me deeply that there are major
conservative contributors running these companies. On
the other hand, if you think about it, everybody has a
conflict of interest. You wouldn't want your pavement
company running a voting machine company because they
have a real interest in who gets elected, because
they're going to get pavement contracts from them. And
that's true of everybody. Everybody has political
opinions. Everybody has economic interests that deal
with the government. So there is no way to get some
sort of independent, super-objective neutral voting
machine company. It's always suspect, regardless of
the sterling character of people in the companies
which is why you need an independent check on
everything. So trust is not a good thing in election
systems. The only people you should be trusting are
groups of people with opposing interests, such as
election observers from different political parties.

Now in terms of the political realities of this,
it seems that progressives are the people who are most
energetic and passionate about it . I suspect that
there would be a general rule that people who have
lost a lot of elections lately are inclined to be more
passionate about this than people who have won a lot
elections lately.

On the other hand, this is a cause that seems to
have a tremendous amount of grass roots appeal. I've
been probably doing more grass roots activism than any
other people in this room. Unfortunately, I am an
incompetent activist. But people just come to me. They
read the web page and ask how they can help. They are
so concerned. On the other hand, most of the
opposition to what we are talking about is coming from
what you would think of as progressive and good
government groups. A lot of these groups have taken an
official position.

They have a bunch of very pragmatic concerns
about, is it going to disrupt plans to buy equipment
that will be replacing equipment that they hate? Will
the equipment be unreliable? Will it add expenses to
things? Will people buy what they feel is inferior
equipment? They have legitimate concerns.
Unfortunately, they're missing a legitimate concern
which is the computer reliability and security issue.

WP: It sounds a little bit like the decision has
already been made to commit to this course, and they
just don't want to hear about anything that's going to
disrupt that decision.

DD: I think that's exactly right. These people
have been working on this issue for a very long time.
They've made bunch of deals that were very hard to
hammer out. They think they've got something
satisfactory and they don't want people coming in and
changing the rules.

RM: Some people are also afraid, like the League
of Women Voters. I believe that they are actually
afraid that if people think that we have to have a
piece of paper, then we shouldn't trust the computer
and we shouldn't trust elections, and that makes us
even more afraid. What we're saying is the opposite.
If you have just the computer, then we know people are
going to have questions in their minds. If, on the
other hand, you have these pieces of paper and the
people can see the pieces of paper and there are poll
workers who can see the pieces of paper, and when we
all play an active role in making sure that those are
counted correctly and that the procedures are done
correctly, it's all a visible and open process and
we've now opened it back up to the people, so that we
the people, the citizens, are the ones who are
conducting the elections, not the election officials.

BS: I'd like to comment a bit on the League of
Women Voters and some of these other groups. I think
there's something else that's going on. The people
making these decisions don't have a good technical
background and I think, in some cases, they are a bit
afraid of technology. They want to believe. When they
are told that you can trust these systems, they
initially did believe it and they want to believe it
because it makes life so much easier. And these
machines are so much nicer compared to the punch
cards. You don't have to worry about hanging chads and
they can be made very easy to use and they can figure
out how to operate them because they've done ATM's.
And then we come along, the sort of spoil sports, and
say, wait a minute, you can't trust these machines.
And people don't like that.

BS: I personally have been in battle with The
League of Women Voters. I joined the League of Women
Voters a few months ago over this, because I was
concerned about voting. Shortly thereafter, there was
a letter in The Times from the president basically
saying paper ballots aren't really necessary, which
got me very nervous. I wrote to her, and almost
immediately thereafter a statement appeared on their
website saying you don't need voter verifiable paper
ballots, that paper's not a good idea, it has all
these problems, blah, blah, blah. Their statement is
so bad it actually has a claim about something being a
way of doing security which is just a joke. I mean,
you'd flunk a student for making a claim that you get
security through this method of keeping the
information in different parts of the machine and in
different formats. That doesn't give you the security.
They refused to take it off their website.

DD: My first reaction to these things was simply,
it's OK to disagree with me. But go get some competent
technical advice. Don't produce things that are just
embarrassing. And they're not hearing it.

RM: They're saying that they are speaking to
computer scientists and yes, there are some computer
scientists who believe that the paper ID is not the
way to go and that there are some flaws with the way
that we're doing things. But those people have yet to
demonstrate that any of the things that we've said are
incorrect because, in fact, all the things that we say
are based on computer science theory which they, of
course, have to subscribe to as well. But they have
their own reasons for saying that. One of the
interesting things in California is that when the
vendors were asked about the printers, first some of
the vendors said, well, putting in printers would be
expensive. Turns out, they already have printers in
the machines because they print out zeroes at the
beginning of the day and totals at the end of the day.
So it's no more expensive. Just have a little bit more
different printers to do the paper stuff.

Then they said, well, how about buying the paper?
And then they had this whole issue about, oh, we're
going to have to archive the paper and it's going to
cost us all this paper, there'll be paper jams. Turns
out, California has a law that says that you have to
print out the paper afterwards. They've got to print
it out anyway. That's the way they audit it. They
audit it by taking the stuff that's inside the
computer, that we don't really know how it got in
there and whether it's correct, and they actually
print it out on pieces of paper.

BS: And then they count some of it.

RM: And they count some of it. Why don't they, if
they're printing it out anyway, why don't they print
it out and let us see it when we vote and they're
going to print it out anyway. It'll save them a lot of
time. No, they want to print it out after the fact and
the voters will know that theirs are the ones that are
being counted.

BS: Without these voter verifiable paper ballots
or some equipment, which we don't yet know how to do,
there is no way to do a recount. You do a recount, you
go up to the machine and say, "Dear machine, would you
please tell me what the numbers are?" and the machine
says back to you, "They're the same numbers I gave you
before, you dummy." Right? So what does it mean to do

DD: What people have done is redefine recount to
mean something other than what you think it means. So
I've taken to saying, there's no way to do a
meaningful recount.

RM: Or an independent recount. The recount is
dependent upon the vendor. You have to take the vendor
cartridges, put them in the vendor machine, and they
have to be read using software provided by the vendor.
There's no way for me, a computer scientist, to read
those cards, even if they gave me a card which they
say I cannot have because it's proprietary and it's
owned by the county. But even if they could give me a
card and I was allowed to read it, that would be
illegal because I would have to use the secret code
that is allowed to read the card. This is terrible.
There is no independent way to do a recount.

BS: We basically are handing over our elections
to a small number of private corporations. I mean,
there's something kind of scandalous about this.

DD: Somebody coined a phrase that I liked:
Instead of voter verified elections we have vendor
verified elections. One point is about voter
confidence. There are people and I worry about this
myself, that by raising these concerns will undermine
voter confidence. What they really mean there is we'll
undermine voter participation. Particularly on the
progressive side. People understand that voter turnout
has been a tremendous problem. They need to get people
out to vote and they don't want them to feel that
their vote doesn't count, even if they're using these
touch screen machines.

I don't believe there's any reason not to vote.
For example, if you want to have politicians see
common sense and stop buying touch screen machines,
the only way to make yourself be heard is to vote,
right? I don't subscribe to the idea that there's been
any election that's necessarily been stolen using
touch screen machines. It's a risk for the future. I
don't know what's happened in the past but I don't
think there's wholesale election fraud going on at
this time.

BS: But you can't prove it.

DD: But I can't prove it, which is the whole

WP: And that's the inherent risk of that
possibility hanging over this whole process that
really is the ultimate point.

DD: So when people speak about voter confidence,
they need to think about it in this other way: It's
the voters having confidence that the results of the
election are sound. It's not just a voter
participation problem; it's a question of accepting
the results of elections.

The second point is that what we're noticing is
that the grass roots have a lot of sympathy with the
position we're expressing. They understand it
intuitively and they share the same fear that we have.
The civil rights organizations, I think, don't
necessarily have the support of their base.

BS: Like the LCCR.

DD: The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
It's a consortium of 180 civil rights organizations.


DD: Many of which are huge. The NAACP, also. But
many of those individual organizations have not taken
a position. I have a feeling that if they went and
explained it objectively to their membership that a
lot of their members would say, yeah, I think we'd
better do something about this problem. So I'm not
sure that these progressive groups have that much
support from their membership. It's more the
specialists in voting rights and whatever who have
been working on this particular problem.

There's one last thing that I wanted to say. I
think it's a great quote and it never gets into
anything I ever say and probably for good reason.
Albert Einstein said, "Make everything as simple as
possible but no simpler." I think we're violating that
when we try to simplify elections too much with this
equipment. I think it should be as simple as possible,
but when you start sacrificing integrity and cutting
corners in order to simplify it more than it can be
simplified, you've made a serious mistake.

BS: As far as these organizations that have taken
public positions against voter authenticated paper
ballots, one of the interesting things that we hear
is, we find the same arguments coming at us from
different people. It just makes me think that there's
a small number of individuals who are going around
lobbying these groups before we get to them,
basically, and convincing them that this paper ballot
is a bad idea, that people will have trouble with it.
We heard yesterday that African Americans can't deal
with it, they can't deal with this stuff. They can't
read the paper ballot. It's going to disenfranchise
them. This guy said, this is in front of several
African Americans, I was thinking, my God, this is
really insulting. It's insulting.

DD: There are studies by social scientists,
particularly political scientists and on voting
behavior, where they can show statistically there's
certain things like punch cards, and maybe central
optical scan, where you send your ballots into the
central office and they run it through a scanner in
batch mode.

RM: 'Batch mode' means running them all together.

DD: The studies show that this has a
statistically discriminatory effect. It's not
explained how that happens. Maybe the African American
voters or whatever minority they're looking at are
voting for the first time and aren't as familiar with
the ballots. They can't really explain the phenomenon.
But when you come to some of the better paper-based
technologies, like precinct-based ones, the data is so
thin that they can't prove that there's any
discriminatory effect. I think that the advantages of
touch screen machines to minority groups are being
vastly overstated. At least there isn't strong
evidence for it.

RM: I think that it's very, very important for
people to start lobbying. If they're concerned about
this, they must start lobbying all these groups. Rush
holt, my congressman in New Jersey, has a bill in
Congress on this. People need to get their Congressman
to endorse that bill and make sure it also gets a
compromise bill in the Senate and gets pushed through.
We need to have these things being pushed through.

BS: I completely agree with everything Rebecca
just said. What happens in 20 years when there's a
major crisis? What worries me is in 20 years or less,
there'll be an election where people will believe that
something wrong was done and they won't be able to
prove it. They will not be able to prove it and that
gets back to the whole notion about competence that
David was talking about before, the feeling that some
of these progressive organizations are opposed to what
we're pushing because they're afraid that we are
raising doubts in the voters' minds. I think nothing
will raise doubts in the voters' minds more than an
election which they feel has been stolen by these
machines and there's not a damned thing they can do. I
mean, even in Florida, you could see what was going
on. You can't see what's going on when these machines
are counted.

When we talk about dealing with minorities or
people with disabilities and talk about problems with
these machines, it's all well and good to make sure
that someone gets to vote. You know, people are
concerned. They don't want these long lines, they
don't want to make it too hard. I want to be able to
vote. But you know, there's no point in your voting if
your vote ain't going to be counted. Or it's not going
to be recorded right. So it makes no sense to focus on
voting if you don't know what's going to happen to
your vote.

DD: I don't feel bad about raising the alarm. I
think we have a moral obligation to tell the truth and
I don't think that someone else could say that if
somebody sees a serious problem they should be quiet
about it so people won't worry. I mean, people have to
worry or else, obviously, the problem's not going to
get fixed. It's been going on too long and people like
Rebecca have been complaining about it too long to
believe that suddenly it's just going to get fixed
unless we raise a real fuss.

WP: Tell me about House Resolution 2239.

RM: Well, Rush holt is my Congressman and he's
actually a physicist. He was at Princeton, PhD. in
physics before he went to Congress and his bill is
really an important one because he's raising four
points which people have completely misinterpreted.
They think that by having voter verified ballots we're
going to make it longer before the disabled will be
able to vote. His bill actually says, we want verified
ballots. They need to be required, but he also
accelerates the time in which the disabled are going
to get the new machines. He wants to push that
forward, sooner, not later. That is an important
reason for his bill.

Also in his bill is that he wants the code to be
opened. He says there should be no secret code. Of
course, the vendors can protect their stuff with
copyrights and patents. That way, if somebody tries to
copy their code and sell it in their machine, they can
sue them just like anybody else. But that the voters
and the people need to have the ability to actually
see the code and be able to verify that and I'll get
back to that in another second.

The last part of it is that he's concerned about
these modems, these telecommunications devices,
because they're saying that they can use those devices
to send the data at the end of election date to the
main precincts. If those are connected up to phones it
can come in. He does not believe that there should be
any especially wireless communications where anybody
could be sending in packets.

Getting back to point number three, the business
about verifying the code and being able to do that.
Unfortunately we have a new trend in this country that
was started in 2000. If you protest an election and
you want a recount, you're now called a sore loser and
it's unfortunate but it is your legal right. If you're
a candidate you have the legal right to ask for a
recount if you have very strong reason to believe, and
you have to demonstrate this, reason to believe that
there's something wrong. Well, now, the recount is
just push a button, it prints out the same thing,
that's the same totals and you can't go any further to
see if the machine was really working

WP: This is the stuff that Rush holt's bill is
aiming to try to deal with?

RM: Yes. Why do we even have laws on the books in
all the states that say that you can have a recount
when what they're respectively saying is, sorry you
lost, sore loserman, just shut up and go away and
don't bother me any more. And that's exactly what's
going on.

DD: I agree with Rebecca. I'm sick of hearing
this stuff. We're not talking about baseball games
here. This is the foundation of democracy. I think a
candidate has a duty to his supporters, if he believes
there's anything wrong with an election, to go in
there and find out if there's anything wrong. And in
fact, he or she has a duty to democracy to do that. We
all want to believe that election is fair. Unless we
go in and audit those things occasionally, we're not
going to know that.

BS: I also want to make a comment on the Rush
holt bill. I think, the Rush holt bill is the only
chance we have for the '04 elections, because these
machines are already in widespread use and being
purchased. As we know, Maryland just purchased some
DRE's and other places from Diebold. Georgia has them,
and so these machines are in widespread use already.
And they are going to be used in the '04 election and
the only hope we have that get something, get these
things fixed.

One of the things that worries me about Rush
holt's bill is, as of now, I don't know about today
but I think probably still today, all of the endorsers
are Democrats. One of the pleas I would make to the
people who read your article is to really work at
making this, to fight it, and keeping this a
non-partisan issue. Try to bring more Republicans into
the Rush holt bill and whatever they do, don't make
this into a partisan issue because if it becomes
partisan, that's the kiss of death, in my opinion.

DD: Because the Democrats are already pretty much
outnumbered so if it's something with a big D stamped
on it, it's going to get killed.

BS: I don't want to put this in a negative way
and say, we don't know. We know that there are
Republicans who feel this way and so the main thing is
that we've got to get them to sign up. That's all.
We're not asking anybody to do anything which is
un-American. In fact, this is sort of quintessential
American. This is what the country's all about. But
people need to contact their Congressman and let them
know that they need to sign onto this bill. And

WP: I'll ask the obvious stupid question. Are you
trying to drag the electoral process back two
centuries by bringing this stuff up? Because that's
the charge that has been made against you.

DD: No. I just want an electoral system I can
trust. And I think everybody else in this country
wants it, too. I happen to have the technical
background to be quite confident that there's no
reason to trust the machines that we're deploying now.
So I'm raising the concern. I think there may, in
fact, be super-high-tech solutions to this problem in
the not too distant future that provide much better
election security than we have now. And are
significantly less difficult to deal with than maybe
some of the solutions we're talking about. So I'm
certainly not against technology since I marinate in
it to the exclusion of all other activities.

BS: We are also all doing this pro bono, and you
can't believe how many hours this stuff takes. We are
the ones out there fighting to preserve our democracy.
That's what I think we're doing. We are the ones
fighting to preserve our democracy.

DD: You know, being an engineer involves making
choices about the appropriate use of technology. It is
not using the highest tech solution to every problem,
whether it's appropriate or not. It's focused on
solving the problem by the best means that are
available. The best engineers will use the best means
that are available even if they don't involve any
significant technology at all. I think it's the
responsibility of everybody in technology to weigh in
with their opinions about the appropriate use of
technology and the inappropriate use of technology.
And I think it's particularly important for academics
and educators to do that. I think part of our job in
universities is to try to advise the rest of society,
and the policy makers, of what the right things to do
are. And to share our expertise and that's really what
we're trying to do.

My greatest worry is really an erosion of
confidence in the elections. When people can no longer
trust the elections I think that that will undermine
the legitimacy of everybody in government and I
wouldn't like to see that happen.

BS: The confidence is very important. I also fear
that if there is the capability of undermining
elections sooner or later. Somebody will exploit this
technology to steal an election. And to me, our
democracy and our right to vote and our right to
choose the people who run this country is fundamental
and if I feel we've lost that then what makes this
country special is gone.

RM: My feeling is that it is a bamboozling of the
American public. We're trading away a lot of the
checks and balances that we have always had in
elections. We're trading this off for high-tech, for
faster returns, and it's not true, what we're being
told is not the full truth about what is actually
going on and I think that we're giving away much more
than we're getting. We're giving the opportunity to
have an entire election stolen, just because of bad
code, not even stolen, just screwed up, fouled up.

DD: We're driving too fast along the side of a
mountain road with no guardrail. And maybe you won't
go over the side or maybe you will. Do you want to
risk it? If you do it long enough you'll eventually go
off the mountain.


David L. Dill is a Professor of Computer Science
and, by courtesy, Electrical Engineering at Stanford
University. He has been on the faculty at Stanford
since 1987. He has an S.B. in Electrical Engineering
and Computer Science from Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (1979), and an M.S and Ph.D. from
Carnegie-Mellon University (1982 and 1987). His
primary research interests relate to the theory and
application of formal verification techniques to
system designs, including hardware, protocols, and
software. He has also done research in asynchronous
circuit verification and synthesis, and in
verification methods for hard real-time systems. He
was the Chair of the Computer-Aided Verification
Conference held at Stanford University in 1994. From
July 1995 to September 1996, he was Chief Scientist at
0-In Design Automation. Prof. Dill's Ph.D. thesis,
"Trace Theory for Automatic Hierarchical Verification
of Speed Independent Circuits" was named as a
Distinguished Dissertation by ACM , and published as
such by M.I.T. Press in 1988. He was the recipient of
an Presidential Young Investigator award from the
National Science Foundation in 1988, and a Young
Investigator award from the Office of Naval Research
in 1991. He has received Best Paper awards at
International Conference on Computer Design in 1991
and the Design Automation Conference in 1993 and 1998.
He was named a Fellow of the IEEE in 2001 for his
contributions to verification of circuits and systems.

Rebecca Mercuri is the founder of Notable
Software and Knowledge Concepts. Her management skills
have been applied to day-to-day operations as well as
product development. As a computer scientist, she has
been employed by and consulted for many Fortune 100
firms, including AT&T Bell Labs, Intel, Merck, and
RCA. Her specialties are interactive systems
(multimedia, digital audio, computer graphics),
microprocessor applications (real-time and distributed
systems), computer security and forensics. An avid
educator, Rebecca has taught in various capacities at
colleges and universities in PA, NJ and NY, and she
has written and presented training courses for
industry and government agencies, including the
Federal Aviation Administration, the Philadelphia
Stock Exchange, and SRI's Sarnoff Center. She
publishes extensively, and is interviewed and quoted
frequently by the media (including the Associated
Press, National Public Radio, New York Times, Wall
Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, The
Economist). Dr. Mercuri holds Ph.D. and M.S.Eng.
degrees from the University of Pennsylvania as well as
a M.Sci. from Drexel University.

Barbara Simons received her Ph.D. in 1981 in
computer science from the University of California at
Berkeley. In 1980 she joined the Research Division of
IBM, and she is currently a member of the Application
Development Technology Institute in the IBM Software
Solutions Division. Her main areas of research are
compiler optimization and scheduling. Her dissertation
solved a major open problem in scheduling theory, and
she has received an IBM Research Division Award for
work on clock synchronization. She has authored or
coauthored many papers and two books. She is a
National Lecturer for the ACM. Dr. Simons is a Fellow
of both the American Association for the Advancement
of Science (AAAS) and ACM. In 1992 she was awarded the
CPSR Norbert Wiener Award for Professional and Social
Responsibility in Computing, and she was recently
selected as one of Open Computing's top 100 women in
computing. Dr. Simons chairs USACM, the ACM U.S.
Public Policy Committee. She was ACM secretary in 1990
- 92, and prior to that she was chair of the ACM
Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights. She
was also vice-chair of SIGACT, the ACM Special
Interest Group on Computer Science Theory, and she
served as the Project Advisor to the Project on
Funding Policy in Computer Science, which she
organized. Dr. Simons was a co-founder of the U.C.
Berkeley Computer Science Department Re

Posted by richard at 09:57 PM

October 19, 2003

Firm's attempts to down hyperlinks an attack on free speech, says EFF

"Out, out, damn spot!" Black box voting is the
greatest threat we face...because it negates our
ability to remove the Bush cabal from power...
"THE ANTICS OF DIEBOLD, a maker of electronic voting systems, which has been leaning on ISPs to get them to prevent linking to a election of its internal memos here, have drawn the EFF into the ring. "


Firm's attempts to down hyperlinks an attack on free speech, says EFF

Diebold tactic of attacking ISPs attacked

By Paul Hales: Friday 17 October 2003, 09:55

THE ANTICS OF DIEBOLD, a maker of electronic voting
systems, which has been leaning on ISPs to get them to
prevent linking to a election of its internal memos
here, have drawn the EFF into the ring.
The memos seem to show how Diebold sought to demo
software it didn't have and apparently installed
outdated versions of its GEM software in elections.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it stepped in
because it wants to defend the right to link to
controversial information about flaws in electronic
voting systems: "What topic could be more important to
our democracy than discussions about the mechanics and
legitimacy of electronic voting systems now being
introduced nationwide?" said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy
Seltzer, in a statement.

Diebold sent out dozens of notices to ISPs hosting
IndyMedia and other websites linking to or publishing
copies of Diebold internal memos. The only ISP to
resist so far, says the EFF, is the non-profit Online
Policy Group (OPG) ISP.

The EFF says it has been exposing some of the ways the
'safe harbor' provision in 1998's The Digital
Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) limits free speech
online. The act allows ISPs to remove content, or
force the user to do so, for a minimum of 10 days, to
"take itself out of the middle of any copyright

"We defend strongly the free speech right of our
client IndyMedia to publish links to Diebold memos
relevant to the public debate about electronic voting
machine security," said Online Policy Group Executive
Director Will Doherty. "Diebold's claim of copyright
infringement from linking to information posted
elsewhere on the Web is ridiculous, and even more
silly is the claim that we as an ISP could be liable
for our client's web links." µ

Posted by richard at 09:48 PM

Dean Gets Standing Ovation from Arab-Americans

Here is a story of great political courage, yes, and
others will say great political folly as well. But I
disagree. Dean is risking his life certainly, but
politically the US electorate might be ready for
someone run not only against _resident, and "all the
-resident's men" but also against the "Religious
Right" and Sharon as well...

Howard Dean (D-Jeffords): "It does not belong to General Boykin, or John Ashcroft or Rush Limbaugh or Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson," the former Vermont governor said to cheers in the packed hotel conference room in the Detroit suburb which is home to one of the highest concentrations of Muslims and Arabs outside the Middle East. "This flag belongs to every single American, including every single American in this room, and is the hope and aspiration for many other folks who are not yet citizens," he said.


Dean Gets Standing Ovation from Arab-Americans
Sat Oct 18, 6:08 PM ET Add Politics to My Yahoo!

By Tom Brown

DEARBORN, Mich. (Reuters) - Democratic presidential
hopeful Howard Dean (news - web sites) received a
standing ovation from an Arab-American audience on
Saturday when he attacked leading conservatives and
figures from the religious right.

Dean, one of seven Democratic presidential candidates
to address the Arab American Institute's national
leadership conference in Dearborn, pointed to an
American flag and named some of the people he said it
did not belong to.

"It does not belong to General Boykin, or John
Ashcroft or Rush Limbaugh or Jerry Falwell or Pat
Robertson," the former Vermont governor said to cheers
in the packed hotel conference room in the Detroit
suburb which is home to one of the highest
concentrations of Muslims and Arabs outside the Middle
East. "This flag belongs to every single American,
including every single American in this room, and is
the hope and aspiration for many other folks who are
not yet citizens," he said.

The message was warmly received by the crowd of about
300 as Dean named Ashcroft, the U.S. Attorney General
and a prominent spokesmen for America's conservative
or religious right, along with Army Lt. Gen. William
Boykin, the senior Pentagon (news - web sites)
intelligence official who has told Christian
gatherings that Muslims worship an "idol."

His speech was repeatedly interrupted by applause as
he condemned violations of civil liberties, racial
profiling and abuse of authority under the USA Patriot
Act, the anti-terror legislation championed by
Ashcroft that passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Hundreds of Muslims and Arabs were detained in
roundups after the attacks and Dean said the
detentions and deportations of an untold number of
immigrants based on secret evidence were unlawful and
should be repealed.

"Today we see another shameful chapter in American
history. Because John Ashcroft touts the Patriot Act
around this country does not make John Ashcroft a
patriot," he said.

"The war on terror cannot become a war on civil rights
and freedoms. We should not have to chose between
securing our homeland and securing the blessings of
liberty. We can have both, otherwise the terrorists
have won and we will not permit that."

Dean also won applause by reiterating his recent
promises to send former President Bill Clinton (news -
web sites) to the Middle East as his peace broker if
he is elected next year.

Posted by richard at 09:45 PM

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Over night, two more US GIs died in the _resident's
foolish military adventure in Iraq. For what? Here is
an ANOTHER extraordinary speech from the US Senate
floor from Sen. Robert Byrd (D-VA), who begins with a
Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale and ends quoting
Herman Goering from Nuremberg. Please share the
powerful message with others.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.): Taking the nation to war based on misleading rhetoric and hyped intelligence is a travesty and a tragedy. It is the most cynical of all cynical acts. It is dangerous to manipulate the truth. It is dangerous because once having lied, it is difficult to ever be believed again. Having misled the American people and stampeded them to war, this Administration must now attempt to sustain a policy predicated on falsehoods. The President asks for billions from those same citizens who know that they were misled about the need to go to war. We misinformed and insulted our friends and allies and now this Administration is having more than a little trouble getting help from the international community. It is perilous to mislead.


Remarks by U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd

October 17, 2003

The Emperor Has No Clothes

In 1837, Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen,
wrote a wonderful fairy tale which he titled The
Emperor's New Clothes. It may be the very first
example of the power of political correctness. It is
the story of the Ruler of a distant land who was so
enamored of his appearance and his clothing that he
had a different suit for every hour of the day.

One day two rogues arrived in town, claiming to be
gifted weavers. They convinced the Emperor that they
could weave the most wonderful cloth, which had a
magical property. The clothes were only visible to
those who were completely pure in heart and spirit.

The Emperor was impressed and ordered the weavers to
begin work immediately. The rogues, who had a deep
understanding of human nature, began to feign work on
empty looms.

Minister after minister went to view the new clothes
and all came back exhorting the beauty of the cloth on
the looms even though none of them could see a thing.

Finally a grand procession was planned for the Emperor
to display his new finery. The Emperor went to view
his clothes and was shocked to see absolutely nothing,
but he pretended to admire the fabulous cloth, inspect
the clothes with awe, and, after disrobing, go through
the motions of carefully putting on a suit of the new

Under a royal canopy the Emperor appeared to the
admiring throng of his people - - all of whom cheered
and clapped because they all knew the rogue weavers'
tale and did not want to be seen as less than pure of

But, the bubble burst when an innocent child loudly
exclaimed, for the whole kingdom to hear, that the
Emperor had nothing on at all. He had no clothes.

That tale seems to me very like the way this nation
was led to war.

We were told that we were threatened by weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq, but they have not been seen.

We were told that the throngs of Iraqi's would welcome
our troops with flowers, but no throngs or flowers

We were led to believe that Saddam Hussein was
connected to the attack on the Twin Towers and the
Pentagon, but no evidence has ever been produced.

We were told in 16 words that Saddam Hussein tried to
buy "yellow cake" from Africa for production of
nuclear weapons, but the story has turned into empty

We were frightened with visions of mushroom clouds,
but they turned out to be only vapors of the mind.

We were told that major combat was over but 101 [as of
October 17] Americans have died in combat since that
proclamation from the deck of an aircraft carrier by
our very own Emperor in his new clothes.

Our emperor says that we are not occupiers, yet we
show no inclination to relinquish the country of Iraq
to its people.

Those who have dared to expose the nakedness of the
Administration's policies in Iraq have been subjected
to scorn. Those who have noticed the elephant in the
room -- that is, the fact that this war was based on
falsehoods – have had our patriotism questioned.
Those who have spoken aloud the thought shared by
hundreds of thousands of military families across this
country, that our troops should return quickly and
safely from the dangers half a world away, have been
accused of cowardice. We have then seen the untruths,
the dissembling, the fabrication, the misleading
inferences surrounding this rush to war in Iraq
wrapped quickly in the flag.

The right to ask questions, debate, and dissent is
under attack. The drums of war are beaten ever louder
in an attempt to drown out those who speak of our
predicament in stark terms.

Even in the Senate, our history and tradition of being
the world's greatest deliberative body is being
snubbed. This huge spending bill has been rushed
through this chamber in just one month. There were
just three open hearings by the Senate Appropriations
Committee on $87 billion, without a single outside
witness called to challenge the Administration's line.

Ambassador Bremer went so far as to refuse to return
to the Appropriations Committee to answer additional
questions because, and I quote: "I don't have time.
I'm completely booked, and I have to get back to
Baghdad to my duties."

Despite this callous stiff-arm of the Senate and its
duties to ask questions in order to represent the
American people, few dared to voice their opposition
to rushing this bill through these halls of Congress.
Perhaps they were intimidated by the false claims that
our troops are in immediate need of more funds.

But the time has come for the sheep-like political
correctness which has cowed members of this Senate to
come to an end.

The Emperor has no clothes. This entire adventure in
Iraq has been based on propaganda and manipulation.
Eighty-seven billion dollars is too much to pay for
the continuation of a war based on falsehoods.

Taking the nation to war based on misleading rhetoric
and hyped intelligence is a travesty and a tragedy.
It is the most cynical of all cynical acts. It is
dangerous to manipulate the truth. It is dangerous
because once having lied, it is difficult to ever be
believed again. Having misled the American people and
stampeded them to war, this Administration must now
attempt to sustain a policy predicated on falsehoods.
The President asks for billions from those same
citizens who know that they were misled about the need
to go to war. We misinformed and insulted our friends
and allies and now this Administration is having more
than a little trouble getting help from the
international community. It is perilous to mislead.

The single-minded obsession of this Administration to
now make sense of the chaos in Iraq, and the
continuing propaganda which emanates from the White
House painting Iraq as the geographical center of
terrorism is distracting our attention from
Afghanistan and the 60 other countries in the world
where terrorists hide. It is sapping resources which
could be used to make us safer from terrorists on our
own shores. The body armor for our own citizens still
has many, many chinks. Have we forgotten that the
most horrific terror attacks in history occurred right
here at home!! Yet, this Administration turns back
money for homeland security, while the President pours
billions into security for Iraq. I am powerless to
understand or explain such a policy.

I have tried mightily to improve this bill. I twice
tried to separate the reconstruction money in this
bill, so that those dollars could be considered
separately from the military spending. I offered an
amendment to force the Administration to craft a plan
to get other nations to assist the troops and
formulate a plan to get the U.N. in, and the U.S. out,
of Iraq. Twice I tried to rid the bill of expansive,
flexible authorities that turn this $87 billion into a
blank check. The American people should understand
that we provide more foreign aid for Iraq in this
bill, $20.3 billion, than we provide for the rest of
the entire world! I attempted to remove from this
bill billions in wasteful programs and divert those
funds to better use. But, at every turn, my efforts
were thwarted by the vapid argument that we must all
support the requests of the Commander in Chief.

I cannot stand by and continue to watch our
grandchildren become increasingly burdened by the
billions that fly out of the Treasury for a war and a
policy based largely on propaganda and prevarication.
We are borrowing $87 billion to finance this adventure
in Iraq. The President is asking this Senate to pay
for this war with increased debt, a debt that will
have to be paid by our children and by those same
troops that are currently fighting this war. I cannot
support outlandish tax cuts that plunge our country
into potentially disastrous debt while our troops are
fighting and dying in a war that the White House chose
to begin.

I cannot support the continuation of a policy that
unwisely ties down 150,000 American troops for the
foreseeable future, with no end in sight.

I cannot support a President who refuses to authorize
the reasonable change in course that would bring
traditional allies to our side in Iraq.

I cannot support the politics of zeal and "might makes
right" that created the new American arrogance and
unilateralism which passes for foreign policy in this

I cannot support this foolish manifestation of the
dangerous and destabilizing doctrine of preemption
that changes the image of America into that of a
reckless bully.

The emperor has no clothes. And our former allies
around the world were the first to loudly observe it.

I shall vote against this bill because I cannot
support a policy based on prevarication. I cannot
support doling out 87 billion of our hard-earned tax
dollars when I have so many doubts about the wisdom of
its use.

I began my remarks with a fairy tale. I shall close
my remarks with a horror story, in the form of a quote
from the book Nuremberg Diaries, written by G.M.
Gilbert, in which the author interviews Hermann

"We got around to the subject of war again and I said
that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that
the common people are very thankful for leaders who
bring them war and destruction.

". . . But, after all, it is the leaders of the
country who determine the policy and it is always a
simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is
a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament
or a Communist dictatorship.

"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a
democracy the people have some say in the matter
through their elected representatives, and in the
United States only Congress can declare wars."

"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no
voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding
of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is
tell them they are being attacked and denounce the
pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the
country to danger. It works the same way in any


Posted by richard at 09:36 PM

October 18, 2003

Clinton Officials Attack Bush on Environment

Carol Browner, Clinton E.P.A. director: "This is simply the worst environmental administration ever," she said, "and the American public needs to know this so they can make a choice in the upcoming election."<b>


Clinton Officials Attack Bush on Environment
By Jennifer Lee
The New York Times

Friday 17 October 2003

WASHINGTON — A group of Clinton administration
officials, including former Interior Secretary Bruce
Babbitt and Carol M. Browner, onetime E.P.A.
administrator, have joined with environmental
advocates to raise money for an election-year campaign
critical of the Bush administration's environmental
record in swing states.

The four states that the group has decided to study
first, for insight into the leading environmental
issues of each, are Florida, New Mexico, New Hampshire
and Oregon. In the 2000 election, the outcome in all
four was extremely close — Florida and New Hampshire
tipped to George Bush, New Mexico and Oregon to Al
Gore — with Ralph Nader of the Green Party getting
more votes in each than the margin of victory there.

But the campaign, called Environment 2004, is also
looking at Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Arizona and Iowa.

"We're a small, nimble organization," Ms. Browner
said in an interview. "We want to focus our resources
in the places where we can make a difference in the
outcome of the election."

Environment 2004 will buy commercial advertising,
conduct voter education campaigns and schedule
speakers in local communities.

While it is trying to raise $5 million from
membership donations — and seeks $1 million by the end
of the year — it currently has only $500,000 in
pledges or actual contributions.

A memorandum that the Republican pollster Frank
Luntz issued to his party before last year's elections
warned, "The environment is probably the single issue
on which Republicans in general — and the president in
particular — are most vulnerable."

Ms. Browner, who is now a principal at the Albright
Group, a Washington-based global consulting firm,
would not disagree.

"This is simply the worst environmental
administration ever," she said, "and the American
public needs to know this so they can make a choice in
the upcoming election."

The environment is expected to be only an ancillary
theme in 2004, however, with national security and the
economy overshadowing all other issues.

"Not every voter puts environment at the top of
their list," Ms. Browner acknowledged. But she added,
"There are certain voters — especially among women and
swing voters — that this issue is an important issue,
and it can certainly frame their opinion about the


Posted by richard at 09:28 PM

France Warns Against Iran Action

If we are not successful in ejecting the _resident in
2004, the entire fabric of international law (i.e.,
the UN Security Council, the World Court, NATO, the
G-8, the WTO, etc.) which, as fragile and as
ineffectual as it is, has been all we have to build on
and work with). Wesley Clark (D-NATO) understands
this. We are being dragged down the slippery slope
into a regional war, and further on, a World War, by
the Bush cabal's neo-con wet dreamers. The _resident
is in Tokyo telling the Japanese Prime Minister that
the UN is "old" and needs to be "restructured." There
is no alternative to the political destruction of
George Bush. He must be defeated in the 2004 election.


Published on Saturday, October 18, 2003 by the
France Warns Against Iran Action
Military Intervention Would Be Ridiculous, Says
Foreign Minister, Denouncing Policy of Forcible Regime

by Simon Tisdall and Ewen MacAskill

The US pursuit of forcible regime change is not a
viable or safe policy in the dangerous world that
exists after September 11, the French foreign
minister, Dominique de Villepin, said in an interview
with the Guardian.

Regime change can not be a policy on its own in
today's world. You have to be respectful of

Dominique de Villepin
French Foreign Minister
In a wide-ranging critique of US policy in the Middle
East and beyond, Mr De Villepin said that any military
action against Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons
would be "absolutely ridiculous".

He also said that, in spite of Thursday's UN security
council resolution giving the US-British force in Iraq
a mandate, "the conditions for real progress on the
reconstruction of Iraq are not complied with today".

"Reconstruction has to have a partner, you have to
have real sovereignty in Iraq if you want to have the
Iraqi people working with you."

Mr De Villepin declined to commit France to providing
reconstruction assistance at next week's donors'
conference in Madrid, in spite of urgings to do so
from Washington.

While emphasizing France's desire to patch up
relations with the US and to work with it on a range
of international issues, the foreign minister also
questioned Israel's US-backed security policies. He
said Europe should play a vital role in advancing the
peace process, not least because of Europe's close
trade and aid links with both sides.

"I think that Israeli policy during the past months
and years shows clearly that if you are going to
imagine that only through security you are going to
find solutions, you are mistaken...

"We think that using force, on the contrary, is going
to... give new reasons to some people [like al-Qaida]
to oppose us."

Mr De Villepin sketched out a French vision of a
radically different approach to foreign policy in
which differences of culture, society and religion
should be weighed alongside questions of security.

"Regime change can not be a policy on its own in
today's world," he said. "You have to be respectful of

"Of course, there are very difficult situations when
human rights are concerned... we have known that in
Kosovo. So in rare situations, we have to address
these kinds of problems by military means. But you
have to have the support of the international
community... If there is one country that imagines it
can solve this matter alone, we are going to see more
vengeance, more difficulties, more problems, and the
world is going to be more unstable."

Mr De Villepin's remarks underline the continuing
differences between France, which led European
opposition to the Iraq war, and Washington and London.

During a brief visit to London this week, Mr De
Villepin had lunch with the foreign secretary, Jack
Straw, and recorded the prestigious Dimbleby Lecture,
which will be screened tomorrow on BBC1.

After his visit, it was announced that Mr De Villepin
and Mr Straw and the German foreign minister, Joschka
Fischer, are to visit Tehran on Monday to try to
defuse the nuclear arms row. To the annoyance of the
Bush administration, Britain, France and Germany have
offered to supply civilian nuclear technology to Iran
in return for its abandoning any ambition to seek
nuclear weapons capability.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003


Posted by richard at 09:26 PM

Janet Tosto knows what illness killed her soldier son, but not why he had it.

Those who want to take on the mantle of the anti-Bush
must not allow their campaigns to be run as
traditional campaigns. Forget the red, white and blue
bunting, forget the confetti, forget the
Newspeak...Take up the problems of people like Janet
Tosto, the 9/11 widows, the Enron victims, etc...Tell
their stories. Demand answers for them. Remember
Reagan's syrupy homages to "American heroes" from
ordinary life up in the balcony during his SOTUs?
Well, that was a feel good move that was very
effective in the manipulation of emotions. Cark, Dean,
Kerry should be pointing to these people in the
audiences of their speechs and instead of doing
rah-rah aren't we great stuff with it, they should be
using it to stir up outrage and demand answers AND a
regime change in D.C....


Published October 17, 2003

Mother wants answers in son's death
Janet Tosto knows what illness killed her soldier son, but not why he had it.

By Eric Eckert
News-Leader Staff

Family members of U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Tosto have
written letters to President George W. Bush, Vice
President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld. Each letter asks the same question: How did
Michael die? So far, the family has received no
response from the country's higher-ups.

The family has learned through various accounts that
Michael, 24, was one of two soldiers who died from a
severe case of pneumonia. Tosto and Missouri National
Guard Spc. Joshua Neusche, 20, of Montreal, died
within a week and a half of contracting the illness.

After a months-long public inquiry, Neusche's parents
accepted the Army's conclusion that Josh died from
adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) coupled
with the pneumonia.

Michael's mother, Janet Tosto, of Atlantic, N.C., said
she can accept that diagnosis, but there's one

"Something had to cause it (ARDS)," the nurse of 28
years said. "And I want to know what that is."

While the Neusches have talked at length with the U.S.
Army Surgeon General's Office — the agency
investigating the two deaths and 17 other cases of
severe pneumonia — Janet Tosto says she and her son's
wife, Stephanie, have been told very little.

"I think they're just avoiding the issue," she said of
military investigators. "I don't think they're lying.
I just don't think they're talking."

The Army Surgeon General's Office confirmed Thursday
that the investigative teams have returned from the
Middle East and Germany, where they examined the 19
cases of severe pneumonia.

The teams "are still working on analysis and
conclusions," said agency spokeswoman Lyn Kukral. "The
process could take weeks, even months. When the teams
complete their work, information about the
epidemiological study will be released."

All of the sickened soldiers were placed on
ventilators. Aside from the two deaths, the remaining
17 soldiers — 16 men and one woman — are either on
convalescent leave or have gone back to work.

Since the medical teams returned, the Army has
released some of their findings. Preliminary
statistics show 10 soldiers were diagnosed with acute
eosinophilic pneumonia, an illness without an
identifiable infectious cause that is characterized by
rapid respiratory failure.

Nine of those soldiers had started smoking cigarettes
after their deployment to the Central Command area of
responsibility. Janet Tosto said her son took up the
habit when he arrived in the Middle East. Neusche's
parents said their son never smoked.

Responding to Janet Tosto's concerns about ARDS, Dr.
Donald Wantuck — a pulmonologist for 31 years and
chief of staff at St. John's Regional Health Center —
said the condition can be a direct result of

"A trauma can cause it," Wantuck explained. "But any
advanced stage infection can do it too. ... We
occasionally have ARDS in our community and we can't
always find the cause. That's the same as they're
having over there."

Wantuck said ARDS can be deadly if doctors can't
narrow down the cause quickly.

"If you can detect the cause and treat it early,
there's a reasonable recovery rate," he said. "If you
can't detect the cause, the mortality rate is pretty

The doctor, a U.S. Air Force veteran, said
investigators may be dealing with something new and
need the time to narrow their focus.

"I think the Army is as frustrated as they (the
families) are," Wantuck said.

So far, the investigative teams have ruled out severe
acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, environmental
toxins and exposure to chemical or biological weapons.

Janet Tosto said she believes the anthrax vaccinations
her son received before and during deployment may have
been a cause.

"If he got his shot, he may have developed an allergic
reaction. That's my theory."

Wantuck said an allergic reaction would have been

"The lung biopsies they've done would have showed

Janet Tosto said she is not mad at the military; she's
just a concerned mother looking for answers.

"Michael believed in what he was doing, and we believe
in what the president is doing," she said. "My head
knows Michael's gone. My heart just hasn't realized it

Posted by richard at 09:24 PM

Is Syria Next?

The neo-con wet dream, PNAC, is the official (although
publicly unstated) agenda of this illegitimate,
corrupt and incompetent regime. Wesley Clark
(D-NATO)visited the Pentagon in the period before he
got into the race, and a colleague told him in disgust
that seven countries were targeted...They have got to
be stopped at the ballot box. BUT guess what? The
Total Recall Putsch means that they now have control
over the state governments of New York, Florida, Texas
AND California. That is an Electoral College coup
The Nation: Shortly after 9/11, the government received an extraordinary gift of hundreds of files on Al Qaeda, crucial data on the activities of radical Islamist cells throughout the Middle East and Europe and intelligence about future terrorist plans. These dossiers did not come from Israel or Saudi Arabia, whose kingdom appeared more concerned at the time with securing safe passage for members of the bin Laden family living in the United States, but--as Seymour Hersh revealed in the July 28 New Yorker--from Syria. One CIA analyst told Hersh, "the quality and quantity of information from Syria exceeded the agency's expectations." Yet, the analyst added, the Syrians "got little in return for it."


Published on Thursday, October 16, 2003 by The Nation

Is Syria Next?

Shortly after 9/11, the government received an
extraordinary gift of hundreds of files on Al Qaeda,
crucial data on the activities of radical Islamist
cells throughout the Middle East and Europe and
intelligence about future terrorist plans. These
dossiers did not come from Israel or Saudi Arabia,
whose kingdom appeared more concerned at the time with
securing safe passage for members of the bin Laden
family living in the United States, but--as Seymour
Hersh revealed in the July 28 New Yorker--from Syria.
One CIA analyst told Hersh, "the quality and quantity
of information from Syria exceeded the agency's
expectations." Yet, the analyst added, the Syrians
"got little in return for it."

What they got instead was an unrelenting
Washington-sponsored campaign of vilification. It
began last year, when the "Axis of Evil" was expanded
to include Syria, largely because Syria--a member of
the 1991 coalition against Saddam Hussein--refused to
support a pre-emptive war against Iraq. And it has
culminated in the Syria Accountability Act, approved
33 to 2 by a House committee on October 8. If the bill
passes, Syria will not be able to receive "dual use"
goods unless it cuts all ties with Hamas and Islamic
Jihad (neither of which is linked to Al Qaeda) and
cracks down on Hezbollah (a guerrilla movement that
enjoys wide popular support among Lebanese Shiites);
withdraws its troops from Lebanon; and proves that it
is not developing weapons of mass destruction. What's
more, the President would be directed to choose from a
menu of six additional sanctions, including a freeze
on Syrian assets in the United States and a ban on US
exports, except food and medicine.

The committee's vote came on the heels of Bush's
endorsement of an Israeli airstrike on a Palestinian
training camp outside Damascus, Israel's first assault
on Syrian territory since 1974. Never mind that the
apparently moribund camp belonged to the Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, not
to Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the
October 4 suicide attack in Haifa; or that Israel's
attack threatened to widen the already explosive
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Bush's words, "Israel
must not feel constrained in terms of defense of the

The Syria Accountability Act is all but certain to
destroy the fledgling cooperation between US and
Syrian intelligence agencies, which have a common
interest in combating Islamic extremism. To sabotage
such a relationship would seem downright perverse,
when America is in desperate need of Arab allies in
the "war on terrorism." But a perversion of priorities
is something we have come to expect from the Bush
Administration, and from the influential
neoconservative clique--many of them closely allied
with the Israeli right--shaping policy in the

In an eerie replay of the buildup to the war on Iraq,
the demonization of Syria has swelled to a chorus in
Washington, whose members include not only Republicans
but pro-Israel Democrats like Tom Lantos, the senior
Democrat on the House committee that passed the act.
The leading Democratic presidential candidates backed
Bush's support for Israel's bombing in Syria. Only
months ago we were told that the "road to peace in
Jerusalem runs through Baghdad." As resistance to the
US occupation of Iraq grows and the road map continues
to crumble, the neocons are having a much harder time
making that argument, so we are now being told that
the twisted road to peace runs through Damascus.

Syria, to be sure, is hardly an appealing regime. A
police state run by a tiny Baathist clique, it
deprives its own citizens of the most basic liberties,
maintains thousands of troops in Lebanon's Bekaa
Valley in violation of UN Resolution 520 and continues
to meddle in Lebanon's internal affairs. It has also
supported Hezbollah's "resistance" operations against
Israeli positions in the disputed Shebaa Farms,
finding it a useful proxy force with which to pressure
Israel to return the Golan Heights, illegally occupied
since 1967. Yet Syria has also played an important
role in stabilizing Lebanon since the civil war--a
role quietly appreciated by Washington--and in
encouraging Hezbollah's transformation from a radical
militia to a pragmatic political party. Despite
occasional flare-ups, violent incidents on the
Lebanese-Israeli border have been rare since Israel's
withdrawal in 2000.

The Accountability Act simply ignores this, in a
flagrant display of the double standards of US Middle
East policy. How, in good faith, can we call for
sanctions against Syria for its occupation of Lebanon
while coddling Israel, whose incomparably more violent
and brutal occupation remains the chief source of
troubles in the Mideast--the principal reason we are
not viewed as honest brokers? Moreover, while claiming
to promote democracy in Syria, the act is more likely
to strengthen the hand of the sclerotic Baathist old
guard, which can now invoke the threat of an American
war to suppress dissent, and hobble President Bashar
Assad's (admittedly inadequate) efforts to pursue
reform. The intellectuals who participated in Syria's
short-lived "Damascus Spring" two years ago will be
further silenced by the act for fear of being
associated with a policy that might have been devised
in Tel Aviv.

In a sense, it was. To properly understand the Syria
Accountability Act, one has to go back to a 1996
document, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing
the Realm," drafted by a team of advisers to Benjamin
Netanyahu in his run for prime minister of Israel. The
authors included current Bush advisers Richard Perle
and Douglas Feith. "Syria challenges Israel on
Lebanese soil," they wrote, calling for "striking
Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that
prove insufficient, striking at select targets in
Syria proper." No wonder Perle was delighted by the
Israeli strike. "It will help the peace process," he
told the Washington Post, adding later that the United
States itself might have to attack Syria.

But what Perle means by "helping the peace process" is
not resolving the conflict by bringing about a viable,
sovereign Palestinian state but rather--as underscored
in "A Clean Break"--"transcending the Arab-Israeli
conflict" altogether by forcing the Arabs to accept
most, if not all, of Israel's territorial conquests
and its nuclear hegemony in the region. This one-sided
approach has succeeded only in fueling resentment
against America, as demonstrated most recently by the
October 15 bombing of a US convoy in Gaza that killed
three Americans. The attack, which was denounced by
Palestinian leaders, came just hours after the US veto
of a Security Council resolution condemning Israel's
new "security" wall, which gobbles up large swaths of
land in the West Bank.

No one doubts that citizens of Syria and Lebanon would
benefit from the demise of the Baathist dictatorship.
But making an enemy of Syria will neither lead to the
flowering of Syrian democracy nor bring an end to
terror in Israeli cities. If any state is a breeding
ground for terrorists today, it is Iraq, thanks to
America's reckless war. The absence of stable
governance in Mesopotamia poses far more of a threat
to regional security than the presence of an Islamic
Jihad office in Damascus. To be sure, states must be
held accountable for fostering terrorism. What we need
now, however, is not a Syria Accountability Act but an
America Accountability Act.

Copyright © 2003 The Nation


Posted by richard at 09:22 PM

October 17, 2003

Army Concerned About Suicides of U.S. Troops in Iraq

Reuters: "At least 13 U.S. troops have committed suicide in Iraq, representing more than 10 percent of American noncombat deaths there, and the Army dispatched a suicide-prevention expert to assess the problem, officials said on Thursday."


Published on Thursday, October 16, 2003 by Reuters
Army Concerned About Suicides of U.S. Troops in Iraq
by Will Dunham

WASHINGTON - At least 13 U.S. troops have committed
suicide in Iraq, representing more than 10 percent of
American noncombat deaths there, and the Army
dispatched a suicide-prevention expert to assess the
problem, officials said on Thursday.

At least 11 U.S. Army soldiers have committed suicide
during Iraq operations, most with self-inflicted
gunshot wounds, and two Marines have committed suicide
using firearms, officials said.

Kukral said 478 soldiers had been evacuated from Iraq
for mental health reasons as of Sept. 25.

One official said "a few more" Army deaths were being
investigated as possible suicides, and the Navy said
the death of one service member was under
investigation. The Air Force said it had no such

Army officials have expressed concern about the
suicides, many of which occurred after President Bush
declared major combat operations over in Iraq on May

A 12-person Mental Health Advisory Team dispatched by
the Army recently left Iraq after studying a wide
range of mental health concerns, including suicide,
among U.S. troops facing combat stress and
longer-than-expected deployments.

The 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are facing yearlong
stints amid daily guerrilla-style attacks.

Lt. Col. Jerry Swanner, the Army's suicide-prevention
program manager at the Pentagon, was a member of the
team, said Martha Rudd, an Army spokeswoman.

"Of course we're concerned," Rudd said. "Even one
suicide is alarming and upsetting."

The suicide deaths are included among the 120 U.S.
troops who have died in "non-hostile" circumstances in
Iraq in the past seven months, mostly vehicle and
other types of accidents. Another 212 U.S. troops have
died from enemy fire, according to the Pentagon.

"When war is actually going on, behavioral experts say
the soldiers aren't as likely to commit suicide during
that period. While they're fighting, they're not
thinking about their problems. But once open
hostilities cease and the peacekeeping part begins,
for some soldiers that can be very rewarding work but
for some (others) it can be very stressful," Rudd

She also noted that troops in Iraq have guns readily
available, enabling them to act on what otherwise
might have been a fleeting suicidal impulse.

The team sent to Iraq included psychiatrists,
psychologists, social workers and experts in combat
stress, said Lyn Kukral, a spokeswoman for the Office
of the Army Surgeon General and the Army Medical

The team was expected to complete a report on its
findings and make recommendations in two to three
weeks, officials said.

"Suicide is just one aspect of many behavioral health
and individual readiness issues that the team is
assessing. The team is interested in identifying
particular deployment stressors and their impact on
the deployed soldiers. The team is also concerned with
reviewing the effectiveness of current combat-stress
control doctrine," Kukral said in a statement.

Kukral said 478 soldiers had been evacuated from Iraq
for mental health reasons as of Sept. 25.

The Army and Navy annually average about 11 suicides
per 100,000 personnel, the Air Force about 9.5 per
100,000 and the Marines about 12.6 per 100,000.

Referring to the Army rate, Rudd said, "I don't think
the suicides we've had in Iraq are going to seriously
skew the numbers."

© 2003 Reuters Ltd


Posted by richard at 09:11 PM

Sick, wounded U.S. troops held in squalor

UPI: "Hundreds of sick and wounded U.S. soldiers including many who served in the Iraq war are languishing in hot cement barracks here while they wait -- sometimes for months -- to see doctors."


Sick, wounded U.S. troops held in squalor
By Mark Benjamin
UPI Investigations Editor
Published 10/17/2003 3:36 PM
View printer-friendly version

FORT STEWART, Ga., Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Hundreds of sick
and wounded U.S. soldiers including many who served in
the Iraq war are languishing in hot cement barracks
here while they wait -- sometimes for months -- to see

The National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers' living
conditions are so substandard, and the medical care so
poor, that many of them believe the Army is trying
push them out with reduced benefits for their
ailments. One document shown to UPI states that no
more doctor appointments are available from Oct. 14
through Nov. 11 -- Veterans Day.

"I have loved the Army. I have served the Army
faithfully and I have done everything the Army has
asked me to do," said Sgt. 1st Class Willie Buckels, a
truck master with the 296th Transportation Company.
Buckels served in the Army Reserves for 27 years,
including Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first Gulf
War. "Now my whole idea about the U.S. Army has
changed. I am treated like a third-class citizen."

Since getting back from Iraq in May, Buckels, 52, has
been trying to get doctors to find out why he has
intense pain in the side of his abdomen since doubling
over in pain there.

After waiting since May for a diagnosis, Buckels has
accepted 20 percent of his benefits for bad knees and
is going home to his family in Mississippi. "They have
not found out what my side is doing yet, but they are
still trying," Buckels said.

One month after President Bush greeted soldiers at
Fort Stewart -- home of the famed Third Infantry
Division -- as heroes on their return from Iraq,
approximately 600 sick or injured members of the Army
Reserves and National Guard are warehoused in rows of
spare, steamy and dark cement barracks in a sandy
field, waiting for doctors to treat their wounds or

The Reserve and National Guard soldiers are on what
the Army calls "medical hold," while the Army decides
how sick or disabled they are and what benefits -- if
any -- they should get as a result.

Some of the soldiers said they have waited six hours a
day for an appointment without seeing a doctor. Others
described waiting weeks or months without getting a
diagnosis or proper treatment.

The soldiers said professional active duty personnel
are getting better treatment while troops who serve in
the National Guard or Army Reserve are left to wallow
in medical hold.

"It is not an Army of One. It is the Army of two --
Army and Reserves," said one soldier who served in
Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which she developed a
serious heart condition and strange skin ailment.

A half-dozen calls by UPI seeking comment from Fort
Stewart public affairs officials and U.S. Forces
Command in Atlanta were not returned.

Soldiers here estimate that nearly 40 percent of the
personnel now in medical hold were deployed to Iraq.
Of those who went, many described clusters of strange
ailments, like heart and lung problems, among
previously healthy troops. They said the Army has
tried to refuse them benefits, claiming the injuries
and illnesses were due to a "pre-existing condition,"
prior to military service.

Most soldiers in medical hold at Fort Stewart stay in
rows of rectangular, gray, single-story cinder block
barracks without bathrooms or air conditioning. They
are dark and sweltering in the southern Georgia heat
and humidity. Around 60 soldiers cram in the bunk beds
in each barrack.

Soldiers make their way by walking or using crutches
through the sandy dirt to a communal bathroom, where
they have propped office partitions between otherwise
open toilets for privacy. A row of leaky sinks sits on
an opposite wall. The latrine smells of urine and is
full of bugs, because many windows have no screens.
Showering is in a communal, cinder block room.
Soldiers say they have to buy their own toilet paper.

They said the conditions are fine for training, but
not for sick people.

"I think it is disgusting," said one Army Reserve
member who went to Iraq and asked that his name not be

That soldier said that after being deployed in March
he suffered a sudden onset of neurological symptoms in
Baghdad that has gotten steadily worse. He shakes

He said the Army has told him he has Parkinson's
Disease and it was a pre-existing condition, but he
thinks it was something in the anthrax shots the Army
gave him.

"They say I have Parkinson's, but it is developing too
rapidly," he said. "I did not have a problem until I
got those shots."

First Sgt. Gerry Mosley crossed into Iraq from Kuwait
on March 19 with the 296th Transportation Company,
hauling fuel while under fire from the Iraqis as they
traveled north alongside combat vehicles. Mosley said
he was healthy before the war; he could run two miles
in 17 minutes at 48 years old.

But he developed a series of symptoms: lung problems
and shortness of breath; vertigo; migraines; and
tinnitus. He also thinks the anthrax vaccine may have
hurt him. Mosley also has a torn shoulder from an
injury there.

Mosley says he has never been depressed before, but
found himself looking at shotguns recently and thought
about suicide.

Mosley is paying $300 a month to get better housing
than the cinder block barracks. He has a notice from
the base that appears to show that no more doctor
appointments are available for reservists from Oct. 14
until Nov. 11. He said he has never been treated like
this in his 30 years in the Army Reserves.

"Now, I would not go back to war for the Army," Mosley

Many soldiers in the hot barracks said regular Army
soldiers get to see doctors, while National Guard and
Army Reserve troops wait.

"The active duty guys that are coming in, they get
treated first and they put us on hold," said another
soldier who returned from Iraq six weeks ago with a
serious back injury. He has gotten to see a doctor
only two times since he got back, he said.

Another Army Reservist with the 149th Infantry
Battalion said he has had real trouble seeing doctors
about his crushed foot he suffered in Iraq. "There are
not enough doctors. They are overcrowded and they
can't perform the surgeries that have to be done,"
that soldier said. "Look at these mattresses. It hurts
just to sit on them," he said, gesturing to the bunks.
"There are people here who got back in April but did
not get their surgeries until July. It is putting a
lot on these families."

The Pentagon is reportedly drawing up plans to call up
more reserves.

In an Oct. 9 speech to National Guard and reserve
troops in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Bush said the
soldiers had become part of the backbone of the

"Citizen-soldiers are serving in every front on the
war on terror," Bush said. "And you're making your
state and your country proud."


Mark Benjamin can be contacted at mbenjamin@upi.com

Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press International

Posted by richard at 09:09 PM

Many Troops Dissatisfied, Iraq Poll Finds

Despite its many failures in confronting the lies of
the _resident and "all the _resident's men" (before
and after the coup of 2000) or investigating any of
its numerous scandals with anything like the veracity
in trashed Clinton-Gore on a daily basis, the WASHPs
deserve commendation for running this story, and
others on this painful subject...
Washington Post: A broad survey of U.S. troops in Iraq by a Pentagon-funded newspaper found that half of those questioned described their unit's morale as low and their training as insufficient, and said they do not plan to reenlist. The survey, conducted by the Stars and Stripes newspaper, also recorded about a third of the respondents complaining that their mission lacks clear definition and characterizing the war in Iraq as of little or no value. Fully 40 percent said the jobs they were doing had little or nothing to do with their training.


Many Troops Dissatisfied, Iraq Poll Finds

By Bradley Graham and Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 16, 2003; Page A01

A broad survey of U.S. troops in Iraq by a
Pentagon-funded newspaper found that half of those
questioned described their unit's morale as low and
their training as insufficient, and said they do not
plan to reenlist. The survey, conducted by the Stars
and Stripes newspaper, also recorded about a third of
the respondents complaining that their mission lacks
clear definition and characterizing the war in Iraq as
of little or no value. Fully 40 percent said the jobs
they were doing had little or nothing to do with their

The findings, drawn from 1,935 questionnaires
presented to U.S. service members throughout Iraq,
conflict with statements by military commanders and
Bush administration officials that portray the
deployed troops as high-spirited and generally
well-prepared. Though not obtained through scientific
methods, the survey results suggest that a combination
of difficult conditions, complex missions and
prolonged tours in Iraq is wearing down a significant
portion of the U.S. force and threatening to provoke a
sizable exodus from military service.

In the first of a week-long series of articles, Stars
and Stripes said yesterday that it undertook the
survey in August after receiving scores of letters
from troops who were upset with one aspect or another
of the Iraq operation. The newspaper, which receives
some funding from the Defense Department but functions
without editorial control by the Pentagon, prepared 17
questions and sent three teams of reporters to Iraq to
conduct the survey and related interviews at nearly 50

"We conducted a 'convenience survey,' meaning we gave
it to those who happened to be available at the time
rather than to a randomly selected cross section, so
the results cannot necessarily be projected as
representing the whole population," said David
Mazzarella, the paper's editorial director here. "But
we still think the findings are significant and make
clear that the troops have a different idea of things
than what their leaders have been saying."

Experts in public opinion and the military concurred
that the poll was not necessarily representative, but
they characterized it as a useful gauge of troop
sentiment. "The numbers are consistent with what I
suspect is going on there," said David Segal, a
military sociologist at the University of Maryland at
College Park. "I am getting a sense that there is a
high and increasing level of demoralization and a
growing sense of being in something they don't
understand and aren't sure the American people

The paper quoted Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander
of U.S. forces in Iraq, saying in a Sept. 9 interview
for the series that "there is no morale problem." He
said complaints among troops are "expected" and part
of "the Army's normal posture," whether the soldiers
are deployed or not.

"We haven't had time to study the survey, but we take
all indicators of morale seriously," said Bryan
Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman. "It's the reason
we've instituted several programs to address morale
and welfare issues." A White House spokesman had no

Some military experts pointed to good news for the
administration in the survey. Military historian Eliot
Cohen, who serves on a Pentagon advisory panel, noted
that the proportion that said the war was worthwhile
-- 67 percent -- and the proportion of troops that
said they have a clearly defined mission -- 64 percent
-- are "amazingly high." He added that complaints are
typical. "American troops have a God-given right and
tradition of grumbling," he said.

In the survey, 34 percent described their morale as
low, compared with 27 percent who described it as high
and 37 percent who said it was average; 49 percent
described their unit's morale as low, while 16 percent
called it high.

In recent days, the Bush administration has launched a
campaign to blame the news media for portraying the
situation in Iraq in a negative light. Last week, Bush
described the military spirit as high and said that
life in Iraq is "a lot better than you probably think.
Just ask people who have been there."

But Stars and Stripes raised questions about what
those visiting dignitaries saw in Iraq. "Many soldiers
-- including several officers -- allege that VIP
visits from the Pentagon and Capitol Hill are only
given hand-picked troops to meet with during their
tours of Iraq," the newspaper said in its interview
with Sanchez. "The phrase 'Dog and Pony Show' is
usually used. Some troops even go so far as to say
they've been ordered not to talk to VIPs because
leaders are afraid of what they might say."

The newspaper also noted in that interview that its
reporters were told that some soldiers who had
complained of morale problems had faced disciplinary
actions known as Article 15s, which can result in
reprimand, extra duties and forfeiture of pay. Sanchez
said he did not know of any such punishments, but he
added that they would have been handled at a lower

The paper's project recorded significant differences
in the morale of various units, but overall found that
Army troops tended to sound more dissatisfied than Air
Force personnel and Marines, and that reservists were
the most troubled.

Uncertainty about when they are returning home was a
major factor in dampening morale, according to the
newspaper. The interviews were conducted at a time
when some reserve and regular Army units were learning
that their tours had been extended. The Pentagon has
since sought to provide a clearer rotation plan and
has begun granting troops two-week home leaves.

Although Pentagon officials say they have seen no sign
yet of a rise in the number of troops deciding against
reenlisting, the survey suggested that such a surge
may be coming soon. A total of 49 percent of those
questioned said it was "very unlikely" or "not likely"
that they would remain in the military after they
complete their current obligations. In the past,
enlistment rates tended to drop after conflicts, but
many defense experts and noncommissioned officers have
warned of the potential for a historically high
exodus, particularly of reservists.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Posted by richard at 09:08 PM

Kennedy to assail Bush over Iraq war

Four more US soldiers have died in the _resident's
foolish military adventure in Iraq. For what?
MEANWHILE, it is hard to tell which direction it is
all going to break, but it is going to break...It is,
as the LNS has noted already, a very, very dangerous
time now...Will the potential anti-Bushs, Clark
(D-NAT0), Dean (D-Jeffords) and Kerry (D-Mekong Delta)
survive politically and physically? Will the "US
mainstream news media" be bullied back into total
submission or continue to at least *somewhat*
accurately report the BAD scene in Iraq? Will new
hideous terrorist attack provide the _resident with
another "Trifecta" ticket (his analogy, remember, not
mine)...There is widespread disdain for the Bush
cabal, it cuts across the political spectrum from left
to right, it involves of course the intel community,
the military, the foreign policy establishment as well
as some elements of the media and the financial world.
That's why Wes Clark got a LONG front page article on
his campaign the other day, that's why he was on Good
Morning, America the next day, that's why they are
allowing polls through that show him beating the
_resident...Clark and/or Dean and/or Kerry could do
it..If they survive...Will the Bush cabal that did not
accept defeat in 2000 accept it in 2004? Well, we will
have to get there and find out. If we really don't
have elections anymore, as the 2002 Wellstone/Cleland
Mid-Term Debacle and the California Total Recall
Putsch seem to indicate, we will have to make sure
that at least we stand for something...So, here is an
example of how its done from a man with nothing to

Kennedy to assail Bush over Iraq war
By Anne E. Kornblut, Globe Staff, 10/16/2003

WASHINGTON -- Ratcheting up his criticism of the war
in Iraq, Senator Edward M. Kennedy accuses the Bush
administration of telling "lie after lie after lie" to
defend its policy in a fiery speech prepared for
delivery today on the Senate floor.

"The trumped up reasons for going to war have
collapsed," Kennedy says in a speech that underscores
his opposition to President Bush's request for $87
billion to fund military operations and rebuilding in
Iraq and Afghanistan. An advance copy of the speech
was obtained by the Globe.

"The administration still refuses to face the truth or
tell the truth," Kennedy says, accusing the White
House of misleading the public about every aspect of
the war, from the financial costs to the motivation
and the aftermath. "Instead the White House responds
by covering up its failures and trying to sell its
rosy version of events by repeating it with maximum
frequency and volume, and minimum regard for realities
on the ground."

Asked about the senator's planned remarks, White House
spokesman Trent Duffy said, "The United States and the
world are safer today because of the actions that were
taken in Iraq, because Sept. 11 taught us that we need
to confront new threats before they reach our shores."

Kennedy's last broadside about the war -- he described
it in September as a fraud "made up in Texas" as part
of political strategy -- drew a scolding phone call
from White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card.
Advisers in both parties say the speech planned for
today is further evidence that the personal
relationship between the Massachusetts Democrat and
the president has greatly deteriorated.

"Our men and women in uniform fought bravely and
brilliantly, but the president's war has been revealed
as mindless, needless, senseless, and reckless,"
Kennedy says, according to the text of his speech. "We
should never have gone to war in Iraq when we did, in
the way we did, for the false reasons we were given."

After the similar, but relatively mild, remarks from
Kennedy in September, Bush blasted the senator for
being "uncivil," and Card privately complained to the
senator for what he considered a personal attack on
the president's credibility, according to officials in
both parties. Republicans on Capitol Hill were
incensed, and House majority leader Tom DeLay called
the remarks a "new low."

At the same time, Kennedy's criticism -- coming after
a July 15 speech at the Johns Hopkins School of
Advanced International Studies, in which the senator
said "ideological pride" prevented the administration
from seeking international help -- seemed to energize
Democratic critics of the administration's Iraq
policy. Public opinion polls indicated the president's
approval ratings slipped as the criticism grew

The address prepared for delivery today shows that the
reaction from the White House and Card, a
Massachusetts native who has known Kennedy for many
years, had little effect on Kennedy -- further
evidence, advisers said, that Kennedy and Bush have
abandoned the kinship they shared at the start of the

"They blew it," one Democratic official said of the
White House's handling of its relationship with
Kennedy. "They came into office and they started to
work together on a number of issues, and then they
completely dissed him."

Another Democratic official said that while Kennedy
has aided the president's attempts to pass a
prescription drug benefit for Medicare, the
relationship is no longer warm, largely as a result of
the war and the heated rhetoric since. Kennedy voted
against the resolution authorizing the use of military
force against Iraq.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the
phone call between Card and Kennedy, and neither side
would discuss the personal relationship between the
two publicly. "Senator Kennedy is willing to work with
the administration when he can and oppose them when he
has to," spokesman Jim Manley said.

Privately, Republicans argue that Kennedy is simply
playing to his liberal base -- a repayment of sorts to
compensate for his cooperation with Bush on other
issues. "Senator Kennedy has worked well with us on
things like education and prescription drugs, but
knowing politics, I suspect he'd have to go even
further, and be more dramatic [than his true views],
to play with members of his own party" in areas where
he disagrees with the president, one White House
official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

When Bush first came into office, he and Kennedy spoke
several times, and Bush even invited some members of
the Kennedy family to the White House to watch a
movie. They discussed the longstanding ties between
their families, and seemed to relate to each other as
members of two leading political dynasties. In the
year that followed, the two men toured the country
together touting their work together on the No Child
Left Behind education bill, and in November 2001, Bush
renamed the Department of Justice after Kennedy's
brother Robert, the former attorney general who was
assassinated during the presidential primaries in

But the relationship began to slide, especially as the
administration declined to fund the education bill as
much as Kennedy wanted, and interpreted the bill
differently than he had expected. When Bush said that
John F. Kennedy would have supported his tax cut, the
senator and other Kennedy relatives pushed back,
angrily declaring that unlike the Bush tax cut, the
tax cut in President Kennedy's administration went
mostly to the poor and working class.

Kennedy's address today seems likely to put even more
distance between the senator and the White House.

"Nearly six months have elapsed since President Bush
flew out to the aircraft carrier and declared `Mission
Accomplished' in Iraq," Kennedy says. "Today, we all
know all too well that the war is not over; the war
goes on; the mission is not accomplished. An
unnecessary war, based on unreliable and inaccurate
intelligence, has not brought an end to danger.
Instead, it has brought new dangers, imposed new
costs, and taken more and more American lives each
week. We all agree that Saddam Hussein was a murderous
tyrant, and his brutal regime was an affront to basic
human decency. But Iraq was not a breeding ground for
terrorism. Our invasion has made it one."

He continues: "All the administration's
rationalizations as we prepared to go to war now stand
revealed as double-talk. The American people were told
Saddam Hussein was building nuclear weapons. He was
not. We were told he had stockpiles of other weapons
of mass destruction. He did not. We were told he was
involved in 9/11. He was not. We were told Iraq was
attracting terrorists from Al Qaeda. It was not. We
were told our soldiers would be viewed as liberators.
They are not. We were told Iraq could pay for its own
reconstruction. It cannot. We were told the war would
make America safer. It has not."

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper

Posted by richard at 09:06 PM

October 16, 2003

"GOP Proposal May End Coastal Drilling Ban"

Here is the other burning issue raised by DULY elected
Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA) and Arriana Huffington
(I-CA)but ignored by Conan the Deceiver's helpers in
the news media...Of course, I do not think it was
raised at the _resident press conference today with
the "People's governor." Another disgrace.


GOP Proposal May End Coastal Drilling Ban
Wed Oct 15, 3:40 AM ET Add Politics - AP to My Yahoo!

By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - House Republicans are drafting a proposal
that would end the federal ban on offshore oil and gas
drilling, while giving states greater say on whether
they want energy development in their coastal waters,
congressional sources say.

The GOP sources said the proposal, being developed by
the Republican staff of the House Resources Committee,
has yet to be fashioned into formal legislation and
hasn't been reviewed by key lawmakers, including the
panel's chairman.

But the proposal comes as many congressional Democrats
and moderate Republicans are concerned about growing
pressure to ease restrictions on offshore oil and gas
development. These concerns were fueled by a push in
the Senate to require a new inventory of gas and oil
resources in all offshore waters as part of a broad
energy bill moving toward final approval.

Most of the country's Outer Continental Shelf has been
off limits to oil and gas exploration or development
since 1982. The White House has said it has no
intention of lifting the current ban, which expires in

But a spokesman for the House Resources Committee
acknowledged that the panel's staff was working on "an
idea for legislation" that would replace the existing
federal drilling bans that have blocked oil and gas
development across most coastal waters outside the
central and western Gulf of Mexico.

Brian Kennedy, the committee spokesman, emphasized
that no legislation was imminent and that Rep. Richard
Pombo, R-Calif, the panel's chairman, "in no way,
shape or form supports lifting the current (drilling)
moratoria off the coast of California or anywhere

In fact, he said, Pombo has not seen the draft
proposal, described largely as "talking points" being
discussed by the committee staff.

According to Kennedy and other congressional sources,
the proposal would replace the federal drilling
moratoria in place since 1982 with a system in which
states largely decide whether to accept or override
energy development as far as 100 miles from shore.

States could veto all or parts of federal oil and gas
leasing plans developed by the federal Interior
Department. But as an incentive to accept drilling,
states also would be given a substantial share in
royalty payments from the oil and gas that is
produced, according to a summary of the proposal.

Federal and state royalty sharing would be determined
by the extent to which states allow production.

The proposal was first reported by the trade
publication Energy Daily, which said it was being
pushed not so much by the petroleum industry as by
large natural gas consumers and the makers of ocean
drilling equipment and platforms.

Some environmentalists viewed the proposal as an
attempt to get support for offshore drilling from
states with severe budget problems — even states like
California where there is overwhelming political
support for the current drilling moratoria but also a
budget crunch.

Carl Pope, president of the Sierra Club, said there is
a "very strong public sentiment" for continued
protection of coastal waters from oil and gas
development and that he doubts many states would take
the GOP bait. "This moratoria has pretty deep roots."

The petroleum industry has argued for some time that
substantial gas reserves could be developed in some of
the off-limits areas such as off the Carolinas and in
the eastern Gulf of Mexico near Florida. Recently a
report by the National Petroleum Council predicted
shortages of natural gas in the near future if all
potential resources, including those offshore, are not

The Bush administration has said it has no intention
of tampering with the OCS moratoria that were first
imposed by Congress on a yearly basis in the 1980s,
and in 1990 were extended for 10 years by the first
President Bush. In 1998, President Clinton extended
them again to 2012.

Under the ban, waters along both the East and West
coasts as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico and some
waters off Alaska are protected from oil and gas
development. Waters in the central and western Gulf,
where most offshore oil and gas development has
occurred, are not affected.

Posted by richard at 09:04 PM

Emails Show Enron May Have Influenced FERC Probe On Calif Power Crisis, Refunds

It is difficult to look the Orwellian spectacle of the
_resident, whose regime is illegitimate, and Conan the
Deceiver the UNduly injected Governor of Califnoria in
their joint press conference and wonder if there is
any hope at all of restoring the timeline...The
_resident's smirk is back...Here is what they "US
mainstream news media" should be assaulting them
with...Of course, they won't...The Total Recall Putsch
never should have devolved into a discussion of Conan
the Deceiver's serial groping...This issue should have
been central...But, of course, the media fed from the
hand of the "vast reich-wing conspiracy," which in the
Rove years has mastered the art of using minor
scandals to distract from and deep-six major


Published on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 by
Emails Show Enron May Have Influenced FERC Probe On Calif Power Crisis, Refunds
by Jason Leopold

Did bankrupt energy company Enron Corp. influence a
controversial decision federal energy regulators made
in November 2000, saying California wasn't entitled to
more than $3 billion in refunds from power companies
who allegedly gamed the state's wholesale electricity

About two dozen of the more than one million Enron
emails dealing with California's energy crisis,
recently released by the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission, appear to make a strong case that the
one-time high-flying energy company had some role in
influencing the FERC decision three years ago--a major
blow to California consumers and two of the state's
investor-owned utilities that were teetering on the
brink of bankruptcy. Utilities in California lost
billions of dollars buying high-cost power on the
wholesale market and selling it at a loss under a
state mandated rate freeze.

The issue is of particular importance now because
California's newly elected Republican Governor, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, has indicated through aides that he
would try and quickly settle a number of the lawsuits
the state has pending before FERC and the 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals, many of which name Enron as a

Gov. Schwarzenegger secretly met with Ken Lay at the
Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills in May 2001 to listen
to Lay pitch solutions for the state's energy crisis.
During the recall campaign, Bill Forman, the news
editor at the Sacramento News & Review asked
Schwarzenegger about the meeting. Schwarzenegger said
he didn't recall meeting Ken Lay because there were
more than 30 people in the room. If Schwarzenegger
plans to fix the state's budget he better brush up on
his basic math skills. According to a list of
attendees uncovered by the consumer group Foundation
for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, there were 13 people
at the meeting, including Schwarzengger.

Moreover, Schwarzenegger met privately with Lay and
former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan for about 15
minutes to discuss ways Schwarzenegger and Riordan
could help solve the state's power crisis, according
to one of Riordan's former deputies, who spoke on
condition of anonymity because he still works with
Riordan. Riordan has been named to Schwarzenegger's
transition team

The bigger issue, however, has to do with a ruling
handed down by FERC on Nov. 1, 2000 related to the
sky-high wholesale power prices that wreaked havoc in
much of the state between May and October of that
year. Then Gov. Gray Davis, along with dozens of other
state officials, charged that energy companies
conspired to drive up electricity prices in the state
by using a variety of schemes to game the market. The
November 2000 investigation by FERC was the first
probe into California's power crisis. The commission
conducted a second investigation in mid-2001.

During the 2000 investigation, the Republican
dominated investigated the issue of high electricity
prices and said the wholesale market structure in
California is "seriously flawed" but FERC found no
significant evidence that power sellers or providers
manipulated prices. Instead, the report blamed the
state's mandated market structure for the summer's
power shortages and rising prices.

In some of the Enron emails FERC posted on its
http://fercic.aspensys.com/members/manager.asp, Enron
executives talk about meetings they held with FERC
staff prior to the report on California's power crisis
being released publicly and how they were unsure if
"everything we want" will be included in the
commission's report.

"We were very involved in the discussions of the
report with FERC staff," said James Steffes, Enron's
former Vice President of Governmental Affairs, in an
email to Karen Denne, Enron's vice president of
communications who still works at the company. "I am
not sure, however, if everything we want will be in
the report. We will monitor very closely."

During the months leading up to the FERC report, the
commission received a presentation on from Timothy
Belden, one of Enron's former top traders, who pleaded
guilty in October 2002 to federal conspiracy charges
that he manipulated California's electricity market to
drive up prices and maximize profit for Enron.

After the Belden's presentation to FERC, Mary Hain,
one of Enron's in-house lawyers, sent an email out to
a dozen Enron executives (but not former Chairman Ken
Lay or Chief Executive Jeff Skilling) saying Belden
sent a presentation to Scott Miller, a FERC
investigation who was in charge of the California
power probe, and answered questions for Miller over
the telephone.

"According to the head of the investigation Scott
Miller, the staff got alot more out of this meeting
than Staff's previous meetings with the (utilities)
and the generators. Based on the numerous phone calls
I've been getting, the Staff is looking into the data
we provided," Hain's email says.

Hain also gave a presentation to FERC, based largely
on Belden's presentation materials, advocating Enron's
argument that the surging energy prices were due to
scarcity of supply, the Financial Times reported in
October 2002.

"I have also attached a revised version of the
presentation that Tim sent to Scott Miller on Friday,"
Hain's email said. "Tim's version conveys the same
message but takes a different approach to conveying
the message. On Friday, Tim talked to Scott and
answered some additional questions. Tim said that
Enron is in favor of eliminating the mandatory (Power
Exchange) buying requirement and would like the
(utilities)to be able to buy from Enron Online. He
also explained more fully the existence of scarcity.

The Power Exchange reference relates to the now
defunct California Power Exchange, the market where
electricity was bought and sold in the state. It's
interesting that Hain's email refers to the Power
Exchange because when FERC issued its report on Nov.
1, 2000 it ordered the Power Exchange to shut down and
told buyers of sellers of power to use EnronOnline, a
trading platform operated by the energy giant that
helped the company report record profits the following
year. Those profits, however, were largely illusory.

Enron had long believed that the Power Exchange was a
threat to its profits. In May 1999, during the infancy
of dergulation in California, Enron first experimented
with market manipulation by submitting a bid at the
Power Exchange for 2,900 megawatts on a transmission
line that only has a capacity of 15 megawatts.

The Power Exchange said Enron congested the Silver
Peak Line, which runs from the Central Valley to San
Diego. Deliberately congesting the transmission line
produced higher prices for power during the time.

The Power Exchange spent a year investigating the
issue and in May 2000 found Enron in violation of the
state's rules for trading electricity.

Enron agreed to pay the Power Exchange $25,000 to
settle the issue without admitting or denying the
charges. However, Enron's Hain sent out an email in
February 2000 to company executives saying Enron's
scheme likely cost California upwards of $47 million.

The interesting thing about the conversations Enron
had with FERC and vice versa in regard to the
commission's probe of California's electricity crisis
is that the communication may have been illegal.
According to FERC's own governing rules, the
commission is not permitted to discuss pending issues
with anyone outside the commission.

"No member of the body comprising the agency,
administrative law judge, or other employee who is or
may reasonably be expected to be involved in the
decisional process of the proceeding, shall make or
knowingly cause to be made to any interested person
outside the agency an ex-parte communication relevant
to the merits of the proceeding. A member of the body
comprising the agency, administrative law judge, or
other employee who is or may reasonably be expected to
be involved in the decisional process of such
proceeding who receives, or who makes or knowingly
causes to be made, a communication prohibited by this
subsection shall place on the public record of the

A spokesman for FERC would not return messages, first
left at the commission on Oct. 6, seeking comment for
this story, nor would a spokesperson for Enron.

It's unclear whether Enron had any correspondence with
FERC commissioners about the investigation. However,
Jeff Dasovich, an Enron government relations
executive, said in a Sept. 12, 2000 email to Staffes,
his boss, that FERC's Republican Chairman, Curt
Hebert, went up to Dasovich after a panel discussion
on California's power crisis and "lobbied me hard to
support" FERC's proposal to break up the country's
power grid into regional transmission companies, a
plan that Enron abhorred.

Hebert resigned as FERC chairman in 2001. Hebert
reportedly opposed a request by Enron's former
Chairman Ken Lay to allow Enron greater access to
interstate power grid, prompting Lay to say he would
no longer support the Mississippian as FERC chairman.
Hebert said he resigned after two of President George
Bush's FERC appointees, Pat Wood and Nora Brownwell,
came aboard at FERC and began to outvote him on the
five-member panel. In 2001, Brownwell and Wood pushed
through a regulation that would penalize electric
companies that don't join multistate regional power
grids, a proposal pushed by Enron but opposed by

The correspondence between FERC and Enron in 2000
confirms what many of California officials said at the
time, that FERC failed to do its job to keep a
watchful eye on energy companies and protect
consumers. Enron's influence at the highest levels in
government may have cost California more than $3
billion in electricity overcharges between May 2000
and November 2000. California is currently fighting
for those refunds at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of

Schwarzenegger is aggressively pursuing a plan to push
California electricity market closer toward
deregulation, which Gov. Davis halted two years ago
when the crisis spiraled out of control. He said he
plans to shut down at least one of California's energy
agencies and will fire dozens of Davis' energy
advisers in favor of his own handpicked team of
free-market conservatives.

Unless Schwarzenegger eases California back toward a
deregulated electricity market, the state could find
itself saddled with skyrocketing power prices once
again. According to a recent report by the General
Accounting Office, In August, the General Accounting
Office issued a report criticizing FERC because the
agency doesn't have the power to protect consumers
from the side effects of deregulation, such as soaring
electricity and natural gas prices, which ended up
costing California more than $70 billion and
bankrupted the state's largest utility, Pacific Gas &
Electric Co.

Jason Leopold spent two years covering California's
electricity crisis and the Enron bankruptcy as bureau
chief of Dow Jones Newswires. He is writing a book
about California's electricity crisis.

Posted by richard at 09:02 PM

PBS NOW interviews Greg Thielmann

Frontline (which did the ONLY US mainstream news media
report on the John O'Neill story, and did an excellent
job on it) has once again distinguished itself. he PBS
(PrettyBlandStuff)News Hour is usually a disgrace, but
Frontline and Bill Moyers' NOW are exemplary.

Greg Thielmann: "I think that it's fair to say there was -- I can't speak for all of the other agencies -- but there was a fair degree of unhappiness at the way that some of the intelligence product that we had worked so hard on was being distorted by senior policymakers."

In this interview, Greg Thielmann, a former director
of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs
Office at the State Department's Intelligence Bureau,
accuses the White House of "systematic,
across-the-board exaggeration" of intelligence as it
made its case that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent
threat to the U.S. Thielmann, who left his job in
September 2002, also contends that much of the
intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction
was entirely politicized. "Senior officials made
statements which I can only describe as dishonest," he
says. "They were distorting some of the information
that we provided to make it seem more alarmist and
more dangerous." This interview was conducted on
August 12, 2003.

Why are we having this debate now?

I really think it's the combination of two things. One
is that, in spite of all of our efforts, we haven't
found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Secondly, instead of just being an interesting
historical issue of whether or not the intelligence
was right or wrong, Americans are being killed every
week in Iraq. So there is an immediacy in the issue
because of the combination of those two things.

But it's a debate that should have happened long ago,
in your opinion?

In my opinion, when a nation commits itself to war,
there's no public issue that's more serious than that.
The intelligence and everything else should be very
comprehensively and seriously probed, as long as there
is not an imminent security threat that does not
permit that kind of comprehensive discussion.

How long have you been an intelligence analyst?

Well, I'm a career foreign service officer and spent
25 years as a diplomat. During the last decade or so,
I had two different tours in the Intelligence Bureau,
totaling seven years.

So for seven years, you were doing intelligence


You had access to the full panoply of U.S.


In those seven years, did you see any other times when
intelligence was being used so selectively?

The only other thing that seems comparable to me is
discussions of the foreign ballistic missile threat in
the 1990s. There was, in my opinion, an exaggeration
of the speed with which other countries could develop
ballistic missiles and an exaggeration of the
significance of those developments for U.S. security.

But all things considered, it's very hard for me to
think of any example of systematic, across-the-board
exaggeration and misleading statements about an
important war and peace subject. Nothing quite matches
what I've seen in the Iraqi WMD area in the last
couple of years.

When did you begin to see that the use of the
intelligence was diverging from the intelligence

I think the real evidence of that came in August 2002,
when the administration started speaking about Iraq,
in much shriller tones, as something which was not
just a security concern for the United States that
merited close scrutiny and forceful action to support
U.N. Security Council resolutions. It became much more
in the tone of, there is an imminent security threat
that has to be dealt with right away.

So they began beating the drums of war.

Yes. That's when I saw the way administration
officials talking about Iraq was diverging from the
kind of qualified and fairly carefully structured
intelligence that they were being provided.

One of the things that they talked about was attempts
by the Iraqis to purchase uranium from Africa. You had
done some analysis of this and come to different

This was not a major story when I looked back at the
months and year leading up to the war. It was not a
major story because it was, we considered, bad
intelligence. We looked at a lot of bad reports --
reports that were worth exploring because they were
serious allegations, but when given a close look, they
proved not to be credible. This was really in that
category. It was something that made no sense, in
terms of the structure of the country that was
allegedly planning to provide the uranium.


Niger. It made no sense in terms of Saddam's behavior
on these kinds of issues. All things really fit
together in this case to shoot down the story. ...

So this had come across your desk. What exactly came
to you?

Well, as I recall, it was a human intelligence report
that came to the United States. I should make clear
that I was a manager of the action officers of
intelligence analysts, and so most of what I gathered
about this was not firsthand analysis of documents as
an intelligence analyst; it was supervising the people
who would do the close scrutiny of the intelligence

In this case, our specialists who were weapons
intelligence experts, and the African experts, and the
Middle Eastern experts in the Intelligence Bureau were
all of one accord that this was a bad story.

And you let the secretary of state know that?

That's right.

Then in January, you hear the president talking about

That's right, and it was a big surprise to me, because
I left government at the end of September 2002. I was
not privy to the classified version of the National
Intelligence Estimate that came out shortly after
that. So I had no indication in the fall that this
story had any life on it at all. It was not part of
the public summary of the National Intelligence
Estimate. It was buried in the classified details of
the estimate. So it was really a shock to me when the
president gave it such visibility in January 2003. ...

But at the same time, you had already seen, starting
in August 2002, that the intelligence was being

I had seen that, but I thought there were limits on
how much one was willing to do in order to twist

So you were a little aghast.

Yes. ...

The administration has said, "This is just 16 words.
OK. We perhaps should not have included this in the
president's speech. This was an oversight. There was a
mistake made, but there is a solid case to be made
that Saddam Hussein was engaged in a nuclear weapons

Yes, they do make that claim.

Why shouldn't we believe them?

The way I look at it, first of all, they chose to
essentially declassify a top-secret sensitive report.
They did on this matter and they did--

On the Niger matter.

-- on the Niger matter and on the aluminum tubes
matter that they contended were being procured by Iraq
for the nuclear weapons program.

In fact, they make a bigger case of the aluminum
tubes. They, in fact, to this day argue that the
aluminum tubes are conclusive proof that they were
amassing a centrifuge program.

They still make that argument. The reason that I raise
these two issues as being very significant is that the
administration apparently thought it was important
enough that they would declassify very sensitive
information and make an argument to the American
people. So it cannot really be trivialized as only 16
words, when you've chosen to highlight these as the
two principal pillars of the nuclear weapons
reconstitution case against Iraq. I mean, these were
the two that the administration chose. By implication,
this is the two most important pieces of evidence we
have that Iraq is pursuing the program. ...

When did you first hear about these tubes?

I believe the tubes came to our attention in the fall
of 2001.

Came to your attention how?

Through intelligence reporting. We had seen reports of
Iraqi attempts to procure aluminum for some time. The
breakthrough in this story really came when we got our
hands on some of the aluminum that was being procured.

What were these tubes for?

We started out being agnostic on this. There was
certainly the assumption on all of our parts that
Saddam was interested in keeping alive his nuclear
weapons program and waiting for opportunities to
pursue that program further. So whether or not these
particular tubes were for the program or not was
something that we didn't start out with a viewpoint

But the more that we got into it and the more we
listened to the people, for example, from the national
laboratories in the U.S. who had experience building
centrifuge rotors that are used to enrich uranium, the
people who knew about aluminum and what kind of
aluminum would be ideal or suitable for this purpose--

Engineers and scientists.

That's right. It was not a difficult assessment for us
to arrive at, ultimately, that the Department of
Energy experts were correct in seeing these tubes as
being not well suited for uranium enrichment
centrifuge rotors, but were, in fact, for something

As we explored the alternative possibilities, we
really came up with a very good fit. It was for the
casings of Iraqi artillery rockets -- the kind that
are used in multiple launcher rocket systems. ...

You're [as] close as the public can get to those
really crucial debates, and I'm trying to understand
how these guys came to the conclusion that these
things were for a nuclear program. I mean, what was
their thinking? What clues can you give us to that?

They were convinced that Saddam was developing nuclear
weapons, that he was reconstituting his program, and
I'm afraid that that's where they started. We started
with agnosticism about the specifics. They were sure
that Saddam was rejuvenating his nuclear program, and
so they were looking for evidence to support what they
already knew was the case, or they thought they knew
was the case.

And this seemed like such a good fit. I mean, he would
need thousands of tubes of aluminum to build this one
kind of centrifuge motor, and he was procuring looking
for thousands of tubes of aluminum, and they were more
or less the right size. So that's really, I think, why
they were excited in making this discovery and
advancing the argument. ...

You said you'd been involved in this process. This is
before you leave that you submit these conclusions,
this analysis to your bosses.

Right. I had the impression at the time that there was
growing support within the community of intelligence
analysts -- including the British, by the way -- that
these aluminum tubes were not likely for the nuclear
weapons program. So, again, there was an element of
surprise for me in assuming when I left government at
the end of September that there was a growing
consensus that these aluminum tubes were for
conventional weapons and not for nuclear weapons.

Then I started reading in the press about the
intelligence community, that most analysts in the
intelligence community believed it was for the nuclear
weapons program. That's exactly the language they used
in the public summary of the National Intelligence

Well, in fact, it slips back into analysis that's
coming out of the State Department, does it not? In
December, isn't there a report out of the State
Department that--

That's another very curious development. There was a
fact sheet on Dec. 19 that came out of the State
Department -- or allegedly so -- and it mentioned a
couple of things. But it mentioned the Niger uranium
matter that I know the Intelligence Bureau of the
State Department would have never cleared. So that
this is a very odd document, the Dec. 19 document.

So the conclusion could only be that this was inserted
by people above the Intelligence Bureau.

It is certainly my assumption that this would not
originate with, or even be cleared by the Intelligence
Bureau, because I knew they had strong views on this.

Yes, but it's not coming from the mailroom, so it's
got to be coming from an undersecretary or at some--

That's right. It either has to be coming from someone
on the policy side of the State Department or from the
NSC, someone on the outside. But it's a mystery to me
to this day where that came from.

So that's meddling with intelligence?

In my mind, it is.

That seems to be the case.

There are two interesting things about it. One is, at
that point, the information was still highly
classified. The mention of uranium from Niger was, as
I understand it, in December, a top-secret matter, and
I just wonder who had the authority, at that time, to
declassify it. Certainly, the president would, when he
did a month later. But who at that time took
responsibility for it?

That was one of the jobs of the Intelligence Bureau,
to make sure that no very sensitive intelligence
information was used by the policy side, either
accidentally or deliberately. That's one of the
reasons that we were clearing language when public
statements were made.

Was there an imminent threat? Was there a grave and
growing danger, in your view?

... I thought that there was never an imminent threat.
This was a long-term security concern, if the
international community did not limit carefully the
Iraqis, that the interests remained in these kind of
programs, and there was a lot of knowledge in the
minds of Iraqi scientists that would allow them to
pursue these kind of programs. That was the nature of
the threat, but that's not the way the threat was
described to the American people. ...

Before you retired from the I&R, from the intelligence
unit at the State Department, what conclusions were
you drawing as you watched this growing divergence
between what was being said by policymakers and what
you knew was the intelligence?

The conclusion that I ultimately came to was that this
was a matter of, as I've called it, faith-based
intelligence. Instead of our leadership forming
conclusions based on a careful reading of the
intelligence we provided them, they already had their
conclusion to start out with, and they were
cherry-picking the information that we provided to use
whatever pieces of it that fit their overall
interpretation. Worse than that, they were dropping
qualifiers and distorting some of the information that
we provided to make it seem more alarmist and more
dangerous than the information that we were giving

Did you express this concern to the people that
supervised you?

I'd really have to say that it came pretty late that I
realized the full magnitude of the distortions being
reached. As I said, I didn't really realize or form
conclusions about what the administration's game plan
was until August, which was very late in my service to
the government.

Throughout our assessment of the Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction subject, we were always quite candid in
talking to our superiors at the State Department, both
in the bureau, but also to the secretary of state,
about our take on the intelligence. …

You spoke to Powell about this?

The head of our bureau, Carl Ford, would speak with
Powell or Powell's deputy, Armitage, regularly about
these and other issues.

And you know what was expressed in those encounters?

Our main contribution was a written one, and we know
what memorandum went from Carl Ford to the secretary
of state on these issues, because we were the drafting
office for most of these assessments.

We were I think fairly consistent about several
points. One is that while we were looking very hard
for indications that the Iraqi nuclear weapons program
that had been pretty effectively dismantled in the
course of the 1990s was being rejuvenated, we did not
find any convincing evidence that that was the case.

But weren't you in a dogfight with the other
intelligence analysts who were coming to opposite

We were on that point. That's right.

So did you understand the thinking of those people who
were not policymakers, but intelligence analysts,
presumably, serious, rigorous analysts? Or maybe not?

Presumably so, and I would only have to say that
there's a natural suspicion -- which is good among
intelligence analysts -- of not believing what a
potential enemy is saying about their capabilities and
looking skeptically at disclaimers that there's
nothing really happening.

The Congress of the United States, in particular, has
shown no patience after the fact, when the U.S. has
been surprised, the intelligence community missed
something. So the default setting of the U.S.
intelligence community is to over-warn, rather than

In fact, you guys in the State Department that do
analysis in the State Department are often branded as
being soft.

I have heard that accusation. In the weapons
intelligence area, I was very proud of our reporting
and prediction record during the time that I served
with the bureau. I would match it up against any other
intelligence agency. And if we're too soft, I would
only say that we were usually right when others were
wrong. ...

You were aware that the Pentagon, right after 9/11,
had put together a special office to look at links
between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

I have to say, honestly, that I was only aware of that
after I retired from government. That office was
largely invisible to us in the intelligence community,
because they didn't play in the normal bureaucratic
process of making intelligence assessments and
reporting on those assessments.

What did you understand that office to be about?

I am still trying to figure out what that office was
about. But as I said, because they had no visibility
and no role in anything that we could see in the
intelligence community, one had to assume -- because
they had access to all of this information -- that
they were doing cherry-picking of their own to build a
case for what their superiors wanted to say.

The office wasn't big enough for them to really have
the expertise in-house, and the mere creation of the
office was odd, since the secretary of defense had the
entire Defense Intelligence Agency at its disposal. So
it's a little mysterious what exactly they were doing,
if not activity that the intelligence professionals or
DIA or CIA or elsewhere were not willing to do.

Is the kind of operation like this usual, the Shulsky
office? [Editor's Note: Abram Shulsky is the director
of the Office of Special Plans.]

I think it's very unusual, if I understand correctly
the amount of influence they had. The whole idea of
structuring an intelligence community that consists of
entities within different agencies and having a
structure that reports to the director of Central
Intelligence is to make sure that you have a chance
not only to hear the views of different entities, but
also to, if possible, get a consensus among those
entities; and when a consensus [is] impossible, to
register in a visible way why some agencies don't
agree with the majority viewpoint.

When you have an office like OSP apparently was, it
doesn't play in this system. So the intelligence
community has no way to really incorporate ideas or
thinking or even register dissenting viewpoints. What
seems to have happened is that the conclusions or the
work that they did somehow entered from the side into
the policy community--

At a very high level.

--at a very high level, in a way that was invisible to
those of us in the intelligence community producing
intelligence. ...

I get the feeling that, in your view, this runs deep,
and this is very much counter to what you would
consider a fair and just method of collecting and
analyzing intelligence.

What it does is, if one assumes that the OSP product
then enters at a very high level, it deprives the
recipients of the information from an understanding of
what other experts on this subject believe. If a human
intelligence report -- a defector report, for example
-- has been discredited by the CIA and the DIA,
there's usually a good reason for that. I mean, you
know we've noticed these agencies sometimes keep human
intelligence sources that we think are not very

So, if anything, there's a bias toward getting those
reports out, and if the information is sensational or
potentially significant, making sure that people have
a shot at it, even if it comes with a warning that we
cannot vouch for the credibility of this report, but
thought that the decision maker should see it anyway.
So there's a lot of that going on anyway inside the
official intelligence community process.

But the idea that for reports that the CIA, DIA, I&R
think are not credible, that it's important to get
those reports to senior decision makers -- I mean,
that's a pretty weak case. What kind of expertise do
they have here that justifies that kind of sponsorship
of intelligence that everyone else thinks is bad?

Well, they say that the intelligence coming out of the
CIA, and the I&R, and the DIA is so overqualified as
to be useless.

We would spend a lot of time, in our function at the
Intelligence Bureau of the State Department, to make
sure that the kind of qualifiers used in our
assessments and analysis did not make the intelligence
incomprehensible or useless.

There is a challenge, obviously, because you never
have perfect knowledge. There's a challenge in
explaining what you don't know, as well as what you do
know, and doing it in a way that does not get overly
complex for people who have a limited amount of time
and are not maybe subject experts on these issues. So
that was part of our job.

Nonetheless, I don't really have sympathy for that
charge that the intelligence is too qualified for it
to be useful to senior decision makers. It's part of
the job of senior decision makers to be able to take
qualified intelligence, to make sense out of it, and
form conclusions. Sometimes that's a tough job, but
that's the job they have.

There's another criticism that gets thrown out there,
and that is that during the Clinton years, the
intelligence community was under-funded, it withered,
and that basically we had no good fix on what was
happening and that we needed to toughen up our

You've heard the criticism.

I have heard the criticism. It's a very large subject
-- what one should do to improve the intelligence
community. I guess it's a little bit hard, when one
thinks of, if one accepts the press figure -- and I
note with regret that the amount of money the U.S.
spends on intelligence, even the total amount, is
still classified. But if one accepts the press figure
of $30 billion, this sounds like a lot of money. ...

But I am not of the opinion that there are quick fixes
to throw a few more billion dollars at the
intelligence community, and then they will start
delivering very good and reliable evidence. Obviously,
more money can be usefully used. Technical sources of
intelligence are extremely expensive. Satellite
systems and other things cost a lot of money, so I
would not say that additional money could not be
usefully used. But I think it's not principally the
lack of money that explains why intelligence was not
better and why it was misused.

You're saying that this was a clear case, in this last
year, of politicization of intelligence.

As reluctant as I am to try to understand the motives
of people using the intelligence, my bottom line on
this subject is that while the intelligence community
did not do a good job, in my view, in being very
careful to be precise for both decision makers and for
the American public, the primary blame is in the way
that senior officials of the administration made
statements -- which I can only describe as dishonest
statements -- about the nature of what the
intelligence was saying.

And that criticism would be applied to the president,
but also to the secretary of state?

I would, very reluctantly, have to include the
secretary of state in that judgment. I've always said
that the secretary of state is much more careful at
not exaggerating than his Cabinet colleagues, as well
as the vice president and the president.

But yet he took the tubes argument before the United
Nations, when he had been expressly told by his own
intelligence people that it didn't hold.

That's right. And if one looks now, if one goes back
to that very long presentation, point by point, one
finds that this was not a very honest explanation. I
mean, you had terrorist activity described that was
taking place in Iraq without the mention that it was
taking place in an area under the control of the
Kurds, rather than an area under control of Saddam.

You had this very tenuous link made between Saddam and
Osama bin Laden in the remarks of Secretary Powell,
when his own terrorist officials and virtually
everyone else in the U.S. intelligence community said
there is no significant connection between Al Qaeda
and Saddam Hussein.

You had statements about missiles that Saddam
allegedly had when, in fact, the intelligence
community said that we cannot account for the
destruction of all of the 819 Scud missiles that Iraq
had acquired over the years. That was transmogrified
into statements that Iraq has a small number of Scud
missiles, with no qualification. Secretary Powell said
that with no qualification, just as George Tenet,
director of Central Intelligence, said it with no
qualification. There is a big difference between
saying, "We cannot prove that every last one of these
missiles has been destroyed," and saying, "We know
Saddam has these missiles."

What conclusion do you come to? Is he lying?

I don't like to use the word "lying" because, again,
it implies that I know what was in his mind on these
issues. All I can say is that I have to conclude he
was making the president's case. He works for the
president. The president had gone way out on a limb in
making a lot of what I regard as unjustified
characterizations of the intelligence, and Secretary
Powell was being a loyal secretary of state, a "good
soldier," as it were, building the administration's
case before the international community. ...

You say that [Ahmad] Chalabi was definitely a source
of intelligence.

Oh, yes, there's no doubt about that. The INC was
providing information to the U.S. government on Iraq.

Like how much, and what kind?

I think it's obvious to everyone that the INC had a
case to make to the U.S. government that U.S.
intervention and support for their efforts in
overthrowing Saddam was warranted. It's certainly
obvious that the more dangerous Saddam's regime
appeared to the United States, the greater the chances
would be of getting U.S. support for the INC, and
ultimately U.S. intervention into Iraq to overthrow
the regime.

So there was a motive. But was there--

There was very definitely a motive. My memory of, and
understanding is that there were definitely reasons to
doubt a number of the defectors or human sources that
Chalabi's organization provided. We tried to look as
carefully as we could at reports from human
intelligence sources to see what those experts had
previously said, whether or not their previous
information was shown to be reliable or not, whether
or not they had motives for providing the information,
or whether they had access to the information so that
their views could be considered valid. ...

I think it's that fairly rigorous standard that seems
not to have been applied to some of the information
coming out of Chalabi and the INC that OSP and the
Pentagon ran with.

Well, Chalabi will say that he just alerted the U.S.
government of three defectors and that that's the
extent of it, and the United States rejected one of
those defectors as not credible, and there were only
two defectors that they paid any attention to. ...

If one is talking about human intelligence sources --
which would include not only defectors, but reports
from people that remained in Iraq -- I find it very
hard to believe that there were only three.

You were in a position, were you not, to know the
volume of information coming out of the INC?

... Indirectly, I'm one of the people who could form
an impression about that, and three seems like an
awfully low number.

In other words, Chalabi was feeding much more
information into the intelligence community.

I believe so, yes.

And this was being eagerly taken up, in some quarters,
by those who wanted to see this war proceed?

There seemed to be an unseemly eagerness to believe
any information which would portray the Iraqi threat
as being extremely grave and imminent. ...

But you were aware that both the State Department and
the CIA did not like Chalabi, by and large?

I'm aware of that. I mean, the press has reported on
that, and that seems consistent with what I would
hear, that there were--

But you were listening to what charges they might

Absolutely. I mean, we were willing to listen to
anything. We tried to set our biases aside on a first
look at information, because no matter how
disreputable a source of information, if that person
had access, it's worth looking at what they're saying.

There are people who are going to say that Greg
Thielmann is simply a disgruntled employee. What do
you think your views represent in the intelligence
community, or are you just a disgruntled employee?

I might accept a disgruntled employee description. I
would only say that--

But a lone wolf? Or does your opinion hold water
across the community?

Many of the opinions that I've expressed in
interpreting the intelligence information were the
opinions of the bureau in which I served and were not
my views or my views alone. They were opinions formed
by people who served under me, by people who served
above me, and have been officially registered in
documents that the public can now have access to. ...

It's really a question of degree. I mean, all of us
understand that we were serving as intelligence
analysts, and the policymakers were in a different
role of having to make decisions based on the
intelligence and on other things, and come up with the
execution of policy. So we can't presume to be in
their position.

But I think in the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction
matter, there's a question of degree. I think that
it's fair to say there was -- I can't speak for all of
the other agencies -- but there was a fair degree of
unhappiness at the way that some of the intelligence
product that we had worked so hard on was being
distorted by senior policymakers.

I would just add to that, that that's clearly the case
in other countries as well, that we're seeing
basically the same information. I mean, an Australian
intelligence analyst resigned in protest over some of
the same issues that we're talking about today. We all
know about the case of David Kelly, who ultimately
committed suicide. He was one of Britain's leading
experts on biological and chemical warfare production,
and he was obviously unhappy with the way that his
government had been using intelligence information.

So there was considerable unhappiness in the
intelligence community of a number of states in the
way that the war parties in those countries were using
the information. I'm not a lone voice in that respect.
I'm only unusual in that I was serving in the
government at a time when the information was coming
across my desk, and I then retired and am now not
serving in government. That's what really makes me
unusual, rather than the specific views that I have.

Posted by richard at 08:59 PM

Clinton warned Bush of bin Laden threat

Of course, LNS subscribers have read many stories
(from overseas and *alternative* media) since 9/11 on
how seriously the Clinton-Gore national security team
and how "all the _resident's men" shelved the
Clinton-Gore plan to crush Al-Qaeda after the Supreme
Court Injustices installed this illegitimate regime.
Sidney Blumenthal's terrific book, The Clinton Wars,
also contains a detailed narrative of the damning
facts. Now, Clinton himself has finally spoken out,
and it has been covered by Reuters (British-owned),
maybe the truth will dawn for AnythingButSee's
NightLies or SeeBS Fork The Nation sometime in the
next six months. BTW, the White House spokesman in
this story is lying in print. Meanwhile, if you have
walked up to the counter of an airport bookstore
lately you have probably noticed that the "vast
reich-wing conspiracy" media machine is turning out
their Orwellian re-writes of the history of all
this...Remember, 2+2=4


Clinton warned Bush of bin Laden threat
Thu 16 October, 2003 03:27 BST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former President Bill Clinton
says he warned President George W. Bush before he left
office in 2001 that Osama bin Laden was the biggest
security threat the United States faced.

Speaking at a luncheon sponsored by the History
Channel on Wednesday, Clinton said he discussed
security issues with Bush in his "exit interview," a
formal and often candid meeting between a sitting
president and the president-elect.

"In his campaign, Bush had said he thought the biggest
security issue was Iraq and a national missile
defence," Clinton said. "I told him that in my
opinion, the biggest security problem was Osama bin

The U.S. government has blamed bin Laden's Al Qaeda
network for the September 11 attacks.

Time magazine reported last year that a plan for the
United States to launch attacks against the al-Qaeda
network languished for eight months because of the
change in presidents and was approved only a week
before the September 11 attacks.

But the White House disputed parts of that story,
which was published by the magazine in August 2002.

"The Clinton administration did not present an
aggressive new plan to topple al-Qaeda during the
transition," a White House spokesman, Sean McCormack,
said at the time.

The White House was clearly irritated by the report,
which appeared to suggest that the Bush administration
might not have done all it could to prevent the
attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

At Wednesday's luncheon, Clinton said his inability to
convince Bush of the danger from al Qaeda was "one of
the two or three of the biggest disappointments that I

Clinton said that after bin Laden, the next security
priority would have been the absence of a Middle East
peace agreement, followed by the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction.

"I would have started with India and Pakistan, then
North Korea, and then Iraq after that," he said. "I
thought Iraq was a lower order problem than al Qaeda."

Clinton's vice president Al Gore, who ran against Bush
in the 2000 election, did not make the threat from al
Qaeda a major focus of the presidential campaign,
which both candidates kept focused mainly on domestic

Posted by richard at 08:55 PM

Iraq War Swells Al Qaeda's Ranks, Report Says

Well, if Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fraudida) was still in the
presidential race he would make comment on this study,
let's see which would-be anti-Bush dares to, and let's
see if "the US mainstream news media" has the courage
to elevate it to its proper place as the lead

Reuters: "War in Iraq has swollen the ranks of al Qaeda and galvanized the Islamic militant group's will, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Wednesday in its annual report."

Iraq War Swells Al Qaeda's Ranks, Report Says
Wed October 15, 2003 12:53 PM ET

By Peter Graff
LONDON (Reuters) - War in Iraq has swollen the ranks
of al Qaeda and galvanized the Islamic militant
group's will, the International Institute for
Strategic Studies said on Wednesday in its annual

The 2003-2004 edition of the British-based
think-tank's annual bible for defense analysts, The
Military Balance, said Washington's assertions after
the Iraq conflict that it had turned the corner in the
war on terror were "over-confident."

The report, widely considered an authoritative text on
the military capabilities of states and militant
groups worldwide, could prove fodder for critics of
the U.S.-British invasion and of the reconstruction
effort that has followed in Iraq.

Washington must impose security in Iraq to prevent the
country from "ripening into a cause celebre for
radical Islamic terrorists," it concluded.
"Nation-building" in Iraq was paramount and might
require more troops than initially planned.

"On the plus side, war in Iraq has denied al Qaeda a
potential supplier of weapons of mass destruction and
discouraged state sponsors of terrorism from
continuing to support it," the report said.

"On the minus side, war in Iraq has probably inflamed
radical passions among Muslims and thus increased al
Qaeda's recruiting power and morale and, at least
marginally, its operating capability," it said.

"The immediate effect of the war may have been to
isolate further al Qaeda from any potential state
supporters while also swelling its ranks and
galvanizing its will."


Magnus Ranstorp, terrorism expert at Britain's St
Andrew's University, told Reuters the report's
findings would drive home the importance of rebuilding
Iraq and other conflict zones.

"Military planners and the law enforcement community
are fully aware of the consequences of failed states,"
he said.

"I think it's probably worthwhile for politicians to
keep in mind our responsibility to provide sustained
and long term reconstruction in war-torn countries, so
they don't fly back into anarchy or become incubators
of terrorism."

Washington blames al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden,
for the 2001 U.S. airliner hijack attacks which killed
3,044 people.

A crackdown had netted some al Qaeda leaders and
deprived al Qaeda of bases in Afghanistan. But it also
"impelled an already highly decentralized and evasive
international terrorist network to become even more
'virtual' and protean and, therefore, harder to
identify and neutralize," the IISS report said.

It said 18,000 veterans of al Qaeda's Afghan training
camps were still probably operating worldwide "with
recruitment continuing and probably increasing
following the war in Iraq."

Al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, are mostly
still at large and continue to incite followers over
the Internet and through pronouncements on
Arabic-language television.

Because of its extreme religious world view, al Qaeda
"cannot be tamed or controlled through political
compromise or conflict resolution," the report said.

But Western countries need to do more to reach out to
Muslim countries and their own Islamic minorities to
"eliminate the root causes of terrorism," especially
after the Iraq war "almost certainly further alienated
Islam from the West."

Efforts should be redoubled to resolve local
conflicts, such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,
so regional radical groups such as Hamas do not fall
into al Qaeda's embrace, it said.

Posted by richard at 08:51 PM

October 15, 2003

Bush's War Plan Is Scarier Than He's Saying: The Widening Crusade

The _resident's neo-con wet dream has led to a foolish
military adventure in Iraq that has cost the lives of
several hundred young US soldiers (and uncounted
thousands of Iraqis), BUT it is just the beginning.
The Bush cabal is not going to retreat, it is going to
try to pull us al down the slippery slope into a
regional war. This story from the Village Voice is
very important. Please share it with your fellow
citizens. The courage, experience, credibility and
intelligence of Wesley Clark (D-NATO), if he does not
falter, and perhaps Sen. John Kerry (D-Mekong Delta),
if he can find the right voice, are going to be very,
very valuable in the coming months...


Bush's War Plan Is Scarier Than He's Saying: The Widening Crusade
by Sidney H. Schanberg
October 15 - 21, 2003

If some wishful Americans are still hoping President
Bush will acknowledge that his imperial foreign policy
has stumbled in Iraq and needs fixing or reining in,
they should put aside those reveries. He's going all
the way—and taking us with him.

The Israeli bombing raid on Syria October 5 was an
expansion of the Bush policy, carried out by the
Sharon government but with the implicit approval of
Washington. The government in Iran, said to be seeking
to develop a nuclear weapon, reportedly expects to be
the next target.

No one who believes in democracy need feel any empathy
toward the governments of Syria and Iran, for they
assist the terrorist movement, yet if the Bush White
House is going to use its preeminent military force to
subdue and neutralize all "evildoers" and adversaries
everywhere in the world, the American public should be
told now. Such an undertaking would be virtually
endless and would require the sacrifice of enormous
blood and treasure.

With no guarantee of success. And no precedent in
history for such a crusade having lasting effect.

People close to the president say that his conversion
to evangelical Methodism, after a life of aimless
carousing, markedly informs his policies, both foreign
and domestic. In the soon-to-be-published The Faith of
George W. Bush (Tarcher/Penguin), a sympathetic
account of this religious journey, author Stephen
Mansfield writes (in the advance proofs) that in the
election year 2000, Bush told Texas preacher James
Robison, one of his spiritual mentors: "I feel like
God wants me to run for president. I can't explain it,
but I sense my country is going to need me. . . . I
know it won't be easy on me or my family, but God
wants me to do it."

Mansfield also reports: "Aides found him face down on
the floor in prayer in the Oval Office. It became
known that he refused to eat sweets while American
troops were in Iraq, a partial fast seldom reported of
an American president. And he framed America's
challenges in nearly biblical language. Saddam Hussein
is an evildoer. He has to go." The author concludes: "
. . . the Bush administration does deeply reflect its
leader, and this means that policy, even in military
matters, will be processed in terms of the personal,
in terms of the moral, and in terms of a sense of
divine purpose that propels the present to meet the
challenges of its time."

Some who read this article may choose to view it as
the partisan perspective of a political liberal. But I
have experienced wars—in India and Indochina—and have
measured their results. And most of the men and women
who are advocating the Bush Doctrine have not. You
will find few generals among them. They are, instead,
academics and think-tank people and born-again
missionaries. One must not entertain any illusion that
they are only opportunists in search of power, for
most of them truly believe in their vision of a world
crusade under the American flag. They are serious, and
they now have power at the top.

I believe that last week's blitz of aggressive
speeches and spin by the president and his chief
counselors removed all doubt of his intentions.

"As long as George W. Bush is president of the United
States," Vice President Cheney told the friendly
Heritage Foundation, "this country will not permit
gathering threats to become certain tragedies." The
president himself must tell us now what this vow

The public relations deluge by Bush, Cheney, Secretary
of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser
Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld seemed to be aimed at denying any policy
fumbles and insisting that the liberal press was
ignoring the positive developments in Iraq.

Mr. Cheney, the president's usual attack dog, aimed
his sharpest and most sneering words at those who
offer dissent about the administration's foreign and
economic policies. Perhaps seeking to stifle such
criticism, he raised the specter of terrorists
acquiring weapons of mass destruction that "could
bring devastation to our country on a scale we have
never experienced. Instead of losing thousands of
lives, we might lose tens of thousands or even
hundreds of thousands of lives in a single day of
horror." His implication was that Saddam Hussein in
particular had presented this threat—when virtually
all the available intelligence shows that Iraq's
weapons programs had been crippled or drastically
diminished by UN inspections and economic sanctions
imposed after the first Gulf war in 1991.

But beyond all the distortions and exaggerations and
falsehoods the Bush people engaged in to rally public
support for the Iraq war, what I have never
understood, from the 9-11 day of tragedy onward, is
why this White House has not called on the American
people to be part of the war effort, to make the
sacrifices civilians have always made when this
country is at war.

There has been no call for rationing or conservation
of critical supplies, such as gasoline. There has been
no call for obligatory national service in community
aid projects or emergency services. As he sent 150,000
soldiers into battle and now asks them to remain in
harm's way longer than expected, the president never
raised even the possibility of reinstating the
military draft, perhaps the most democratizing
influence in the nation's history. Instead, he has cut
taxes hugely, mostly for affluent Americans, saying
this would put money into circulation and create jobs.
Since Bush began the tax cutting two and a half years
ago, 2.7 million jobs have disappeared.

All this I don't understand. If it's a crisis—and
global terrorism surely is—then why hasn't the
president acted accordingly? What he did do, when he
sent out those first tax rebate checks, was to tell us
to go shopping. Buy clothes for the kids, tires for
the car—this would get the economy humming. How does
that measure up as a thoughtful, farsighted fiscal

In effect, George Bush says, believe in me and I will
lead you out of darkness. But he doesn't tell us any
details. And it's in the details where the true costs
are buried—human costs and the cost to our notion of
ourselves as helpers and sharers, not slayers. No one
seems to be asking themselves: If in the end the
crusade is victorious, what is it we will have won?
The White House never asked that question in Vietnam

For those who would dispute the assertion that the
Bush Doctrine is a global military-based policy and is
not just about liberating the Iraqi people, it's
crucial to look back to the policy's origins and
examine its founding documents.

The Bush Doctrine did get its birth push from
Iraq—specifically from the outcome of the 1991 Gulf
war, when the U.S.-led military coalition forced
Saddam Hussein's troops out of Kuwait but stopped
short of toppling the dictator and his oppressive
government. The president then was a different George
Bush, the father of the current president. The father
ordered the military not to move on Baghdad, saying
that the UN resolution underpinning the allied
coalition did not authorize a regime change. Dick
Cheney was the first George Bush's Pentagon chief. He
said nothing critical at the time, but apparently he
came to regret the failure to get rid of the Baghdad

A few years later, in June 1997, a group of
neoconservatives formed an entity called the Project
for the New American Century (PNAC) and issued a
Statement of Principles. "The history of the 20th
Century," the statement said, "should have taught us
that it is important to shape circumstances before
crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become
dire." One of its formal principles called for a major
increase in defense spending "to carry out our global
responsibilities today." Others cited the "need to
strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to
challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values"
and underscored "America's unique role in preserving
and extending an international order friendly to our
security, our prosperity and our principles." This,
the statement said, constituted "a Reaganite policy of
military strength and moral clarity."

Among the 25 signatories to the PNAC founding
statement were Dick Cheney, I. Lewis Libby (Cheney's
chief of staff), Donald Rumsfeld (who was also defense
secretary under President Ford), and Paul Wolfowitz
(Rumsfeld's No. 2 at the Pentagon, who was head of the
Pentagon policy team in the first Bush presidency,
reporting to Cheney, who was then defense secretary).
Obviously, this fraternity has been marinating
together for a long time. Other signers whose names
might ring familiar were Elliot Abrams, Gary Bauer,
William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, and Norman Podhoretz.

Three years and several aggressive position papers
later—in September 2000, just two months before George
W. Bush, the son, was elected president—the PNAC put
military flesh on its statement of principles with a
detailed 81-page report, "Rebuilding America's
Defenses." The report set several "core missions" for
U.S. military forces, which included maintaining
nuclear superiority, expanding the armed forces by
200,000 active-duty personnel, and "repositioning"
those forces "to respond to 21st century strategic

The most startling mission is described as follows:
"Fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major
theater wars." The report depicts these potential wars
as "large scale" and "spread across [the] globe."

Another escalation proposed for the military by the
PNAC is to "perform the 'constabulary' duties
associated with shaping the security environment in
critical regions."

As for homeland security, the PNAC report says:
"Develop and deploy global missile defenses to defend
the American homeland and American allies, and to
provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection
around the world. Control the new 'international
commons' of space and 'cyberspace,' and pave the way
for the creation of a new military service—U.S. Space
Forces—with the mission of space control."

Perhaps the eeriest sentence in the report is found on
page 51: "The process of transformation, even if it
brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long
one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing
event—like a new Pearl Harbor."

Apparently for the neoconservative civilians who are
running the Iraq campaign, 9-11 was that catalyzing
event—for they are now operating at full speed toward
multiple, simultaneous wars. The PNAC documents can be
found online at newamericancentury.org.

In the end, the answers lie with this president—and
later maybe with Congress and the American voters. Is
he so committed to this imperial policy that he is
unable to consider rethinking it? In short, is his
mind closed? And if so, how many wars will he take us

These are not questions in a college debate, where the
answers have no consequences. When a president's
closest advisers and military planners are patrons of
a policy that speaks matter-of-factly of fighting
multiple, simultaneous, large-scale wars across the
globe, people have a right to be told about it.

In his new book, Winning Modern Wars, retired general
Wesley Clark, a candidate for the Democratic
presidential nomination, offered a window into the
Bush serial-war planning. He writes that serious
planning for the Iraq war had already begun only two
months after the 9-11 attack, and adds:

"As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001,
one of the senior military staff officers had time for
a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against
Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being
discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he
said, and there were a total of seven countries,
beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran,
Somalia and Sudan. . . . I left the Pentagon that
afternoon deeply concerned."

A five-year military campaign. Seven countries. How
far has the White House taken this plan? And how long
can the president keep the nation in the dark,
emerging from his White House cocoon only to speak to
us in slogans and the sterile language of pep rallies?

Posted by richard at 07:59 PM

Ex-Aide: Powell Misled Americans

LNS readers knew of Greig Thielmann months ago (it's
not just Joseph Wilson) when his name was scrawled on
the John O'Neill Wall of Heroes for resigning from
Calm 'Em Powell's US State Dept. and speaking out
against the _resident's foolish military adventure in
Iraq. Well, SeeBs has finally discovered him, and will
broadcast an interview with him on 60 Minutes. Better
late than never I suppose, better after hundreds of US
soldiers have died for naught than after thousands or
tens of thousands die...Meanwhile, in the Middle East,
the fallout from the _resident's disasterous
capitulation to Sharon has brought a new bitter fruit.
Never in all the history of this sad conflict have US
citizens been targeted for terrorist attacks in
Palestine (although they have been killed by Israeli
tanks), but this morning at least three Americans were
killed. This very bad turn of events highlights the
Bush cabal's utter contempt for the role of fair
broker that has been the patient, principled stand of
every prior US administraion, including his
father's...Our position in the world is deteriorating
on daily basis as a result of the _resident ne-con wet


Ex-Aide: Powell Misled Americans
Oct. 15, 2003

The person responsible for analyzing the Iraqi weapons
threat for Colin Powell says the Secretary of State
misinformed Americans during his speech at the U.N.
last winter.

Greg Thielmann tells Correspondent Scott Pelley that
at the time of Powell’s speech, Iraq didn’t pose an
imminent threat to anyone – not even its own
neighbors. “…I think my conclusion [about Powell’s
speech] now is that it’s probably one of the low
points in his long distinguished service to the
nation,” says Thielmann.

Pelley’s report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes II,
Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Thielmann also tells Pelley that he believes the
decision to go to war was made first and then the
intelligence was interpreted to fit that conclusion.
“…The main problem was that the senior administration
officials have what I call faith-based intelligence,”
says Thielmann.
“They knew what they wanted the intelligence to show.
They were really blind and deaf to any kind of
countervailing information the intelligence community
would produce. I would assign some blame to the
intelligence community and most of the blame to the
senior administration officials.”

Steve Allinson and a dozen other U.N. inspectors in
Iraq also watched Powell’s speech. “Various people
would laugh at various times [during Powell’s speech]
because the information he was presenting was just,
you know, didn't mean anything -- had no meaning,”
says Allinson.

Pelley asks, “When the Secretary finished the speech,
you and the other inspectors turned to each other and
said what?” Allinson responds, “’They have nothing.’”

Allinson gives Pelley several examples of why he
believes Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction.
One time, he was sent to find decontamination vehicles
that turned out to be fire trucks. Another time, a
satellite spotted what they thought were trucks used
for biological weapons.

“We were told we were going to the site to look for
refrigerated trucks specifically linked to biological
agents,” Allinson tells Pelley. “…We found seven or
eight [trucks], I think, in total, and they had
cobwebs in them. Some samples were taken and nothing
was found.”

© MMIII, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Posted by richard at 07:57 PM

October 14, 2003

'Every Day We Ask Ourselves What We're Doing There,' says Blaise Blastos, on Leave from Iraq

Here is the truth. From a soldier on leave. Not from a
form letter sent in his name. Blaise Blastos belongs
on the John O'Neill Wall of Heroes.
Ann Arbor News: Although he voted for George Bush, he says he won't do so again. "All the reasons for going to war were based on miscalculations, errors and plain untruths," he said. "I can't justify all these people spending a year of their lives based on politicians' untruths.


Published on Monday, October 13, 2003 by the Ann Arbor
News (Michigan)
Reservist Home - For Now
'Every Day We Ask Ourselves What We're Doing There,' says Blaise Blastos, on Leave from Iraq

by Jo Collins Mathis

Friends, family and red, white, and blue balloons
welcomed Blaise Blastos home to Ann Arbor from Iraq on
Saturday evening. But the rah-rah spirit was dampened
by sober reality.

Yes, the U.S. Army reservist is home. But it's only
for two weeks.

Yes, he is serving his country. But he says what's
going on over there is not only discouraging and
demoralizing, but a waste of time for a whole lot of
homesick American soldiers.

All the reasons for going to war were based on
miscalculations, errors and plain untruths. I can't
justify all these people spending a year of their
lives based on politicians' untruths.

Blaise Blastos
Yes, he is happy to finally be reunited with Joanna,
his wife of less than a year who is now in her seventh
month of pregnancy. But he'll be back in Iraq when his
son is born in early December.

While the U.S. involvement in Iraq is no longer given
as much attention by most Americans as it was during
and shortly after the invasion, the military operation
is the central theme of the Blatoses' short time as
husband and wife.

Blaise Blastos, 36, tries to keep things in
perspective, but it's difficult given all that has
happened to him and his wife since the first of the
year. He looks forward to the day next spring when
he'll be sent home for good, but then he thinks of the
best man at his March wedding who was killed by a
grenade in Iraq in July.

"They already had their homecoming," he said of the
man's family. "But they brought a coffin home."

Joanna Blastos barely knows where to begin when
someone asks, "What's new?"

A year ago, the lifelong Ann Arborite had just met the
man of her dreams.

On February 6, Blaise, who was enlisted in the Ann
Arbor Army Reserve, learned his skills were needed in
the Middle East.

On Feb. 8, he left Ann Arbor for training in

On March 12, Joanna Kokkales and Blaise Blastos were
married at a bed and breakfast in Wisconsin.

On a weekend visit two weeks later, she got pregnant.

And in April, he left for active duty in the Middle

His return this weekend gave Joanna a respite from
spending every waking minute worried something will
happen to him. He arrived home on his leave
coincidentally on the day Joanna's family and friends
were having a baby shower for her, so the guests from
around the country were able to greet the returning

"It's good to see him alive," said his mother, Joan
Blastos, of Pittsburg, where he grew up. She said her
husband turns on the radio at 5 a.m. every day to hear
whether there were any American casualties in Iraq

Blastos, a supply sergeant who quickly replaced his
Army fatigues with blue jeans and a white oxford shirt
when he got home Saturday, shakes his head when asked
to describe the military duties in Iraq. He sums it up
in a word: terrible.

"Every day we ask ourselves what we're doing there,"
he said. "We can't come up with a good answer."

Back in May, he and other reservists helped build two
pontoon bridges. Since then, he and about 175 others
have had far less to do in their station in Ba'qubah
near Baghdad. At most, they work three hours a day,
which leaves a lot of free time to commiserate among
themselves. Nobody feels proud of what they're doing
there, he said.

At first, the Iraqis were happy the Americans were
there, but that sentiment has changed to resentment,
he said.

Although he voted for George Bush, he says he won't do
so again. "All the reasons for going to war were based
on miscalculations, errors and plain untruths," he
said. "I can't justify all these people spending a
year of their lives based on politicians' untruths."
Blastos said he would have felt differently had he
served in World War II, where there was a clearly
defined goal, threat and outcome.

"Everything's muddled now, nothing is clear-cut," he
said, as his chocolate Labrador, LaLa, paced through
the house of relatives, a red, white and blue ribbon
round his neck.

Blastos said those in active duty don't support the
reserve units, which are provided little money for
basics. "We get what they don't want, or what's left
over," he said, noting that he has to wake up at 4:30
a.m. to make a phone call home because there's just
one phone for 175 people. They were issued two
uniforms eight months ago, but nothing since. Some
reservists have no boots. His wife mailed him gloves
to use when he was sent on a mission to pick up trash
on the streets.

Joanna Blastos is also no fan of Bush, who recently
extended the service of all the reservists another six
to nine months. While her husband should have been
coming home for good this month, he'll likely still be
there until sometime next spring.

"I try not to watch the news much anymore because it
was throwing me into quite a depression, and my blood
pressure wasn't too hot for a while there," she said.
"Every day, you wait for that knock on the door."

Blaise Blastos moved to Ann Arbor to attend graduate
school at the University of Michigan in 1996. He has
been in the reserves since 1988, which required one
weekend of service a month. He will return to his job
as an environmental chemist in Plymouth at the end of
his reservist duties.

Asked what he misses most about the life he left
behind in February, Blastos said he misses getting up
and going to work every day. He misses Ann Arbor's
quiet neighborhoods, and most of all, his wife.

He knows several people who were killed or injured in
the past few months and says he is constantly scared.

"To some extent, we're all traumatized for life," he
said. "I get the feeling people in America don't know
what's going on over there. It's dangerous." He said
he'll always remember the sound of mortars at night,
and the trauma of learning his good friend and best
man had been killed in an ambush on a convoy in July.

Joanna Blastos must look forward to giving birth to
their son in early December without her husband

"I think emotionally it's going to be very difficult,"
said Joanna, who will name the baby after his father.
"When you're a little girl, you dream of having a
baby. The person you want to look up at when that baby
comes out is your husband. I'm not going to be able to
do that."

She's grateful that this week he'll go to a doctor's
appointment for an ultrasound, attend her last infant
care class and go on a hospital tour to see where
she'll deliver their baby. He caught a few minutes of
her baby shower when he first arrived Saturday, and a
second shower is scheduled for the day he goes back to

Blastos said he feels they've been robbed of their
first year of marriage, but at the same time, is
grateful that circumstances prompted their wedding and
subsequent pregnancy. Otherwise, they figure they
would have waited another six months to a year to get
married and may have not been able to conceive so

Sitting beside him on the couch, her hands on her
bulging belly, Joanna could barely take her eyes off
her husband Saturday evening in the first hours after
he arrived home.

"The whole thing is like a dream," she said. "It's
been a journey, that's for sure. It's the greatest
challenge my life has ever known. But it's been worth
every moment."

Her husband said he tries not to think of what he's
missed this past year, or that he won't be there for
the birth of his first child. His focus is on
returning to Iraq, following the routine, and then
returning home safely to his wife and baby.

"That's my motivation over there for staying alive:
She and the baby need me."

© 2003 Ann Arbor News


Posted by richard at 04:33 PM

Deception Down Under

Andrew Wilkie's name is scrawled, as I have mentione
before, on the John O'Neill Wall of Heroes. Here is a
transcript of his testimony, provided by one of the
bastions of the Informaiton Rebellion,
www.tompaine.com. Of course, you will not be suprised
to find out that his name has not been uttered on the
cable news networks here in the U.S., his story has
not been told on the cable news networks in the U.S.,
which, as I have mentioned before, is an outrage
almost as eggregious as sending men and women to die
in a war on false pretenses. It is so ironic that the
-resident is now complaining about the "US mainstream
news media" only reporting the negative news from
Iraq. If they had broadcast even a third of the
relevant and damaging news there would be mobs in the
street outside the White House. All the "US mainstream
news media" has done is report the deaths of US GIs
(sort of). And for that paltry public service, the
Bush cabal is excoriating them and "going over their
heads" to the "American people." Incredible.


Deception Down Under

Andrew Wilkie is a top-level Australian intelligence
officer who recently resigned over his government's
manipulation of intelligence to justify joining the
war in Iraq.

Andrew Wilkie is a top-level Australian intelligence
officer who recently resigned over his government's
manipulation of intelligence to justify joining the
war in Iraq. On Aug. 22, Wilkie testified before a
parliamentary committee about the intelligence cited
by Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Many
Australian, British and American intelligence analysts
have said that intelligence was abused in the run-up
to the war, but only Wilkie has resigned in protest.
Those who dismiss such efforts as an exercise in
futility should know that, in a rare move, the
Australian Senate on Oct. 7 censured Howard for
misleading the public in justifying sending off
Australian troops to war. The Senate statement of
censure noted that Howard had produced no evidence to
justify his claims last March that Iraq had stockpiles
of biological and chemical weapons. The Senate also
castigated the prime minister for suppressing
Australian intelligence warnings that war with Iraq
would increase the likelihood of a terrorist attack.
One senator accused Howard of "unprecedented deceit.

What follows is an edited transcript of Wilkie's Aug.
22 testimony. It was provided by VIPS, Veteran
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of
retired senior American intelligence professionals
from the CIA, State Department and military's
intelligence agencies.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for inviting me to appear
before the Committee.

You would be well aware that I resigned from the
Office of National Assessments [Australia's CIA],
before the Iraq war, because I assessed that invading
Iraq would not be the most sensible and ethical way to
resolve the Iraq issue. I chose resignation,
specifically, because compromise or seeking to create
change from within ONA were not realistic options.

At the time I resigned I put on the public record
three fundamental concerns. Firstly, that Iraq did not
pose a serious enough security threat to justify a
war. Secondly, that too many things could go wrong.
And, thirdly, that war was still totally unnecessary
because options short of war were yet to be exhausted.

My first concern is especially relevant today. It was
based on my assessment that Iraq's conventional armed
forces were weak, that Iraq’s Weapons of Mass
Destruction program was disjointed and contained, and
that there was no hard evidence of any active
cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Now the government has claimed repeatedly I was not
close enough to the Iraq issue to know what I'm
talking about. Such statements have misled the public
and have been exceptionally hurtful to me.

I was a Senior Analyst with a top secret positive vet
security clearance. I'd been awarded a Superior rating
in my last performance appraisal, and not long before
I resigned Id been informed by the Deputy
Director-General that thought was being given to my
being promoted.

Because of my military background (I had been a
regular army infantry Lieutenant Colonel), I was
required to be familiar with war-related issues…and
was on standby to cover Iraq once the war began.

I've also worked specifically on WMD issues. In 1999 I
prepared the assessment on WMD and terrorism, and
represented ONA at the WMD working group held in the
U.K. In 2001 I helped prepare the update on my 1998
assessment, and I represented ONA at the Australian
WMD working group.

I was involved also in covering global terrorism
issues. In fact, on two occasions I provided the
relevant brief for the Standing Advisory Committee for
the Protection Against Violence.

Finally, as the Senior ONA Transnational Issues
Analyst, I was involved routinely in matters relating
to Iraq. This provided me with almost unrestricted
access to intelligence on that country. In particular,
my December 2002 assessment on the possible
humanitarian implications of a war required me to
research in detail the strategic threat posed by
Saddam Hussein.

If I could now turn more directly to the Committee's
Terms of Reference. When I said that Iraq's WMD
program was 'disjointed and contained,' I was
describing a limited chemical and biological program
focused on developing a break-out capability, in part
by reliance on dual-use facilities.

Weapons production was possible, though only on a
small scale. My view was broadly consistent with ONA's
position, maybe a little more moderate. I still
believe evidence of such a program may be found
eventually, if not already.

Now, in fairness to Australian and Allied intelligence
agencies, Iraq was a tough target. From time to time
there were shortages of human intelligence on the
country. At other times the preponderance of
anti-Saddam sources desperate for United States
intervention ensured a flood of disinformation.
Collecting technical intelligence was equally

A problem for Australian agencies was their reliance
on Allies. We had virtually no influence on foreign
intelligence collection planning, and the raw
intelligence seldom arrived with adequate notes on
sources or reliability. More problematic was the way
in which Australia's tiny agencies needed to rely on
the sometimes weak and skewed views contained in the
assessments prepared in Washington.

A few problems were inevitable. For instance,
intelligence gaps were sometimes back-filled with the
disinformation. Worst-case sometimes took primacy over
most-likely. The threat was sometimes overestimated as
a result of the fairy tales coming out of the U.S. And
sometimes Government pressure, as well as politically
correct intelligence officers themselves, resulted in
its own bias.

But, overall, Australian agencies did, I believe, an
acceptable job reporting on the existence of, the
capacity and willingness to use, and immediacy of the
threat, posed by Iraq. Assessments were OK, not least
because they were always heavily qualified to reflect
the ambiguous intelligence picture.

How then to explain the big gap between the
Government's pre-war claims about Iraq possessing a
massive arsenal of WMD and cooperating actively with
Al Qaeda and the reality that no arsenal of weapons or
evidence of substantive links have yet been found?

Well, most often the Government deliberately skewed
the truth by taking the ambiguity out of the issue.
Key intelligence assessment qualifications like
'probably', 'could' and 'uncorroborated evidence
suggests' were frequently dropped. Much more useful
words like 'massive' and 'mammoth' were included, even
though such words had not been offered to the
government by the intelligence agencies. Before we
knew it, the Government had created a mythical Iraq,
one where every factory was up to no good and
weaponization was continuing apace.

Equally misleading was the way in which the Government
misrepresented the truth. For example, when the
Government spoke of Iraq having form (being up to no
good), it cited pre-1991 Gulf War examples, like the
use of chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds.
Mind you, the Government needed to be creative,
because 12 years of sanctions, inspections and air
strikes had virtually disarmed modern Iraq.

The Government also chose to use the truth
selectively. For instance, much was said about the
risk of WMD terrorism. But what was not made clear was
that the risk of WMD terrorism is low, that leakage of
weapons from a state arsenal is unlikely, and that the
weapon most likely to be used will be crude. That is,
the chemical, biological or radiological device most
likely to be used will not be a WMD.

The Government even went so far as to fabricate the
truth. The claims about Iraq cooperating actively with
al Qaida were obviously nonsense. As was the
Government's reference to Iraq seeking uranium in
Africa, despite the fact that ONA, the Department of
Defence, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade, all knew the Niger story was fraudulent. This
was critical information. It beggars belief that ONA
knew it was discredited but didn't advise the Prime
Minister, Defence knew but didn't tell the Defence
Minister, and Foreign Affairs knew but didn't tell the
Foreign Minister.

Please remember the Government was also receiving
detailed assessments on the United States in which it
was made very clear the United States was intent on
invading Iraq for more important reasons than WMD and
terrorism. Hence all this talk about WMD and terrorism
was hollow. Much more likely is the proposition the
Government deliberately exaggerated the Iraq WMD
threat so as to stay in step with the United States.

In closing, I wish to make it clear that I do not
apologise for, or withdraw from, my accusation that
the Howard government misled the Australian public
over Iraq, both through its own public statements, as
well as through its endorsement of Allied statements.

The government lied every time it said or implied that
I was not senior enough or appropriately placed in ONA
to know what I was talking about. And the government
lied every time it skewed, misrepresented, used
selectively and fabricated the Iraq story.

But these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
For instance, the government lied when the Prime
Minister's Office told the media I was mentally
unstable. The government lied when it associated Iraq
with the Bali bombing. And the government lied every
time it linked Iraq to the War on Terror.

The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister in
particular have a lot to answer for. After all, they
were the chief cheerleaders for the invasion of
another country, without U.N. endorsement, for reasons
that have now been discredited.

Mr. Chairman, I've skimmed over a lot of important
issues here. Of course I'd now welcome the opportunity
to discuss any particular aspect in more detail.

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Published: Oct 13 2003

Posted by richard at 04:31 PM

October 13, 2003

The Sins of September 11

Three more US soldiers have died in Iraq. For
what?Meanwhile, William Rivers Pitt has written a
powerful message that should be shared with as many of
your fellow citizens as possible. This wrong will eat
away at everything in this country, our economy, our
security, our humanity, just like what happened in
Fraudida, just like what has happened in Iraq, until
it is righted, until it is all righted..

William Rivers Pitt: "Had the Bush administration not continued this pattern of gross partisan ineptitude and heeded the blitz of domestic and international warnings, instead of trooping off to Texas for a month-long vacation, had Bush's National Security Advisor done one hour's worth of her homework, we probably would not be in the grotesque global mess that currently envelops us. Never forget that many of the activists who pushed throughout the 1990s for the annihilation of all things Clinton are now foursquare in charge of the country today."


The Sins of September 11
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 13 October 2003

I am beginning to despise reading. I have lost count
of the number of times I have read some passage in a
politically-oriented book, and then been
uncontrollably motivated to hurl said book against a
wall or across the room in fury. My library looks like
someone took a weed-whacker to it; all the
dust-jackets have taken a fearsome beating.

The book currently on my desk has begun to retain a
damaged appearance. Sidney Blumenthal's "The Clinton
Wars" is a meticulously researched and foot-noted tour
de force through the last ten years of the brainless
savagery of American politics. The retelling of the
contrived scandals clarioned by a media establishment
which abandoned any pretense of journalistic
integrity, pushed by a cabal of House members and
right-wing activists whose worshipped altar was the
desire for raw power, and the sad and sorry tale of
the impeachment itself, is a difficult but necessary
review of a truly pathetic time in our history.
Blumenthal manages to bring his readers back to that
tar pit, and keep them enthralled, with an excellent
and deft literary touch.

Since I have read most of the other books on the
scandal-gasm and impeachment, there was not much
through the middle of this book that brought me up
short, though Blumenthal does present interviews and
perspectives of players on both sides of that aisle
which are not present in the other histories (It was
amusing to read Congressional impeachment warrior
James Rogan speak of being "On the wrong side of
history" regarding the trial in the Senate). No, the
book began to take its obligatory pounding when I
reached page 656, and the second part of the chapter
entitled "The Twenty-First Century."

The astounding level of blunt ignorance within the
American populace about the events surrounding the
attacks of September 11 cannot be easily quantified.
In a nation with thousands of newspapers, thousands of
radio stations, and a ceaseless data stream from CNN,
MSNBC, CNBC, Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS, some 70% of
the population believed as late as a month ago that
Saddam Hussein was centrally involved in and
personally responsible for the attacks which destroyed
the Towers and struck the Pentagon. Beyond that, what
most people know about the single most important event
in American history does not go much beyond
"evildoers" who "hate our freedom."

That is, simply, incredible. It is also not an
accident. This ignorance has a great deal to do with
the stunning mediocrity of the television news media,
that empty well where most Americans go to become
informed. This ignorance also, and far more
importantly, has a great deal to do with the
Clinton-era actions of a large number of
conservatives, many of whom are in positions of power
today, many of whom are now making careers out of
September 11.

The two great myths that have settled across the
nation, beyond the Hussein-9/11 connection, are that
Clinton did not do enough during his tenure to stop
the spread of radical terrorist organizations like al
Qaeda, and that the attacks themselves could not have
been anticipated or stopped. Blumenthal's insider
perspective on these matters bursts the myths
entirely, and reveals a level of complicity regarding
the attacks within the journalistic realm and the
conservative political ranks that is infuriating and

Starting in 1995, Clinton took actions against
terrorism that were unprecedented in American history.
He poured billions and billions of dollars into
counterterrorism activities across the entire spectrum
of the intelligence community. He poured billions more
into the protection of critical infrastructure. He
ordered massive federal stockpiling of antidotes and
vaccines to prepare for a possible bioterror attack.
He order a reorganization of the intelligence
community itself, ramming through reforms and new
procedures to address the demonstrable threat. Within
the National Security Council, "threat meetings" were
held three times a week to assess looming
conspiracies. His National Security Advisor, Sandy
Berger, prepared a voluminous dossier on al Qaeda and
Osama bin Laden, actively tracking them across the
planet. Clinton raised the issue of terrorism in
virtually every important speech he gave in the last
three years of his tenure. In 1996, Clinton delivered
a major address to the United Nations on the matter of
international terrorism, calling it "The enemy of our

Behind the scenes, he leaned vigorously on the
leaders of nations within the terrorist sphere. In
particular, he pushed Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif to assist him in dealing with the threat from
neighboring Afghanistan and its favorite guest, Osama
bin Laden. Before Sharif could be compelled to act, he
was thrown out of office by his own army. His
replacement, Pervez Musharraf, pointedly refused to do
anything to assist Clinton in dealing with these
threats. Despite these and other diplomatic setbacks,
terrorist cell after terrorist cell were destroyed
across the world, and bomb plots against American
embassies were thwarted. Because of security concerns,
these victories were never revealed to the American
people until very recently.

In America, few people heard anything about this.
Clinton's dire public warnings about the threat posed
by terrorism, and the massive non-secret actions taken
to thwart it, went completely unreported by the media,
which was far more concerned with stained dresses and
baseless Drudge Report rumors. When the administration
did act militarily against bin Laden and his terrorist
network, the actions were dismissed by partisans
within the media and Congress as scandalous "wag the
dog" tactics. The TV networks actually broadcast clips
of the movie "Wag The Dog" to accentuate the idea that
everything the administration was doing was contrived

The bombing of the Sundanese factory at al-Shifa, in
particular, drew wide condemnation from these
quarters, despite the fact that the CIA found and
certified VX nerve agent precursor in the ground
outside the factory, despite the fact that the factory
was owned by Osama bin Laden's Military Industrial
Corporation, and despite the fact that the manager of
the factory lived in bin Laden's villa in Khartoum.
The book "Age of Sacred Terror" quantifies the
al-Shifa issue thusly: "The dismissal of the al-Shifa
attack as a scandalous blunder had serious
consequences, including the failure of the public to
comprehend the nature of the al Qaeda threat."

In Congress, Clinton was thwarted by the reactionary
conservative majority in virtually every attempt he
made to pass legislation that would attack al Qaeda
and terrorism. His 1996 omnibus terror bill, which
included many of the anti-terror measures we now take
for granted after September 11, was withered almost to
the point of uselessness by attacks from the right;
Jesse Helms and Trent Lott were openly dismissive of
the threats Clinton spoke of.

Clinton wanted to attack the financial underpinnings
of the al-Qaeda network by banning American companies
and individuals from dealing with foreign banks and
financial institutions that al Qaeda was using for its
money-laundering operations. Texas Senator Phil Gramm,
chairman of the Banking Committee, killed Clinton's
bill on this matter and called it "totalitarian." In
fact, he was compelled to kill the bill because his
most devoted patrons, the Enron Corporation and its
criminal executives in Houston, were using those same
terrorist financial networks to launder their own
dirty money and rip off the Enron stockholders.

Just before departing office, Clinton managed to
make a deal with the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development to have some twenty
nations close tax havens used by al Qaeda. His term
ended before the deal was sealed, and the incoming
Bush administration acted immediately to destroy the
agreement. According to Time magazine, in an article
entitled "Banking on Secrecy" published in October of
2001, Bush economic advisors Larry Lindsey and R.
Glenn Hubbard were urged by think tanks like the
Center for Freedom and Prosperity to opt out of the
coalition Clinton had formed. The conservative
Heritage Foundation lobbied Bush's Treasury Secretary,
Paul O'Neill, to do the same. In the end, the
lobbyists got what they wanted, and the Bush
administration pulled America out of the plan. The
Time article stated, "Without the world's financial
superpower, the biggest effort in years to rid the
world's financial system of dirty money was

This laundry list of partisan catastrophes goes on
and on. Far from being inept on the matter of
terrorism, Clinton was profoundly activist in his
attempts to address terrorism. Much of his work was
foiled by right-wing Congressional conservatives who,
simply, refused to accept the fact that he was
President. These men, paid to work for the public
trust, spent eight years working diligently to
paralyze any and all Clinton policies, including
anti-terror initiatives that, if enacted, would have
gone a long way towards thwarting the September 11
attacks. Beyond them lay the worthless television
media, which ignored and spun the terrorist issue as
it pursued salacious leaks from Ken Starr's office,
leaving the American people drowning in a swamp of
ignorance on a matter of deadly global importance.

Over and above the theoretical questions regarding
whether or not Clinton's anti-terror policies, if
passed, would have stopped September 11 lies the very
real fact that attacks very much like 9/11 were, in
fact, stopped dead by the Clinton administration. The
most glaring example of this came on December 31,
1999, when the world gathered to celebrate the passing
of the millennium. On that night, al Qaeda was
gathering as well.

The terrorist network planned to simultaneously
attack the national airports in Washington DC and Los
Angeles, the Amman Raddison Hotel in Jordan, a
constellation of holy sites in Israel, and the USS The
Sullivans at dock in Yemen. Each and every single one
of these plots, which ranged from one side of the
planet to the other, was foiled by the efforts of the
Clinton administration. Speaking for the first time
about these millennium plots, in a speech delivered to
the Coast Guard Academy on May 17, 2000, Clinton said,
"I want to tell you a story that, unfortunately, will
not be the last example you will have to face."


Clinton proved that Osama bin Laden and his terror
network can be foiled, can be thwarted, can be
stopped. The multifaceted and complex nature of the
international millennium plots rivals the plans laid
before September 11, and involved counter-terrorism
actions within several countries and across the entire
American intelligence and military community. All
resources were brought to bear, and the terrorists
went down to defeat. The proof is in the pudding here.
September 11, like the millennium plots, could have
been avoided.

Couple this with other facts about the Bush
administration we now have in hand. The administration
was warned about a massive terror plot in the months
before September by the security services of several
countries, including Israel, Egypt, Germany and
Russia. CIA Director George Tenet delivered a specific
briefing on the matter to the administration on August
8, 2001. The massive compendium of data on Osama bin
Laden and al Qaeda compiled by Sandy Berger, and
delivered to Condoleezza Rice upon his departure, went
completely and admittedly unread until the attacks
took place. The attacks themselves managed, for over
an hour, to pierce the most formidable air defense
system in the history of the Earth without a single
fighter aircraft taking wing until the catastrophe was

It is not fashionable these days to pine for the
return of William Jefferson Clinton. Given the facts
above, and the realities we face about the
administration of George W. Bush, and the realities we
endure regarding the aftermath of September 11, the
United States of America would be, and was, well
served by its previous leader. That we do not know
this, that September 11 happened at all, that it was
such a wretched shock to the American people, that we
were so woefully unprepared, can be laid at the feet
of a failed news media establishment, and at the feet
of a pack of power-mad conservative extremists who now
have a great deal to atone for.

Had Clinton been heeded, the measures he espoused
would have been put in place, and a number of powerful
bulwarks would have been thrown into the paths of
those commercial airplanes. Had the news media been
something other than a purveyor of masturbation
fantasies from the far-right, the American people
would have know the threats we faced, and would have
compelled their Congressmen to act. Had Congress
itself been something other than an institution ruled
by narrow men whose only desire was to break a sitting
President by any means necessary, we would very
probably still have a New York skyline dominated by
two soaring towers.

Had the Bush administration not continued this
pattern of gross partisan ineptitude and heeded the
blitz of domestic and international warnings, instead
of trooping off to Texas for a month-long vacation,
had Bush's National Security Advisor done one hour's
worth of her homework, we probably would not be in the
grotesque global mess that currently envelops us.
Never forget that many of the activists who pushed
throughout the 1990s for the annihilation of all
things Clinton are now foursquare in charge of the
country today.

These are the sins of September 11. Thank you,
Sidney. I'm sorry I broke your book.


William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of
truthout.org. He is a New York Times and international
best-selling author of three books - "War On Iraq,"
available from Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition
is Silence," available from Pluto Press, and "Our
Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available in
August from Context Books.


Posted by richard at 04:29 PM

A Quiet Revolution is Taking Place in US Politics. By the Time It's Over, the Integrity of Elections Will be in the Unchallenged, Unscrutinized Control of a Few Large - and Pro-Republican - Corporations.

Very, very important story. Please pass it on.

Independent (U.K.): "Something very odd happened in the mid-term elections in Georgia last November. On the eve of the vote, opinion polls showed Roy Barnes, the incumbent Democratic governor, leading by between nine and 11 points. In a somewhat closer, keenly watched Senate race, polls indicated that Max Cleland, the popular Democrat up for re-election, was ahead by two to five points against his Republican challenger, Saxby Chambliss."

Published on Monday, October 13, 2003 by the
All the President's Votes?
A Quiet Revolution is Taking Place in US Politics. By the Time It's Over, the Integrity of Elections Will be in the Unchallenged, Unscrutinized Control of a Few Large - and Pro-Republican - Corporations.
Andrew Gumbel wonders if democracy in America can survive

by Andrew Gumbel

Something very odd happened in the mid-term elections
in Georgia last November. On the eve of the vote,
opinion polls showed Roy Barnes, the incumbent
Democratic governor, leading by between nine and 11
points. In a somewhat closer, keenly watched Senate
race, polls indicated that Max Cleland, the popular
Democrat up for re-election, was ahead by two to five
points against his Republican challenger, Saxby

Corporate America is very close to running this
country. The only thing that is stopping them from
taking total control are the pesky voters. That's why
there's such a drive to control the vote. What we're
seeing is the corporatization of the last shred of

Roxanne Jekot
computer programmer
Those figures were more or less what political experts
would have expected in state with a long tradition of
electing Democrats to statewide office. But then the
results came in, and all of Georgia appeared to have
been turned upside down. Barnes lost the governorship
to the Republican, Sonny Perdue, 46 per cent to 51 per
cent, a swing of as much as 16 percentage points from
the last opinion polls. Cleland lost to Chambliss 46
per cent to 53, a last-minute swing of 9 to 12 points.

Red-faced opinion pollsters suddenly had a lot of
explaining to do and launched internal investigations.
Political analysts credited the upset - part of a
pattern of Republican successes around the country -
to a huge campaigning push by President Bush in the
final days of the race. They also said that Roy Barnes
had lost because of a surge of "angry white men"
punishing him for eradicating all but a vestige of the
old confederate symbol from the state flag.

But something about these explanations did not make
sense, and they have made even less sense over time.
When the Georgia secretary of state's office published
its demographic breakdown of the election earlier this
year, it turned out there was no surge of angry white
men; in fact, the only subgroup showing even a modest
increase in turnout was black women.

There were also big, puzzling swings in partisan
loyalties in different parts of the state. In 58
counties, the vote was broadly in line with the
primary election. In 27 counties in
Republican-dominated north Georgia, however, Max
Cleland unaccountably scored 14 percentage points
higher than he had in the primaries. And in 74
counties in the Democrat south, Saxby Chambliss
garnered a whopping 22 points more for the Republicans
than the party as a whole had won less than three
months earlier.

Now, weird things like this do occasionally occur in
elections, and the figures, on their own, are not
proof of anything except statistical anomalies worthy
of further study. But in Georgia there was an extra
reason to be suspicious. Last November, the state
became the first in the country to conduct an election
entirely with touchscreen voting machines, after
lavishing $54m (£33m) on a new system that promised to
deliver the securest, most up-to-date, most
voter-friendly election in the history of the
republic. The machines, however, turned out to be
anything but reliable. With academic studies showing
the Georgia touchscreens to be poorly programmed, full
of security holes and prone to tampering, and with
thousands of similar machines from different companies
being introduced at high speed across the country,
computer voting may, in fact, be US democracy's own
21st-century nightmare.

In many Georgia counties last November, the machines
froze up, causing long delays as technicians tried to
reboot them. In heavily Democratic Fulton County, in
downtown Atlanta, 67 memory cards from the voting
machines went missing, delaying certification of the
results there for 10 days. In neighboring DeKalb
County, 10 memory cards were unaccounted for; they
were later recovered from terminals that had
supposedly broken down and been taken out of service.

It is still unclear exactly how results from these
missing cards were tabulated, or if they were counted
at all. And we will probably never know, for a highly
disturbing reason. The vote count was not conducted by
state elections officials, but by the private company
that sold Georgia the voting machines in the first
place, under a strict trade-secrecy contract that made
it not only difficult but actually illegal - on pain
of stiff criminal penalties - for the state to touch
the equipment or examine the proprietary software to
ensure the machines worked properly. There was not
even a paper trail to follow up. The machines were
fitted with thermal printing devices that could
theoretically provide a written record of voters'
choices, but these were not activated. Consequently,
recounts were impossible. Had Diebold Inc, the
manufacturer, been asked to review the votes, all it
could have done was program the computers to spit out
the same data as before, flawed or not.

Astonishingly, these are the terms under which
America's top three computer voting machine
manufacturers - Diebold, Sequoia and Election Systems
and Software (ES&S) - have sold their products to
election officials around the country. Far from
questioning the need for rigid trade secrecy and the
absence of a paper record, secretaries of state and
their technical advisers - anxious to banish memories
of the hanging chad fiasco and other associated
disasters in the 2000 presidential recount in Florida
- have, for the most part, welcomed the touchscreen
voting machines as a technological miracle solution.

Georgia was not the only state last November to see
big last-minute swings in voting patterns. There were
others in Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois and New
Hampshire - all in races that had been flagged as key
partisan battlegrounds, and all won by the Republican
Party. Again, this was widely attributed to the
campaigning efforts of President Bush and the
demoralization of a Democratic Party too timid to
speak out against the looming war in Iraq.

Also See:
Diebold Voting Machine Owner Committed To Give Votes
To Bush in 2004
Cleveland Plain Dealer 8/28/2003

Will Bush Backers Manipulate Votes to Deliver GW
Another Election?
Democracy Now! 9/4/2003


Strangely, however, the pollsters made no comparable
howlers in lower-key races whose outcome was not
seriously contested. Another anomaly, perhaps. What,
then, is one to make of the fact that the owners of
the three major computer voting machines are all
prominent Republican Party donors? Or of a recent
political fund-raising letter written to Ohio
Republicans by Walden O'Dell, Diebold's chief
executive, in which he said he was "committed to
helping Ohio to deliver its electoral votes to the
president next year" - even as his company was bidding
for the contract on the state's new voting machinery?

Alarmed and suspicious, a group of Georgia citizens
began to look into last November's election to see
whether there was any chance the results might have
been deliberately or accidentally manipulated. Their
research proved unexpectedly, and disturbingly,

First, they wanted to know if the software had
undergone adequate checking. Under state and federal
law, all voting machinery and component parts must be
certified before use in an election. So an Atlanta
graphic designer called Denis Wright wrote to the
secretary of state's office for a copy of the
certification letter. Clifford Tatum, assistant
director of legal affairs for the election division,
wrote back: "We have determined that no records exist
in the Secretary of State's office regarding a
certification letter from the lab certifying the
version of software used on Election Day." Mr Tatum
said it was possible the relevant documents were with
Gary Powell, an official at the Georgia Technology
Authority, so campaigners wrote to him as well. Mr
Powell responded he was "not sure what you mean by the
words 'please provide written certification documents'

"If the machines were not certified, then right there
the election was illegal," Mr Wright says. The
secretary of state's office has yet to demonstrate
anything to the contrary. The investigating citizens
then considered the nature of the software itself.
Shortly after the election, a Diebold technician
called Rob Behler came forward and reported that, when
the machines were about to be shipped to Georgia
polling stations in the summer of 2002, they performed
so erratically that their software had to be amended
with a last-minute "patch". Instead of being
transmitted via disk - a potentially time-consuming
process, especially since its author was in Canada,
not Georgia - the patch was posted, along with the
entire election software package, on an open-access
FTP, or file transfer protocol site, on the internet.

That, according to computer experts, was a violation
of the most basic of security precautions, opening all
sorts of possibilities for the introduction of rogue
or malicious code. At the same time, however, it gave
campaigners a golden opportunity to circumvent
Diebold's own secrecy demands and see exactly how the
system worked. Roxanne Jekot, a computer programmer
with 20 years' experience, and an occasional teacher
at Lanier Technical College northeast of Atlanta, did
a line-by-line review and found "enough to stand your
hair on end".

"There were security holes all over it," she says,
"from the most basic display of the ballot on the
screen all the way through the operating system."
Although the program was designed to be run on the
Windows 2000 NT operating system, which has numerous
safeguards to keep out intruders, Ms Jekot found it
worked just fine on the much less secure Windows 98;
the 2000 NT security features were, as she put it,

Also embedded in the software were the comments of the
programmers working on it. One described what he and
his colleagues had just done as "a gross hack".
Elsewhere was the remark: "This doesn't really work."
"Not a confidence builder, would you say?" Ms Jekot
says. "They were operating in panic mode, cobbling
together something that would work for the moment,
knowing that at some point they would have to go back
to figure out how to make it work more permanently."
She found some of the code downright suspect - for
example, an overtly meaningless instruction to divide
the number of write-in votes by 1. "From a logical
standpoint there is absolutely no reason to do that,"
she says. "It raises an immediate red flag."

Mostly, though, she was struck by the shoddiness of
much of the programming. "I really expected to have
some difficulty reviewing the source code because it
would be at a higher level than I am accustomed to,"
she says. "In fact, a lot of this stuff looked like
the homework my first-year students might have turned
in." Diebold had no specific comment on Ms Jekot's
interpretations, offering only a blanket caution about
the complexity of election systems "often not well
understood by individuals with little real-world

But Ms Jekot was not the only one to examine the
Diebold software and find it lacking. In July, a group
of researchers from the Information Security Institute
at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore discovered
what they called "stunning flaws". These included
putting the password in the source code, a basic
security no-no; manipulating the voter smart-card
function so one person could cast more than one vote;
and other loopholes that could theoretically allow
voters' ballot choices to be altered without their
knowledge, either on the spot or by remote access.

Diebold issued a detailed response, saying that the
Johns Hopkins report was riddled with false
assumptions, inadequate information and "a multitude
of false conclusions". Substantially similar findings,
however, were made in a follow-up study on behalf of
the state of Maryland, in which a group of computer
security experts catalogued 328 software flaws, 26 of
them critical, putting the whole system "at high risk
of compromise". "If these vulnerabilities are
exploited, significant impact could occur on the
accuracy, integrity, and availability of election
results," their report says.

Ever since the Johns Hopkins study, Diebold has sought
to explain away the open FTP file as an old,
incomplete version of its election package. The claim
cannot be independently verified, because of the
trade-secrecy agreement, and not everyone is buying
it. "It is documented throughout the code who changed
what and when. We have the history of this program
from 1996 to 2002," Ms Jekot says. "I have no doubt
this is the software used in the elections." Diebold
now says it has upgraded its encryption and password
features - but only on its Maryland machines.

A key security question concerned compatibility with
Microsoft Windows, and Ms Jekot says just three
programmers, all of them senior Diebold executives,
were involved in this aspect of the system. One of
these, Diebold's vice-president of research and
development, Talbot Iredale, wrote an e-mail in April
2002 - later obtained by the campaigners - making it
clear that he wanted to shield the operating system
from Wylie Labs, an independent testing agency
involved in the early certification process.

The reason that emerges from the e-mail is that he
wanted to make the software compatible with WinCE 3.0,
an operating system used for handhelds and PDAs; in
other words, a system that could be manipulated from a
remote location. "We do not want Wyle [sic] reviewing
and certifying the operating systems," the e-mail
reads. "Therefore can we keep to a minimum the
references to the WinCE 3.0 operating system."

In an earlier intercepted e-mail, this one from Ken
Clark in Diebold's research and development
department, the company explained upfront to another
independent testing lab that the supposedly secure
software system could be accessed without a password,
and its contents easily changed using the Microsoft
Access program Mr Clark says he had considered putting
in a password requirement to stop dealers and
customers doing "stupid things", but that the easy
access had often "got people out of a bind".
Astonishingly, the representative from the independent
testing lab did not see anything wrong with this and
granted certification to the part of the software
program she was inspecting - a pattern of
lackadaisical oversight that was replicated all the
way to the top of the political chain of command in
Georgia, and in many other parts of the country.

Diebold has not contested the authenticity of the
e-mails, now openly accessible on the internet.
However, Diebold did caution that, as the e-mails were
taken from a Diebold Election systems website in March
2003 by an illegal hack, the nature of the information
stolen could have been revised or manipulated.

There are two reasons why the United States is rushing
to overhaul its voting systems. The first is the
Florida débâcle in the Bush-Gore election; no state
wants to be the center of that kind of attention
again. And the second is the Help America Vote Act
(HAVA), signed by President Bush last October, which
promises an unprecedented $3.9bn (£2.3bn) to the
states to replace their old punchcard-and-lever
machines. However, enthusiasm for the new technology
seems to be motivated as much by a bureaucratic love
of spending as by a love of democratic accountability.
According to Rebecca Mercuri, a research fellow at
Harvard's John F Kennedy School of Government and a
specialist in voting systems, the shockingly high
error rate of punchcard machines (3-5 per cent in
Florida in 2000) has been known to people in the
elections business for years. It was only after it
became public knowledge in the last presidential
election that anybody felt moved to do anything about

The problem is, computer touchscreen machines and
other so-called DRE (direct recording electronic)
systems are significantly less reliable than
punchcards, irrespective of their vulnerability to
interference. In a series of research papers for the
Voting Technology Project, a joint venture of the
prestigious Massachusetts and California Institutes of
Technology, DREs were found to be among the worst
performing systems. No method, the MIT/CalTech study
conceded, worked more reliably than hand-counting
paper ballots - an option that US electoral officials
seem to consider hopelessly antiquated, or at least
impractical in elections combining multiple local,
state and national races for offices from President
down to dogcatcher.

The clear disadvantages and dangers associated with
DREs have not deterred state and county authorities
from throwing themselves headlong into touchscreen
technology. More than 40,000 machines made by Diebold
alone are already in use in 37 states, and most are
touchscreens. County after county is poised to spend
hundreds of millions of dollars more on computer
voting before next spring's presidential primaries.
"They say this is the direction they have to go in to
have fair elections, but the rush to go towards
computerization is very dubious," Dr Mercuri says.
"One has to wonder why this is going on, because the
way it is set up it takes away the checks and balances
we have in a democratic society. That's the whole
point of paper trails and recounts."

Anyone who has struggled with an interactive display
in a museum knows how dodgy touchscreens can be. If
they don't freeze, they easily become misaligned,
which means they can record the wrong data. In Dallas,
during early voting before last November's election,
people found that no matter how often they tried to
press a Democrat button, the Republican candidate's
name would light up. After a court hearing, Diebold
agreed to take down 18 machines with apparent
misalignment problems. "And those were the ones where
you could visually spot a problem," Dr Mercuri says.
"What about what you don't see? Just because your vote
shows up on the screen for the Democrats, how do you
know it is registering inside the machine for the

Other problems have shown up periodically: machines
that register zero votes, or machines that indicate
voters coming to the polling station but not voting,
even when a single race with just two candidates was
on the ballot. Dr Mercuri was part of a lawsuit in
Palm Beach County in which she and other plaintiffs
tried to have a suspect Sequoia machine examined, only
to run up against the brick wall of the trade-secret
agreement. "It makes it really hard to show their
product has been tampered with," she says, "if it's a
felony to inspect it."

As for the possibilities of foul play, Dr Mercuri says
they are virtually limitless. "There are literally
hundreds of ways to do this," she says. "There are
hundreds of ways to embed a rogue series of commands
into the code and nobody would ever know because the
nature of programming is so complex. The numbers would
all tally perfectly." Tampering with an election could
be something as simple as a "denial-of-service"
attack, in which the machines simply stop working for
an extended period, deterring voters faced with the
prospect of long lines. Or it could be done with
invasive computer codes known in the trade by such
nicknames as "Trojan horses" or "Easter eggs".
Detecting one of these, Dr Mercuri says, would be
almost impossible unless the investigator knew in
advance it was there and how to trigger it. Computer
researcher Theresa Hommel, who is alarmed by
touchscreen systems, has constructed a simulated
voting machine in which the same candidate always
wins, no matter what data you put in. She calls her
model the Fraud-o-matic, and it is available online at

It is not just touchscreens which are at risk from
error or malicious intrusion. Any computer system used
to tabulate votes is vulnerable. An optical scan of
ballots in Scurry County, Texas, last November
erroneously declared a landslide victory for the
Republican candidate for county commissioner; a
subsequent hand recount showed that the Democrat had
in fact won. In Comal County, Texas, a computerized
optical scan found that three different candidates had
won their races with exactly 18,181 votes. There was
no recount or investigation, even though the
coincidence, with those recurring 1s and 8s, looked
highly suspicious. In heavily Democrat Broward County,
Florida - which had switched to touchscreens in the
wake of the hanging chad furore - more than 100,000
votes were found to have gone "missing" on election
day. The votes were reinstated, but the glitch was not
adequately explained. One local official blamed it on
a "minor software thing".

Most suspect of all was the governor's race in
Alabama, where the incumbent Democrat, Don Siegelman,
was initially declared the winner. Sometime after
midnight, when polling station observers and most
staff had gone home, the probate judge responsible for
elections in rural Baldwin County suddenly
"discovered" that Mr Siegelman had been awarded 7,000
votes too many. In a tight election, the change was
enough to hand victory to his Republican challenger,
Bob Riley. County officials talked vaguely of a
computer tabulation error, or a lightning strike
messing up the machines, but the real reason was never
ascertained because the state's Republican attorney
general refused to authorize a recount or any
independent ballot inspection.

According to an analysis by James Gundlach, a
sociology professor at Auburn University in Alabama,
the result in Baldwin County was full of wild
deviations from the statistical norms established both
by this and preceding elections. And he adds: "There
is simply no way that electronic vote counting can
produce two sets of results without someone using
computer programs in ways that were not intended. In
other words, the fact that two sets of results were
reported is sufficient evidence in and of itself that
the vote tabulation process was compromised." Although
talk of voting fraud quickly subsided, Alabama has now
amended its election laws to make recounts mandatory
in close races.

The possibility of flaws in the electoral process is
not something that gets discussed much in the United
States. The attitude seems to be: we are the greatest
democracy in the world, so the system must be fair.
That has certainly been the prevailing view in
Georgia, where even leading Democrats - their prestige
on the line for introducing touchscreen voting in the
first place - have fought tooth-and-nail to defend the
integrity of the system. In a phone interview, the
head of the Georgia Technology Authority who brought
Diebold machines to the state, Larry Singer, blamed
the growing chorus of criticism on "fear of
technology", despite the fact that many prominent
critics are themselves computer scientists. He says:
"Are these machines flawless? No. Would you have more
confidence if they were completely flawless? Yes. Is
there such a thing as a flawless system? No." Mr
Singer, who left the GTA straight after the election
and took a 50 per cent pay cut to work for Sun
Microsystems, insists that voters are more likely to
have their credit card information stolen by a busboy
in a restaurant than to have their vote compromised by
touchscreen technology.

Voting machines are sold in the United States in much
the same way as other government contracts: through
intensive lobbying, wining and dining. At a recent
national conference of clerks, election officials and
treasurers in Denver, attendees were treated to
black-tie dinners and other perks, including free
expensive briefcases stamped with Sequoia's company
logo alongside the association's own symbol. Nobody in
power seems to find this worrying, any more than they
worried when Sequoia's southern regional sales
manager, Phil Foster, was indicted in Louisiana a
couple of years ago for "conspiracy to commit money
laundering and malfeasance". The charges were dropped
in exchange for his testimony against Louisiana's
state commissioner of elections. Similarly, last year,
the Arkansas secretary of state, Bill McCuen, pleaded
guilty to taking bribes and kickbacks involving a
precursor company to ES&S; the voting machine company
executive who testified against him in exchange for
immunity is now an ES&S vice-president.

If much of the worry about vote-tampering is directed
at the Republicans, it is largely because the big
three touchscreen companies are all big Republican
donors, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into
party coffers in the past few years. The ownership
issue is, of course, compounded by the lack of
transparency. Or, as Dr Mercuri puts it: "If the
machines were independently verifiable, who would give
a crap who owns them?" As it is, fears that US
democracy is being hijacked by corporate interests are
being fueled by links between the big three and
broader business interests, as well as extremist
organizations. Two of the early backers of American
Information Systems, a company later merged into ES&S,
are also prominent supporters of the Chalcedon
Foundation, an organization that espouses theocratic
governance according to a literal reading of the Bible
and advocates capital punishment for blasphemy and

The chief executive of American Information Systems in
the early Nineties was Chuck Hagel, who went on to run
for elective office and became the first Republican in
24 years to be elected to the Senate from Nebraska,
cheered on by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper which
also happens to be a big investor in ES&S. In yet
another clamorous conflict of interest, 80 per cent of
Mr Hagel's winning votes - both in 1996 and again in
2002 - were counted, under the usual terms of
confidentiality, by his own company.

In theory, the federal government should be monitoring
the transition to computer technology and rooting out
abuses. Under the Help America Vote Act, the Bush
administration is supposed to establish a sizeable
oversight committee, headed by two Democrats and two
Republicans, as well as a technical panel to determine
standards for new voting machinery. The four
commission heads were supposed to have been in place
by last February, but so far just one has been
appointed. The technical panel also remains
unconstituted, even though the new machines it is
supposed to vet are already being sold in large
quantities - a state of affairs Dr Mercuri denounces
as "an abomination".

One of the conditions states have to fulfil to receive
federal funding for the new voting machines,
meanwhile, is a consolidation of voter rolls at state
rather than county level. This provision sends a chill
down the spine of anyone who has studied how Florida
consolidated its own voter rolls just before the 2000
election, purging the names of tens of thousands of
eligible voters, most of them African Americans and
most of them Democrats, through misuse of an erroneous
list of convicted felons commissioned by Katherine
Harris, the secretary of state doubling as George
Bush's Florida campaign manager. Despite a volley of
lawsuits, the incorrect list was still in operation in
last November's mid-terms, raising all sorts of
questions about what other states might now do with
their own voter rolls. It is not that the Act's
consolidation provision is in itself evidence of a
conspiracy to throw elections, but it does leave open
that possibility.

Meanwhile, the administration has been pushing new
voting technology of its own to help overseas citizens
and military personnel, both natural Republican Party
constituencies, to vote more easily over the internet.
Internet voting is notoriously insecure and open to
abuse by just about anyone with rudimentary hacking
skills; just last January, an experiment in internet
voting in Toronto was scuppered by a Slammer worm
attack. Undeterred, the administration has gone ahead
with its so-called SERVE project for overseas voting,
via a private consortium made up of major defense
contractors and a Saudi investment group. The contract
for overseeing internet voting in the 2004
presidential election was recently awarded to
Accenture, formerly part of the Arthur Andersen group
(whose accountancy branch, a major campaign
contributor to President Bush, imploded as a result of
the Enron bankruptcy scandal).

Not everyone in the United States has fallen under the
spell of the big computer voting companies, and there
are signs of growing wariness. Oregon decided even
before HAVA to conduct all its voting by mail.
Wisconsin has decided it wants nothing to do with
touchscreen machines without a verifiable paper trail,
and New York is considering a similar injunction, at
least for its state assembly races. In California, a
Stanford computer science professor called David Dill
is screaming from the rooftops on the need for a paper
trail in his state, so far without result. And a New
Jersey Congressman called Rush Holt has introduced a
bill in the House of Representatives, the Voter
Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, asking for
much the same thing. Not everyone is heeding the
warnings, though. In Ohio, publication of the letter
from Diebold's chief executive promising to deliver
the state to President Bush in 2004 has not deterred
the secretary of state - a Republican - from putting
Diebold on a list of preferred voting-machine vendors.
Similarly, in Maryland, officials have not taken the
recent state-sponsored study identifying hundreds of
flaws in the Diebold software as any reason to change
their plans to use Diebold machines in March's
presidential primary.

The question is whether the country will come to its
senses before elections start getting distorted or
tampered with on such a scale that the system becomes
unmanageable. The sheer volume of money offered under
HAVA is unlikely to be forthcoming again in a hurry,
so if things aren't done right now it is doubtful the
system can be fixed again for a long time. "This is
frightening, really frightening," says Dr Mercuri, and
a growing number of reasonable people are starting to
agree with her. One such is John Zogby, arguably the
most reliable pollster in the United States, who has
freely admitted he "blew" last November's elections
and does not exclude the possibility that foul play
was one of the factors knocking his calculations off
course. "We're plowing into a brave new world here,"
he says, "where there are so many variables aside from
out-and-out corruption that can change elections,
especially in situations where the races are close. We
have machines that break down, or are tampered with,
or are simply misunderstood. It's a cause for great

Roxanne Jekot, who has put much of her professional
and personal life on hold to work on the issue full
time, puts it even more strongly. "Corporate America
is very close to running this country. The only thing
that is stopping them from taking total control are
the pesky voters. That's why there's such a drive to
control the vote. What we're seeing is the
corporatization of the last shred of democracy.

"I feel that unless we stop it here and stop it now,"
she says, "my kids won't grow up to have a right to
vote at all."

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

Posted by richard at 04:27 PM

Coleen Rowley: The wrong side of 'us vs. them'

Colleen Rawley was one of the first names scrawled on
the John O'Neill Wall of Heroes. She has kept up her
brave challenge to the Bush cabal's Just Us Dept. Of
course, she wholly ignored by the "US mainstream news
media." LNS, once again, suggests that the Democratic
Party give Colleen Rawley, as well the the legendeary
9/11 widows and the activist parents of Iraq GIs prime
time speeches at the convention in August '04, they
should be introduced by Max Cleland (D-GA) with the
Dixie Chicks providing musical interludes. Business as
usual is unacceptable and inappropriate. We are in a
state of national emergency and extraordinary
political gambles must be taken...


Coleen Rowley: The wrong side of 'us vs. them'
Coleen Rowley

Published October 12, 2003 ROWLEY1012

I didn't attend Attorney General John Ashcroft's
speech last month in Minneapolis, but newspapers have
quoted him as saying that Americans are "freer today
than at any time in the history of human freedom."

Well, this American disagrees! And I would venture to
say that many others feel the same way -- those who
have been put on the "them" side of the "us vs. them"
equation in the context of the administration's
"you're either with us or against us" mentality.

It didn't matter whether you were a career FBI agent,
a decorated war veteran, a duly elected congressman or
senator, a military general or even a former
president, you were labeled a traitor for voicing any
criticism of administration policies. You were accused
of giving aid and comfort to the enemy, called a
friend of Osama bin Laden and thrown to the wolves (or
more accurately, the FOXes).

The intimidation in this country that's been whipped
up by this official fear and warmongering has been far
more effective than any Patriot Act in whittling away
our civil liberties.

Interestingly enough, Ashcroft himself is not above
using this technique to lump those who disagree with
him in with the terrorists to thereby discourage
debate. Recall his statement, three months after Sept.
11: "To those who scare peace-loving people with
phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your
tactics only aid terrorists -- for they erode our
national unity and diminish our resolve. They give
ammunition to America's enemies."

It's also no secret that this administration has used
its considerable power to fight giving any real legal
protection to government whistle-blowers and even
attempted to water down the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's
protections recently enacted for corporate

Of course, no "whistle-blower protection" exists for
public disclosures or articles such as this one. But
even without it, the First Amendment should suffice
and is what I rely on. However, the official warnings
along these lines that I've repeatedly received in the
course of my attempts to speak on issues of public
importance seem little more than veiled threats; or
are they perhaps a warning that the First Amendment is
not as robust as it used to be?

There's another large segment of our citizenry who
have found themselves cast as "thems" by this "war"
mentality. Complaints of discrimination against Muslim
workers and reports of hate crimes against people
believed to be of Middle Eastern descent have at least

Social psychologists say that the attacks of Sept. 11
and their aftermath have created a real-world
experiment which unfortunately indicates that the more
positively one feels about the United States, the more
likely one is to be anti-Arab.

Although it must be recognized that the origin of this
problem was in the horror of the violent attacks
themselves and that certain government leaders, such
as FBI Director Robert Mueller, have undertaken
efforts to reach out to affected Arab groups, the
social scientists point to other government actions
following 9/11 (including the government's roundup and
detention of illegal immigrants, the special
registration requirements that single out students and
visitors from Muslim nations, and the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq) as sending "social signals" that
are worsening these biases.

A specialist in the issues of prejudice and
stereotyping has noted that people who perceive
themselves under threat naturally tend to think of
"who's with me" and "who's against me." In any event,
I doubt that many in the Arab-American segment of the
populace feel "freer today," as Ashcroft's generality

I could go on in a more general, abstract way about
how "free" any of us truly is living with the ongoing
terrorist threat to our safety that will be with us
for a long time. For, distilled to their essences,
security and liberty are very intertwined, if not the
same thing. In that sense, how many people in
yellow/orange-alert America feel "freer" today than
they did prior to 9/11?

Ashcroft may be correct on other matters, including
that the letter of the law contained in the Patriot
Act is, for the most part, not the problem, but he is
certainly either in denial, out of touch or painting
far too rosy a picture by saying that Americans are
"freer today than at any time in the history of human
freedom." For our civil liberties can be and are in
jeopardy in other ways.

For starters, we must do more to break down the "us
vs. them" mind-set and the accompanying intimidation
that ultimately threaten us all. We must recognize
that we are all in this together.

Coleen Rowley works for the Federal Bureau of
Investigation as a special agent with the Minneapolis
office. (The views expressed are her own and are not
to be construed as the official views of the FBI.)

Posted by richard at 04:23 PM

Primate expert calls Bush's environmental record ``terrifying''

Another distinguished name to scrawl on the John
O'Neill Wall of Heroes....
Associated Press: Jane Goodall denounces the _resident, "The president of the United States has sent a message around the world -- be afraid," Goodall said, contrasting Bush's leadership with Winston Churchill's reassuring style when World War II terrorized her native England. Asked whether her blunt remarks put her at risk of being labeled partisan, Goodall said she merely calls situations as she sees them, without regard to politics. "There are certain people in decision-making places who are clearly doing the wrong thing," she said. "If we care about justice and we care about stewardship of the planet, we have to speak out."


Primate expert calls Bush's environmental record ``terrifying''

LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer Sunday, October
12, 2003

(10-12) 14:05 PDT SAN FRANCISCO (AP) --

Primatologist Jane Goodall criticized President Bush's
environmental policies Sunday, charging the White
House with leading an "onslaught" against the
Endangered Species Act that could lead to more African
animals being killed or captured for profit.

Goodall, famed worldwide for her life's work studying
and protecting chimpanzees in Tanzania, said her
beloved apes and other species face a threat from the
Bush Administration that could undo decades of
conservation efforts.

"When I start talking about the long list of reversals
of legislation that the Bush administration has
introduced over the last three years, it's
terrifying," Goodall said during an appearance at San
Francisco's Episcopal Grace Cathedral.

She cited an effort by the White House to amend the
1973 Endangered Species Act so U.S. companies can
import a certain number of endangered animals if they
compensate the animals' native countries with money
for conservation programs. Currently, such animals
can't be imported into the United States.

Goodall said she believes circus owners and other
businesses that use animals for entertainment or
research are responsible for the proposed change.

"Obviously, they have lobbied someone in the
administration to introduce this terrible bill,"
Goodall said. "We mustn't let it happen."

Goodall is known internationally as an outspoken
advocate for environmental causes. United Nations
Secretary General Kofi Annan named Goodall a U.N.
Messenger of Peace last year, and she was made a dame
of the British Empire -- the female equivalent of a
knight -- by Queen Elizabeth this year.

During her remarks in San Francisco, Goodall also
accused Bush of promoting a global climate of fear
since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to justify
building more nuclear weapons.

"The president of the United States has sent a message
around the world -- be afraid," Goodall said,
contrasting Bush's leadership with Winston Churchill's
reassuring style when World War II terrorized her
native England.
Asked whether her blunt remarks put her at risk of
being labeled partisan, Goodall said she merely calls
situations as she sees them, without regard to
"There are certain people in decision-making places
who are clearly doing the wrong thing," she said. "If
we care about justice and we care about stewardship of
the planet, we have to speak out."

Posted by richard at 04:18 PM

October 12, 2003

Bush gives in to chemical companies, leaving the nation vulnerable.

LNS covered this disgraceful story back in August when
Gary Hart (D-Reality) wrote an op-ed on it piece
published by the WASHPs...It is shameless, but what is
even more shamless and disgraceful (and if you think I
am harping on and on, explain why it is not on your
evening news or on the Sunday morning
propapunditgandists' outrage of the week...Yes, even
phoney liberals like Margaret Carlson and Al Hunt
ignore this shocking breach of Homeland Security) Dean
(D-Jeffords), Clark (D-NATO) and to a lesser extent
Kerry (D-Mekong Delta) have shown courage in this race
so far, one of them or all of them should go to these
sites and stand outside them and demand an
explanation. But not only that...they should go a step
farther...They go to these sites, stand outside and
turn on the press corp and demand to know why this
story has not been on the front page and in the lead
of the evening news. Use it as a brilliantly lucid
example of how complicit and protective the "US
mainstream news media" has been in its service for the
Bush cabal...Yes, political leaders and Hollywood
stars are denounced as unpatriotic when they speak out
against the war, but the chemical industry is allowed
to jeopardize the lives of hundreds of thousands of
innnocent citizens as repayment for the generous
campaing contributions...


Open to Attack
Bush gives in to chemical companies, leaving the nation vulnerable.
by Anne-Marie Cusac

Since September 11, 2001, the nation has been on alert
about the vulnerability of chemical facilities. And
while the Bush Administration claims that homeland
security is a priority, time after time, it has opted
to do nothing dramatic to improve the security of U.S.
chemical facilities. All along, it has followed the
wishes of the U.S. chemical industry--at our peril.

The risk to the American people is great. According to
the General Accounting Office, "123 chemical
facilities located throughout the nation have toxic
'worst-case' scenarios where more than a million
people in the surrounding area could be at risk of
exposure to a cloud of toxic gas if a release

Approximately 700 other plants, says the GAO, "could
each potentially threaten at least 100,000 people in
the surrounding area, and about 3,000 facilities could
each potentially threaten at least 10,000 people."

The Bush Administration knows there is a huge security
risk. On February 6, 2002, George Tenet, the director
of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified that Al
Qaeda could be planning to target chemical facilities.
In February 2003, the Bush Administration announced
that terrorists "may attempt to launch conventional
attacks against the U.S. nuclear/chemical industrial
infrastructure to cause contamination, disruption, and
terror. Based on information, nuclear power plants and
industrial chemical plants remain viable targets."
(This article looks at security in the chemical

The Administration refuses to do what is necessary to
protect the American public from terrorist attacks on
chemical plants. Instead, it is listening to what
industry wants.

"We haven't even done the minimal things," says Gary
Hart, the former Democratic Senator from Colorado and
one-time Presidential candidate. "There has been zero
leadership from either the White House or the new
department" of Homeland Security.

Hart has a lot of credibility on this issue. As
co-chair of the United States Commission on National
Security in the Twenty-First Century, he helped author
the commission's prescient report, "New World Coming:
American Security in the 21st Century," published in
September 1999. The report warned that, in the course
of the next quarter century, terrorist acts involving
weapons of mass destruction were likely to increase.
"Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly
in large numbers," it said.

Hart says that private industry won't spend what it
takes to make adequate security changes. "I don't
think many companies are going to disturb their bottom
line," he says, "unless they are ordered to by the
federal government, or if the President goes on
national TV and tells them to do so." Those orders
have not yet arrived.

Bush has given primary responsibility for overseeing
security improvements in the chemical industry to the
EPA. At first, the EPA appeared eager to take on the
task. In fact, then-EPA Administrator Christine Todd
Whitman even prepared a speech announcing a new
security initiative, according to papers Greenpeace
obtained through an EPA leak and a Freedom of
Information Act request.

A June 11, 2002, document labeled,
"Draft--Pre-decisional--Do Not Cite or Quote,"
concerns a "Rollout Strategy for Chemical Facility
Site Security." According to the documents, Whitman
and Tom Ridge, head of Homeland Security, were to
announce the new policy at the White House.

"I am pleased to join Governor Ridge today to announce
a series of new initiatives by the Environmental
Protection Agency to advance security at facilities
that handle hazardous chemicals," Whitman's speech
begins. "Particularly in the post-9/11 era, it should
be clear to everyone that facilities handling the most
dangerous chemicals must take reasonable precautions
to protect themselves and their communities from the
potential consequences of a criminal attack."

EPA was going to get right on it. "Starting in July,
EPA representatives will begin visiting high priority
chemical facilities to discuss their current and
planned security efforts," the speech read. "These
visits will allow EPA to survey security and, if
appropriate, encourage security improvements at these

Despite the detailed preparations, Whitman never gave
the speech, and the new policy was never issued.

What happened?

Industry weighed in.

"We heard from industry," says a former EPA official
who declines to be named. The chemical lobby insisted
that the agency did not have authority to go after
companies that did not adequately safeguard their
plants, the official says.

Also hearing from industry was Bush's Council on
Environmental Quality (CEQ), which has a sympathetic
ear. The CEQ is located across the street from the
White House and is headed by James Connaughton, who
formerly worked as a lobbyist for power companies.

Industry lobbying groups such as the American
Chemistry Council and the American Petroleum Institute
were in repeated contact with the CEQ during the
summer and fall of 2002, according to the documents
Greenpeace obtained.

The American Petroleum Institute vehemently opposed
EPA regulation of plant security under the Clean Air
Act. "EPA's existing authority to regulate 'accidental
releases' from chemical facilities . . . does not
encompass authority to address terrorist attacks,"
reads one document (bold in original) that the
petroleum lobby submitted to the CEQ. The EPA's claim
that it has the "authority to require plant operators
to implement counter-terrorism measures goes far
beyond the plain language of the statute and would
impose new legal obligations without the proper
legislative authority."

Aware of this argument, the EPA considered introducing
legislation that would have explicitly expanded its
authority under the Clean Air Act. Section 112(r)
assigns chemical plants in this country the general
duty of preventing dangerous accidents. The draft
legislation would have broadened this responsibility
to require the chemical industry to take measures to
reduce the potential danger of criminal attacks,
including terrorism.

A draft of the new general duty clause said, "All
chemical facilities handling extremely hazardous
chemicals have a general duty to identify hazards that
may result from releases caused by terrorist or other
criminal activity using appropriate assessment
techniques, to design and maintain a secure facility,
and to minimize the consequences of releases that do
occur." EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher
discussed this draft in a May 2002 presentation
entitled "Proposal for Chemical Security Legislation,"
according to the documents.

Fisher's presentation included a slideshow that
revealed how dire the situation is. One slide, which
explained why the legislation was necessary, asked,
"Is industry safe? No way to answer under current

But the EPA backed off on the legislative route as

While the chemical and petroleum industries were busy
putting the skids on the EPA, they also were working
on Congress.

Senator Jon Corzine, Democrat of New Jersey, had
attempted to attach an amendment to the Senate's
Homeland Security bill that would have granted the EPA
authority to regulate security at plants housing
dangerous chemicals. It also would have required those
facilities, when possible, to decrease the amounts of
dangerous substances they store on site.

A modified version of Corzine's bill, the Chemical
Security Act of 2001, had received unanimous approval
from the Senate's Environment and Public Works
Committee on July 25, 2002.

An alarmed chemical industry sprang into action,
"mounting daily assaults on the Republican members of
the [Environment and Public Works] committee
throughout August," reported John Judis in The New
Republic last January. An August 29, 2002, letter,
signed by thirty members of the chemical and oil
industry lobby and sent to Republican members of the
committee, deplored the new bill, particularly its
proposal to "grant sweeping new authority to EPA to
oversee facility security." The lobbyists objected
strongly to a particular provision that would have
required plants to use "inherently safer
technologies." This would "allow government
micromanagement in mandating substitutions of all
processes and substances," the letter stated, adding
that it could "result in increased security risks."

By September 10, seven out of the nine Republican
members on the committee bowed to the pressure,
issuing a letter against the Corzine bill, claiming it
"severely misses the mark" (emphasis in the original).

During that same summer, members of the American
Chemistry Council (ACC) "gave more than $1 million in
political contributions, most of it to Republicans.
Eight Senators who were critical of the Corzine bill
have received more than $850,000 from the ACC and its
member companies," according to a Common Cause report
dated January 27, 2003.

Frederick Webber, then head of the American Chemistry
Council, was a prominent donor to President Bush's
2000 campaign, having agreed to raise $100,000 in
funding for it and recruiting "more than twenty-five
chemical industry executives to be Bush fundraisers,"
said Common Cause.

In addition to the industry efforts to lobby the
Senators, the American Petroleum Institute was again
in close contact with the CEQ, repeatedly sending
copies of its "talking points" on the Corzine
amendment to CEQ staff.

A September 6, 2002, fax from Red Cavaney, president
and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, to James
Connaughton, chairman of the CEQ, includes a
handwritten message, "Urgent--Please deliver. Hard
copy to follow." The letter, which begins "Dear Jim,"
says that if the EPA gains authority to oversee the
anti-terrorism measures of industry, "a year's worth
of close cooperation and partnership between industry
and a wide variety of qualified federal security
experts may well be marginalized."

When Corzine attempted to introduce his legislation as
an amendment to the Homeland Security bill, the
Republican Senators blocked a vote, effectively
killing the bill. On November 19, the Homeland
Security bill passed the Senate. The bill did not
include Corzine's amendment.

Nor did the bill include any other binding provisions
for security at chemical plants.

The industry is proud of the role it played in nixing
the plans for heightened security. .

"The reason we're organized is to tell the government
what would work well to take care of certain
problems," says Bill Hickman, spokesman for the
American Petroleum Institute, in response to questions
about whether the organization pressured the
government on security issues. "We always are talking
to the government. We always are telling them what
will work best. We're familiar with these issues and
think we're pretty good advisers to the government."

When I approached the American Chemistry Council for
comment, Kate McGloon, a spokeswoman for the
organization, asked, "Is there anyone you need to talk
to?" She instantly offers to put me in touch with
people inside the Department of Homeland Security and
the EPA.

Marty Durbin, director of federal relations and team
leader for security at the American Chemistry Council,
says his organization had some problems with Corzine's
bill because it would have given primary jurisdiction
over chemical plant security "to EPA rather than to
the Department of Homeland Security." EPA officials,
he says, "are not the right folks to be doing

Although Corzine reintroduced his bill this year, a
bill by Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma,
is also under consideration. The Inhofe bill, which
the American Chemistry Council says is more to its
liking, would remove chemical plant security oversight
from the EPA and place it in the hands of the
Department of Homeland Security. Gary Hart has
criticized the Inhofe bill for including "virtually no
oversight or enforcement of safety requirements."

Corzine is incredulous at the lack of government
oversight and the risk that entails. "Our chemical
facilities represent a clear vulnerability in our war
against terrorism," he says. "Yet, as common-sense
security measures continue to stall in Congress, this
appears to be a classic instance of the special
interests trumping the public interest. More than two
years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon, we have not taken the first step in
setting national security standards for our chemical
infrastructure." Corzine is blunt about who is at
fault: "The Administration is putting the interests of
industry ahead of the safety of the American people."

Chemical companies depend on the rails to transport
hazardous chemicals, and the Department of
Transportation has also buckled under industry

If chemical security is the weak link in homeland
security, says Rick Hind, legislative director for the
Greenpeace Toxics Campaign, "railroad shipping is the
weak link within that. In order to make a dangerous
chemical plant dangerous, you have to ship dangerous
chemicals. And that goes right through the backyard of

Like the EPA, the Department of Transportation
initially moved to tighten things up. On May 2, 2002,
it issued notice that it was preparing a new rule
governing security requirements for those who sell or
transport hazardous materials. One requirement said,
"Routes should minimize product exposures to populated
areas and avoid tunnels and bridges, where possible."

The DOT's announcement resulted in almost 300
responses, nearly all of them from affected
industries, particularly chemical, petroleum, and
fertilizer companies, including the Chlorine
Institute, Formosa Plastics, Monsanto, Phillips
Petroleum, Dupont, Dow Chemical, BASF, the American
Petroleum Institute, the American Chemistry Council,
the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council, the Fertilizer
Institute, and the Institute of Makers of Explosives.

"About ten to twenty" of the comments on the
rulemaking asked that the language about routes "be
removed because it would have locked them in or
restricted what they could do in setting up their
individual security plans," says Joe Delcambre, a
public affairs representative in the Research and
Special Programs Administration at the Department of
Transportation. "To give the industry more latitude in
how they were going to set up their security plans,"
he says, "we backed off on the wording."

The department's final rule, issued in March of this
year, completely omits the language about preferable

"There's nothing really in there that says anything
about restricting transport at any time," says Hind.
He expected the rule at least to require constraints
on dangerous chemicals in heavily populated areas
during orange alerts. "But they didn't even do that,"
he says.

In September, the Sierra Club photographed a rail tank
car carrying chlorine near the U.S. Capitol.
Greenpeace took notice. "We are formally requesting
immediate action by the Secret Service to address a
near and present danger to the President, Vice
President, Speaker of the House, and all other
national leaders living and working in Washington,
D.C.," Hind wrote to the Secret Service. By the EPA's
own worst-case estimates, a leak from one ninety-ton
rail car of chlorine could kill or injure "people in
the Congress, the White House, and any of 2.4 million
local residents within fourteen miles," Hind wrote.

Greenpeace isn't the only one raising alarms. On June
20, FBI Special Agent Troy Morgan, a specialist on
weapons of mass destruction, addressed a chemical
security summit in Philadelphia. "You've heard about
sarin and other chemical weapons in the news," he
said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "But
it's far easier to attack a rail car full of toxic
industrial chemicals than it is to compromise the
security of a military base and obtain these

Jerry Poje is a member of the U.S. Chemical Safety and
Hazard Investigation Board. This government
organization was formed in the wake of the December 2,
1984, Union Carbide disaster that killed thousands of
people in Bhopal, India. He, too, is worried about
chlorine. "It's a chemical whose use is very common in
the country," says Poje. "There are many, many, many
rail cars" filled with it.

Industry says it can adequately monitor itself. The
American Chemistry Council, for one, has adopted a
"Security Code of Management Practices." Member
companies are supposed to conduct vulnerability
assessments using methodologies designed by approved
organizations, implement a security plan, and submit
their security measures to outside verification.

However, the organization is not specific in its
security requirements. For instance, it doesn't
require background checks on guards. It doesn't
require companies to minimize the dangerous chemicals
they store on site. It doesn't require companies to
fix holes in their fences. "You can't really have a
cookie-cutter approach" to different plants, says
Durbin. He also says that each chemical facility gets
to choose the person who verifies that it has actually
carried out a security plan.

The GAO studied industry's voluntary efforts. Its
March 2003 report is entitled "Voluntary Initiatives
Are Under Way at Chemical Facilities but the Extent of
Security Preparedness Is Unknown." The title pretty
much sums up the problem with security in the chemical
industry. We don't know what's going on.

"To date, no one has comprehensively assessed the
security of chemical facilities. No federal laws
explicitly require that chemical facilities assess
vulnerabilities or take security actions to safeguard
their facilities against terrorist attack," says the
report. "No agency monitors or documents the extent to
which chemical facilities have implemented security
measures. Consequently, federal, state, and local
entities lack comprehensive information on the
vulnerabilities facing the industry."

The GAO report reveals that the EPA is worried about
the voluntary initiatives, which "raise an issue of
accountability, since the extent that industry group
members are implementing voluntary initiatives is

In the end, voluntary security initiatives collide
with the need to save money. "According to industry
officials, chemical companies face a challenge in
achieving cost-effective security solutions, noting
that companies must weigh the cost of implementing
countermeasures against the perceived reduction in
risk," the GAO report says.

The GAO's observation that money is getting in the way
of security at our chemical plants is borne out by a
research report by the Conference Board, a business
organization. Entitled "Corporate Security Management:
Organization and Spending Since 9/11," the research
found that "the median increase [from October 2002 to
February 2003] in total security spending is only 4

The reason for the overall lack of spending on
security, concluded the Conference Board, was
economics. "The perceived need to upgrade corporate
security has clashed with the perceived need to
control expenses until the economy recovers," it

The American Chemistry Council says it does not yet
have figures on what its member companies are spending
on security.

Gary Hart has not stopped issuing warnings. In 2002,
he co-chaired another report, this one sponsored by
the Council on Foreign Relations. Entitled "America
Still Unprepared--America Still in Danger," the report
cautioned, "A year after September 11, 2001, America
remains dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond
to a catastrophic terrorist attack on U.S. soil. In
all likelihood, the next attack will result in even
greater casualties and widespread disruption to
American lives and the economy."

On August 11, Hart published an op-ed in The
Washington Post. "The government has failed to plug a
gaping hole in homeland security: our vulnerable
chemical plants," he wrote. Those plants "are among
the potentially most dangerous components of our
critical infrastructure. Securing them requires urgent

Hart blames the Administration's inaction on "coziness
with the private sector, their campaign contributions,
their political alliances." This Administration, he
tells The Progressive, has a tendency to "put those
political alliances ahead of national security."

Saying he is "very frustrated" at the Bush
Administration's negligence, Hart warns: "We will be
attacked again."

Anne-Marie Cusac is Investigative Reporter for The

Posted by richard at 04:15 PM

October 11, 2003

French Sleaze Inquiry Targets US Oil Subsidiary

Well, someone has to do it. The US Just Us Dept.
certainly won't, the Republican-controlled Cnogress
certainlty won't. The corporate "US mainstream news
media" certainly won't. So the public prosecutor in
Paris is investigating Halliburton' sleazy deals under
its then CEO and the US's current VICE _resident, that
low-talking ghoul, Dick Cheney, and of course the UK
Guardian (America's best newspaper) is covering the
story. At least, some facts will be documented and
made publicly available...Vive le France!

U.K. Guardian: "The public prosecutor's office in Paris said
yesterday it was opening a formal judicial inquiry
into alleged corruption by a French engineering firm
and the American oil services giant Halliburton, which
was headed until two years ago by Dick Cheney, the
vice-president of the United States."


Published on Saturday, October 11, 2003 by the
French Sleaze Inquiry Targets US Oil Subsidiary
by Jon Henley in Paris

PARIS — The public prosecutor's office in Paris said
yesterday it was opening a formal judicial inquiry
into alleged corruption by a French engineering firm
and the American oil services giant Halliburton, which
was headed until two years ago by Dick Cheney, the
vice-president of the United States.

Also See:
Cheney Firm Paid Millions in Bribes to Nigerian
Guardian/UK 5/9/2003

The investigation is the first of its kind in France
under laws introduced as part of an international
convention on cross-border corruption signed in 1997
by some 35 countries, including the US.

The financial crimes squad in Paris believes a French
oil and gas engineering firm, Technip, and
particularly the Halliburton subsidiary KBR were
jointly involved during the 1990s in the payment of up
to $200m (£120m) of under-the-counter "commissions" in
relation to a huge gas contract in Nigeria.

The convention, under the auspices of the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development, aims to
fight corporate attempts to buy the favors of public
authorities abroad.

It allows the police forces of signatory countries to
investigate any company suspected of offering
commercial sweeteners of any kind to elected or
unelected public officials anywhere in the world.

According to Le Figaro newspaper, French police
believe KBR was behind a web of off-shore companies
and bank accounts set up to "facilitate" the work of
TSKJ, a joint venture between four engineering
companies that had won a lucrative contract from
international oil companies to build a large liquefied
natural gas plant on Bonny Island in the eastern Niger

TSKJ, in which KBR was the leading player, allegedly
paid a second off-shore company at least $180m in
commissions - most of which was transferred to a score
of different off-shore bank accounts - for "mediating"
with the Nigerian authorities. It is alleged that much
of that money wound up in the pockets of public

The French judicial investigation into "corruption of
foreign public officials, abuse of funds, complicity
and receiving misappropriated monies" targets KBR but
will inevitably involve Halliburton, KBR's parent
company, which recently won around $1.7bn worth of
contracts from the Bush administration to help rebuild
Iraq's oil industry.

Some observers, however, said that the potentially
embarrassing French investigation into such a
well-connected American company could merely be a
cynical tit-for-tat response to an equally sensitive
investigation in the US into alleged wrongdoing by
Crédit Lyonnais during the French bank's buyout of
Executive Life Insurance Co, a failed US insurance

French judicial officials said on Wednesday that the
US was seeking the extradition of four former senior
French executives in the case.

Crédit Lyonnais has been under investigation in the US
since 1998, when American authorities discovered it
had secretly - and illegally - acquired Executive
Life's assets in the 1990s.

At the time, banks were barred from owning insurance
companies in America. Executive Life's assets included
California junk bonds, which the French bank later
sold at a profit of at least $2bn.

The French government and Crédit Lyonnais last month
struck a preliminary deal to settle the long-running

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003


Posted by richard at 04:13 PM

Melting glaciers threaten Peru

Several more US soldiers have died in Iraq over the
last three days. For what? Meanwhile, here is another
story highlighting one of the _resident's most
aggregious abdication's of moral leadership: pulling
out of the Kyoto accords, which of course highlighting
Ralph Nada's great, and unforgivable lie (i.e, that
there would be no different between Bush and Gore)...

BBC: "Thousands of people in the Andes mountains of Peru are having their lives affected in both a practical and cultural way by climate change, which is causing the region's glaciers to melt..."In a few years' time we might not have any ice. I don't know where the Andean people will be able to go for their rituals."


Melting glaciers threaten Peru

Thousands of people in the Andes mountains of Peru are
having their lives affected in both a practical and
cultural way by climate change, which is causing the
region's glaciers to melt.

The Andes glaciers are disappearing fast
This is already having a major impact of some aspects
of life for the people who live in the mountains - and
the government of the country is worried that the
situation could get much worse.

In the last three decades, Peruvian glaciers have lost
almost a quarter of their area.

"This is an indicator which gave us some concern on
how the future was going to be on these tropical
glaciers," Patricia Iturregui, head of the Climate
Change Unit of Peru's National Council for the
Environment, told BBC World Service's One Planet

"All our estimations on the basis of this data are
that in the next 10 years the top tropical glaciers of
Peru - and eventually other Andean countries - above
5,500 metres will disappear if climate conditions
remain as the last 10 years."

Nasa fears

The most immediate threat is coming from the change to
water supplies in the area.

During the dry season, river water comes exclusively
from the glaciers, which melt naturally at that time
of year. They then replenish themselves in the wet

But this balance has been upset - the glaciers are
melting faster than they can replenish themselves.

Nasa says its satellites have detected a crack in the
glacier near Lake Palcacocha
As they thaw, dozens of new lakes have spread all over
the highland.

A recent report by US space agency Nasa suggested that
a large chunk of ice in the area could break off and
fall into one of these lakes, triggering a devastating

Satellites had detected a crack in the glacier
overlooking Lake Palcacocha.

One city under threat would be Huaraz, with a
population of 100,000. The news from Nasa came as a
very worrying shock to many in the city.

"We were all very worried in my family - we packed
suitcases with clothes and blankets," Joana, one of
the citizens of Huaraz, told One Planet.

"We warned our relatives to be prepared."

Risk assessment

Some scientists dispute Nasa's claims. Mario Giva, of
the Peruvian National Institute for Natural Resources,
said that it was "necessary for some work in the field
to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of
any imminent danger".

Nevertheless, Nasa is currently in conversation with
the Peruvian Government over these findings, which is
drawing up plans to respond to the risks posed by the
melting glaciers.

"We need to make an important effort to plan disaster
management and prevention of risks in the future," Ms
Iturregui said.

"The most important measures to be taken are to
organise local communities and to organise an
institutional framework able to respond to these
adverse effects."

She added that an assessment of water resources
available in the future was currently under way.

"We are in the process of desertification," stressed
Ms Iturregui.

"The retreat of the glaciers is definitely going to
mean a shortfall in the water supply in years to

Tourism threat

Some in Huarez itself recall when, in 1941, a chunk of
ice did melt off - and destroyed around a third of the
city, killing between 5,000 and 7,000 people.

The melting water is putting some of Peru's irrigation
system under strain
But the melting glaciers are also causing other

The deluge is proving too much for some of the canals
- some of which are many years old - that supply the
farms and mills in the central region.

Conversely, the fact that the glaciers are not
replenishing themselves is also a potential threat to
life in the region, as in the dry season they are the
sole source of fresh water.

And there are further impacts on the lives of people
in the mountains.

"Now, glaciers are sliding over the bedrock," said
glacier expert Cecil Portocarrero.

"This is causing problems - not only for water
resources but also for tourism, for climbers."

'Healing water' banned

Meanwhile some ancient spiritual traditions are also
under threat.

Every year thousands of people from across the Andes
flock to the Sinakara glacial mountain to attend the
Qoyllur Rit'i religious festival.

Catholic tradition believes that the Christ child
appeared in 1870 to a shepherd boy named Marianito
Mayta. Ever since, pilgrims have believed that Christ
lives in the rock.

Villages in Peru have only the glaciers for fresh
And for the Incas - and other civilisations that
preceded them - mountains were gods to be honoured, as
they supplied water and controlled the weather.

Many people come down from the glacier with pieces of
ice, as they believe the ice can cure them of illness.

"They think it acts like a medicine - like a sacred
water," explained mountain guide Feri Coba.

"Perhaps at home someone is not feeling well. They
will drink it and they will be cured."

Ritual ending

This year, because of concerns about melting, the
Pablitos - the guardians of the Qoyllur Rit'i ceremony
- have stopped the ice being taken away.

"We decided to eliminate this part of a ritual because
we are concerned about the glacier," explained one
Pablito. "We have taken this decision to protect the

The decision has upset many pilgrims.

"The glaciers were bigger - when I first came here
this particular one reached around 200 metres down,"
one said.

"In a few years' time we might not have any ice. I
don't know where the Andean people will be able to go
for their rituals."

Posted by richard at 04:11 PM

October 10, 2003

Bill Moyers on Big Media

Again, paraphrasing Carville's brilliant forumation in
1992, "It's the Media, Stupid." Here is another
painful and dangerous reminder -- from one of those
brave men and women whose names has been scraled on
the John O'Neill Wall of Heroes...

Bill Moyers: "Big Media companies keep getting bigger -- with more and more power over our lives. This week's deal between General Electric (GE) and Vivendi means that GE'S NBC, which helped elect Arnold Schwarzenegger Governor of California, has just picked up not only Universal Studios...Now the most powerful Republican in Congress, Tom Delay, the House Majority Leader, won't let a vote happen. The effort to reverse the FCC is dead in the water, sinking the democratic process with it. "


Published on Friday, October 10, 2003 by
Bill Moyers on Big Media

Big Media companies keep getting bigger -- with more
and more power over our lives. This week's deal
between General Electric (GE) and Vivendi means that
GE'S NBC, which helped elect Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor of California, has just picked up not only
Universal Studios, but the USA, Trio and Sci-fi cable
channels to go with CNBC and MSNBC, all part now of a
$43 billion dollar empire.

Then, there's radio. The non-partisan Center for
Public Integrity is out with a new study showing that
in each of 43 different cities a third of the radio
stations are owned by a single company. No company's
supposed to own more than eight in any market, but the
media giants thumb their nose at the rules all the
time. In 34 of those 43 markets, one company owns more
than eight stations.

The big daddy of all is Clear Channel Communications
-- 1200 stations altogether. In Mansfield, Ohio, Clear
Channel owns eleven of the seventeen radio stations in
your town. In Corvallis, Oregon, over half of what
people hear is decided by Clear Channel -- seven of
thirteen radio stations.

Cumulus Media is the second biggest radio empire.
Cumulus, remember, banned the Dixie Chicks. Cumulus
owns eight of the fifteen radio stations in Albany,

It's a similar story in television. No single company
is supposed to control more than one television
station per city, except in some big markets. But look
at what's happened in Wilmington, North Carolina,
where there are three network affiliate stations --
Fox, NBC and ABC. This year, the Fox station changed
hands. On paper, the new owner was Southeastern Media
Holdings. But then Southeastern Media announced that
Raycom Media would help manage the company. Raycom
already owns the NBC station, so it combined the two
news departments and laid off much of the staff.

But hold on to your hat -- Raycom and Southeastern
Media Holdings turn out to be part of the same
company. Now there's not only one less independent
news operation in Wilmington, there's also one less
media company.

The flimflamery goes on. In 33 other cities, stations
that are supposed to be competitors have found clever
ways to undermine the existing rules, mergers and
takeovers, for example. Remember when Viacom married
CBS and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp ponied up for the
television stations owned by Chris-Craft? Those deals
put both conglomerates in violation of the rule that
no one company can control stations that reach more
than thirty five percent of the total audience. But so
what? The FCC just rolled over, winked, and gave both
conglomerates temporary waivers of the rule. A little
time passed and this summer the FCC raised the limit
to give the big guys what they wanted, anyway. But
that giveaway brought protests from over two million
citizens; they turned the FCC into a beseiged Bastille
on the Potomac. Such indignation from the grass roots
caused even the Senate to say, "Whoa, something's
going on. People really care about this issue." And
the Senate stopped the FCC in its tracks. There are
enough votes to do the same in the House. But then,
General Electric, owner of NBC; News Corp, owner of
Fox; Viacom, owner of CBS; and Walt Disney, owner of
ABC, brought on the hired guns ... the lobbyists ...
to wage a Trojan War on Congress. A passel of former
insiders moved through the revolving door, rolodex in
tow, trading their influence for cash -- top aides of
the Senate Majority Leader, the House Majority Whip
and of John Ashcroft himself.

Now the most powerful Republican in Congress, Tom
Delay, the House Majority Leader, won't let a vote
happen. The effort to reverse the FCC is dead in the
water, sinking the democratic process with it.

Bill Moyers is host of NOW with Bill Moyers, airing
Fridays at 9pm ET on PBS (check local listings at


Posted by richard at 02:58 PM

Lessons in Civility

Be rude. Read this peice from Krugman, the Voice of
Greater Greenspania and the Moral Conscience of the
NYTwits. There is something going on. Do not even be
afraid of the McGovern brush now. I will tell you
why...When McGovern ran, the US electorate did not
understand, they did not know what was happening in
Vietnam. There was no Internet-based Information
Rebellion. BUT they learned, painfully, and they have
not forgotten. Running a General, like Clark (D-NATO),
or a war veteran like Kerry (D-Mekong Delta), or both
together would inoculate against the McGovernizing,
but do not be afraid of it, even if Dean (D-Jeffords)
emerges victorious. This period is very


Lessons in Civility


Published: October 10, 2003

It's the season of the angry liberal. Books like Al
Franken's "Lies and
Lying Liars Who Tell Them," Joe Conason's "Big Lies"
and Molly Ivins's
"Bushwhacked" have become best sellers. (Yes, I've got
one out there,
But conservatives are distressed because those
liberals are so angry
rude. O.K., they admit, they themselves were a bit
rude during the
years — that seven-year, $70 million investigation of
a tiny
land deal, all that fuss about the president's private
life — but
sorry, and now it's time for everyone to be civil.

Indeed, angry liberals can take some lessons in
civility from today's

Consider, for example, Fox News's genteel response to
the CNN correspondent. Ms. Amanpour recently expressed
some regret over
CNN's prewar reporting: "Perhaps, to a certain extent,
my station was
intimidated by the administration and its foot
soldiers at Fox News." A
spokeswoman replied, "It's better to be viewed as a
foot soldier for
than as a spokeswoman for Al Qaeda."

And liberal pundits who may be tempted to cast
personal aspersions can
lessons in courtesy from conservatives like Charles
Krauthammer, who
December reminded TV viewers of his previous career as
a psychiatrist,
said of Al Gore, "He could use a little help."

What's really important, of course, is that political
figures stick to
issues, like the Bush adviser who told The New York
Times that the
with Senator John Kerry is that "he looks French."

Some say that the right, having engaged in
name-calling and smear
when Bill Clinton was president, now wants to change
the rules so such
behavior is no longer allowed. In fact, the right is
still calling
and smearing; it wants to prohibit rude behavior only
by liberals.

But there's more going on than a simple attempt to
impose a double
standard. All this fuss about the rudeness of the Bush
critics is an attempt to preclude serious discussion
of that
administration's policies. For there is no way to be
both honest and
about what has happened in these past three years.

On the fiscal front, this administration has used
deceptive accounting
ram through repeated long-run tax cuts in the face of
And it continues to push for more tax cuts, when even
the most sober
observers now talk starkly about the risk to our
solvency. It's
impolite to
say that George W. Bush is the most fiscally
irresponsible president in
American history, but it would be dishonest to pretend

On the foreign policy front, this administration hyped
the threat from
Iraq, ignoring warnings from military professionals
that a prolonged
postwar occupation would tie down much of our Army and
undermine our
military readiness. (Joseph Galloway, co-author of "We
Were Soldiers
Once .
. . and Young," says that "we have perhaps the finest
Army in history,"
that "Donald H. Rumsfeld and his civilian aides have
done just about
everything they could to destroy that Army.") It's
impolite to say that
Bush has damaged our national security with his
military adventurism,
it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise.

Still, some would say that criticism should focus only
on Mr. Bush's
policies, not on his person. But no administration in
memory has made
paeans to the president's character — his "honor and
integrity" — so
central to its political strategy. Nor has any
previous administration
so determined to portray the president as a hero,
going so far as to
him in line with the heads on Mount Rushmore, or
arrange that landing
the aircraft carrier. Surely, then, Mr. Bush's critics
have the right
point out that the life story of the man inside the
flight suit isn't
particularly heroic — that he has never taken a risk
or made a
for the sake of his country, and that his business
career is a story of
murky deals and insider privilege.

In the months after 9/11, a shocked nation wanted to
believe the best of its leader, and Mr. Bush was
treated with reverence. But he abused the trust
placed in him, pushing a partisan agenda that has left
the nation weakened and divided. Yes, I know that's a
rude thing to say. But it's also the truth.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company | Home |
Privacy Policy |

Posted by richard at 02:56 PM

October 09, 2003

Media Tips for the Next Recall

It's the Media, Stupid.

Normon Solomon: "After decades as a media creature of entertainment, this fall Arnold Schwarzenegger easily made the transition to being a media creature of politics. His victory will encourage other mind-numbing celebrities to further blur the distinctions between arrogant stories and rational government policies."


Published on Thursday, October 9, 2003 by
Media Tips for the Next Recall
by Norman Solomon

Now that California's electorate has rewarded a
dramatic recall effort, some sequels are likely
elsewhere in the near future. It's a good bet that
political operatives in many states will try to learn
from this fall's Golden State extravaganza.

Media strategists were key to the recall drive that
ended in triumph for Arnold Schwarzenegger's savvy
corporate backers. So, as a public service, here are
some tips for any partisans who want a shot at
spinning their way into recall history:

Do your best to capitalize on smoldering resentments.
Don't bother to illuminate much about the actual
underlying causes of social discontent. Try to use
citizen outrage as bait to attract the support of
talk-show hosts, pundits, ambitious politicians and
well-heeled contributors.

Spark plugs for the California recall were happy to
vilify Gray Davis as a crafty charlatan and/or
incompetent cold fish. The governor made such
caricatures easy; he raked in lots of sizeable checks
from vested interests and engaged in budgetary sleight
of hand. But instead of confronting his deference to
energy firms that functioned as rip-off artists -- or
denouncing his refusal to back tax hikes for large
corporations and wealthy individuals -- the recall's
conservative boosters preferred to blame Davis for too
much spending and not enough solicitude to big

Try to throw a manipulative harness on sincere
concerns among voters. Keep the media messages simple
and simplistic.

In California, an anti-tax drumbeat -- with lots of
media reverb -- went a long way toward drowning out
voices that called for a major shift to progressive
taxation. Little news coverage and scant paid
advertising explained that such a shift could mean
higher taxes for the rich and large companies but
lower taxes for everyone else.

If a luminary on the campaign team goes "off message"
with a genuinely sensible observation, put a sock in
it, pronto.

Early in the short campaign, a much-ballyhooed
economic adviser for Schwarzenegger made improperly
logical comments. Warren Buffett pointed out that
Proposition 13, California's venerable property-tax
limitation law, "doesn't make sense." The fabled
financier noted that he was paying $2,264 for a year's
worth of property taxes on a Southern California home
valued at $4 million. But a press secretary for the
actor-turned-politician rushed to proclaim that "Mr.
Buffett doesn't speak for Mr. Schwarzenegger" and
hastened to add that the candidate "has supported
Prop. 13 for 25 years."

Do your best to generate a steady stream of media
messages that obscure complexities of underlying power
relations while providing plenty of buzz phrases and
images that mostly serve as triggers for pre-existing

Sound-bite platitudes and Schwarzenegger's
muscle-bound celeb candidacy were well-suited to what
passed for news on television, where even "in depth"
stories were usually the word-length equivalent of a
few short paragraphs. While newspapers provided some
notably serious reporting, for the most part the TV
news zone was predictably agog with glitz and sizzle.

Personalize to dodge basic issues.

In California, for well over a century, oligopolies of
land holdings have throttled the state. Yet when
recall promoters claimed to be speaking truth about
power, they zeroed in on the corporate front man in
the governor's office rather than confront (or even
acknowledge) the dominance of real estate interests:
from urban concrete labyrinths and suburban
developments to the vast tracts of rural acreage owned
by multi-multimillionaires and agribusiness.

Cloak a candidate eager to serve elites in the garb
of a populist champion.

Schwarzenegger's plain-speaking cliches supplied media
window dressing for an economic mind-set amounting to
a dream come true for upper-class combatants in the
class wars.

Whenever possible, conflate entertainment fantasies
with social realities, even while claiming to always
know the difference.

After decades as a media creature of entertainment,
this fall Arnold Schwarzenegger easily made the
transition to being a media creature of politics. His
victory will encourage other mind-numbing celebrities
to further blur the distinctions between arrogant
stories and rational government policies.

Norman Solomon's weekly syndicated column is archived
at www.fair.org/media-beat . His latest book,
co-authored with Reese Erlich, is "Target Iraq: What
the News Media Didn't Tell You."


Posted by richard at 02:52 PM

Senators reiterate call for special prosecutor to investigate

Sen. Tom Duck-It (D-SD) and Sen. Joe Biden
(D-Sellaware) are *not* political grenade hurlers.
Maybe one good thing will come out of the "Total
Recall" Putsch in California, maybe the last Democrat
has turned the other cheek...Business as usual is
unacceptable. We are in a *civil* (just barely) war.
No more polite concession speeches, no more avoidance
of harsh words like "liar" and "idiot." It is time to
fight...If Biden and Duck-It have realized it, the
hour is indeed very late (i.e., as the bard sang, "Let
us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late)...


Dems blast White House on leak probe

Senators reiterate call for special prosecutor to investigate

WASHINGTON (CNN) --Four leading Democratic senators
accused the White House on Thursday of bungling a
probe into the leak of an undercover CIA officer's
name in what the outed operative's husband calls an
attempt at political intimidation.

In a letter to President Bush, Minority Leader Tom
Daschle of South Dakota and three others said the
White House has made "at least five serious missteps"
in the leak probe so far.

The biggest is leaving Attorney General John Ashcroft
in charge of the probe rather than naming a special
prosecutor to handle it, as they have called for
previously, they said.

"We are at risk of seeing this investigation so
compromised that those responsible for this national
security breach will never be identified and
prosecuted," the senators wrote.

The letter was signed by Sens. Joseph Biden of
Delaware, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee; Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking
Democrat on the Armed Services Committee; and Sen.
Charles Schumer of New York, one of the first
lawmakers to call for an investigation of the leak.

There was no immediate reaction from the White House
or the Justice Department.

The White House has said it is cooperating with the
investigation, which was sparked by the publication of
CIA operative Valerie Plame's name in a July 14 piece
by syndicated columnist Robert Novak, co-host of CNN's
"Crossfire" program. Novak attributed the report to
"senior administration officials."

The disclosure came about a week after Plame's
husband, Joseph Wilson, a retired career diplomat and
former ambassador, wrote a New York Times op-ed
article suggesting the Bush administration distorted
intelligence to justify the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq
in March.

The White House later said the reference to British
intelligence reports that Iraq tried to purchase
uranium in Africa should not have been included in
Bush's State of the Union speech.

Wilson has said the White House leaked his wife's name
to retaliate against him and to intimidate other
critics who might consider coming forward, a charge
administration officials have disputed .

White House counsel Alberto Gonzales will review
staffers' records of any contacts related to the
matter before turning them over to investigators.

The White House calls the procedure standard, but some
Democrats suggest it would allow Gonzales to keep
track of damaging information or the focus of the

Other missteps the senators cited in their letter
Thursday include:

• Failing to order employees to preserve evidence
until three days after the Justice Department probe

• Not delivering that order to all staff until the
following day.

• Waiting another day to extend that order to the
Pentagon and the State Department.

In addition, the senators wrote, White House press
secretary Scott McClellan's declaration that three
senior officials were not responsible for the leak
"has now put the Justice Department in the position of
having to determine not only what happened, but also
whether to contradict the publicly stated position of
the White House."

McClellan said Tuesday he had questioned White House
political adviser Karl Rove, National Security Council
aide Elliot Abrams and Lewis Libby, Vice President
Dick Cheney's chief of staff about the leak and was
told "they were not involved."

Posted by richard at 02:50 PM

Dean Says Bush is Setting the Stage for the 'Failure of America'

Two men are talking tough and straight to the American
people, they are the leading candidates for the
Anti-Bush: Wesley Clark (D-NATO) and Howard Dead
(D-Jeffords). The LNS suggests they run together, and
I do not care which one is at the top of the
ticket...Read this story to see how "Dr. Dean" slices
his way out of the plastic bag that the NYTwits
reporter pushed over his head...


Published on Thursday, October 9, 2003 by the New York
Dean Says Bush is Setting the Stage for the 'Failure of America'
by Jodi Wilgoren

WASHINGTON — Howard Dean, a candidate for the
Democratic presidential nomination, on Wednesday
offered perhaps his most overarching critique yet of
the Republican incumbent, saying, "I think what the
president is doing is setting the stage for the
failure of America."

"If you look at what's happened to other great
countries," Dr. Dean said over lunch with reporters
and editors of The New York Times, "they get in
trouble when they can't manage their money — and this
president's certainly proven himself adept at that —
and they get in trouble when they overstretch their
military capabilities."

Howard Dean, a candidate for the Democratic
presidential nomination, sharply criticized the
president's foreign policy Wednesday. (NYT
Photo/Stephen Crowley)

"This country's a great country, and the reason it's
an important country is not just because I'm an
American and proud to be an American," he continued.
"America is the beacon of hope for the rest of the
world. We are the last country on earth where cynicism
doesn't pervade government. Americans really hope that
things are going to get better in the world and they
can make things better, and Americans believe more
than any other people that we can make things better
by sheer will and money and hard work."

Dr. Dean said he expects jobs to be the primary issue
in next year's general election, and he expects Ohio
to be the critical swing state. But he spent most of
the interview answering questions about foreign
policy, attacking President Bush on Iraq and North
Korea and promising to send former President Bill
Clinton to the Middle East as a peace broker.

President Bush, Dr. Dean said, is "particularly poorly
suited" for foreign policy "because he has a black and
white view of the world, and foreign policy depends on
enormous understandings of nuances and trade-offs."

As the former governor of Vermont who got a medical
deferment to avoid service in Vietnam, Dr. Dean said
he would combat criticism of his national security
bona fides by surrounding himself with people who
could inspire confidence in such issues.

Though he declined to speculate on cabinet
appointments or potential running mates, Dr. Dean, who
has lately spent much time attacking his Democratic
rivals as Washington insiders who have, collectively,
spent more than a century on Capitol Hill, said he
would also pick people who could navigate the Beltway.

"The most important criteria for whether you're going
to be any good at foreign policy or not is judgment
and patience, both of which are in short supply in
this presidency." Dr. Dean said. "The major mistake
that governors make when they come into Washington is
they think subconsciously that the relationship
between the Congress and the president is somehow like
the relationship between the legislature and the
governor," he added, predicting that "getting someone
who understands the levers of power in Washington is
going to be important as well."

Regarding Iraq, Dr. Dean, who opposed the American
invasion this spring, promised to bring National Guard
and Army reserve troops home, leaving 70,000 American
troops, and to add about 110,000 international troops,
mostly from Muslim and Arab nations. Some experts say
that is probably unrealistic, considering the military
capabilities of American allies in the Middle East.

Other than urging repeal of recent tax cuts to pay for
reconstruction, Dr. Dean refused to say how he would
vote, were he in Congress, on the $87 billion
financing proposal.

"I'm not running for Congress, I'm running for
president," he said.

On North Korea, Dr. Dean said Mr. Bush had bungled the
situation by announcing at a news conference with Kim
Dae Jung, the former president of South Korea, that he
planned to pursue a policy of isolation toward North
Korea. While the news conference was not as explicit
as Dr. Dean described, Mr. Bush and the South Korean
leader split sharply on Korea policy at that meeting
early in Mr. Bush's presidency, and their relationship
never recovered.

Dr. Dean said he would conduct bilateral negotiations
on the principle of constructive engagement — "that in
return for a verifiable ending of their nuclear
program," he explained, "they would be back in the
community of nations."

"You will improve the behavior of rogue nations and
have more leverage to do so if they're inside the tent
than if they're outside the tent," he said. "The
president and his neocon advisers decided they were
going to teach the North Koreans a lesson, and
unfortunately, North Korea has the power to inflict a
fairly painful lesson on us."

Dr. Dean declined to discuss the other Democratic
rivals except to say "they all come from Washington,
which I think, this year, is going to be a problem for
them." Though he said it was too early to draw broad
lessons from the California recall, he said the
message is change which he painted as positive for his

"My strategy is, we're better than this, we can do
better than this," he added. "America's always been
the country of hope and of high moral principles and
ideals. Let's hope again."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company


Posted by richard at 02:48 PM

Let the general lead Democrats' charge

On Tuesday, Gov. Gray Davis(D-CA.), a good man, an
intelligent man and a worthy public official, was
politically mugged and beaten to death by a mob. In
the mayhem, Cruz Busto-Mondo (D-CA.) proved an
ineffectual champion of California's progressive
majority vote. In the shadow of the "Total Recall"
Putsch, the astute political observations that Bob
Scheer makes in this story are even more important to
read and share with others...


Robert Scheer
Creators Syndicate

Let the general lead Democrats' charge
Will voters like Clark, if Clark is like Ike?
In my reckless youth, I briefly sported an "I like
Ike" button, which didn't go over particularly well in
my corner of the Bronx, where support of even a
moderate Republican represented a betrayal of
everything decent.
In hindsight, though, I was right -- the genial
general-turned-president proved to be a warrior for
peace and an important critic of what he saw as a
"military-industrial complex" that threatened the very
fabric of democracy: "We must never let the weight of
this combination endanger our liberties or democratic
processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an
alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the
proper meshing of huge industrial and military
machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and
goals, so that security and liberty may prosper

I bring up this ancient history now because I think of
retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark as potentially another
Eisenhower, a leader for tense times who is properly
cautious about the deadly follies of war.

The juggernaut of defense contractors, hawkish think
tanks and a $400 billion annual Pentagon budget is
just as powerful as ever, wielding an agenda that
rarely matches what taxpayers want or the country
needs: war, or at least the constant threat of war,
and the most expensive war toys our scientists can

Isn't it odd that after a terrorist attack that relied
on $2 box cutters, we are redoubling our pursuit of
fantastical weaponry, giving billions in tax dollars
to the same war profiteers who sell to regimes, like
Saddam Hussein's, that will one day turn on us?

Of course, the U.S. weapons contractors win no matter
who loses on the battlefield because U.S. arms sales
account for at least 45 percent of total world
military exports. And the industry's big shots were
thrilled with Bush's effective transmogrification of a
regional tyrant, Hussein, into a new world-conquering
Hitler, further validating obscene expenditures in a
post-Cold War era that was supposed to find us
enjoying a "peace dividend."

Is it counterintuitive to hope another general might
provide the same wisdom Eisenhower did? Certainly
Colin Powell, who expressed some wise thoughts on the
limits of American hubris in Vietnam, seems to have
conveniently forgotten those hard-earned lessons to
fit in on the all-hubris-all-the-time Bush team.
Sometimes, however, it is the generals who know best
how to wage peace.

This is not to take any credit away from Howard Dean,
Dennis Kucinich or other Democratic candidates waging
an uphill fight to get their party to do its duty to
hold the Bush administration accountable for lying us
into the disastrous occupation of Iraq. Their
consistency has kept the Democrats on course, as
opposed to the likes of Joe Lieberman, who still
defends the war in Iraq.

But in the very least it is enormously clarifying to
have a battle-scarred former general front and center
to explain why the president's reckless policies are
weakening the nation's security.

As Clark put it last week, Bush's "headlong rush to
war" resulted in "dire consequences for our security."
And I don't care if Clark is a "pure" Democrat, a
question that seems to trouble some of his Democratic
opponents. Pure Democrats like Lyndon Johnson have
also ensnared us in disastrous wars. On domestic
issues, Clark demonstrated a commitment to the party's
progressive wing Friday, telling the Democratic
National Committee, "I want to make one thing clear:
I'm pro-choice, I'm pro-affirmative action, I'm
pro-environment, pro-education, pro-health care and
pro-labor. And if that ain't a Democrat, then I must
be at the wrong meeting."

But clearly Clark's main strength is in challenging
the neoconservative clique that has brainwashed our
naive president into a hare-brained scheme of remaking
the world into an American empire. In the process,
they have declared war, as Clark noted, "against
anyone who expresses dissent, questions their facts or
challenges their logic."

And just as with Vietnam, where Clark was wounded,
Iraq is proving to be a quagmire sucking up massive
U.S. resources that prevents us from addressing
pressing domestic problems: Social Security, health
care, education, jobs, violence. Last week, in
calling for an "independent, comprehensive
investigation into the administration's handling of
the intelligence leading to war in Iraq," Clark raised
the key issue facing this president. "Nothing could be
a more serious violation of public trust than to
consciously make a case for war based on false
claims," he said.

And there you have it -- the basic issue that the
Democrats must address in the next election, or it
isn't worth having one.

Posted by richard at 02:45 PM

October 08, 2003

Executive Privilege Seen as Leak-Case Option, Shielding Material is Not Ruled Out; Democrats Protest

The injustice that befell California yesterday started
in a hotel room with only Conan the Deceiver, Ken Lay,
Michael Milliken and Richard Riordan present. You and
I will live to see it avenged politically. MEANWHILE,
of course, it sucks all the air out of the REAL news
of the day: a great national injustice deepening, ever
deepening. ("Out, out damn spot!") But you and I will
live to see this one too politically avenged. AND both
political retributions will come sooner than later.
Remember, more than ever, 2+2=4!


Published on Wednesday, October 8, 2003 by the Boston
Executive Privilege Seen as Leak-Case Option, Shielding Material is Not Ruled Out; Democrats Protest

by Wayne Washington

WASHINGTON -- Despite President Bush's repeated
pledges of full cooperation, administration officials
yesterday refused to rule out invoking executive
privilege to shield some documents from Justice
Department investigators looking into whether someone
in the White House illegally leaked the name of a CIA

McClellan said Gonzales's office set its own deadline
for 5 p.m. yesterday so that it could go through the
piles of information to see what information is
relevant and should be turned over. Gonzales's office
will also have the opportunity to examine what
information, if any, should not be turned over because
the administration believes it is protected by
executive privilege.

Democrats who have complained that the investigation
should be handled by a special counsel instead of the
Justice Department because of its connections to the
White House said the prospect of executive privilege
being used shows that more independence is needed.

"Asserting executive privilege would make a farce of
the investigation," said US Senator Edward M. Kennedy,
Democrat of Massachusetts. "That's why we need a
special prosecutor, so that we can challenge any

The very words "executive privilege" evoke memories of
scandal-plagued presidents trying to use the power of
their office to hide from public view politically
damaging information, and White House press secretary
Scott McClellan was careful not to use the term.
Still, he would not rule out the use of executive
privilege, saying: "I think it's premature to even
speculate about such matters."

Presidents can invoke executive privilege to shield
from public view some aspects of their internal
decision-making process. "It's used to shroud advice
that's sometimes inflammatory or has been rejected,"
said Thomas Sargentich, a law professor at American
University in Washington, D.C. "Executive privilege is
not supposed to be a shield in criminal

Yesterday, Bush pledged "full disclosure" in the leak
investigation, adding that he wants "to know the

But even as the approximately 2,000 people who work
for him at the White House scoured their desks for
notes and e-mail to meet a 5 p.m. deadline to deliver
any documents related to the alleged disclosure, Bush
said the identity of the leaker might never be known.

"This is a town full of people who like to leak
information," Bush said to reporters after meeting
with Cabinet members. "I have no idea whether we'll
find out who the leaker is partially because, in all
due respect to your profession, you do a very good job
of protecting the leakers."

As the 5 p.m. deadline passed, staff members scrambled
to turn over relevant documents to White House Counsel
Alberto R. Gonzales, who is the White House's liaison
to the Justice Department during the investigation.
Justice Department officials have given the White
House specific deadlines to produce documents related
to the investigation, though they would not make the
dates public. McClellan said the deadlines are in the
next couple of weeks.

McClellan said Gonzales's office set its own deadline
for 5 p.m. yesterday so that it could go through the
piles of information to see what information is
relevant and should be turned over.

Gonzales's office will also have the opportunity to
examine what information, if any, should not be turned
over because the administration believes it is
protected by executive privilege. The Justice
Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which provides
legal opinions on questions with constitutional
dimensions, would review any White House claims.

Sargentich, who worked in the Office of Legal Counsel
during the Carter and Reagan administrations, said
lawyers in that office can make independent judgments,
though the attorney general remains their boss and can
overrule them.

If the White House asserts a claim of executive
privilege, Sargentich said it would be a strong sign
that the investigation is heading to the highest
levels of the Bush administration, given that the
claim can only be used to shield the president's
decision-making process.

Former US ambassador Joseph Wilson has backed off his
initial claim that Bush's top political adviser, Karl
Rove, leaked the name of his CIA agent wife, Valerie
Plame, as retribution for his work disputing some of
the intelligence the administration used to bolster
its case for war in Iraq. It is a federal crime to
disclose the name of an undercover CIA agent.

Wilson now says that Rove did nothing to contain the

McClellan said that neither Rove nor Lewis "Scooter"
Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff,
nor Elliott Abrams, director of Mideast Affairs at the
National Security Council, leaked Plame's name to the
press or authorized the disclosure.

But McClellan refused to say if Rove pointed reporters
to the disclosure. Yesterday, US Representative John
Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House
Judiciary Committee, called on Rove to resign.

"Since these initial allegations have arisen, neither
the White House nor your office have denied your
involvement in furthering the leak," Conyers wrote in
a letter to Rove.

Administration officials have said Democrats are using
the investigation to score political points and
strongly back Rove. Still, the investigation has
already meant some late nights for staff combing
through their files to see if they have anything that
should be given to investigators.

Bush's chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., told White
House staff in a letter yesterday that the president
expects full cooperation. "The sooner we complete the
search and delivery of documents, the sooner the
Justice Department can complete its inquiry and the
sooner we can all return our full attention to doing
the work of the people that the president has
entrusted to us."

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company


Posted by richard at 02:28 PM

Howard censured over push for war with Iraq

A society in which democratic institutions and a free
press still respond to public crisis...You will not
hear about it on tonight's evening swill...

"Prime Minister John Howard was yesterday censured by the Senate for misleading the public in his justification for sending Australia to war with Iraq."b>


Howard censured over push for war with Iraq

October 8, 2003

Prime Minister John Howard was yesterday censured by
the Senate for misleading the public in his
justification for sending Australia to war with Iraq.

It was only the fourth time in more than three decades
a sitting prime minister has been censured and the
second in Mr Howard's seven-and-a-half years in

The motion attacked Mr Howard for failing to
adequately inform Australians that intelligence agency
warnings about a war with Iraq would increase the
likelihood of a terrorist attack.

It also noted that no evidence had yet been produced
by Mr Howard to justify his claims that in March this
year, Iraq possessed stockpiles of completed
biological chemical weapons that justified going to

The Opposition, Greens and Australian Democrats voted
together to defeat the Government by 33 votes to 30.

Greens senator Bob Brown said Mr Howard was involved
in an unprecedented deceit of the nation and deserved

He said Mr Howard had argued that Iraq's weapons of
mass destruction and support of international
terrorism threatened Australia. "It has become
abundantly clear that the Prime Minister was not just
a bit wrong. He was totally wrong," he told

Defence Minister Robert Hill said the Australian and
other governments believed Saddam Hussein's weapons
programs posed a very real danger.

Opposition Senate leader John Faulkner said Mr Howard
had been loose with the truth on issues of national

Mr Howard was censured by the Senate in March 2002
over his failure to stop Liberal Senator Bill
Heffernan's attack on High Court Justice Michael


This story was found at:

Posted by richard at 02:25 PM

The LNS "Total Recall" Putsch Wrap-Up: Seven Lessons Learned

Three more US soldiers have died in Iraq. For what?

The LNS "Total Recall" Putsch Wrap-Up: Seven Lessons Learned

1. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-California) and Sen.
Barbara Boxer (D-California): Please, please stay out
of small planes, and do not open your own snail mail.

2. To the Democrat legislators in Sacramento, learn
from the mistakes of Tom Duck-It (D-SD), shut it down,
don't get Blaired.

3. To the stupid white men and women who voted for
Conan the Deceiver, read my lips: 0FF-SHORE DRILLING.

4. To Arriana Huffington, I am tempted to call you
twice the man Cruz Busto-Mondo is, but that would be
short-changing you. Just thanks for speaking truth to

5. To Warren Beatty (D-Hollywood): Run, baby, run. The
coast is clear! Willie Brown (D-Tammany Hall) will get
the signatures, and you can win.

6. To Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Closet),who wants a US
Constitutional amendment to permit Conan the Deceiver
to run for President: It won't happen.

7. To all of you who read the LNS, and to all of you
everywhere in the US, involved in anyway in the
Internet-based Information Rebellion against the "vast
reich-wing conspiracy," remember, to paraphrase
Carvel's formulation of 1992, IT'S THE MEDIA, STUPID.
Conan the Deciever won by going unchallenged on Leno,
Oprah, Howard Stern and Larry Clueless Lying. Conan
the Deceiver refused to answer really hardball
questions. He participated in only one debate, in
which all the questions were scripted ahead of time.
AND the "US mainstream news media" drowned out the
local TV and radio news (which relative to the
national media) remained objective. Yes, IT'S THE
MEDIA, STUPID. The anti-Bush, whoever he turns out to
be, Dean (D-Jeffords), Clark (D-NATO) or Kerry
(D-Mekong Delta), has to be willing to challenege
their complicity. Today, NotBeSeen (NBC) has merged
with Vivendi to form NBC Universal, an EVEN BIGGER
corporate media giant. Gosh, I wonder whose films
Universal distributes? Golly, I wonder who hosts the
NBC Tonight Show?

Consider this...


AN AGE OF PROPAGANDA (PART 1)! Matthews groped for
ways to help Arnold. We found it a sign of the times:


GROPE THIS: How low in character is Washington’s
“press corps?” Chris Matthews has long been the low of
the low, and he proved it again on last Friday night’s
Hardball. That morning, the Los Angeles Times had
reported that six women had accused Arnold
Schwarzenegger of groping and grabbing, without their
consent. Matthews has been the muscleman’s chief shill
in the media, so he quickly got to work, standing by
his man. But uh-oh! Friday night, trouble was brewing!
On Hardball, Gloria Allred expressed concern about the
Times report:

ALLRED: What I’m concerned about is what Arnold
Schwarzenegger has done, what he has allegedly done to
women, to the six women who reported incidents to the
L. A. Times. We don’t know if it is true or not, but
Mr. Schwarzenegger himself, Chris, said where there’s
smoke, there’s fire. He suggested that he acted badly.


ALLRED: He suggested that he apologize. But he didn’t
specifically say what he did. We’re not stupid. The
Times reported that he grabbed women’s breasts, that
he grabbed under their skirt and to their buttocks.

Uh-oh! It didn’t sound good! So Matthews began
misdirecting. “By the way, where were you on Clinton?”
he asked, specifically mentioning Monica Lewinsky. And
soon an obvious distinction was offered. “This is a
different situation,” Allred said. “This is
unconsented-to conduct.”
Hmmm. Let’s see if we can puzzle this out. Lewinsky
engaged in consensual conduct. These six (now fifteen)
women say they were groped. The distinction seemed
fairly clear to us, but the Hardball host was
thoroughly flummoxed. Allred voiced the distinction
again. But he just couldn’t figure it out:

ALLRED: The situation with Monica Lewinsky was
consented-to conduct. She consented to that conduct.
In the newspaper article in the L. A. Times, the
situation with the six women with Arnold
MATTHEWS: So it’s OK if it’s—

ALLRED: —is unconsented-to, if you believe it’s true.

MATTHEWS (openly sarcastic): OK. Just to get this
straight, just to—Gloria, so your record is straight
here. So it’s OK to have consensual relations with a
woman who is 30 years or whatever younger than you in
the workplace. That’s OK. And it is OK to lie about
it. But in this case, he admitted he did it and that’s
not OK. What is your value system here?

Can’t you see the total clowning, and one of the
clowning clowns who produce it? Matthews feigned utter
confusion—he just couldn’t figure this “value system”
out! And now, concluding his segment with Allred, he
showcased his low, smutty character:
ALLRED (continuing directly): Well, it is very clear.
It is not unlawful, although I don’t think it is wise,
to have a sexual relationship that is consented to in
the workplace.

ALLRED: But, if it is unwelcome in the workplace, as
is alleged against Arnold Schwarzenegger, that’s
unlawful. If it is true, it is sexual battery that he
committed, Mr. Schwarzenegger. And that is potentially
a crime.

MATTHEWS: Great. OK. My producer is telling me to shut
you up. OK? I'm trying to be polite. Go ahead, Kim

Matthews—“trying to be polite”—didn’t tell Allred to
“shut up” himself. He just said his producer was
saying it!
But Matthews was hardly alone this weekend. Many
pundits seemed confused by the concept of consent. Of
course, few of them clowned any harder than Matthews.
But he’s long been an industry leader.

having trouble with the “consensual/nonconsensual”
distinction. Wow, it was hard to sort out! Luckily,
Susan Faludi explained why that might be. Why was
Matthews so utterly puzzled? Why should Allred just
“shut up?” Writing an op-ed in Sunday’s Los Angeles
Times, Faludi offered a general suggestion:

FALUDI: A Schwarzenegger spokesman told The Times that
[one of the alleged groping episodes] was just a case
of “locker room humor.” Which actually explains a good
deal of Schwarzenegger’s appeal to male voters. He
comes out of the testosterone-ruled world of weight
rooms and action movies, where women are the
designated observers and adorners, and where men find
their place in the wolf pack through a
well-established ordeal of hazing and humiliation.
The men who don’t make it to the top in that world
still have the compensation of identifying with the
one man who does, as long as they don’t identify with
any of the women, as long as they don’t “say nothing.”
They still belong to the pack, by virtue of being

No matter how much sand gets kicked in their face,
they still can fantasize that one day they, too, like
Charles Atlas, will do enough leg lifts to rise in the
ranks…The locker room game works as long as only men
get to play, and only as long as they agree to play by
certain rules. One rule is that sensuality is
verboten, but aggressive jocularity is not.
Humiliating women in a “playful” way can signal a
powerful rejection of “the feminine” and a powerful
reinforcement of male bonding.

Of course, Matthews has always been a sand-kicking
bully when female guests talk back on Hardball. We
have written in the past about his rude putdowns of
Norah O’Donnell, Elizabeth Holtzman, Kiki Moore, Mary
Boyle. Let’s say this for Bill O’Reilly—he tells men
that they ought to shut up. Matthews—a 98-pound bully
and coward—likes to say “shut up” to women.
YOU LIVE IN AN AGE OF PROPAGANDA: Many pundits dragged
Clinton in, eager to get their favorite movie star off
the hook. They tended to ignore two distinctions:

Consent/non-consent: “[A]ll of Arnold’s incidents were
one-off,” Andrew Sullivan wrote in a silly
disquisition which said that Clinton was worse, so
much worse. “Clinton, for the most part, pursued the
same women over time.” It’s unclear who Sullivan meant
by that, except for Lewinsky, of course. But he also
mentioned Gennifer Flowers—a person who alleged a
twelve-year, passionate love affair, not an unwanted
advance. But somehow, many pundits conflated the
Flowers allegation with the assault allegations
against Schwarzenegger. But we think you know why that
is. Among other reasons, your “press corps” isn’t very
smart or very honest—and you live in an age of
Credible/non-credible: Pundits tried to shill for
Schwarzenegger, citing turrible conduct by Clinton.
Any many pundits just keep citing Clinton-accusers who
lack credibility. Take Flowers, for example. Her
initial 1992 tabloid story was filled with howling
factual errors—embarrassing, utterly stupid errors
that plainly called her tale into question. She later
wrote an entire book without naming a single time and
place where she and Clinton were alone together. By
1999, she was making crackpot cable presentations,
accusing Clinton of a long list of murders (see THE
DAILY HOWLER, 9/26/03). But you live in an age of
propaganda—and your “press” had invested time and
energy into pretending that the shapely songstress was
credible. In fact, as is now quite obvious, she is a
consummate crackpot and clown. (For the record,
Clinton admitted to one sexual act with the
yellow-haired yodeler, not an act of intercourse.)

Then, of course, there’s Kathleen Willey, the corps’
favorite Clinton-accuser. The press corps simply
refuses to tell you how bad her credibility turned out
to be. They knew to hide what Linda Tripp said (see
THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/10/03), and when Robert Ray said
that Willey had lied, they knew to hide that from you
too (same reference). Today, they still cite Willey’s
sad tales wherever they line up for Arnold.

Do the accusations against Schwarzenegger seem to be
true? That is a matter of judgment. (We think the
general answer is obvious.) Should they affect how
Californians vote? Voters decide that, not us. But you
live in an age of propaganda, and many pundits are
shilling for Arnold. They’ve deceived you for years
about Clinton-accusers, and their fakery continues on
SULLIVAN’S STRUGGLES: Andrew Sullivan struggled hard
to show that Clinton was worse, so much worse. Here’s
our favorite of his six silly items:

SULLIVAN: Item two: most of Clinton’s sexual targets
were women who worked for him or were under his direct
authority. Some of Arnold’s targets were on movie sets
where he certainly had social power but where he was,
as far as I know, not the owner or direct boss.
Readers, there’s only one word to describe such slick
parsing. You know what it is: “Clintonesque.”
By the way, who are these Clinton “targets,” who
supposedly made up the bulk of his victims?
Presumably, Sullivan refers to Flowers and Lewinsky.
But Flowers’ allegations lack credibility, and
Lewinsky engaged in consensual conduct. (And no, she
wasn’t “21,” a bit of clowning to which Maureen Dowd
returned in yesterday’s column.)

By contrast, Schwarzenegger stands accused of multiple
assaults against unwilling women. Sullivan, of course,
finds those allegations less troubling. Reason?
Schwarzenegger wasn’t the boss at the time! Say hello
to the endless clowning which defines a corrupted
press age.

Posted by richard at 02:23 PM

October 07, 2003

Computer Experts Fear Recall Voter Fraud

This story is about the third of the Triple Locks
)Lock #1 - Corporate campaign $$$, Lock #2 - Corporate
media complicity, Lock #3 - Black box voting) that the
Bush Cabal with which the Bush cabal is hoping to keep
and increase their power. This story reveals the real
agenda behind Conan the Deceiver's "Total Recall"
putsch. California must hold its ground today.

Computer Experts Fear Recall Voter Fraud
Mon Oct 6, 2:43 PM ET

By RACHEL KONRAD, Associated Press Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Punch-card ballots from Tuesday's
historic recall election are sure to get a going-over
by political activists, but some computer scientists
think touch-screen voting machines deserve just as
much scrutiny.

AP Photo

While punch-card ballots caused headaches for Florida
election officials with their "hanging" and "pregnant"
chads, nearly one in 10 California voters will be
using touch-screen machines, which don't produce
printouts voters can see. And no paper printouts, the
scientists say, would make a legitimate recount

"You can't do a meaningful recount if the question is
about the integrity of the voting machines
themselves," said David Dill, a computer science
professor at Stanford University. He urged voters in
the four counties using touch-screen terminals to vote
with absentee ballots.

The concern of Dill and some of his colleagues was
dismissed as overblown and irresponsible by county
registrars and executives at the companies that sell
and update the electronic voting machines.

None of the elections officials who supervise the
50,000 touch-screen machines serviced nationwide by
Diebold Election Systems has reported glitches or
computer hacks that have resulted in known miscounts
or fraud, said Mark Radke, director of the voting
industry division of North Canton, Ohio-based Diebold.

But according to a July study by Johns Hopkins and
Rice universities, any clever hacker could break into
Diebold's system and vote multiple times. Researchers
found it was theoretically possible to insert "back
doors" into software code that would allow hackers —
or insiders — to change future voters' choices and
determine the outcome.

Activists are demanding that ballot machine vendors
include printers that produce paper receipts so
citizens can confirm that paper results match their
touch-screen choices. Receipts would go into a county
lock-box for use in recounts.

"It's horrifying and ridiculous that these machines
don't have a voter-verifiable audit trail," said
Rebecca Mercuri, a Harvard University research fellow
who specializes in computer security and voting

Officials from one affected county, Riverside County,
have "total confidence" in the electronic system used
by its 650,000 voters, said Mischelle Townsend,
registrar of voters. On election day the county tests
all 4,250 touch-screens for logic and accuracy,
confirming that a "yes" vote is recorded as a "yes,"
Townsend emphasized.

"The machines have always been adjudicated to be
reliable and accurate," said Townsend, who has
supervised 19 touch-screen elections and five recounts
since November 2000. "There's never been a single
incident of what the scientists fear."

After polls close, elections officials make another
accuracy check. They get printouts for 1 percent of
voters in every precinct and compare the digital
record with the printouts.

Electronic voting advocates acknowledge no system is
perfect but say touch-screen machines are better than
older technology.

The ACLU is watching closely for evidence of voter
disenfranchisement, as is the California Democratic
Party, which began soliciting $100,000 last week for a
"No More Floridas!" campaign to scrutinize alleged

The computer scientists will be watching as well,
looking for statistical anomalies in touch-screen

"The very thought of a recount — it's chilling," said
Alameda County assistant registrar Elaine Ginnold.
"We're all hoping there will be a huge margin because
a recount would plug things up for quite a while."


Posted by richard at 02:18 PM

October 05, 2003

Clark Wants Probe of W.House on Iraq Intelligence

This story could be the most important political story
in many years. Here a national leader in pursuit of
the Presidency has made the boldest of moves. Now the
people and at least one potential anti-Bush are both
way ahead of the "US mainstream news media," rather
than politics as usual as it has been for awhile now
with the people deadened by the propaunditgandists and
the political leaders taking their cues from the
propapunditgandists...Those on the Left who mock Clark
or question his intentions need to re-evaluate their
positions...Fast...This guy wants to fight!

"Nothing could be a more serious violation of public trust than to consciously make a war based on false claims," he told a conference of military reporters and editors. "Its handling of intelligence and its retaliation against its critics may have been criminal."


Clark Wants Probe of W.House on Iraq Intelligence
Fri Oct 3, 4:34 PM ET Add Politics to My Yahoo!

By Patricia Wilson

ARLINGTON, Va. (Reuters) - Democratic presidential
candidate Wesley Clark (news - web sites) called on
Friday for an independent probe of the Bush
administration's use of intelligence before the Iraq
(news - web sites) war, calling it "twisted" and
possibly criminal.

The retired four-star Army general and NATO (news -
web sites) commander who entered the 2004 White House
race two weeks ago amid a flood of publicity and
instantly rose among the leaders in some polls, said
the American public needed to know if it was
"intentionally deceived."

In his harshest indictment yet of President Bush (news
- web sites), Clark said the administration's
"irresponsible" Iraq policy had put Americans in
danger and the United States in crisis mode at home
and abroad.

Going further than his nine rivals for the Democratic
presidential nomination, most of whom have called for
a special counsel to probe the leak of an undercover
CIA (news - web sites) officer's name, Clark also
demanded an independent commission investigate the
"possible manipulation" of intelligence leading to the
war in Iraq.

"Nothing could be a more serious violation of public
trust than to consciously make a war based on false
claims," he told a conference of military reporters
and editors. "Its handling of intelligence and its
retaliation against its critics may have been


"We need to know if we face an intelligence gap ...
because the system has been twisted to suit the
prejudices of the policy makers," Clark said.

Bush defended on Friday his decision to attack Iraq,
brushing aside questions about his justifications for
war and citing what he said was preliminary evidence
from the top CIA weapons hunter that Baghdad had been
developing unconventional weapons even though none
have so far been found.

Clark, who retired from the military three years ago,
said he had seen "no compelling" evidence that Iraqi
leader Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) was an
imminent threat and depicted the war in Iraq as a
policy hatched "behind the scenes."

He said he heard the arguments that the Sept. 11, 2001
attacks justified an invasion to oust Saddam, that it
provided an opportunity to remake the region and that
there was "a list of states they want to take down in
the Middle East."

"I had hoped it was just Pentagon (news - web sites)
hallway scuttlebutt ... but it looks like it was more
than that," he said.

Clark accused the Bush administration of having an
answer before they knew the question.

"They seized on Sept. 11 as proof of a problem that
required the solution of attacking Iraq," he said.
"Saddam was involved in Sept. 11, they implied, and
Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, so they made
Iraq a centerpiece in the war on terror."

Clark, who has portrayed himself as the best
Democratic candidate to challenge Bush on national
security issues, charged the administration with
violating the principles of American democracy by
retaliating against anyone who expressed dissent or
questioned logic.

The Justice Department (news - web sites) is
investigating who disclosed the identity of an
undercover CIA officer whose husband had challenged
Bush's claims about Iraq's weapons threat.

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Posted by richard at 02:16 PM

CIA Enraged by Cynical White House End-Run Around Its Sources

It is the height of irony that the CIA unfortunately
involved in the toppling of *legitimate* regimes in
Chile, Greece and elsewhere, is in an extraordinary
act of patriotism and principle, contributing to the
toppling of an *illegitimate* regime here in the US...

Ed Margolis: "The CIA's professionals were enraged by this end-run, and appalled that defectors' wild tales and self-serving material were being used to formulate U.S. national security policy. "


Published on Saturday, October 4, 2003 by the Boulder
Daily Camera

Dubious Intelligence
CIA Enraged by Cynical White House End-Run Around Its Sources

by Eric Margolis

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For the Bush administration, which
has wrapped itself in faux patriotism, accusations
that it revealed the identity of a serving CIA agent
are a huge political embarrassment and another blow to
its sinking credibility.

Last July, former ambassador Joseph Wilson IV
contradicted President George Bush's assertions that
Iraq had imported uranium ore from Niger.

Wilson said his investigations in Niger found the
whole story was a fake, based on forged documents.

Bush nevertheless suggested Iraq was importing uranium
in his keynote state of the union address.

Wilson's patriotic act ruined his career and made him
the target of a vicious smear campaign.

At least six journalists were told by administration
sources that Wilson's wife was an active CIA officer.
Journalist Robert Novak cited her name in his column.

Revealing names of CIA agents is a federal crime.
There is speculation that the source of the story came
from within the office of Lewis Libby, Vice President
Dick Cheney's powerful chief of staff.

(Bush's press secretary has said "absolutely nothing
brought to our attention suggests any White House
involvement and that includes the vice-president's
office." Scott McClellan added that if it turns out
any administration officials were involved in the
leak, they'll be fired.)

In any event, Libby and Pentagon civilian allies,
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith
and Richard Perle, all played key roles in the buildup
to the war with Iraq. They brought intensive pressure
on the CIA to produce proof of hidden weapons and
links between Iraq and al-Qaida.

Behind the scandal over identifying Wilson's wife as a
CIA agent, a far more important battle is raging.

The Bush administration plans to spend $1 billion in
the fruitless search for unconventional weapons in

The non-existence of these weapons, which were the
main excuse for the invasion, has badly damaged the
White House; eroded the power of Cheney's men
Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle -- who jestingly called
themselves "the cabal" -- and humiliated the hapless
Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Now "the cabal" and some politicians blame the CIA for
the failure to find Iraq's non-existent weapons and
alleged links to al-Qaida.

But the CIA is fighting back through leaks, accusing
the administration of distorting, corrupting and
politicizing the conduct of national security.

The CIA does deserve sharp criticism over Iraq. It had
a shocking lack of reliable human intelligence there,
forcing the agency to rely heavily on dubious
defectors and foreign intelligence, rather than its
own resources.

Ironically, France had excellent intelligence in Iraq
and rightly warned Bush his war would lead to
disaster. Bush was too busy listening to the
neo-conservatives' hyped intelligence to heed France's
excellent and reliable advice.

So far, CIA chief George Tenet has refused public
comment over the attacks, but agency sources report
him furious with the White House and its
neo-conservative Pentagon allies. CIA staffers are
waiting for Tenet to go public and take on the
neo-cons who are trying to blame the agency for the
fiasco they created.

When White House hawks such as Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney and the Pentagon cabal found
the CIA was not providing damning evidence on Iraq
they needed to promote war, they created a special
intelligence unit.

It cherry-picked bits and pieces of negative data
about Iraq, trumpeted lurid claims by Iraqi defectors,
then passed them on to the White House.

Iraqi exiles were used as a primary conduit for the
disinformation, and were provided with funding and
political support. The New York Times repeatedly
parroted the Iraqi defectors' distortions.

This special intelligence office reportedly sought to
link with Israel's Mossad intelligence agency in the
anti-Iraq campaign. But the Mossad was too
professional to have anything to do with this ad hoc
operation. However, members of Israeli PM Ariel
Sharon's government reportedly provided the neo-cons'
special intel unit with a stream of negative stories
about Iraq.

The CIA's professionals were enraged by this end-run,
and appalled that defectors' wild tales and
self-serving material were being used to formulate
U.S. national security policy.

Before the war on Iraq, CIA director Tenet took the
unprecedented step of publicly warning many of the
claims about Iraq were not justified by facts.

But he was ignored in Bush's rush to war and did not
repeat his caution. Warnings by ranking CIA officers
that their country was being stampeded into war by
neo-cons with a hidden agenda were also ignored.

The Wilson affair has exploded at a time when the
extent that America's professional intelligence cadre
was circumvented, or bullied and intimidated into
silence by the Bush administration has become a major
public issue.

Such politically motivated pressure on the nation's
intelligence establishment by men with little American
flags on their lapels is totally unacceptable and
gravely endangers U.S. national security.

Real patriots do not start wars to win elections while
diverting attention from financial scandals.

CIA chief Tenet ought to come out and denounce those
who led the U.S. into an unnecessary war that has
become a bloody and unimaginably expensive mess.

But CIA officers are trained to remain silent and obey
the chain of command.

So it's up to Congress to demand a full investigation
of the corruption of national security, and of the
extremist ideologists who misled America into a war
that should never have been waged.

Copyright © 2003, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe Inc


Posted by richard at 02:13 PM

October 04, 2003

Of Lies and Leaks: Bush Threatened By New Revelations

Excellent analysis from Corn on both the Wilson
scandal and the WMD scandal. Read it so that you can
watch how the "US mainstream news media" attempts at
every turn to lessen the negative impact for the
_resident -- even now, although certainly the grip is
loosening and the fix is coming unstuck...

Corn in the Nation: "Leaking and lying--these are not actions easy to explain away. Drip, drip, drip--that's the sound often associated with Washington scandals. But now it may also be the sound of the truth catching up to the propagandists and perps of the Bush White House. "

Of Lies and Leaks: Bush Threatened By New Revelations
10/04/2003 @ 11:09pm
E-mail this Post
The spin is not holding. Facing two controversies--the
Wilson leak (click here if you have somehow managed to
miss this story) and the still-MIA WMDs--the White
House has been tossing out explanations and rhetoric
that cannot withstand scrutiny.

Let's start with the Wilson leak. In the issue coming
out October 6, Newsweek will be reporting that after
Bob Novak published a July 14 column containing the
leak attributed to "senior adminsitration officials"
that identified former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's
wife, Valerie Plame, as an undercover CIA operative,
NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell was contacted by
White House officials who touted the Novak column and
encouraged her to pursue the story about Wilson's
wife. The newsmagazine also notes that, according to a
source close to Wilson, shortly after the leak
occurred Bush's senior aide Karl Rove told Hardball
host Chris Matthews that Wilson's wife was "fair
game." Matthews told Newsweek that he would not
discuss any confidential conversation. (He told me the
same weeks ago when I made a similar inquiry about
this chat with Rove.) An anonymous source described as
familiar with the exchange--presumably Rove or someone
designated to speak for him--maintained that Rove had
only said to Matthews it was appropriate to raise
questions about her role in Wilson's mission to Niger.
(In February 2002, Wilson had been asked by the CIA to
visit Niger to check out allegations Iraq had been
shopping for uranium there; he did so and reported
back that the charge was probably untrue. In July, he
publicly challenged the White House's use of this
claim and earned the administration's wrath.)

These disclosures do not reveal who were the original
leakers. (The Justice Department, at the CIA's
request, started out investigating the White House; it
has widened its probe to include the State Department
and the Defense Department.) But these new details are
significant and undercut the White House line on the
leak. At a White House press briefing, Scott
McClellan, Bush's press secretary, repeatedly said
that Bush and his White House took no action after the
Novak column was published on July 14 because the leak
was attributed only to anonymous sources. "Are we
supposed to chase down every anonymous report in the
newspaper?" McClellan remarked.

He was arguing that a serious leak attributed to
anonymous sources was still not serious enough to
cause the president to ask, what the hell happened?
And he made it seem as if the White House just ignored
the matter. Not so. Mitchell's remark and even the
Rove-friendly account of the Rove-Matthews
conversation are evidence the White House tried to
further the Plame story--that is, to exploit the leak
for political gain. Rather than respond by trying to
determine the source of a leak that possibly violated
federal law and perhaps undermined national security (
The Washington Post reported that the leak also blew
the cover of a CIA front company, "potentially
expanding the damage caused by the original
disclosure"), White House officials sought to take
advantage of it. Spin that, McClellan.

Newsweek is also disclosing that a National Security
Council staffer previously worked with Valerie Wilson
(nee Plame) and was aware of her position at the CIA.
McClellan has indicated in his press briefings that
the White House did not--and has not--acted to
ascertain the source of the leak. But shouldn't Bush
or chief of staff Andrew Card (if Card is not one of
the leakers) have asked this person whether he
mentioned Valerie Wilson's occupation to anyone in the
White House? (I believe I know the name of this person
but since he or she may be working under cover I am
not at this point going to publish it.)

McClellan has had a tough time providing straight
answers. At the October 1 press briefing, he was asked
what Bush did after the leak first appeared. He
replied by saying that "some news reports" have noted
that Valerie Wilson's CIA connection "may have been
well-known within the DC community." That hardly seems
so. Her neighbors did not know, and Wilson maintains
their close friends did not know. No reporter that I
have talked to--and I've spoken to many covering this
story--had heard that.

During that briefing, reporters wondered if Bush
approved of the Republican campaign to depict Wilson
as a partisan zealot lacking credibility. McClellan
sidestepped: "The President is focused on getting to
the bottom of this." The next day, he was once more
asked whether it was appropriate for Republicans to be
attacking Wilson. "I answered that question
yesterday," he said. One problem: he hadn't. He also
maintained that Bush "has been the one speaking out
front on this." Not quite. For over two months, Bush
had said nothing about the leak. And on this day, Bush
met with reporters for African news organizations and
joked about the anti-Wilson leak. When asked what he
thought about the detention in Kenya of three
journalists who had refused to reveal sources, he
said, "I'm against leaks." This prompted laughter, and
Bush went on: "I would suggest all governments get to
the bottom of every leak of classified information."
Addressing the reporter who had asked the question,
Bush echoed the phrase that McClellan had frequently
used in his press briefings and quipped, "By the way,
if you know anything, Martin, would you please bring
it forward and help solve the problem?"

Perhaps Bush needed a good chuckle after reading--or
being briefed on--the testimony that chief weapons
hunter David Kay was presenting that day to Congress.
In an interim report, Kay had noted that his Iraq
Survey Group had found evidence of "WMD-related
program activities," but no stocks of unconventional
weapons. Kay also had an interesting observation about
the prewar intelligence on Iraq's WMDs: "Our
understanding of the status of Iraq's WMD program was
always bounded by large uncertainties and had to be
heavily caveated."

Wait a minute. That was not what Bush and his
compadres had said prior to the war. Flash back to
Bush's get-out-of-town speech on March 17, two days
before he launched the war. He maintained,
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments
leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to
possess and conceal" weapons of mass destruction. Yet
Kay was saying there had been "large uncertainties" in
the intelligence. How does that square with Bush's
no-doubt claim? It doesn't.

Kay's testimony is more proof that Bush misrepresented
the intelligence. Regular readers of this column will
know that Kay's remark were preceded by similar
statements from the House intelligence committee and
former deputy CIA director, Richard Kerr, who has been
reviewing the prewar intelligence. Both the committee
(led by Representative Porter Goss, a Republican and
former CIA officer) and Kerr have concluded the
intelligence of Iraq's WMDs was based on
circumstantial and inferential material and contained
many uncertainties.

Prior to the invasion, administration officials
consistently declared there was no question Iraq had
these weapons. On December 5, 2002, for instance, Ari
Fleischer, then the White House press secretary, said,
"the president of the United States and the secretary
of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as
they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if
it was not true, and if they did not have a solid
basis for saying it." But what had been that
"solid_basis"? Intelligence "bounded by large

Look at what Kay said about Iraq's nuclear weapons

"With regard to Iraq's nuclear program, the testimony
we have obtained from Iraqi scientists and senior
government officials should clear up any doubts about
whether Saddam still wanted to obtain nuclear weapons.
They have told [the Iraq Survey Group] that Saddam
Husayn remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear
weapons. These officials assert that Saddam would have
resumed nuclear weapons development at some future

"Despite evidence of Saddam's continued ambition to
acquire nuclear weapons, to date we have not uncovered
evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998
steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce
fissile material….

"Saddam, at least as judged by those scientists and
other insiders who worked in his military-industrial
programs, had not given up his aspirations and
intentions to continue to acquire weapons of mass

Compare this assessment to what Bush and Dick Cheney
had said before the war. In his 2003 State of the
Union speech, Bush declared that Hussein was a threat
because he had "an advanced nuclear weapons
development program" in the 1990s. (Bush had failed to
mention that the International Atomic Energy Agency
had reported in 1998 that it had demolished this
"advanced" program.) And Cheney on March 16 said, "we
believe [Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear
weapons." His aides later said Cheney had meant to say
"nuclear weapons programs."

But, according to Kay, the evidence so far collected
indicates only that Hussein maintained a desire to
acquire nuclear weapons and had not developed a
program to satisfy that yearning. Kay later added that
it would have taken Iraq five to seven years to
reconstitute its nuclear weapons program. So what was
the evidence for Bush's and Cheney's assertions that
the program was already revved up? By the way, Kay
says his team has found "no conclusive proof" Hussein
tried to acquire uranium in Niger. In fact, he
reported that one cooperating Iraqi scientist revealed
to the ISG that another African nation had made an
unsolicited offer to sell Iraq uranium but there is no
indication Iraq accepted the offer.

Kay also reported, "Our efforts to collect and exploit
intelligence on Iraq's chemical weapons program have
thus far yielded little reliable information on
post-1991 CW stocks and CW agent production, although
we continue to receive and follow leads related to
such stocks." But before the war, the Bush
administration had said flat-out that Iraq possessed
chemical weapons. Did it neglect to pass along to Kay
the information upon which it based this claim?
(Actually, the Defense Intelligence Agency in
September 2002 concluded there was no "reliable
information" on whether Iraq had produced or
stockpiled chemical weapons, but that did not stop
Bush and his aides from stating otherwise.)

How did Bush respond to Kay's interim findings? He
proclaimed they proved that he had been correct all
along. The "interim report," Bush remarked, "said that
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program spanned
more than two decades. That's what [Kay] said....He's
saying Saddam Hussein was a threat, a serious danger."

Reality check: Bush had said that the main reason to
go to war was because Hussein possessed "massive"
stockpiles of unconventional weapons and at any moment
could hand them off to al Qaeda (with whom Bush
claimed Hussein was "dealing"--even though the
evidence on that point was and continues to be, at
best, sketchy). Now Bush is asserting that Hussein was
a threat that could only be countered with invasion
and occupations because he had weapons research
programs that indeed violated United Nations
resolutions but that had not produced any weapons.
That's a much different argument. Bush, Cheney,
McClellan, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz,
Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and others continue to
deny they overstated (or misrepresented) the case for
war. But the evidence is incontrovertible, and it
keeps on piling up.

So all they have is spin. Bush changes the terms.
McClellan, Rumsfeld, RIce insist that before the war
everybody knew that Iraq had WMDs. Everybody, that is,
except the folks putting together the intelligence
assessments chockfull of uncertainties. When it comes
to the Wilson affair, the White House ducks and
covers, claiming it had no reason to react to the
original anonymous-source leak, even though its
officials (at the least) considered the leak solid
enough to talk up to other reporters. And instead of
confronting the ugly (and perhaps criminal)
implications of the leak, the White House's allies in
Washington lash out at Wilson, in a vicious
blame-the-victim offensive, while Mister
Change-the-Tone has nothing to say publicly about
this. What if Wilson is a Democratic partisan? That
does not excuse what was done to his wife.

Leaking and lying--these are not actions easy to
explain away. Drip, drip, drip--that's the sound often
associated with Washington scandals. But now it may
also be the sound of the truth catching up to the
propagandists and perps of the Bush White House.

Corn's new book, The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering
the Politics of Deception (Crown Publishers). For more
information and a sample, check out the book's
official website: www.bushlies.com.

Posted by richard at 02:10 PM

Arnold Unplugged - It's hasta la vista to $9 billion if the Governator is selected

Greg Palast and Gray Davis, both have sharp, thick
political hatchets (too bad Cruz just doesn't get it).
Palast and Davis will bury them where they are
deserved. But will the Caliifornia electorate *hear*
this truth, and will it rise up next Tuesday and
respond to the truth?

"Now, thirty-four pages of internal Enron memoranda have just come through this reporter's fax machine tell all about the tryst between Maria's husband and the corporate con men. It turns out that Schwarzenegger knowingly joined the hush-hush encounter as part of a campaign to sabotage a Davis-Bustamante plan to make Enron and other power pirates then ravaging California pay back the $9 billion in illicit profits they carried off."

Arnold Unplugged - It's hasta la vista to $9 billion if the Governator is selected
Friday, October 3, 2003
It's not what Arnold Schwarzenegger did to the girls a
decade back that should raise an eyebrow. According
to a series of memoranda our office obtained today,
it's his dalliance with the boys in a hotel room just
two years ago that's the real scandal.

The wannabe governor has yet to deny that on May 17,
2001, at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles, he had
consensual political intercourse with Enron chieftain
Kenneth Lay. Also frolicking with Arnold and Ken was
convicted stock swindler Mike Milken.

Now, thirty-four pages of internal Enron memoranda
have just come through this reporter's fax machine
tell all about the tryst between Maria's husband and
the corporate con men. It turns out that
Schwarzenegger knowingly joined the hush-hush
encounter as part of a campaign to sabotage a
Davis-Bustamante plan to make Enron and other power
pirates then ravaging California pay back the $9
billion in illicit profits they carried off.

Here's the story Arnold doesn't want you to hear. The
biggest single threat to Ken Lay and the electricity
lords is a private lawsuit filed last year under
California's unique Civil Code provision 17200, the
"Unfair Business Practices Act." This litigation,
heading to trial now in Los Angeles, would make the
power companies return the $9 billion they filched
from California electricity and gas customers.

It takes real cojones to bring such a suit. Who's the
plaintiff taking on the bad guys? Cruz Bustamante,
Lieutenant Governor and reluctant leading candidate
against Schwarzenegger.

Now follow the action. One month after Cruz brings
suit, Enron's Lay calls an emergency secret meeting in
L.A. of his political buck-buddies, including Arnold.
Their plan, to undercut Davis (according to Enron
memos) and "solve" the energy crisis -- that is, make
the Bustamante legal threat go away.

How can that be done? Follow the trail with me.

While Bustamante's kicking Enron butt in court, the
Davis Administration is simultaneously demanding that
George Bush's energy regulators order the $9 billion
refund. Don't hold your breath: Bush's Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission is headed by a guy
proposed by … Ken Lay.

But Bush's boys on the commission have a problem. The
evidence against the electricity barons is rock solid:
fraudulent reporting of sales transactions, megawatt
"laundering," fake power delivery scheduling and
straight out conspiracy (including meetings in hotel

So the Bush commissioners cook up a terrific scheme:
charge the companies with conspiracy but offer them,
behind closed doors, deals in which they have to pay
only two cents on each dollar they filched.

Problem: the slap-on-the-wrist refunds won't sail if
the Governor of California won't play along.
Solution: Re-call the Governor.

New Problem: the guy most likely to replace Davis is
not Mr. Musclehead, but Cruz Bustamante, even a
bigger threat to the power companies than Davis.
Solution: smear Cruz because -- heaven forbid! -- he
took donations from Injuns (instead of Ken Lay).

The pay-off? Once Arnold is Governor, he blesses the
sweetheart settlements with the power companies. When
that happens, Bustamante's court cases are probably
lost. There aren't many judges who will let a case go
to trial to protect a state if that a governor has
already allowed the matter to be "settled" by a
regulatory agency.

So think about this. The state of California is in
the hole by $8 billion for the coming year. That's
chump change next to the $8 TRILLION in deficits and
surplus losses planned and incurred by George Bush.
Nevertheless, the $8 billion deficit is the hanging
rope California's right wing is using to lynch
Governor Davis.

Yet only Davis and Bustamante are taking direct
against to get back the $9 billion that was vacuumed
out of the state by Enron, Reliant, Dynegy, Williams
Company and the other Texas bandits who squeezed the
state by the bulbs.

But if Arnold is selected, it's 'hasta la vista' to
the $9 billion. When the electricity emperors
whistle, Arnold comes -- to the Peninsula Hotel or the
Governor's mansion. The he-man turns pussycat and
curls up in their lap.

I asked Mr. Muscle's PR people to comment on the new
Enron memos -- and his strange silence on Bustamante's
suit or Davis' petition. But Arnold was too busy
shaving off his Hitlerian mustache to respond.

The Enron memos were discovered by the Foundation for
Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, Los Angeles,

Posted by richard at 02:07 PM

Conscience Before Career

Ray McGovern: "It is not altogether reassuring to learn that John Dion is heading the investigation. Dion is widely known in intelligence circles as one who does not feel he can go to the bathroom without first asking the Justice Department for permission. Sadly, we can expect the kind of "full and thorough investigation" that Richard Nixon ordered then-Attorney General John Mitchell to conduct into Watergate."


Published on Thursday, October 2, 2003 by TomPaine.com

Conscience Before Career
by Ray McGovern

Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my
life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those
who betray the trust by exposing the name of our
sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of
—George H. W. Bush, 1999

What could have been going through the heads of senior
White House officials when they decided to expose a
CIA officer working under deep cover? Why would they
want to blow the cover of Valerie Plame, wife of
former United States Ambassador Joseph Wilson?

What will the FBI find out? It is not altogether
reassuring to learn that John Dion is heading the
investigation. Dion is widely known in intelligence
circles as one who does not feel he can go to the
bathroom without first asking the Justice Department
for permission. Sadly, we can expect the kind of "full
and thorough investigation" that Richard Nixon ordered
then-Attorney General John Mitchell to conduct into

The important thing is not who-done-it, but why. What
ulterior motive moved White House officials to "out"
Ms. Plame when they knew full well it would burn her
entire network of agents reporting on weapons of mass
destruction, put those agents in serious jeopardy and
destroy her ability at the peak of her career to
address this top-priority issue?

Was it another preemptive attack, which — like the
attack on Iraq — seemed to the White House a good idea
at the time? It certainly fits that pattern, inasmuch
as little thought seems to have been given to the
implications, consequences and post-attack planning.

The objective was to create strong disincentive for
those who might be tempted to follow the courageous
example set by Joseph Wilson in citing the president's
own words to show that our country went to war on a

Administration spin doctors, having been able to dig
up nothing worse, are calling Ambassador Wilson a
"Clinton holdover," but no one was better qualified to
investigate reports that Iraq was seeking uranium from
Niger for Baghdad's putative nuclear weapons program.
Wilson served with high distinction as President
George H. W. Bush's acting ambassador in Iraq during
the first Gulf war and also served many years in
Africa, including Niger.

After being sent to Niger in early 2002 at the behest
of the Vice President Dick Cheney's office, he
reported back that the story was false on its face — a
finding reinforced when it was later learned that the
report was based on forged documents.

When, despite all this, President Bush used this
canard in his state-of-the-union address on January
28, 2003, Wilson faced a choice not unfamiliar to
just-retired government officials. He could sit
comfortably and smirk over brandy with friends in
Georgetown parlors, or he could speak truth to power.

Conscience won. In a New York Times article on July 6,
Wilson blew the whistle on the Iraq-Niger hoax, adding
that "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's
nuclear program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi

The consummate diplomat, Ambassador Wilson chooses his
words carefully. He was fed up, though, with the
specious reasons adduced to justify the unprovoked
U.S.-U.K. attack on Iraq — the same reasons that
prompted three courageous colleagues to leave their
careers in the foreign service in protest.

With the Times article, Wilson threw down the
gauntlet. At the same time, he permitted himself the
comment to Washington Post reporters that the
Iraq-Niger hoax "begs the question as to what else
they are lying about."

That went too far for the White House, which took
barely a week to react, using trusted columnist Robert
Novak to retaliate. There was little they could do to
Ambassador Wilson, but they were hell-bent on
preventing others from following his courageous

There are, after all, hundreds of people in U.S.
intelligence and foreign service circles who know
about the lies. Worse still from the White House's
point of view, some are about to retire and escape the
constraints that come of being on the inside. And,
more often than not, the chicanery that took place can
be exposed without divulging classified information.

And so, White House Mafiosi decided to retaliate
against the Wilsons in order to issue a clear warning
that those who might be thinking of following the
ambassador's example should think twice — that they
can expect to pay a high price for turning state's
evidence, so to speak. At least one reporter was
explicitly told that wives are "fair game."

So far the intimidation has worked. But a test case is
waiting in the wings.

Alan Foley, the CIA official in charge of analysis on
weapons of mass destruction, has announced his
retirement. His name hit the news recently when it was
learned that Foley tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent
the bogus report on Iraq-Niger from finding its way
into the president's state-of-the-union speech.
Foley's credibility was immediately attacked by the
White House — which may come to regret having done so.

I have worked with Alan Foley. He is cut of the same
cloth as Ambassador Wilson. I am betting that the
White House's latest preemptive strike will not deter
Foley and other intelligence officials able to put
conscience and integrity before career from following
Wilson's example.

Things are likely to get even more interesting.

Ray McGovern (rmcgovern@slschool.org), a CIA analyst
for 27 years, is now on the steering group of Veteran
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. Before
retiring, he led one of two CIA teams conducting the
most-secret daily intelligence briefings at the White

Copyright 2003 TomPaine.com


Posted by richard at 02:04 PM

October 03, 2003

IRREGULARITIES IN CALIFORNIA RACE!! Long-shot candidates do startlingly well in Tulare County. DIEBOLD MACHINES YIELD FISHY RESULTS!!


IRREGULARITIES IN CALIFORNIA RACE!! Long-shot candidates do startlingly well in Tulare County DIEBOLD MACHINES YIELD FISHY RESULTS!!

Wednesday, October 08, 2003
IRREGULARITIES IN CALIFORNIA RACE!! Long-shot candidates do startlingly well in Tulare County. DIEBOLD MACHINES YIELD FISHY RESULTS!!

My friend in South Carolina writes:

I ran a number crunch of CA counties that use Diebold
machines to cast/count votes and found some weird
figures that show a skim of votes from top candidates
to people who were unlikely to affect the outcome. I
did my hand calculator work on the California election
results (from the secretary of state's site) when 96%
of precincts had reported. The website showed:

Counties using Diebold Touchscreens:
Alemeda, Plumas

Counties using Diebold Optiscan:
Fresno, Humboldt, Kern, Lassen, Marin, Placer, San
Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Trinity,

There were a total of 1,403,375 votes cast in these
counties combined. The CA total was 7,842,630 at this
stage of the count. Thus 17.89% of all the state votes
were cast/counted on Diebold equipment.

I had earlier noticed some lower order candidates
(ones who couldn't affect the result) were getting
unusually large numbers of votes in Tulare county. I
decided to test to see if the these and other 'fringe'
candidates might be used to receive skimmed votes in
other Diebold counties.

I added all the votes cast/counted on Diebold
equipment for each candidate and expressed it as a
percentage of their total votes cast state wide. The
following table lists: Candidate name, votes counted
for them in Diebold counties, CA state total votes
counted for that candidate and what percentage of that
candidate's total votes were counted in Diebold

It looks like, as one might expect, at the top of the
list as if there is a slight variance from an even
state wide distribution. However many 'lower ticket'
candidates have vote totals that ONLY correlate with
the use of Diebold equipment! I have included some
names chosen at random from the result list that show
that not all lower order candidates were used to
receive skimmed votes. Note that Diebold's counties
are spread geographically over the whole of

I have checked background on the skewed result
candidates and they are not residents of the counties
where they got very high percentage results. In one
case, Palmieri, the candidate was surprised to hear
about Tulare county (I emailed him) and had not been
there nor had family or friends there. In fact, his
platform was "Don't vote for me." He described this
vote pattern as "strange."

State total 7,842,630.
Cast in Diebold counties 1,403,375
17.89% of the total votes cast.

Schwarzenegger 581,145 3,552,787 16.36%

Bustamante 447,008 2,379,740 18.78%

McLintock 186,923 979,234 19.08%

Camejo 39,199 207,270 18.9%

Huffington 7,498 42,131 17.79%

Ueberoth 3365 21378 15.74%

Flynt 2384 15010 15.88%

Coleman 1869 12443 15.02%

Simon 1351 7648 17.66%

Palmieri 2542 3717 68.3%

Louie 598 3198 18.7%

Kunzman 1957 2133 91.75%

Roscoe 325 1941 16.7%

Sprague 1026 1576 65.10%

Macaluso 592 1504 39.36%

Price 477 1011 47.18%

Quinn 220 433 50.8%

Martorana 165 420 39.28%

Gosse 60 419 14.3%

Based on the very unlikely distribution of votes for
some candidates (a meteor hit my car twice this week
sort of odds) a hand count of the affected counties to
compare with the machine reported count should be
done. This would show that the machines had been
tampered with to alter the results. As we already
know, it is not possible to audit touchscreen machines
because Diebold refuse to allow printing of a ballot
to be placed in a box as a back up for use in just
such an apparent tampering with votes.

For those who are unsure of figures:

California is huge and has a population similar to
many European nations. Lower order candidates had
little or no ability to spread any sort of message to
parts of the state beyond their own home and/or where
they have previously lived. One would expect some of
the 'fringe' candidates to do well in their home
county and then to have a very even distribution
across the rest of the state. That is not the case. In
Diebold counties (those who use machines made by
Diebold, a corporation that supports George Bush) the
results are skewed towards low scoring candidates by
unbelievably large amounts.

The probability of scoring twice the expected average
county % could charitably be construed as the upper
limit of the possible. Some candidates exceed that
figure in Diebold counties by a four or five fold
margin. If you have done statistics, you know that is
so far beyond what might be expected that you would
reject it as defective data. If it happened to one
candidate in this election, I would be surprised but
might accept it. There are a large number of
candidates who have this same systematic pattern of
receiving skimmed votes.

The California recall shows Diebold trying to affect
the election outcome by moving votes from high ranked
candidates to low ranked candidates.

By doing this, Diebold keep the total number of votes
cast constant but rob some candidate of their votes.
Before anyone makes this a partisan issue - it could
be a Republican victim next time.

# posted by mark @ 11:08 PM
Saturday, October 04, 2003

Founder of anti-immigrant group betrays a Nazi streak

Another Schwarzenegger racist connection
Posted by Brian Flemming on August 13, 2003 04:41 PM

"In this society, will the present majority peaceably
hand over its political power to a group that is
simply more fertile? Can homo contraceptives compete
with horno progenitivo if our borders aren't
controlled? ... Perhaps this is the first instance in
which those with their pants up are going to get
caught by those with their pants down. As whites see
their power and control over their lives declining,
will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will
there be an explosion?"

This lovely quote comes from John Tanton, in an
official (although private) memo written to other
members of the group he founded, U.S. English, an
anti-immigration group.

Guess who sits on the advisory board of U.S. English?
That's right--Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Isn't there something perverse about a member of a
white-supremacist group (with a well-known Nazi
problem) appealing for the votes of California


(Also posted at Brian Flemming's Weblog)

Posted by richard at 03:01 PM

U.S. Expert Reports No WMD Found in Iraq

The story written between the lines here is that some
men have kept their honor.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said of Kay's briefing: "There was talk about facilities that might. There was talk about intent. But there was not talk about weapons of mass destruction. ... There's nothing we can point to and they're asking for another six to nine months."


U.S. Expert Reports No WMD Found in Iraq
Thu Oct 2, 7:55 PM ET

By JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Chief U.S. weapons searcher David Kay
reported Thursday he had found no weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq (news - web sites), a finding that
brought fresh congressional complaints about the Bush
administration's prewar assertions of an imminent
threat from Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).

Kay, in a report to Congress, described evidence of a
possible small-scale biological weapons effort, and
said searchers had substantial evidence of an Iraqi
push to boost the range of its ballistic missiles
beyond prohibited ranges.

But his team had found only limited evidence of any
chemical weapons effort, he said, and there was almost
no sign that a significant nuclear weapons project was
under way.

"We have not found at this point actual weapons," Kay
said. "It does not mean we've concluded there are no
actual weapons."

"In addition to intent, we have found a large body of
continuing activities and equipment that were not
declared to the U.N. inspectors when they returned in
November of last year," he said.

He cautioned that the search was still under way and
said he should know within six to nine months if there
was more to be found.

The lack of substantive findings so far brought
immediate negative reactions from both Republicans and
Democrats in Congress — and also seemed certain to
raise new questions among allies overseas about the
Bush administration's justification for going to war.

"I'm not pleased by what I heard today, but we should
be willing to adopt a wait and see attitude — and
that's the only alternative we really have," said Sen.
Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the chairman of the Senate
Intelligence Committee.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said of Kay's briefing:
"There was talk about facilities that might. There was
talk about intent. But there was not talk about
weapons of mass destruction. ... There's nothing we
can point to and they're asking for another six to
nine months."

The administration's assertions about Iraq's weapons
programs and ties to terrorism, and the intelligence
conclusions behind those assertions had driven the
administration's case for war.

Critics have contended that either the CIA (news - web
sites) and other agencies that make up the U.S.
intelligence community made serious errors in their
analysis or the administration exaggerated what
intelligence information it did have to persuade a
skeptical world to support an invasion.

The administration is asking for $600 million to
continue the hunt for conclusive evidence that Saddam
had weapons of mass destruction, according to
congressional officials.

Separately, CIA Director George J. Tenet, in a letter
to the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee
obtained by The Associated Press, rejected
congressional criticism that the prewar intelligence
findings were flawed.

Tenet's statement came in response to a blistering
letter from Reps. Porter Goss, R-Fla., and Jane
Harman, D-Calif., the heads of the House intelligence
committee. That letter, dated Sept. 25, cited
"significant deficiencies with respect to the
collection activities concerning Iraq's WMD and ties
to al-Qaida prior to the commencement of hostilities

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday "it
will be unfortunate" if it turns out that intelligence
used to justify the war in Iraq turns out to have been
seriously flawed.

The findings cited by Kay included:

_ On biological weapons, a single vial of a strain of
botulinum, a poison that can be used as a weapon,
located at the home of a known biological weapons

_ On chemical weapons, multiple sources told the
weapons hunting group that Iraq did not have a large,
ongoing, centrally controlled program after 1991.
There had been reports that Iraq retained some of its
old chemical weapons but Kay said none had been found.

_ On nuclear weapons, Kay said in his statement to
Congress that despite evidence of Saddam's continued
ambition to acquire nuclear weapons, "to date we have
not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant
post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or
produce fissile material."

_ But on missiles, Kay said the team had "discovered
sufficient evidence to date to conclude that the Iraqi
regime was committed to delivery system improvements."

Posted by richard at 02:01 PM

Slain CIA Agent's Dad Calls Leak Treason

No comment needed. He speaks for himself.
Associated Press: "The father of slain CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann said Thursday he believes an independent counsel should investigate allegations that someone in the Bush administration exposed a CIA officer's identity -- an act he called treasonous."


Slain CIA Agent's Dad Calls Leak Treason

Associated Press Writer

October 2, 2003, 9:03 PM EDT

WASHINGTON -- The father of slain CIA officer Johnny
"Mike" Spann said Thursday he believes an independent
counsel should investigate allegations that someone in
the Bush administration exposed a CIA officer's
identity -- an act he called treasonous.

Spann, the first American killed in Afghanistan, died
in a prison uprising. His father, also named Johnny
Spann, said he is still angry because he feels his
son's identity and hometown were disclosed before his
son's family could be adequately protected.

Democrats in Congress, led by Sen. Charles Schumer,
D-N.Y., are calling for a special counsel to be
appointed to investigate who exposed a CIA operative
who is married to a former ambassador, Joseph C.
Wilson. Wilson had accused the administration of
manipulating intelligence to exaggerate the threat
posed by Iraq.

"If someone in the Bush administration leaked this,
they need to be punished, and they need to be made an
example of, because that's not just a leak, that's
treason," Spann, of Winfield, Ala., told The
Associated Press. "They should appoint an independent
counsel so the American people can be sure, and let
the chips fall where they may."

The officer's name first appeared in a July 14 story
by syndicated columnist Robert Novak, and she was
identified later by Newsday as an undercover officer.

Former CIA covert operations officer Bart Bechtel said
the key issue is exactly what the officer's position
was at the CIA at the time her name appeared.

"In general terms, it is not all right to identify a
covert employee," said Bechtel. "That being said, many
covert employees, especially case officers out there
doing their jobs, it doesn't take long for them to be
recognized as agency."
Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press

Posted by richard at 01:57 PM

Limbaugh Faces Drug Probe Amid Race Flap

Could it be possible that the Herculean task of
cleaning out the Aegean stables is underway?

Associated Press: Law enforcement sources who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed to The Associated Press that Limbaugh is being investigated by the Palm Beach County state attorney's office.


Limbaugh Faces Drug Probe Amid Race Flap
Thu Oct 2, 7:32 PM ET

By JILL BARTON, Associated Press Writer

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Rush Limbaugh refused to back
down Thursday from disparaging comments he made about
a black quarterback, as authorities confirmed he is
being investigated for illegally buying prescription

The conservative commentator gave up his job as an
ESPN sports analyst late Wednesday, three days after
saying on the sports network's "Sunday NFL Countdown"
that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb
was overrated because the media wanted to see a black
quarterback succeed.

"I think what we've had here is a little social
concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous
that a black quarterback do well," Limbaugh said on
the show. "There is a little hope invested in McNabb,
and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this
team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this

Law enforcement sources who spoke on condition of
anonymity confirmed to The Associated Press that
Limbaugh is being investigated by the Palm Beach
County state attorney's office.

The drug allegations were first reported by the
National Enquirer. CNN reported Thursday that sources
close to the investigation said Limbaugh had turned up
as a buyer of powerful painkillers but that he was not
the target of the investigation.

Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates the
politically focused "Rush Limbaugh Show" to more than
650 markets, issued a statement from Limbaugh on
Thursday saying: "I am unaware of any investigation by
any authority involving me. No government
representative has contacted me directly or
indirectly. If my assistance is required, I will, of
course, cooperate fully."

Limbaugh announced his departure from ESPN late
Wednesday. He said Thursday that he was leaving so
network employees would be spared the uproar over his

"The great people at ESPN did not want to deal with
this kind of reaction," Limbaugh told the National
Association of Broadcasters at its convention in
Philadelphia. "The path of least resistance became for
me to resign."

George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports,
accepted Limbaugh's resignation, saying: "We believe
that he took the appropriate action to resolve this
matter expeditiously."

McNabb said he didn't mind criticism of his
performance but was upset that Limbaugh made his race
an issue. Democratic presidential candidates and the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People criticized Limbaugh's remark, and Eagles owner
Jeffrey Lurie on Thursday called Limbaugh's comments

Limbaugh has denied that his comments were racially
motivated. He said at the convention that he had
thought about the issue the night before making the
comments and wanted to write an essay on it.

"It's something I have believed for quite a while,"
Limbaugh said. "I don't mean it to hurt anybody. ...
It's just an opinion."

Limbaugh told the broadcasters that he was used to
scrutiny and expects to get attention, saying that to
draw in listeners, "we want controversy."

Limbaugh did not address the drug investigation
reports in his speech.

The Enquirer had interviewed Wilma Cline, who said she
became Limbaugh's drug connection after working as his
maid. She said Limbaugh had abused OxyContin and other

Ed Shohat, a Miami lawyer for Cline and her husband,
said Thursday, "The Clines stand by the story." Shohat
said neither he nor his clients would comment further.

National Enquirer Editor in Chief David Perel declined
to say whether the Clines were paid for their
interview, but said the tabloid does "pay for
interviews, photographs and exclusives — as long as
they can be proven to be true." Referring to media
reports saying the Clines were paid six figures for
their story, Perel said, "People are just making
things up."

Limbaugh skipped his radio show Thursday to attend the
broadcasters convention. He was scheduled to be back
on the air Friday.


Associated Press Writer Jason Straziuso in
Philadelphia contributed to this report.


Posted by richard at 01:50 PM

October 02, 2003

Attorney General Is Closely Linked to Inquiry Figures

Here the NYTwits weigh in...Again, I do not hope for
aggressive investigative reporting (if they did, or
had over the last two years, there would be huge mobs
outside the White House), but I hope at least the
NYTwits and the WASHPs will report the *real* news (as
they conciously chose not to do re: Fraudida) during
the next few critical weeks. For today, at least, they
have...I cannot remember a day in which both LNS
postings were from WASHPs/NYTwits. But as the poet
said, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way
"Deep political ties between top White House aides and Attorney General John Ashcroft have put him into a delicate position as the Justice Department begins a full investigation into whether administration officials illegally disclosed the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer."
the wind blows."


Attorney General Is Closely Linked to Inquiry Figures

Published: October 2, 2003

ASHINGTON, Oct. 1 Deep political ties between top
White House aides and Attorney General John Ashcroft
have put him into a delicate position as the Justice
Department begins a full investigation into whether
administration officials illegally disclosed the name
of an undercover C.I.A. officer.

Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser,
whose possible role in the case has raised questions,
was a paid consultant to three of Mr. Ashcroft's
campaigns in Missouri, twice for governor and for
United States senator, in the 1980's and 1990's, an
associate of Mr. Rove said on Wednesday.

Jack Oliver, the deputy finance chairman of Mr. Bush's
2004 re-election campaign, was the director of Mr.
Ashcroft's 1994 Senate campaign, and later worked as
Mr. Ashcroft's deputy chief of staff.

Those connections led Democrats on Wednesday to assert
that Mr. Rove's connections to Mr. Ashcroft amounted
to a clear conflict of interest and undermined the
integrity of the investigation. The disclosures have
also emboldened Democrats who have called for the
appointment of an outside counsel.

On Wednesday the administration worked to ensure that
no Republicans in Congress broke ranks and called for
an independent inquiry, and it sought to portray the
former diplomat at the center of the case as a
partisan Democrat.

Mr. Ashcroft's predicament over whether to bring in a
special counsel is reminiscent of the exchanges
between President Bill Clinton and his attorney
general, Janet Reno. Ms. Reno's appointments of
numerous independent counsels to investigate ethics
accusations against the Clinton administration fueled
tensions between her and the president, and by the end
of his second term, associates said, the two were said
to be barely on speaking terms.

In contrast, the president has voiced strong public
support for Mr. Ashcroft in recent months, the two
meet almost daily, and the ties between their
political aides go back a decade or more.

At the very least, the relationships have given new
grist to the Democrats. "This is not like, `Oh, yeah,
they're both Republicans, they've been in the same
room together,' " said Roy Temple, the former
executive director of the Missouri Democratic Party
and the former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Mel
Carnahan of Missouri. "Karl Rove was once part of John
Ashcroft's political strategic team. You have both the
actual conflict, and the appearance of conflict. It
doesn't matter what's in the deep, dark recesses of
their hearts. It stinks."

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House
Democratic leader, said she was particularly concerned
about the past campaign work that Mr. Rove did for Mr.
Ashcroft. "Given allegations about the involvement of
senior White House officials and the past close
association between the attorney general and those
officials, the investigation should be headed by a
person independent of the administration," Ms. Pelosi

On Wednesday, Justice Department officials would not
rule out the possibility of Mr. Ashcroft's appointing
a special counsel, or recusing himself from the

"We're leaving all legal options open," said Mark
Corallo, a department spokesman.

And the associate of Mr. Rove said of the attorney
general, "He's going to have to recuse himself, don't
you think?"

Mr. Bush himself salvaged Mr. Ashcroft's political
career by selecting him as attorney general after Mr.
Ashcroft lost his Senate race in 2000 to Mr. Carnahan,
who was killed in a plane crash just before the

In 2001, Mr. Ashcroft recused himself from an
investigation into accusations against Senator Robert
G. Torricelli of New Jersey because Mr. Torricelli had
campaigned against him in Missouri. Mr. Torricelli
withdrew from his re-election race.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Ashcroft say that the Justice
Department will be fair and thorough, and Justice
officials say that the investigation will be handled
independently by attorneys in the criminal division's
counterespionage section. "Career professionals with
decades of experience in these kinds of cases are
fully capable of conducting a thorough and complete
investigation," said a senior Justice Department

Posted by richard at 01:47 PM

October 01, 2003

Outside Probe of Leaks Is Favored

Once upon a time in America, there was a free and
aggressive press that was willing to investigate the
powerful (even if they were not Democrats) and bring
them down. It was long ago, not in years, but in the
degradation of America's political life. In that time,
the Washington Post led the way, and drew first blood
(politically) on Nixon and Watergate. At this sad
juncture in US history, we would settle for
(investigative reporting is too much to ask for just
now), the WASHPs simply printing the *real* news
without kowtowing and skirting around sensitive
subjects, and for the last two days -- they have...You
are going to see and hear great events in the coming
weeks and months...Remember, the LNS, the Internet
Information Rebellion (Buzzflash, Truthout,
MediaWhores, etc.) AND the Guardian kept this story
alive until now...Clearly, as I mentioned to you over
the last several weeks, the establishment itself is
moving against the Bush cabal...


Outside Probe of Leaks Is Favored
Poll Findings Come As White House Softens Denials

By Dana Milbank and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 2, 2003; Page A01

Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe a special
prosecutor should be named to investigate allegations
that Bush administration officials illegally leaked
the name of an undercover CIA agent, according to a
Washington Post/ABC News poll released yesterday.

The poll, taken after the Justice Department announced
that it had opened a criminal probe into the matter,
pointed to several troubling signs for the White House
as Bush aides decide how to contain the damage. The
survey found that 81 percent of Americans considered
the matter serious, while 72 percent thought it likely
that someone in the White House leaked the agent's

Confronted with little public support for the White
House view that the investigation should be handled by
the Justice Department, Bush aides began yesterday to
adjust their response to the expanding probe. They
reined in earlier, broad portrayals of innocence in
favor of more technical arguments that it is possible
the disclosure was made without knowledge that a
covert operative was being exposed and therefore might
not have been a crime.

As the White House hunkered down, it got the first
taste of criticism from within Bush's own party. Sen.
Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said that Bush "needs to get this
behind him" by taking a more active role. "He has that
main responsibility to see this through and see it
through quickly, and that would include, if I was
president, sitting down with my vice president and
asking what he knows about it," the outspoken Hagel
said last night on CNBC's "Capital Report."

At the same time, administration allies outside the
White House stepped up a counteroffensive that seeks
to discredit the administration's main accuser, former
ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, whose wife was named
as a CIA operative. Republican National Committee
Chairman Ed Gillespie gave a string of television
interviews with the three-part message that the
Justice Department is investigating, that the White
House is fully cooperating and that Wilson has a
political agenda and has made "rash statements."

"He is someone, given his politics, who is obviously
prone to think the worst of this White House,"
Gillespie said by telephone.

With Tuesday's announcement that a full criminal
investigation into the leaks was underway, the federal
government's investigative apparatus began to
reassemble. An FBI spokeswoman said the bureau has
gathered a team of agents experienced in leak
investigations to conduct the inquiry, from the
inspections and counterintelligence divisions at
headquarters and in the Washington field office. The
FBI investigation will be overseen by the bureau's
Inspections Division, which often handles specialized
probes, one FBI official said.

At the White House, officials said they will examine
their files and phone logs and preserve message slips
and notes that could relate to the investigation.
While Bush was quiet on the topic yesterday, the
subject filled 22 of 24 pages in the transcript of the
daily White House press briefing.

Bush press secretary Scott McClellan made clear he was
limiting his public claims related to the probe. He
said that he would not vouch for individual aides'
innocence other than his statement that Bush senior
adviser Karl Rove "didn't condone that kind of
activity and was not involved in that kind of

McClellan also limited his defense of White House
aides to narrow legal grounds. On Monday, he said,
"There's been nothing, absolutely nothing, brought to
our attention to suggest any White House involvement,
and that includes the vice president's office as

Yesterday, McClellan did not deny that there had been
any general White House effort to discredit Wilson at
the time of the original leak. "The issue here is
whether or not someone leaked classified information,"
he said yesterday, adding after the briefing: "I'm
drawing a line here. I'm not going to play the game of
going down other rabbit trails."

The move to circumscribe the White House response
could have legal and political implications. Bush and
his aides have made clear that they do not support
naming a special counsel to investigate the leaks, but
Democrats said Bush's Justice Department cannot lead
an impartial probe.

Seeking to keep up the pressure on Bush yesterday,
Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) and
three other Senate Democrats wrote to the president
repeating their call for a special counsel and asking
for all White House senior staff members to sign a
statement saying they were not responsible for the

Justice Department regulations may make it difficult
for Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to leave the
matter to his career staff, as he has proposed,
particularly if journalists who received the leaks are
to be questioned. The regulations state that "no
subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media
without the express authorization of the Attorney

The name of Wilson's wife and her status as a CIA
employee were published in a syndicated column days
after Wilson wrote an article casting doubt on the
administration's claim that Iraq had sought nuclear
materials in Niger. The columnist, Robert D. Novak,
quoted two senior administration officials.

On Saturday, a senior administration official told The
Washington Post that before Novak's column appeared,
two top White House officials called at least six
journalists and disclosed the identity of Wilson's
wife. The senior administration official said the leak
was "meant purely and simply for revenge." Wilson had
been sent by the CIA to Niger in 2002 to examine the
nuclear claims.

Both the White House and the Republican National
Committee assailed Wilson for retreating from his
charge that Rove was responsible for the disclosure
and for his newly acknowledged role in the
presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).
Wilson said he gave $2,000 to Kerry's campaign and has
participated in three or four of the campaign's
conference calls about foreign policy.

At the Capitol, aides to House Majority Leader Tom
DeLay (Tex.) distributed paper sacks labeled "Leak
Hyperventilation Bags."

Still, most White House allies were careful not to
dismiss the significance of the allegations. Gillespie
was asked by MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Tuesday evening
whether the potential crime involved was worse than
Watergate. "You know, yeah, I suppose in terms of the
real-world implications of it," Gillespie said. "It's
not just politics. It's people's lives."

Disclosing the name of a clandestine operative --
which can jeopardize the agent's contacts -- can be a
crime, but that determination depends on factors that
include whether the disclosure was intentional,
whether the leaker knew the person was a covert agent
and whether he or she knew the government was taking
steps to conceal the agent's covert status. "Was it
known that information was classified information?"
asked McClellan, who pointed to statements this week
by Novak saying he did not know Wilson's wife had
undercover status.

McClellan suggested at a briefing yesterday morning
that Bush would want aides to take polygraph tests if
requested by the FBI. " 'Full cooperation' is full
cooperation," he said, referring to Bush's remarks on
Tuesday. Asked in the afternoon, he said, "That is a
hypothetical, and that is not where the process is."

McClellan said in the morning that he did not know if
any White House aides had contacted the Justice
Department with information. By afternoon, he was
referring such questions to Justice, saying he would
have no reason to know. McClellan said he could not
say when Bush first learned of the leak. "I looked
into it, and I just don't know," he said.

In the Post-ABC News poll, 34 percent thought it
likely that Bush knew in advance about the leaks.
Bush's overall support slipped to 54 percent from 58
percent in mid-September. That level is the lowest of
his presidency but still respectable by historical
measures. There was a high degree of suspicion
directed toward the administration. Only 29 percent
said the investigation should be handled by the
Justice Department, while 69 percent favored a special
counsel with autonomy from the administration.

Assistant polling director Claudia Deane and staff
writers Dan Eggen, Dana Priest and Susan Schmidt
contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Posted by richard at 01:44 PM

Senator Lautenberg Calls On White House to Take 'Every Step Necessary' to Ensure Thorough Investigation of Possible Leaks of Classified Information

Here we go. "Out, out damn spot!!!!"

Sen. Frank Lautenberg:"This is not just an outrage; it also appears to be a crime. It must be investigated – immediately and independently," said Senator Lautenberg. "This type of reckless retribution for disagreeing with the Bush Administration could have put American intelligence agents at risk."


September 30, 2003
Senator Lautenberg Calls On White House to Take 'Every Step Necessary' to Ensure Thorough Investigation of Possible Leaks of Classified Information
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United States Senator Frank
R. Lautenberg, along with eight of his colleagues on
the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee sent a
letter to White House Chief of Staff Andy Card calling
for the Bush Administration to 'take every step
necessary' to preserve evidence that might be relevant
to the investigation into allegations a White House
employee disclosed the name of a covert CIA agent.

Our government has no greater responsibility than to
protect and advance our national security, and the
people who work for our government have no greater
obligation than to protect and defend those spending
and risking their lives for our national security. Yet
it now appears that one or more high level Bush
Administration officials took it upon themselves to
act contrary to that responsibility and that
obligation, wrote Lautenberg and several of his
colleagues in a letter to WH Chief of Staff Andy Card.

"This is not just an outrage; it also appears to be a
crime. It must be investigated – immediately and
independently," said Senator Lautenberg. "This type of
reckless retribution for disagreeing with the Bush
Administration could have put American intelligence
agents at risk."

The letter sent to Mr. Card is attached to the

September 30, 2003

Andrew H. Card Jr. Chief of Staff The White House 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Card:

We are writing to ask for your immediate and public
assurance that the White House is taking every step
necessary to preserve relevant evidence and ensure the
full cooperation of White House personnel in the
investigation into the apparently illegal disclosure
of a covert CIA operative's identity.

Our government has no greater responsibility than to
protect and advance our national security, and the
people who work for our government have no greater
obligation than to protect and defend those spending
and risking their lives for our national security. Yet
it now appears that one or more high level Bush
Administration officials took it upon themselves to
act contrary to that responsibility and that
obligation. In an apparent reaction to Ambassador
Joseph C. Wilson's credible allegations about the
Administration's manipulation of intelligence
information, some high level Bush Administration
officials reportedly decided to identify the
Ambassador's wife as a covert government operative.
This action potentially endangered not just her, but
the many people who may have associated with her and
provided help to the United States. When people abroad
worked with Ambassador Wilson's wife to aid our
national security, many knew that they risked much to
do so. But they undoubtedly never would have thought
that the risks include the possibility that a high
level Bush Administration appointee would
intentionally put into the press information that
would jeopardize their safety or their lives. Those
individuals trusted our government, and someone in our
government apparently breached that trust.

This is not just an outrage; it also appears to be a
crime. It must be investigated – immediately and
independently. Indeed, the Justice Department
reportedly informed you last night that it believes
the allegations to be serious enough to warrant a full
blown investigation. We strongly believe that such an
investigation should be led by a non-partisan,
independent special counsel, and not by this
Administration's political appointees. But whoever
conducts the investigation must receive the full
cooperation of the White House. We therefore call upon
you to do everything in your power to ensure that
whoever ends up investigating this manner has the
White House's full cooperation and to inform the
public of the steps you intend to take to ensure this

We understand that this morning, White House counsel
Alberto R. Gonzales told White House staff: "You must
preserve all materials that might in any way be
related to the department's investigation." It is
unclear from press reports whether this was the
totality of Judge Gonzales' direction. If it was, we
believe that much more is warranted to make absolutely
clear to White House staff what is expected of them.
Any breach that occurred was of the utmost
seriousness, and the White House must do all it can to
ensure that those responsible do not seek to coverup
their misdeeds. In short, we urge you to issue a much
more specific directive and to underscore the
seriousness with which any failure to comply will be
met. Specifically, we ask you to:

• Direct all White House personnel to maintain all
records, phone logs, e-mails, correspondence and
anything else that may relate to these events. This
direction should make clear that it refers to both
government records and any purportedly personal
records generated, for example, by a personal e-mail
or telephone account. The direction also should
include a mandate to the White House's archivists and
information technology personnel to ensure that any
paper or electronic records dating to the relevant
time period will be maintained and are ready to be
turned over to the Justice Department or special
counsel, whichever ends up investigating this matter.

• Make clear that anyone destroying or otherwise
tampering with these records will be immediately

• Instruct all White House personnel to cooperate with
any request from those investigating the matter –
whether that request be for interviews, government
documents or records or personal phone logs or email
accounts, and make clear that lack of cooperation will
be grounds for immediate dismissal.

• Direct White House staff that they have an
affirmative obligation to communicate relevant
information to investigating authorities, including
the identity of persons involved in the decision to
disclose information about the Ambassador's wife.

• Direct White House staff that, if asked to by
investigating authorities, they must absolve all those
they have been in contact with of any agreement to
keep conversations with them confidential, and make
clear that a failure by White House staff to do so
will result in immediate dismissal.

• Immediately inform the public of whether you have
taken each of these steps or issued any other
directives related to this investigation.

We look forward to hearing your prompt answer to this

Signing the letter were Ranking Member Joe Lieberman,
D-Conn., Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
Ranking Member Carl Levin, D-Mich., Financial
Management Subcommittee Ranking Member Daniel Akaka,
D-Hi., Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee
Ranking Member Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Committee
members Thomas Carper, D-Del., Mark Dayton, D-Minn.,
Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

Posted by richard at 01:40 PM