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Impeach Bush

CIA head defends Iraq intelligence
Boston Globe
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post, 5/31/2003

WASHINGTON - CIA Director George Tenet took the unusual step yesterday of publicly defending the agency's intelligence on Iraq's possession of chemical and biological weapons amid growing criticism that the Bush administration exaggerated what it knew about the Iraqi weapons programs to advance its case for going to war.

 

The statement by Tenet - a rarity for a director of central intelligence, who normally does not react publicly to criticism about intelligence matters except during testimony before Congress - underscored the ferment that has been building within the intelligence agencies because of the inability to date of US forces in Iraq to uncover any proscribed weapons.

Three complaints have been filed with the CIA ombudsman about the possible politicization by the administration of intelligence on Iraq, an intelligence official said, but he would not describe the substance of the complaints. One senior administration official said there have been complaints by CIA analysts that they felt pressured by administration policy makers who questioned them before the war about the basis for their assessment of Iraq's weapons programs.

"Our role is to call it like we see it, to tell policy makers what we know, what we don't know, what we think, and what we base it on," Tenet said in a statement released by the CIA. "The integrity of our process was maintained throughout and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong."

Tenet's statement came in response to the release Thursday of a "memorandum" to President Bush posted on several Internet sites by a group of retired CIA and State Department intelligence analysts who said there was "growing mistrust and cynicism" among intelligence professionals over "intelligence cited by you and your chief advisers to justify the war against Iraq."

The group, which calls itself Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, said a failure to find weapons of mass destruction after six weeks of searching "suggests either that such weapons are simply not there or that those eventually found there will not be in sufficent quantity or capability to support your repeated claim that Iraq posed a grave threat to our country's security."

The group called on the president to allow United Nations inspectors to return to Iraq, saying, "If the US doesn't make undisputed discoveries of forbidden weapons, the failure will feed already widespread skepticism abroad about the motives for going to war." It added that intelligence in the past had been "warped for political purposes but never before has such warping been used in such a systematic way to mislead our elected representatives into voting to authorize launching a war."

In a Feb. 5 speech at the UN Security Council, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made the administration's case for going to war. Asked about the intelligence controversy yesterday, Powell asked for patience while the CIA and Congress look into the matter.

"There are always people who come after the fact to say, this wasn't what was presented to you, or this was politicized, or this wasn't," he said. "Let people look into it, let people examine it."

Speaking as he arrived in Krakow, Poland, yesterday, Bush dismissed charges that the administration had failed to prove its case that Iraq undertook proscribed weapons programs. He cited the discovery last month of two trucks in Iraq that US intelligence officials said appeared to be mobile facilities for the production of biological weapons.

"For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them," Bush said.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General James Conway, commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, added a new voice to the mystery of Iraq's weapons when he said that he, too, was surprised that no chemical weapons had yet been found.

In a teleconference call from Baghdad to reporters in Washington, Conway said he "truly thought," based on intelligence relayed before the war, that chemical weapons had been distributed to Iraqi Republican Guard units whose commanders had authority to fire them.

This story ran on page A8 of the Boston Globe on 5/31/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

Commentary:
The credibility of the CIA is zero. Tenet has to join that long list of others who've resigned already. But more important, he needs to expose the fake intelligence agency Rumsfeld created--then he should resign for letting those pigs create lies that took us to war. In the end though, we can't just blame Tenet, we have to blame Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz Our democracy won't be safe again (nor will the world trust us) until they're forced from office.


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WMD just a convenient excuse for war, admits Wolfowitz
THE INDEPENDENT (UK)
By David Usborne
30 May 2003

The Bush administration focused on alleged weapons of mass destruction as the primary justification for toppling Saddam Hussein by force because it was politically convenient, a top-level official at the Pentagon has acknowledged.

The extraordinary admission comes in an interview with Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defence Secretary, in the July issue of the magazine Vanity Fair.

Mr Wolfowitz also discloses that there was one justification that was "almost unnoticed but huge". That was the prospect of the United States being able to withdraw all of its forces from Saudi Arabia once the threat of Saddam had been removed. Since the taking of Baghdad, Washington has said that it is taking its troops out of the kingdom. "Just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to the door" towards making progress elsewhere in achieving Middle East peace, Mr Wolfowitz said. The presence of the US military in Saudi Arabia has been one of the main grievances of al-Qa'ida and other terrorist groups.

"For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Mr Wolfowitz tells the magazine.

The comments suggest that, even for the US administration, the logic that was presented for going to war may have been an empty shell. They come to light, moreover, just two days after Mr Wolfowitz's immediate boss, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, conceded for the first time that the arms might never be found.

The failure to find a single example of the weapons that London and Washington said were inside Iraq only makes the embarrassment more acute. Voices are increasingly being raised in the US ­ and Britain ­ demanding an explanation for why nothing has been found.

Most striking is the fact that these latest remarks come from Mr Wolfowitz, recognised widely as the leader of the hawks' camp in Washington most responsible for urging President George Bush to use military might in Iraq. The magazine article reveals that Mr Wolfowitz was even pushing Mr Bush to attack Iraq immediately after the 11 September attacks in the US, instead of invading Afghanistan.

There have long been suspicions that Mr Wolfowitz has essentially been running a shadow administration out of his Pentagon office, ensuring that the right-wing views of himself and his followers find their way into the practice of American foreign policy. He is best known as the author of the policy of first-strike pre-emption in world affairs that was adopted by Mr Bush shortly after the al-Qa'ida attacks.

In asserting that weapons of mass destruction gave a rationale for attacking Iraq that was acceptable to everyone, Mr Wolfowitz was presumably referring in particular to the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell. He was the last senior member of the administration to agree to the push earlier this year to persuade the rest of the world that removing Saddam by force was the only remaining viable option.

The conversion of Mr Powell was on full view in the UN Security Council in February when he made a forceful presentation of evidence that allegedly proved that Saddam was concealing weapons of mass destruction.

Critics of the administration and of the war will now want to know how convinced the Americans really were that the weapons existed in Iraq to the extent that was publicly stated. Questions are also multiplying as to the quality of the intelligence provided to the White House. Was it simply faulty ­ given that nothing has been found in Iraq ­ or was it influenced by the White House's fixation on the weapons issue? Or were the intelligence agencies telling the White House what it wanted to hear?

This week, Sam Nunn, a former senator, urged Congress to investigate whether the argument for war in Iraq was based on distorted intelligence. He raised the possibility that Mr Bush's policy against Saddam had influenced the intelligence that indicated Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction.

This week, the CIA and the other American intelligence agencies have promised to conduct internal reviews of the quality of the material they supplied the administration on what was going on in Iraq. The heat on the White House was only made fiercer by Mr Rumsfeld's admission that nothing may now be found in Iraq to back up those earlier claims, if only because the Iraqis may have got rid of any evidence before the conflict.

"It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict," the Defence Secretary said.

* The US military said last night that it had released a suspected Iraqi war criminal by mistake. US Central Command said it was offering a $25,000 (315,000) reward for the capture of Mohammed Jawad An-Neifus, suspected of being involved in the murder of thousands of Iraqi Shia Muslims whose remains were found at a mass grave in Mahawil, southern Iraq, last month.

The alleged mobile weapons laboratories

As scepticism grows over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, London and Washington are attempting to turn the focus of attention to Iraq's alleged possession of mobile weapons labs.

A joint CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency report released this week claimed that two trucks found in northern Iraq last month were mobile labs used to develop biological weapons. The trucks were fitted with hi-tech laboratory equipment and the report said the discovery represented the "strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biowarfare programme".

The design of the vehicles made them "an ingeniously simple self-contained bioprocessing system". The report said no other purpose, for example water purification, medical laboratory or vaccine production, would justify such effort and expense.

But critics are not convinced. No biological agents were found on the trucks and experts point out that, unlike the trucks described by Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, in a speech to the UN Security Council, they were open sided and would therefore have left a trace easy for weapons inspectors to detect. One former UN inspector said that the trucks would have been a very inefficient way to produce anthrax.

Katherine Butler
3 June 2003 13:49

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

Commentary:
Did Wolfowitz manufacture fake intelligence? No doubt about it. Why in god's name is he still in office? My guess is he'll be the first to resign. Then with any luck Rumsfeld (who the press made into a god) will have to suck up and take the heat for the lies created by his intelligence agency. Then he'll resign too.

I'd be very surprised if Rumsfeld survives this.


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US plans death camp
News.com (AU)
May 26, 2003

THE US has floated plans to turn Guantanamo Bay into a death camp, with its own death row and execution chamber.

Prisoners would be tried, convicted and executed without leaving its boundaries, without a jury and without right of appeal, The Mail on Sunday newspaper reported yesterday.

The plans were revealed by Major-General Geoffrey Miller, who is in charge of 680 suspects from 43 countries, including two Australians.

The suspects have been held at Camp Delta on Cuba without charge for 18 months.

General Miller said building a death row was one plan. Another was to have a permanent jail, with possibly an execution chamber.

The Mail on Sunday reported the move is seen as logical by the US, which has been attacked worldwide for breaching the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war since it established the camp at a naval base to hold alleged terrorists from Afghanistan.

But it has horrified human rights groups and lawyers representing detainees.

They see it as the clearest indication America has no intention of falling in line with internationally recognised justice.

The US has already said detainees would be tried by tribunals, without juries or appeals to a higher court. Detainees will be allowed only US lawyers.

British activist Stephen Jakobi, of Fair Trials Abroad, said: "The US is kicking and screaming against any pressure to conform with British or any other kind of international justice."

American law professor Jonathan Turley, who has led US civil rights group protests against the military tribunals planned to hear cases at Guantanamo Bay, said: "It is not surprising the authorities are building a death row because they have said they plan to try capital cases before these tribunals.

"This camp was created to execute people. The administration has no interest in long-term prison sentences for people it regards as hard-core terrorists."

Britain admitted it had been kept in the dark about the plans.

A Downing St spokesman said: "The US Government is well aware of the British Government's position on the death penalty."

Herald Sun

Copyright 2003 News Limited. All times AEST (GMT+10)

Commentary:
While I don't put anything past the current regime in Washington, I don't think the US will create death camps. What bothers me the most about this story is that our allies are writing this stuff about us. Now all we have to do is think of what our enemies are writing. Millions of people read this article from Australia and a good portion of them probably believe it. Can you blame them? The US has ceased to be a superpower. Other countries won't follow a country they can't trust and without trust we can't lead.


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Too clever by half:The Budget Crisis
US News
David Gergen
Editorial 5/26/03

Caught in their worst budget crisis since the Depression, state governments across the land are taking desperate measures. Oregon has cut teachers' pay, and parents are now selling their own blood to raise money to help out. Texas is reducing healthcare benefits for 275,000 children. Kentucky is letting people out of prison early. California, Wisconsin, and New Jersey are borrowing against future tobacco-settlement revenues--money once intended for healthcare. In Missouri, state workers are unscrewing every third light bulb to save cash.

Against this backdrop, how can politicians in Washington possibly be enacting more tax cuts? Especially cuts tilted yet again toward the wealthy? Is our national testosterone so high after the victory in Iraq that we've forgotten our obligations toward the young and the vulnerable?

It would be different if the half-trillion-dollar cuts pushed by the White House were truly aimed at creating jobs for today's unemployed. But they aren't: Only 17 percent will take effect in the next three years, according to Pete Peterson, the investment banker who heads the Concord Coalition. Remember, too, that just two years ago the White House used a similar promise of more jobs to persuade Congress to pass tax cuts of $1.35 trillion--the largest in our history. Those cuts were backloaded, too, and since 2001 we have been losing jobs at the rate of 74,000 a month.

It would be different if these tax cuts were intended to help those living near the edge. But they aren't: Under the House version, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, households earning $50,000 will receive $452 a year in tax breaks over the coming decade, while a family earning over $1 million will receive tax breaks of $93,537 a year. Of course, the affluent pay more in taxes so they should expect bigger breaks. And, yes, it would be a good idea one day to eliminate dividend taxes. But now? With so many good folks hurting? (Note that the Senate threw $20 billion in state aid into its tax bill, but that's only part of what's needed, and House Republicans oppose it.)

Threatening deficits. It would be different, too, if we had the money to pay for these tax cuts. We don't: The projected surplus of $5.6 trillion inherited by the Bush administration has vanished, gobbled up by war, hard times, and that first whopper of a tax cut. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now estimates that deficits over the coming decade will total $1.8 trillion; some estimates peg them as high as $4 trillion. Never in our history, not even in war, have we had such a sharp, negative swing in our budget outlook.

What makes these tax cuts even more irresponsible is that we need every penny to pay for the imminent retirement of baby boomers. Once, we thought we could help finance their demands with our budget surpluses. Now those surpluses are gone, and we are careening toward a precipice without a plan or a paddle. The Concord Coalition estimates that our "unfunded liabilities" for Social Security, Medicare, and federal pensions are an eye-popping $25 trillion. Every dollar in tax cuts we stuff away now will be a dollar our kids have to pay back through higher payroll taxes--or a dollar taken away from future retirees.

The suspicion grows that these cuts are inspired less by economics than by politics. The president has never shown much confidence in his economic advisers. He fired the first crew and made plain that their replacements were hired as salespeople, not policy heavyweights. More recently, the administration has decided to banish the Council of Economic Advisers to quarters outside the White House complex, a bad sign.

Politics are clearly in the saddle, and it's no secret the president's men see tax cuts as a potent asset for re-election. A devotion to tax cuts keeps the conservative base energized. By accelerating cuts in personal income tax rates into next year, as has been reported, the White House boxes in Democrats, who have been calling for delaying those cuts. Instead, Democrats will be forced to argue in favor of reversing cuts already in place--in effect, higher taxes--or bite their tongues. Reportedly, the White House is also passing word to conservatives that Bush will propose new cuts every year he is in office, straight through a second term. All this is clever politics--and Bush has one of the best political teams ever. But it shouldn't be confused with sound economic policy.

The president's father, George H. W. Bush, had the courage to raise taxes in exchange for Democrats' putting a lid on spending. It was the wrong choice for him politically: Arguably, it cost him re-election. But it was the right choice for the country. His economic policies, along with those of Bill Clinton (who also raised taxes), fueled a boom in the 1990s that lifted the incomes of millions of Americans at the bottom. Where are the leaders in Washington today who will put the young and the vulnerable ahead of wealthy contributors?

Copyright © 2003 U.S. News & World Report, L.P. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
David Gergen is a long time republican. But he's still as wrong today as he was years ago. What right to we have to borrow money and give it away? Until someone can answer that question the whole debate about tax cuts is moot. Tax cuts create deficits and deficits are postponed tax increases. It's a joke and we need to stop laughing long enough to stop these morons before they bankrupt us.


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Saving Private Lynch story 'flawed'
BBC
By John Kampfner
Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK

Private Jessica Lynch became an icon of the war, and the story of her capture by the Iraqis and her rescue by US special forces became one of the great patriotic moments of the conflict.

But her story is one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived.

Private Lynch, a 19-year-old army clerk from Palestine, West Virginia, was captured when her company took a wrong turning just outside Nasiriya and was ambushed.

Nine of her comrades were killed and Private Lynch was taken to the local hospital, which at the time was swarming with Fedayeen. Eight days later US special forces stormed the hospital, capturing the "dramatic" events on a night vision camera.

They were said to have come under fire from inside and outside the building, but they made it to Lynch and whisked her away by helicopter.

Dr a-Houssona found no bullet wounds
Reports claimed that she had stab and bullet wounds and that she had been slapped about on her hospital bed and interrogated.

But Iraqi doctors in Nasiriya say they provided the best treatment they could for the soldier in the midst of war. She was assigned the only specialist bed in the hospital and one of only two nurses on the floor.

"I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken thigh and a dislocated ankle," said Dr Harith a-Houssona, who looked after her.

Jessica amnesia

"There was no [sign of] shooting, no bullet inside her body, no stab wound - only road traffic accident. They want to distort the picture. I don't know why they think there is some benefit in saying she has a bullet injury."

Witnesses told us that the special forces knew that the Iraqi military had fled a day before they swooped on the hospital.

"We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military, there were no soldiers in the hospital," said Dr Anmar Uday, who worked at the hospital.

"It was like a Hollywood film. They cried 'go, go, go', with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the American attack on the hospital - action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan."

There was one more twist. Two days before the snatch squad arrived, Harith had arranged to deliver Jessica to the Americans in an ambulance.

But as the ambulance, with Private Lynch inside, approached a checkpoint American troops opened fire, forcing it to flee back to the hospital. The Americans had almost killed their prize catch.

When footage of the rescue was released, General Vincent Brooks, US spokesman in Doha, said: "Some brave souls put their lives on the line to make this happen, loyal to a creed that they know that they'll never leave a fallen comrade."

The American strategy was to ensure the right television footage by using embedded reporters and images from their own cameras, editing the film themselves.

The Pentagon had been influenced by Hollywood producers of reality TV and action movies, notably the man behind Black Hawk Down, Jerry Bruckheimer.

Bruckheimer advised the Pentagon on the primetime television series "Profiles from the Front Line", that followed US forces in Afghanistan in 2001. That approached was taken on and developed on the field of battle in Iraq.

As for Private Lynch, her status as cult hero is stronger than ever. Internet auction sites list Jessica Lynch items, from an oil painting with an opening bid of $200 to a $5 "America Loves Jessica Lynch" fridge magnet.

But doctors now say she has no recollection of the whole episode and probably never will.

© BBC 2003

Commentary:
If the military is telling the truth they should turn over the video they shot. Short of that, the military shouldn't be believed. Besides, what are they afraid of? The truth?


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U.K. dossier on Iraq weapons 'unreliable'
By Al Webb
United Press International
From the International Desk
Published 5/29/2003 10:46 AM

LONDON, May 29 (UPI) -- Britain's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was rewritten on orders from Prime Minister Tony Blair's government to make it look more dramatic in the months leading up to the U.S.-led war against Baghdad, a top intelligence official said Thursday.

Blair's office rejected the British Broadcasting Corp.'s report, which cited an intelligence source.

"Not one word of the dossier was not entirely the work of the intelligence agencies," it said in a statement.

An unidentified expert in Britain's intelligence network told the BBC the 50-page document contained unreliable information and was "transformed" on instructions from Blair's office in the week before its release last September, to make it "sexier."

"The classic example," the BBC quoted the intelligence officer as saying, "was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use (by Iraq) within 45 minutes."

In the dossier, Blair had warned that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could activate a chemical and biological arsenal in that time -- a suggestion that became a pillar of Britain's rationale for going to war alongside the United States against Baghdad.

"That information was not contained in the original draft" that had been prepared for the prime minister, he said. "It was included in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn't reliable."

The claim came in the wake of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's comment that Saddam's regime might have destroyed its chemical and biological weapons before the fighting began and amid growing suggestions the coalition's war had been launched on the weapons pretext.

Defense Minister Adam Ingram told BBC Radio "the war was fought on the basis of all of the allegations, much of which was substantiated, not by just a security document produced by our security services, not concocted by Number 10 (Blair's office) or under pressure from Number 10 to produce it in a particular way."

The intelligence officer interviewed by the BBC conceded that "most things in the dossier were double sourced, but that (claim about Iraq's ability to launch weapons of mass destruction on 45 minutes' notice) was single source, and we believe that the source was wrong."

"Most people in intelligence weren't happy with the dossier because it didn't reflect the considered view they were putting forward," he said while claiming that a "transformation" had taken place under orders from Downing Street.

Blair, currently visiting Iraq to thank British forces for their role in the overthrow of Saddam's regime, said earlier that "rather than speculating (about the weapons of mass destruction), let's just wait until we get the full report back from our people who are interviewing the Iraqi scientists."

The BBC's intelligence source said it was "30 percent likely" Iraq did, indeed have a biological weapons program under way, and he suggested that U.N. weapons inspectors themselves may have understated some of the evidence.

"We think U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix downplayed a couple of potentially interesting pieces of evidence," though "the weapons programs were small (and) sanctions did limit the programs." He did not elaborate.

As for interviewing Iraq's scientists, the intelligence officer said that so far, "We don't have a great deal more information yet than we had before. We have not got very much out of the detainees yet."

Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press Internation

Commentary:
Blair is in serious trouble and I don't see how he can pull out of this mess. His problems began when he started to believe Bush. Big Mistake Tony. After Blair fell for Bush's WMD crap, I suppose it was easy to over-read intelligence and see only what he wanted to see. To his credit, Blair supports an investigation of his intelligence agencies. What he really needs is to have his head examined. What in god's name possessed him to believe Bush? I bet he doesn't make that mistake again.


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CBO: US Faces Future of $44 Trillion Deficits
Utne.com
—By Erin Ferdinand,
May 2003 Issue

While President Bush pushed for a $750 billion tax cut, his administration tabled a Treasury Department report showing that the U.S. "faces a future of chronic federal budget deficits totaling at least $44,200 billion,' according to Peronet Despeignes of the Financial Times. Commissioned by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to study the future impact of retiring Baby Boomers' pension and healthcare needs, the report concludes that "sharp tax increases and massive spending cuts are unavoidable if the U.S. is to meet benefit promises to future generations.' Closing the deficit gap would require an "immediate and permanent' across-the-board tax increase of 66 percent.

The study estimates that the current financial challenge facing Washington is approximately "10 times the publicly held national debt, four years of U.S. economic output, or more than 94 percent of all U.S. household assets.' While Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has criticized the government's "deafening' silence on the issue, an administration official referred to the study as a "thought piece for internal discussion.'

In related news, the New York Times reports that a last-minute revision to the $350 billion tax cut bill Bush signed into law yesterday will prevent families earning between $10,500 and $26,625 from receiving the new $1,000 per child tax credit, as they do not pay income taxes.

Commentary:
The whole idea of balancing the budget (as put forward by President Clinton) was to reduce our debt and make it easier to finance the massive expenditures expected when baby boomers retire. Not only has Bush squandered the surpluses, but like Reagan, he's adding trillions of more debt on top of the $6.5 trillion we currently have. Don't conservatives have any shame?


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Treasury denies report that deficit paper was 'shelved'
From Suzanne Malveaux and Tim McCaughan
CNN Washington Bureau
Thursday, May 29, 2003 Posted: 5:11 PM EDT (2111 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Treasury Department Thursday denied a report that the White House suppressed a paper estimating the United States is facing at least a $44.2 trillion deficit due to future health care and pension obligations.

London's Financial Times said in its Thursday edition that the Bush administration "shelved" the report "commissioned by then-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill" and written by former Treasury official Kent Smetters and former Treasury consultant Jagdessh Gokhale.

According to the Financial Times, the report shows the U.S. government is threatened with being overwhelmed by the future health care and retirement costs of the "baby boomer" generation.

The study concludes, according to the report, that sharp and permanent tax increases or massive spending cuts -- or a combination of both -- are unavoidable if the United States is to meet the health care and retirement benefits promised to future generations.

But chief Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols said the paper was written after the officials left the government and does not reflect the thinking of the president's team.

"This does not represent the views of the Bush administration. We have no association with it. It is not endorsed by us," he said.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan reiterated Nichols' statements, saying Smetters' conclusions are "not a Treasury report."

Nichols said the authors wrote the report after they left the Treasury Department last August. "This paper was not prepared at Treasury, by Treasury, or at the request of anyone at Treasury," Nichols said. "It was prepared after the individuals in question went back to the private sector."

But Smetters told CNN the report had been requested by O'Neill. He said it was delivered to current members of the Bush administration.

He said he and Gokhale had hoped it would be included in Bush administration policy, but after John Snowe took over as Treasury secretary, they were told that would not happen.

Smetters said he did not believe the administration officials shelved the paper because of the president's tax cut plan. He said the problems are too long-term.

"Our views on this matter are reflected in the president's budget in a chapter titled 'The Real Fiscal Danger,'" Nichols added. The deficit figure given in the budget is $18 trillion, Buchan said.

"The [Financial Times] didn't even bother to call us here to check facts or get a comment, said Nichols.

The newspaper said the Smetters' report was being circulated Wednesday to Washington think-tanks as the president was signing the $350 billion tax cut package, which he touted as a stimulus for the American economy.

© 2003 Cable News Network LP, LLLP

Commentary:
Treasury says they didn't bury this report? One question, have you heard of it before now? It was buried. As the US media continues to play footsie with Bush, we have to go to "London's Financial Times" to get the real scoop. Our media is too busy praising Bush for going to war with a defenseless country using false intelligence to tell us what's really going on. Thank god for the foreign press.


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Low-income families won't receive $400 child credit
CNN
Friday, May 30, 2003

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democrats and Republicans are sparring over a provision in the new tax cut bill that will keep some low-income families from receiving a $400-per-child check this summer.

Under the $350 billion tax cut measure, signed by President Bush Wednesday after grinding through several weeks of contentious debate on Capitol Hill, the child tax credit rises from $600 to $1,000, and the money will be sent to individual taxpayers starting in July. (Full story)

While the credit is phased out for higher-income families, families with incomes between $10,500 and $26,625 a year also aren't eligible -- which has some Democrats crying foul.

"It's unjust and doesn't make good economic sense," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who called on Bush to join Senate Democrats in extending eligibility to families in this income bracket.

"I hope the president will agree to reduce the tax breaks for the very wealthy in order to restore this tax relief for hardworking taxpayers who need it most," Daschle said in a statement.

A provision extending the child tax credit to families making between $10,500 and $26,625, sponsored by Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas, was added to the tax cut bill after it came out of the Senate Finance Committee.

However, it was removed when a conference committee reconciled differences between House and Senate versions of the bill. The provision was dropped to keep the final price tag of the tax cut package below $350 billion.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said if Lincoln's provision had been included in the final bill, "the president would have signed it."

"The conferees did make that decision," he said. "There are many decisions that were made that represented compromises in order to get something done."

However, Fleischer said the White House was aware that Lincoln's proposal had been removed before the final vote.

But Fleischer pointed to other tax cut provisions that reduce taxes on low-income Americans, noting that 3 million additional families will now pay no income tax at all.

"What you always have to keep in mind in the administration of the child credit is, does the tax relief go to people who pay income taxes ... or does it go above and beyond the forgiving of all income taxes and you actually get a check back from the government for more than you ever owed in income taxes?" he said.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal group, estimated that eliminating Lincoln's proposal will affect 12 million children.

'We weren't happy, but it's nothing new'
The tax credit was also not extended to families making less than $10,500 because they already don't pay federal income taxes.

Lincoln spokesman Andrew Goesl said the tax bill was so complex that it was difficult to determine who would or would not qualify for the increased child tax credit at the time of the final vote. In the end, Lincoln voted against the tax cut package.

But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, took issue with the suggestion that the proposal was scuttled in last-minute maneuvering, noting that neither President Bush's original proposal, nor the version of the bill passed by the House, contained the provision.

Several aides to Democratic members of the finance committee also said they knew the provision had been removed before the final vote on the tax bill.

"We weren't happy, but it's nothing new," one of the aides said.

Grassley also noted that most families in this income bracket also do not pay federal income taxes and benefit from other tax breaks geared to low-income families.

A Senate Republican leadership aide said low-income families can qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which pays up to $4,200 a year.

"This is simply the standard Democrat class warfare argument that's almost as old as Bob Hope," the aide said.

Hope turned 100 years old Thursday.

CNN Correspondents Kate Snow and Suzanne Malveaux and Producer Trish Turner contributed to this report.

© 2003 Cable News Network LP, LLLP

Commentary:


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Budget deficits hit historic levels
SFGate/AP
ALAN FRAM
May 29, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal deficits are soaring to unprecedented heights, yet they are drawing scant public attention and showing little sign of becoming an issue in next year's presidential and congressional elections.

That is in contrast with 1992, when colossal budget gaps mixed with a recession and helped fuel the presidential bids of Democratic primary candidate Paul Tsongas, independent Ross Perot and the victor, Bill Clinton.

Though this year's annual shortfall could exceed $400 billion, shattering the previous record, the public is more worried about widespread job losses and the threat of terrorism.

The red ink's tangible impact on voters has been cushioned by low interest rates and a U.S. economy vastly larger than it was in 1992. And an anti-Washington feeling, which 11 years ago was rampant and symbolized by the deficit, has faded.

Furthermore, while analysts agree the budget's long-term prospects must be addressed, many say today's shortfall is keeping the economy from getting even worse by pumping hundreds of billions of federal dollars into it. That complicates the always complex task of crafting a clear, effective political message about the deficit.

"Deficits become politically important as an issue when voters feel there are consequences to be paid," said Democratic consultant Geoffrey Garin. "We probably haven't reached that point."

Following four years of surpluses under Clinton, President Bush blames the abrupt return of red ink on recession, the fight against terrorism and congressional spending. Democrats jockeying to replace Bush and those in Congress blame GOP tax cuts.

Yet neither side is doing or even proposing much to remedy the situation.

Bush signed his latest tax cut on Wednesday -- a bill costing $350 billion through 2013 that Republicans say will rally the economy and generate more federal revenue. Democratic presidential hopefuls have rolled out competing health care plans financed by canceling parts or all of past Bush tax reductions, with the biggest by Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., costing $200 billion a year.

And both parties are pushing for a major Medicare expansion and big increases for defense, domestic security, AIDS efforts abroad and education.

"I don't see anybody who wants to fight deficits for the sake of fighting deficits, who has a passion for fiscal responsibility," said Robert Bixby, executive director of the bipartisan Concord Coalition, which advocates balancing the budget. "Most politicians want to promise something, and promising something costs money."

The deficit has some political clout, as exemplified by moderate GOP senators who forced Bush to settle for half the $726 billion in tax cuts he wanted. Democrats bring up the deficit, but mainly to underline how, they say, Bush has mismanaged the economy and budget.

"It's my pet issue," said former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a Democratic presidential hopeful, who said in a recent interview that he relates the deficit to the jobs that have vanished under Bush.

The president mentions it too, but largely to foist the blame on the economy, terrorism and Capitol Hill.

"A Congress which overspends is one which is not that concerned about the deficit, evidently," he said this month in Little Rock, Ark.

There is little evidence of public concern, either.

Most recent polls asking people to select their chief concerns from a menu of issues haven't even listed the deficit as a choice. In one that did, conducted in April by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, the deficit ranked 10th, chosen by 2 percent of the respondents.

"You can only sell people things they half believe anyway," said Grover Norquist, a conservative activist. His message for Democrats: "It's a lousy strategy, and they're welcome to it."

The government may spend $400 billion more this year than it takes in, dwarfing the previous record, the $290 billion deficit of 1990. Republicans say this year's red ink is less serious because it is far smaller relative to the U.S. economy than several shortfalls of the 1980s and early 1990s were.

To accommodate the imbalances, Bush signed a bill Tuesday adding nearly $1 trillion to the federal borrowing limit -- a record boost exceeding the total debt the government had accumulated in its history through 1980. Yet the resulting $7.38 trillion debt cap will probably suffice only until sometime next year.

Still, fiscal analysts are more concerned about long-term problems.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office calculated in March that under Bush's budget plans, deficits would get no lower than $102 billion over the next decade. And that excluded the $80 billion war spending bill passed in April, the new tax cut and any future tax reductions or spending increases.

Yet now is when analysts say the government should be buttressing Social Security and Medicare for the baby boom generation, whose 75 million members begin retiring later this decade.

"It's kind of a ticking time bomb the political leaders are inclined to ignore," said David Greenlaw, senior economist for Morgan Stanley & Co.

EDITOR'S NOTE -- Alan Fram has reported on Congress and the federal budget for The Associated Press since 1987.

©2003 Associated Press

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