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Impeach Bush

A political theme emerges: class war
The Christian Science Monitor
Gail Russell Chaddock
January 09, 2003

WASHINGTON – America's political debate is converging quickly around one of the most volatile themes in public life: class politics.
It begins this week with a fight over tax policy, but - if the theme takes hold - it could define the terms of the big issues of this year and of the 2004 presidential campaign, from welfare and bankruptcy reform to Medicare and education.

Even before laying out his new economic stimulus plan, President Bush launched a preemptive strike on those who "would like to turn this into class warfare." Some Democrats snatched up the gauntlet. "He's right, but it's Mr. Bush who is waging war on the poor," says Michigan Rep. John Dingell.

Charles Rangel of New York, another senior House Democrat, added: "Never in a time of war have we reduced the tax burden on the most privileged. At the same time ..., we send a disproportionate number of lower- and middle-class kids to fight a war. If this is class warfare, I ask who started it?"

It's a tried theme for Democrats, but not always a successful one. William Jennings Bryan electrified delegates at the 1896 Democratic convention with a withering attack on the GOP for supporting "idle holders of capital" over the "struggling masses." He won the nomination. He lost the election, badly.

Reminding people of class divisions is high-risk politics, and works only in exceedingly bad economic times.

"People appreciate class mobility in this country. They don't see a stratified society, nor do they want one," says Carroll Doherty, editor of the Pew Research Center. "There is a critique of the Bush economic plan that it tilts to the rich," he adds. "The question is: Does it really resonate with people and make a political difference? It depends on the economy. That perception began to hurt Bush's father only when the economy really started to go south."

Overall, Americans don't blame the rich or hate them for their wealth. "They want to be like them," says pollster John Zogby of Zogby International. "The democratization of the investment class has made class warfare a moot issue at least for the time being." Union members with 401(k)s are much more likely to vote Republican than those without, he adds.

A recent Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll, conducted Dec 2-8, signals:

Nearly a majority of Americans believe they pay too much in taxes (49%);44 percent say they are taxed "just right."

55 percent favor making the 2001 federal tax cuts permanent; 29 percent oppose that.

35 percent want Bush's first tax cuts ramped up to take effect immediately; 53 percent want to keep the original schedule. Acceleration is part of the Bush plan.

60 percent of respondents were at least somewhat satisfied with current federal economic policies (before the Bush stimulus package.)

However, there are some indications that an erosion of confidence in the economy is beginning to surface.

"More than 20 percent are concerned that a household member may lose a job. Consumer confidence is the weakest, in December, of the past 25 months of polling," says Raghavan Mayur, president of TIPP, a unit of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence in Oradell, N.J.

The prospect that the economy may slump yet further is reviving a debate within the Democratic Party on how far to take rich/poor themes.

Democratic presidential candidates have long emphasized class differences - and economic disparities - on the campaign trail. In 1992, Bill Clinton reached out to middle class voters, talking of "putting people first." In 2000, Al Gore used even more combative rhetoric, with the slogan "the people versus the powerful." Most recently, in announcing his intention to run for president, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards repeatedly presented himself as a champion of "regular people."

But significant differences remain in how forcefully to push such themes. So-called New Democrats, like President Clinton, deliberately downplayed class in framing debates on everything from economic policy to welfare reform.

"We felt very strongly that one should not use class politics or class rhetoric," says Gene Sperling, economic adviser to President Clinton, now at the Council on Foreign Relations. "When we did impose a tax increase for the top 2 percent, we spoke of it not as targeting the well off, but just as the best way to implement a comprehensive deficit reduction plan and the need for mutual sacrifice, particularly among those who could most bear it."

The new House Democratic leadership, led by Nancy Pelosi of California, is taking a strong liberal line in attacking President Bush's tax plan, which they say is a giveaway to the richest 1 percent of the nation. Some party moderates are already uneasy with playing the class card.

"Because we have a very affluent society with the largest middle class in the world, when you start saying 'class warfare,' the majority of people think they are on the other side - and that's the last thing a political party wants," says James Moran (D) of Virginia.

Rep. Harold Ford (D) of Tennessee, who contested Ms. Pelosi for the Democratic leadership, says that key groups Democrats are fighting for are those earning less than $125,000 a year. "Democrats are not playing class warfare, just laying out the facts," he says.

These themes are simmering in other debates facing Congress this session:

Welfare reform. The historic 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act is up again this year, after lawmakers deadlocked on its reauthorization in the last session of Congress. Republicans are pushing for increased work requirements (from 30 to 40 hours a week) but Democrats they are not providing enough funding for adequate day care or job training, especially for the hardest-to-employ still on the welfare rolls. Harder economic times may also shift the terms of this debate from work and family values to lack of opportunity.

Aid to the states. A looming $50 billion budget deficit in the 2003 fiscal year is forcing many states to cut back on many of their programs for the poor, including job training, unemployment assistance, and health benefits for poor children or families. Democrats want a large part of any stimulus plan to go directly to the states to support such programs. The Bush plan does not do that.

Prescription drug plan. The Republican plan relies on subsidies and the private insurance market to help seniors pay for prescription drugs. Democrats say that poor people can't afford good insurance; they propose a fixed benefit in the Medicare system.

Minimum wage. Democrats want to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.65. Republicans say the increase will reduce job opportunities for the poor.

Education funding. President Bush is proposing a $1 billion increase to fund the second year of his signature No Child Left Behind act. Democrats say that's $6 billion less than was promised. "The president's first order of business should be education and children, not tax cuts for the wealthiest," says Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts, a lead sponsor of the bill.

Staff writer Liz Marlantes contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2003 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
Let's get past the spin. Under Bush the US is borrowing money so fast he's created the largest deficits in US history. That is fact. Anyone who fails to point out this fact isn't fit to be president. Anyone who claims this fact is class warfare isn't worth listening to.

Borrowed money (deficits) will have to be paid by someone else. Are we expected to believe the rich should receive the largest chunk of this borrowed money because their children will be rich too? That's the logic employed by the republican party. Don't fall for it.

Since we don't know who will be rich in the future, all tax cuts using borrowed money should be given equally to all Americans. This of course assumes we're stupid enough to think we can afford to borrow money and give it away.


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Greenspan No 'Major Evidence' of Growth
By John M. Berry
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 3, 2003; 2:28 PM

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said today there is no "major evidence" that U.S. economic growth is accelerating and hinted again that the central bank may soon cut interest rates to boost growth and guard against a dangerous period of deflation.

Speaking via satellite to a meeting in Berlin of the world's leading private bankers, Greenspan said the Fed has no concerns that a pickup in growth would cause inflation to get worse. Instead, "we would be far more inclined, as we have been over the last couple of years, to be taking out insurance against economic weakness" that could cause what he termed a "corrosive deflation."

The Fed is concerned not about "the issue of deflation in the sense of falling prices per se, but the issue of corrosive deflation, that is, a deflation that essentially feeds on itself, creates falling asset prices, which in turn brings down levels of economic activity," the Fed chairman said.

A number of analysts interpreted Greenspan's remarks as an indication that he favors cutting the Fed's 1.25 percent target for overnight interest rates by at least a quarter-percentage point when central bank officials hold a policymaking session on June 24-25.

Many forecasters expect economic growth, which appears to be running at about 2 percent annual rate in the first half of this year, to accelerate to a 3.5 percent to 4 percent rate in coming quarters. But the Fed chairman said such predictions remain just forecasts, and as long as that's the case, a further rate cut could provide "insurance" that they become a reality, the analysts said.

Greenspan used similar language, but not quite so forcefully, in a hearing before Congress' Joint Economic Committee last month. Today he also said that the Fed knows so little about what would happen in a deflationary environment-which he stressed remains highly unlikely to occur-that monetary policy has to be "extraordinarily cautious."

"We're far more unclear on the issue of deflation [than inflation], and as a consequence, we need a wider firebreak, in logging and forestry terms, because we know so little about it. So we lean over backwards to make certain that we contain deflationary forces," Greenspan said.

Economic Robert V. DiClemente of Salomon Smith Barney in New York said "the increasing drumbeat of the insurance logic" and now the new notion of a "wider firebreak" has convinced him that Greenspan wants another rate cut. One point of such a cut would be to underscore the fact that the Fed would not be likely to begin to raise rates again as soon as growth begins to accelerate, he said.

"We have to get growth into the 4 percent range before the Fed will think they have" averted the deflation danger, DiClemente said. "We have got a long way to go to root out this risk."

One of Greenspan's policymaking colleagues, Robert T. Parry, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, said much the same thing as the Fed chairman in a speech in Los Angeles yesterday.

Interest rates already are very low, but "if it seemed appropriate, we still would have room to give a boost to the economy, even though it's possible the economy could pick up vigorously later in the year," Parry said. "Put another way, in the current low-inflation environment, downside surprises to growth -- and, as a result, to inflation -- would be more of a concern than upside surprises."

There is so much unused production capacity and so much slack in labor markets that even if growth does accelerate in the second half, "the already low inflation rate is likely to trend lower," which would leave "a small, but still worrisome, possibility of deflation going forward," Parry said.

Greenspan told the bankers in Berlin that the U.S. economy weakened in March and April around the period of the Iraq war, but he added, "The data for May to date suggests that it stabilized." However, to get growth up to the stronger pace economists are predicting "the monthly data, indeed the weekly data, have got to start to move in a positive direction fairly quickly. We haven't seen that yet," he said.

On the other hand, financial indicators, such as the recent strong rally in stock prices, are "suggestive" of faster growth, as is the continued gains in productivity despite sluggish growth, Greenspan said.

The large tax cut signed into law by President Bush last week should also give the economy a boost, he said. The tax cuts "will create a fairly marked increase in after-tax income in the third quarter and one must presume that a goodly part of that will filter into consumer markets" and lead to more hiring," he said.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
The economy will repair itself at some point. It always does. But to get to that point, that is, to a natural point of growth, a major question we have to ask is ‘do we had a moral right to borrow money to give us growth' (which will come with or without that borrowed money)?

Republicans think its moral to create deficits when they have power, but just a few years ago they demanded balanced budgets. Are we to believe balanced budgets are good only when Democrats are in the White House? It sure looks like it.

From all available forecasts Bush will give us deficits every year of his presidency (save one, the 2001 budget which was President Clinton's last budget), regardless of whether he's in office for four or eight years. Republicans in Congress are fighting over waiting until 2010 or 2013 to balance the budget so they too are in no hurry to return us to fiscal sanity.

And their list of excuses for not balancing the budget—well that would exceed the scope and available memory of this website.


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WorldCom Gets Cellphone Contract in Iraq
United For Peace/The Star Online
May 26th, 2003

May 22, NEW YORK: The Pentagon made an interesting choice when it hired a US company to build a small wireless phone network in Iraq: MCI, aka WorldCom Inc, perpetrator of the biggest accounting fraud in American business and not exactly a big name in cellular service.

The Iraq contract incensed WorldCom rivals and government watchdogs who say Washington has been too kind to the company since WorldCom revealed its US $11bil (RM41.8bil) accounting fraud and plunged into bankruptcy last year.

"We don't understand why MCI would be awarded this business given its status as having committed the largest corporate fraud in history," said AT&T Corp spokesman Jim McGann.

"There are many qualified, financially stable companies that could have been awarded that business, including us."

"I was curious about it, because the last time I looked, MCI's never built out a wireless network," said Len Lauer, head of Sprint Corp's wireless division.

The contract in Iraq is part of a short-term communications plan costing the Defence Department about US $45mil (RM171mil), said Lt. Col. Ken McClellan.

The Pentagon also plans to have Motorola Corp establish radio communications for security forces in Baghdad, a deal worth US $10mil to US $25mil (RM38mil to RM95mil) depending on the options exercised, said McClellan, a Pentagon spokesman.

Secret Dealings

The contract with WorldCom -- which plans to adopt the name of its MCI long distance unit when it emerges from bankruptcy -- has prompted grumbling in the telecommunications industry from people who say it was not put up for bids.

"We were not aware of it until it showed up in some news reports," Motorola spokesman Norm Sandler said.

McClellan said he had no details on the process that led to the deal, which he said was signed early this month. WorldCom spokeswoman Natasha Haubold declined to comment on details of the contract.

The company is to build a small wireless network with 19 cell towers that can serve 5,000 to 10,000 mobile phones used by reconstruction officials and aid workers in the Baghdad area.

The network, using the GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) wireless standard dominant in Europe and the Middle East, is expected to be running by July.

"This is an interim, quick government solution -- this is not the basis for some national long-term solution for Iraq," McClellan said. "That will probably have to be undertaken by the Iraqis."

WorldCom is not a commercial wireless carrier. It once resold other wireless carriers' service in the United States but dropped that approach recently.

However, Haubold said her company is fully qualified to perform the Iraq work.

'Deep' Relationship

She pointed to the company's work on a wireless system in Haiti in the 1990s and a 2002 contract, in which it served as a subcontractor, to provide long-distance connections for a wireless network in Afghanistan.

McClellan agreed that WorldCom's experience in Haiti and Afghanistan is "analogous work" to what is needed in Iraq.

Haubold also stressed the company's overall deep relationship with the US military and government.

In fact, a recent review by Washington Technology, a trade newspaper that follows computing-related sales to the government, found that WorldCom jumped to eighth among all federal technology contractors in 2002, with US $772mil (RM2.9bil) in sales.
It was the first time WorldCom cracked the top 10.

That US $772mil figure refers only to deals in which WorldCom is the prime contractor to federal agencies. The company gets much more taxpayer money -- exactly how much is not disclosed -- from state contracts and from federal deals in which it is a subcontractor.

That infuriates WorldCom critics, who say the government has kept the company afloat while the General Services Administration barred Enron and Arthur Andersen from getting contracts after their scandals emerged.

US Govt Bailouts

They also say it shows how little WorldCom would be hurt by the proposed US $500mil (RM1.9bil) fine the company has agreed to pay to settle Securities and Exchange Commission fraud charges.

"The US $500mil is in a sense, laundered by the taxpayers," said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

Although the Iraq wireless deal is minor compared to other government contracts WorldCom has won -- including a satellite data pact announced Tuesday with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration -- Schatz found it questionable.

"Why would you have a company that is not really in that line of business providing that service for another country?" he said. "Given the circumstances and the bailout the government seems to be engaged in, that is certainly is not fair to their competitors or the taxpayers."

McClellan declined to comment on whether the WorldCom fraud made the company a bad choice for the Iraq contract.

"That would probably be a question for the lawyers," he said.

Last year, Sprint and Global Crossing Ltd, another WorldCom rival, complained to the General Accounting Office about a US $450mil (RM1.7bil) contract awarded by the Defence Information Systems Agency to WorldCom for a computer network used by Pentagon scientists.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, said the Defence agency "relied on grossly inaccurate financial information in making a determination that WorldCom was a responsible contractor."

But the GAO said it lacked the jurisdiction to rule on the complaint. -- AP

Commentary:
I like articles like this. World Com is one of the most corrupt companies in US history and who does the most corrupt Administration in history hire to do work in Iraq? World Com and Bush fit like a glove. I suppose there's some value in keeping World Com busy in Iraq--that way it can't do much more harm in the US. But it's appalling that any US agency would work World Com and it's appalling that US taxpayers are helping this extremely corrupt company.


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British Soldier Photographs Torture of Iraqi PoWs
This is London (UK)
By Colin Adamson, Evening Standard
30 May 2003

A British soldier is today being questioned by Ministry of Defence war crimes investigators after the emergence of photographs showing disturbing scenes of alleged "torture" of Iraqi PoWs.

One of the photographs is reported to show an Iraqi PoW gagged and bound, hanging in netting from a fork-lift truck. Others allegedly depict soldiers committing sex acts near captured Iraqis.

Photograph developers are understood to have called the police because they were concerned about a number of pictures on a roll of film that had been handed in to their shop in Tamworth, Staffordshire, for developing by a soldier from the 1st Royal Regiment of Fusiliers recently returned from Iraq.

The matter is now in the hands of the Army's Special Investigation Branch and the soldier concerned is said to be being held in custody at a secret military location. A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: "We confirm an investigation is under way into allegations of photos depicting maltreatment of Iraqi PoWs.

"We cannot comment further. But if there is any truth in these allegations the MoD is appalled. We take responsibility to PoWs extremely seriously."

If the allegations are found to be true, the soldiers involved would be guilty of a breach of the Geneva Convention which rules that PoWs have to be treated humanely.

A senior military source quoted in The Sun today said: "At this stage it is not clear whether the Fusilier handed in the film on behalf of someone else, or took the pictures himself. Whatever the case, it is pure dynamite."

The investigation follows the high-profile case of Colonel Tim Collins whose investigation over alleged war crimes caused international outrage. The former CO of the Ist Royal Irish Regiment and witnesses strenuously denied accusations of maltreatment of Iraq PoWs made by a disgruntled US Army reserve major he had earlier disciplined.

No evidence has been found to substantiate the claims.

MoD sources stressed that the investigation into the photographs is not connected in any way to the Collins inquiry.

The 1st Royal Regiment of Fusiliers formed part of the 7th Armoured Brigade, the legendary Desert Rats, under the command of Brigadier Graham Binns.

The Fusiliers were also involved in the first Gulf War in 1991 and lost nine men when the American jets strafed their armoured personnel carriers.

©2003 Associated New Media

Commentary:
The evidence is now overwhelming that the US and Great Britain have violated the Geneva Convention. Is it a wonder so many countries in the world don't trust us anymore? According to the latest Pew Research Poll, Europe is pulling away from the US. France is increasingly viewed as a country that will do the right thing, while the US is feared.

Those who rule with fear are tyrants. Bush is such a man.


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WMD: Casus or casuistry? Defending Bush
Economist
May 29th 2003

GUNS normally smoke after they are fired. Had Saddam Hussein used his alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) during the American-led war that dislodged him, the doubts about his illegal arsenal would have evaporated. Yet despite all the talk of "red lines' around Baghdad, the sweaty protective suits in which American and British troops laboured were never put to the test. No Iraqi Scuds struck Israel or anywhere else.

These omissions at first seemed part of a larger mystery, namely why Iraq put up so shambolic a fight. But the ongoing elusiveness of the fabled "smoking gun' has led even those who supported the war to ask whether the WMD that in theory provoked it ever really existed—and whether the "proof' adduced by those who waged it was shoddy, or worse.

The US Department of Defence, US Central Command and the British government give news on the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. The UN gives news on Iraq. Unmovic posts information on its weapons-inspection activities in Iraq. See also the IAEA. The International Insititute for Security Studies' post-war Iraq section gives maps and a dossier of the sites of Iraq's WMD. The Federation of American Scientists has resources on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Conspiracy theorists should remember that much of the evidence against Mr Hussein came not from the American and British governments or their spies, but from two unimpeachable sources. They were the United Nations weapons inspectors, and Mr Hussein himself.

Mr Hussein had what police call form. He made and used chemical weapons in the 1980s. Throughout the 1990s, he strove to hide his WMD programme from Unscom, the un inspectorate then responsible for dismantling it. In this endeavour he enjoyed much success, though Iraqi defectors helped the inspectors to uncover, among other things, the extent of Iraq's biological weapons programme, and its manufacture of VX, a nerve gas.

On the basis of Iraq's known imports and discrepancies in its record-keeping, Unscom and Unmovic (the latter-day inspection body, led by Hans Blix) made some frightening calculations about the chemical and biological agents and munitions potentially at Mr Hussein's disposal. On the eve of the war, Unmovic reported a "strong presumption' that around 10,000 litres of Iraqi anthrax might still exist.

Mr Hussein's form continued until the end. His regime failed to co-operate with Mr Blix's team in the way that UN resolution 1441, passed last November, demanded. Some Iraqi scientists refused to be interviewed privately, and the names of others were withheld, along with important documents. Though Iraq made some concessions, going so far as to destroy some proscribed missiles, its compliance with resolution 1441 remained lacklustre. This recalcitrance, as America and Britain now sophistically aver, was the legal pretext for the war.

Sophistically, because the resolution was premised on the notion that Mr Hussein's WMD constituted an imminent threat to his region and to the world. The inspectors' accumulated findings, and Mr Hussein's own behaviour, certainly suggested that he was a menace. But George Bush and Tony Blair went further than the speculative conclusions of Unscom and Unmovic, whose reports were always a little too recondite to sway the masses.

Mr Bush and Mr Blair argued that the threat was imminent, adding some specific and alarming allegations. Unusually, and to the discomfort of British spooks, Mr Blair published an intelligence dossier that claimed some of Iraq's WMD could be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them. Mr Bush eschewed the subjunctives that punctuated the inspectors' reports: citing American intelligence, he stated that Mr Hussein retained hideous agents and various means of delivering them. In February, Colin Powell, Mr Bush's secretary of state, told the UN that biological warheads had been distributed across western Iraq.

Surprising, then, that despite the efforts of America's own inspection teams, no actual WMD have been unearthed: none. It is especially surprising that those weapons which, according to intelligence reports, had been deployed to southern Iraq for use against the invaders haven't been found. There are plausible explanations for why Mr Hussein did not use his WMD during the war: political considerations, the pace of the American advance, and so on. But it would be very odd if he hadn't at least made some of them ready, assuming he had any. Raymond Zilinskas, a former inspector, says Mr Blair's infamous 45-minute claim "now seems close to absurd'.

In fact, the only important finds thus far have been what the Americans say may be three mobile biological-weapons laboratories, two of which are said to correspond closely to the sort described by Mr Powell, on the basis of reports from defectors, in his seminal presentation to the UN. After a series of "false positives' in their search for WMD, which have circulated as swiftly as did some battlefield rumours before being embarrassingly scotched, the Americans have been understandably cautious in their claims about the mobile labs. Still, they are convinced that they could have had no other, innocent purpose. On the other hand, no actual biological agents have been detected in the suspect vehicles.

Scud in a haystack
What of the thousands of bombs and warheads and tons of deadly agents that Mr Hussein was allegedly hiding? There are various possible explanations for their invisibility. One is that the American-led teams that have been nosing around Iraq haven't done a very good job, perhaps because they lack the expertise of the specialists led by Mr Blix. The unit responsible for the initial snooping is now being superseded by a bigger outfit, on to which some former UN inspectors are being co-opted. Another excuse is that many of the documents that might have helped the Americans to refine their search have been destroyed by looters. Some are said to have been incinerated by Saddamite loyalists, anxious to conceal their guilt and discredit their conquerors.

The most frequently cited argument is that the job requires more time. As British and American leaders are fond of saying, Iraq is approximately the size of France or California. This, combined with the ousted regime's expertise in concealment and deception, makes chance discoveries unlikely. In time, the argument goes, Iraqis in the know about Mr Hussein's WMD will be persuaded to spill the beans.

Unfortunately, not much spilling seems to have been going on so far. "Mrs Anthrax', "Dr Germ', and several of the other scientific and military henchmen on the Americans' list of most-wanted Baathists are in their custody. But they seem to be sticking to their pre-war story that Iraq was innocent and misunderstood. The line now emanating from Washington and London is that the "most wanted', being anxious about prosecutions and reprisals, are not quite so wanted after all. Clues about the WMD are now expected to come from lower-ranking scientists, many of whom, it is said, are still too fearful of a possible Baathist resurgence to come forward, despite the rewards and incentives being proffered to them. Terence Taylor, another former inspector, agrees that middle-ranking scientists can be more revealing than their bosses.

But the idea that large stocks of, say, chemical shells can't be located without further tip-offs doesn't quite wash. Gary Samore, of London's International Institute for Strategic Studies—which produced an influential assessment of Iraq's WMD shortly before the British government issued its own—concedes that, if Iraq had retained large stocks of chemical munitions, they probably would have been found by now. And the chances of finding such caches could well deteriorate rather than improve with time. Ongoing looting will erase more paper trails. Information from captives and defectors is notoriously unreliable, given their tendency to tell interrogators what they want to hear; their claims will have to be laboriously cross-checked. If the leads they are said to be generating continue to disappoint, there will be nothing for it but to "look under every rock, go to every crossroad, peer into every cave for evidence' (Mr Powell's description of what Unmovic wasn't supposed to do).

Meanwhile, in an inversion of their rhetoric before the war, the governments that waged it have been massaging down expectations. MI6, Britain's foreign-intelligence service, remains confident that the central tenets of Mr Blair's dossier will eventually be vindicated. But the politicians are hedging.

They are talking about piecing together evidence about a WMD programme from scientists and documents, rather than uncovering the weapons themselves. Some have speculated that the programme may have been dispersed to hide it from the inspectors (though this suggests that inspection was containing the threat). Some have hypothesised a "just-in-time' system of production to explain why no stocks have been discovered. Another idea, advanced by (among others) Donald Rumsfeld, America's defence secretary, is that Mr Hussein destroyed his WMD before the war—a baffling move for a hitherto unscrupulous regime facing an existential threat.

The most obvious explanation is of course that, leaving aside the mobile labs, there are no massively destructive weapons or facilities in Iraq to find. This Occamite theory in turn raises two main questions. The first concerns Mr Hussein's own obstreperous behaviour. Why, if he had nothing to hide, did he subject his country to the crippling economic sanctions, periodic bombings and eventual invasion that his non-compliance with UN resolutions and inspections incurred?

There are several more or less plausible answers. The least subtle is that Mr Hussein didn't give a hoot about ordinary Iraqis and wouldn't countenance the loss of face that fully submitting to the UN would have meant. The most sophisticated is that he thought Iraq's strategic interest lay in cultivating a sense of ambiguity over its WMD efforts: intimidating his enemies, while denying them the evidence to prove his guilt conclusively. More likely, he had indeed maintained some sort of WMD programme, perhaps less advanced than Messrs Bush and Blair said, but sufficient to explain the shenanigans that plagued the inspectors. Whatever Mr Hussein's strategy, it backfired catastrophically when he underestimated Mr Bush's resolve to get rid of him.

Doctored
The second question, which should be easier to answer regardless of whether or not the gun eventually smokes, is: how and why did Britain and America come to make what now looks like an exaggerated case for war? Parts of the case were always dubious. Another dossier released by Mr Blair's office, purporting to detail Iraq's intelligence infrastructure and praised by Mr Powell at the UN, turned out to have been partly plagiarised from a graduate student and stitched together by spin-doctors. Efforts to connect Mr Hussein with al-Qaeda always looked thin. Now the intelligence used to elevate the threat of Iraq's WMD from long-term and tolerable to imminent and actionable also looks ropy.

Among the specific questions that require answers are how, as seems to have been the case, forged documents came to be used as proof that Iraq had tried to buy uranium for its alleged nuclear programme from Niger. (British sources, by the way, insist that other, non-forged documents prove that Iraq tried to do just that in the past few years.) How influential and reliable was a special office created in the Pentagon to revisit Iraqi intelligence? Was information from defectors properly vetted? Did the CIA adequately counteract the wilder claims emerging from other intelligence agencies? Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institution, who was a leading advocate of deposing Mr Hussein, thinks that some officials may knowingly have used weak evidence to build their case. A review of Iraq-related intelligence and how it corresponds with reality, which Mr Rumsfeld has asked the CIA to conduct, must resolve these pressing issues.

Still, given all the evidence available, it remains likeliest that Mr Hussein did indeed have some sort of WMD programme, if not the serried ranks of illegal munitions portrayed by Mr Blair and Mr Bush. So another, equally pressing question requires an urgent answer: where is it?

After repeated, ignored warnings to the Americans, a team from the IAEA, the nuclear inspectorate, is imminently to revisit Iraq to assess the possible loss and looting of radiological material from its main nuclear centre. But chemical and biological kit and agents may also have gone astray. So, just as importantly, may some of the scientists who designed them. Some material and boffins may have left the country—perhaps to Syria, as intelligence reports have suggested. Some may still be in the hands of die-hard Baathists. As the CIA once warned might happen if Iraq were attacked, some may even have fallen into the hands of terrorists. The bungled hunt for Iraq's WMD could yet turn out to be worse than an embarrassment

Copyright © The Economist Newspaper Limited 2003. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
I give The Economist credit for trying to stick to its guns while it continues to repeat the lies of the Bush Administration. Wouldn't it have been nice though to read this article and simply have them say we were duped? FAIR.org did a study that shows Americans were 6 times more likely to hear pro-war stories on TV than anti-war. So we can't blame the American people--we were simply lied to–by Bush and by the media. No matter how much evidence we put in their faces (or lack thereof) they can't stop lying to us.

But, it's necessary that we start knocking some of this crap down. First the UN never went to war with Mr. Hussein. The US did and is therefore should be held to a far higher standard. The UN Security Council stopped Bush's war resolution, they did not endorse it. But more specifically, the UN said they didn't know if the WMD material was destroyed, or they had no evidence of it being destroyed. To suggest having no evidence of its destruction is the same as having WMD is logic run amuck. It was the job of Bush to present to the world his absolute proof of WMD BEFORE he went to war. It's down right irresponsible to look for evidence AFTER the war is over, a concept The Economist endoses and this is why The Economist is 100% wrong. War should be based on facts, not guesses. Bush guessed Iraq had WMD, never provided proof. The Economist printed, believed and is now defending those lies.

There are far too many falsehoods in this article to debunk one by one, but the reader may be left with the impression that Bush has allowed UN inspectors back into Iraq. That is not the case. A small group of UN inspectors will be looking at some nuclear material at one of Iraq's nuclear power plants (a plant the US did NOT protect). But, they are NOT looking for WMD in Iraq as required by the US backed UN Resolution 1441.


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Illegal Immigrants Abused Physically and Mentally
An Impeachable Offense
Mercury News Washington Bureau
By Shannon McCaffrey
Jun. 03, 2003

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of illegal immigrants detained in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were kept in ``unduly harsh'' conditions, delayed from meeting with their lawyers and abused physically and mentally, according to an internal Justice Department report released Monday.

The report, from the department's inspector general, criticized the Federal Bureau of Investigation for making few attempts to weed out immigrants who were guilty of overstaying their visas from those with terrorist ties. The FBI in New York City ``made little attempt to distinguish'' between immigrants with possible terrorism links and those ``encountered coincidentally'' in the investigation, the report said.

The findings represented a high-level validation of concerns raised by civil rights groups about the broad net authorities have cast in prosecuting the campaign against terrorism, but Justice Department officials said they believed they have acted legally.

``We make no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks,'' said Barbara Comstock, director of public affairs for the Justice Department. Comstock said several federal courts have ruled the detentions are fully within the law.

More than 760 illegal immigrants were imprisoned in the weeks and months after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as authorities traced thousands of leads and sought to prevent a feared follow-up attack. Most of those people -- more than 500 -- have now been deported, and none have been charged as terrorists. Others are awaiting deportation.

According to the report, some detainees were locked in their cells for 23 hours a day and put in handcuffs and leg irons each time they were moved. For months, their cells were lit for 24 hours a day. Guards taunted some, warning them that they would ``die here.'' They were given only one call a week to a lawyer.

`Harsh' conditions

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine called the conditions ``unduly harsh.''

Justice Department officials said that despite their disagreements with some of the report's conclusions, they have already adopted some of the inspector general's 21 recommendations, which include developing uniform arrest and detainee classification policies.

Fine, appointed in 2000 by President Clinton to what was regarded as a largely non-partisan internal watchdog position, said that while he recognized ``the enormous challenges and difficult circumstances'' the Justice Department faced after Sept. 11, ``we found significant problems in the way the detainees were handled.''

Federal agents investigating the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon who stumbled upon illegal immigrants took them into custody for violating immigration laws, a civil crime. The government has refused to release their names, prompting several lawsuits.

Human rights groups, which have been sharply critical of the detentions, hailed the report Monday, saying it shed light on conditions the government has sought to keep secret.

``It confirms what we have been saying, which is that there has been a blatant disregard for basic constitutional due process protections,'' said Riva Enteen of the San Francisco office of the New York-based National Lawyers Guild.

The 198-page report focused on detainees in the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn and the Passaic County Jail in Paterson, N.J. -- facilities that housed the majority of the Sept. 11 detainees. Inmates at both had complained of mistreatment.

Justice Department officials declined to disclose the number of detainees in all states besides New York and New Jersey, which had 491 and 70, respectively. No other state, including California, had more than 38.

Some detainees were in jail for more than a month before they were told what they had been charged with, the report found. Immigration authorities typically try to provide such notice within 72 hours.

Bureau of Prison officials imposed a communications blackout on the prisoners in the weeks immediately following the attacks. Family members and lawyers who sought to locate a detainee at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn were often told -- erroneously -- that the person they were seeking was not housed there.

FBI background checks were initially supposed to take just days, but instead took an average of 80 days. The report blamed the FBI for not providing adequate staff.

A senior federal law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the FBI was intent on making sure no one was released who later turned out to be dangerous.

``These aren't one-hour crime TV shows. These are serious investigations,'' the official said.

The official described some of the detainees. One was a roommate of one of the hijackers; another admitted training in a terrorist camp in Afghanistan; another traveled to New York days before Sept. 11 with a pilot's license; and a fourth worked in a store where 25 photographs of the World Trade Center turned up.

Pattern of abuse

In Brooklyn, where 84 detainees were kept, evidence indicated a ``pattern of verbal and physical abuse'' of the detainees, particularly right after the attacks.

Inmates reported being slammed against the wall by guards, an allegation corroborated by one guard interviewed by investigators.

No criminal charges have been filed against guards, but one case was dropped after a guard resigned.

Pakistanis made up 33 percent of those detained, the largest percentage. Egyptians were second at 14 percent.

The New York Times and Mercury News Staff Writer Matthai Chakko Kuruvila contributed to this report.

Commentary:
When the US government takes anyone prisoner it is required by US and International Law to follow certain guidelines to insure their protection etc. That didn't happen. The US is guilty of war crimes and guilty of violating the Geneva Convention. If these P.O.W.'s or terrorist suspects were enemies of the US, and they appear they weren't since the US didn't even interview half of them, then the only purpose of the concentration camps was to keep them prisoner for political reasons only. To create the illusion that the US government was doing something.

As I stated many times before I don't think the US is at war and I sure as hell don't think Saddam ever had weapons of mass destruction prior to this last war. The truth will come out some day and those who supported this president and his world war will be held accountable for the atrocities the US was allowed to get away with.

Can anyone defend throwing someone in jail for a month and not charging them with anything? How is our justice system better other countries? Shame on the US government and shame on those who support the current regime.


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How sweet it is: Respect for Clinton rebounds among Americans
USA Today
DeWayne Wickham
Posted 5/26/2003 9:14 PM
Updated 5/26/2003 9:14 PM

Who would have thought it? Some two years after he left office hounded by right-wing detractors and stained by his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton now ranks as this nation's third best chief executive, according to a recent CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.
Only Abraham Lincoln (chosen by 15%) and John F. Kennedy (13%) finished ahead of Clinton (11%) in the April poll, which asked Americans who was "the greatest" president. George W. Bush managed to tie Clinton for third place.

Ronald Reagan, a conservative icon, garnered 10% of the vote, followed by Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter. Bush's father, the 41st president, was chosen by just 2% of the respondents, tying with Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson.

These results have to cause a lot of gnashing of teeth among those who tried to make Clinton's private missteps the legacy of his public service. To them, he is the "Great Satan" of this nation's ideological divide. He ended conservatives' 12-year hold on the White House and frustrated their attempts to paint him as a "tax-and-spend liberal" — which makes him a hero in my book.

When Clinton left office, the huge deficit that piled up during the years of Reagan and Bush Sr. had been replaced by the largest federal budget surplus in history. Employment and homeownership had soared; poverty and unemployment rates had dropped.

But these accomplishments were overshadowed by the distracting noise generated by the right-wing sex cops who ignored the indiscretions within their own ranks while making a federal case, literally and figuratively, out of Clinton's marital infidelity.

The passage of time, however, puts some things into proper perspective. Lewinsky now hosts a reality television show. And remember Kenneth Starr? The special prosecutor who turned a lame investigation of charges that Clinton and his wife illegally profited from an Arkansas land deal into a $50 million taxpayer-financed peep show has faded from public view.

In 9/11's wake, Americans seem more focused on elected officeholders' work than their personal lives. When asked to name the USA's "most important problem," 52% of those responding to a May Gallup Poll said it is the economy. Just 8% said it is terrorism.

This may explain why the number of people who view Clinton as the best president has more than doubled in the past two years — and why Bush managed only to tie Clinton in this ranking. Many Americans are once again worried about pocketbook issues, and many of them remember the Clinton years' good economic times.

"It's the economy, stupid" — the mantra of Clinton's 1992 campaign that bounced Bush-the-father out of the White House — is again the prevailing political reality. As economic conditions worsen on the watch of Bush-the-son, the good economic times that prevailed during Clinton's years boost his image, especially among younger Americans. Clinton was considered the best president by 29% of 18- to 29-year-olds. Only 10% of that group picked Bush.

All of this makes me giddy.

As a candidate, Clinton was the Republican Party's worst nightmare. He grabbed the political center, yet held on to most of his party's liberal base. As president, he routinely outflanked Republicans' legislative efforts and frustrated the GOP's attempts to make his moral failing an impeachable offense. Now Americans put him in the top ranks of great presidents.

This has to make conservatives squirm.

DeWayne Wickham writes a weekly column for USA TODAY

© Copyright 2003 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

Commentary:
What can I say? President Clinton was hated by the press and accused of every crime known to man. There was even a video pushed by Jerry Falwell claiming Clinton killed dozens of people. So much for not giving false witness. Anyway, it's somewhat distressing that this poll was done in the middle of a war. Bush's numbers were inflated because the media had fallen for his WMD claims but future generations will be saying George who?

The really nice thing is how little impact the press seems to have in the long run. The press pushes Reagan and this Bush around the clock, and spews out endless hate towards Clinton, but the American people know better and chose Clinton as one of our greatest presidents. I bet it really pisses off Fox that after 12 years of bashing Clinton it still hasn't worked.

People may be watching Fox, but they're not believing what they hear. Fox News is good for entertainment and good for a laugh or two, but we shouldn't take it seriously.


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Clinton: Third Greatest President in US History
GALLUP NEWS SERVICE
Joseph Carroll
May 16, 2003

PRINCETON, NJ -- An Unfinished Life, historian Robert Dallek's new book about the life of President John F. Kennedy, was released this week. The book, among other things, illustrates the gravity of Kennedy's medical problems, describes an alleged affair with a White House intern, and speculates about how Kennedy would have handled the Vietnam War. The publication of this new Kennedy biography raises the question of where Kennedy ranks in the eyes of Americans.

Lincoln, Kennedy Have Slight Edge on Greatest U.S. President This Year

An April CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans: "Who do you regard as the greatest United States president?"

Abraham Lincoln gets the most mentions from Americans at 15%, but not by a significant margin over the second-place finisher, Kennedy (13%). Two recent presidents, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, as well as the current president, are all mentioned by 10% or more of the public. Other presidents earning mentions from more than 5% of the public include Franklin D. Roosevelt and George Washington.

Gallup has asked this question four times since 1999, and over that period, Lincoln and Kennedy have typically rated near the top of the list. In 1999, Lincoln had a six-percentage-point lead over Washington, Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton. Kennedy led the pack the next year, with a small four-percentage-point lead over Lincoln. Polling in 2001 and 2003 has found no clear-cut victor among the presidents mentioned, but Lincoln and Kennedy still appear near the top of the list. Reagan, with 18%, actually had the most mentions in 2001, probably due in part to the fact that the poll was conducted around celebrations of his 90th birthday.

Apr 5-6,
2003
Feb 9-11,
2001
Feb 14-15.
2000
Feb
1999
% % % %
Abraham Lincoln 15 14 18 18
John Kennedy 13 16 22 12
Bill Clinton 11 9 5 12
George W. Bush 11 -- -- --
Ronald Reagan 10 18 11 12
Franklin Roosevelt 9 6 12 9
George Washington 7 5 5 12
Harry Truman 4 6 3 4
Jimmy Carter 3 4 3 3
Theodore Roosevelt 2 2 3 3
George Bush (the elder) 2 3 3 5
Thomas Jefferson 2 1 3 2
Dwight Eisenhower 1 1 3 2
Richard Nixon 1 1 2 2
Other 2 5 3 1
None 1 2 * 1
No opinion 6 7 4 2
2000-2001 questions asked of half sample.
Republicans, Democrats Vary Substantially on Greatest U.S. President

The latest polling finds dramatic (but not necessarily surprising) differences between the Republicans' and Democrats' choices for the greatest president in history. Three Democratic presidents -- Kennedy (25%), Clinton (21%), and Franklin Roosevelt (13%) -- are Democrats' most frequent choices as the greatest president. Lincoln is the only Republican president identified by a large number of Democrats, with 9% saying he is the greatest president.

Among Republicans in this poll, 23% mention the current president. Lincoln is mentioned by 20%, 18% mention Reagan, and 9% mention Washington. No more than 3% of Republicans nominate any Democratic president as the greatest of all time.

Independents have a more mixed view, with Lincoln, Kennedy, Clinton, and Franklin Roosevelt each getting between 11% and 16% of the votes.

Republicans Independents Democrats
% % %
Abraham Lincoln 20 16 9
John Kennedy 3 13 25
Bill Clinton 2 12 21
George W. Bush 23 6 3
Ronald Reagan 18 8 3
Franklin Roosevelt 3 11 13
George Washington 9 8 4
Harry Truman 3 5 3
Jimmy Carter 1 3 6
Theodore Roosevelt 2 3 2
George H.W. Bush 3 2 *
Thomas Jefferson 1 2 2
Dwight Eisenhower 2 1 *
Richard Nixon 2 1 --

Age Impacts Vote for Greatest President in U.S. History

There are interesting and significant differences in choice of greatest U.S. president by age. Americans tend to select a leader from the formative years of their generation. The only exceptions, once again, are Washington and Lincoln, who rank fairly high among people in all age groups despite the fact that both served long before any person living today was born.

Clinton is far and away the most likely to be selected as the greatest president among 18- to 29-year-olds; nearly 3 in 10 respondents in this age group mention him. Younger Americans are at least three times more likely than any other age group to cite Clinton as the best president. Lincoln and the current President Bush each get 10% of the mentions from people in the 18- to 29-year-old age group, getting only about one-third of the mentions Clinton does among younger Americans.

Americans aged 30 to 49 are essentially divided in their opinions on the greatest president, but Reagan, who was in office when these people were mainly in their teens, 20s, and 30s, is more likely to be mentioned by this age group than any others. Lincoln, Kennedy, and Reagan are essentially tied, with just about one in six mentioning them. Twelve percent mention the current president.

One in five Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 mention Kennedy as the greatest president, significantly more than in any other age group. Those in this age bracket also hold Lincoln in high regard.

For Americans aged 65 and older, Franklin Roosevelt and Lincoln are essentially tied as the greatest U.S. president, named by 19% and 17%, respectively. Also scoring high among this age group are the current President Bush, Harry Truman, and Kennedy.

18- to 29- year-olds 30- to 49- year-olds 50- to 64- year-olds 65 and
older
% % % %
Abraham Lincoln 10 16 17 17
John Kennedy 7 14 21 10
Bill Clinton 29 8 8 6
George W. Bush 10 12 9 12
Ronald Reagan 7 14 8 8
Franklin Roosevelt 4 6 10 19
George Washington 8 6 8 5
Harry Truman 2 2 4 10
Jimmy Carter 2 4 3 1
Theodore Roosevelt 5 2 3 1
George H.W. Bush 3 3 * *
Thomas Jefferson 1 2 2 *
Dwight Eisenhower 1 1 1 1
Richard Nixon -- 2 * 1

Higher Educated Americans Pick Lincoln as Greatest U.S. President

"Honest Abe" is the top choice as the greatest U.S. president among Americans with college degrees or postgraduate education. Roughly one in five adults with degrees in higher education pick Lincoln as the greatest president, while fewer Americans with only some college or a high school diploma or less mention Lincoln.

No other president comes close to Lincoln among adults with a college degree or postgraduate education. Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt, and Kennedy trail Lincoln, each mentioned by roughly 1 in 10 Americans at these levels of education.

Those with some college or a high school diploma or less show no consensus as to the greatest president.

Post- graduate education College graduate only Some college education High school diploma or less
% % % %
Abraham Lincoln 20 21 13 13
John Kennedy 11 12 13 15
Bill Clinton 5 6 13 14
George W. Bush 5 8 9 16
Ronald Reagan 12 8 12 10
Franklin Roosevelt 12 11 7 8
George Washington 7 8 8 5
Harry Truman 4 4 4 3
Jimmy Carter 3 4 3 2
Theodore Roosevelt 2 2 4 2
George H.W. Bush 2 3 2 2
Thomas Jefferson 5 4 1 *
Dwight Eisenhower * 2 1 1
Richard Nixon 1 -- 2 1

Copyright ©2003 The Gallup Organization, Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
The only surprise in the poll was the numbers based on education. That number will change in time, but now it says more educated people choose Reagan over Clinton as being a great president. We have to continue to remind our educated friends that Reagan sold weapons to terrorist in exchange for hostages, got caught and lied about it. He also borrowed $1.6 trillion and gave it away (mostly to the rich).

How can an educated person not support Bill Clinton? He gave us the largest surpluses in US history, Reagan gave us what were at the time record deficits. Clinton never abused his presidential powers, Reagan did. Both men lied to the American people, one lied about a sexual affair, the other lied about foreign affairs. Educated people will gradually pull towards President Clinton as time goes by, but even I don't think it's the third greatest president.

Lincoln (Civil War), FDR (WW2), Jefferson (Louisiana Purchase), Kennedy (Cuban Missile Crisis), Johnson (civil rights) and then Clinton (record surplus).


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WMD, Intelligence and Bush
NBC Meet the Press/MSNBC
Sunday, June 1, 2003

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to Iraq and this debate we're having about intelligence. David Broder, a group called the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity sent this memorandum to President Bush: "We write to express deep concern over the growing mistrust and cynicism with which many, including veteran intelligence professionals inside and outside our movement, regard the intelligence cited by you and your chief advisers to justify the war against Iraq.'

Yesterday, we called the CIA for a reaction, and the following statement was read to us from the director, George Tenet: "Our role is to call it like we see it, to tell policymakers what we know, what we don't know, what we think, and what we base it on. ... The integrity of our process was maintained throughout and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong.'

Put this debate in context. What's going on?

MR. DAVID BRODER: What's going on is that the CIA, which is professional, realizes now that its reputation is on the line for reasons that it is not able to control. Whatever the quality of the intelligence, it's pretty clear now that the interpretation that was given to the public by the Bush administration was at the far edge of what was plausible in terms of the intelligence information that came to the White House and to the State Department and to the Pentagon. Tenet is in an difficult position. He cannot repudiate the president that he serves, but he also has to try to protect the reputation of his own agency, which in my view has been misused by this administration.

MR. RUSSERT: Misused? Politicized?

MR. BRODER: I think so.

MR. RUSSERT: Albert Hunt?

MR. HUNT: Well, there's a lot at stake here, Tim, and I'm not sure they aren't going to find weapons. This is not an easy process, I'm sure. It is clearly much different than the picture they painted, however. Donald Rumsfeld in March said, "We know where the weapons are. They're right outside of Baghdad and Tikrit.' Clearly, if they were as easy as they suggested to find, we would have find them by now. It's been 10 weeks. But if we don't find them, if we don't find sufficient numbers to justify the clear and present danger that was depicted by the president and other top officials, then I think it's a tremendous blow to American credibility. It's going to make it very hard the next time we try to marshal any kind of world opinion or rally world opinion for Iran or any other issue, and I think it's going to have consequences at home.

MR. RUSSERT: Bob Novak?

MR. NOVAK: Oh, several of the people who are hard-liners in the administration, when the war was still going on inside Iraq, said it was absolutely essential, that we were going to be hugely embarrassed, if they didn't find weapons of mass destruction. So this is a tremendous problem for the Iraqi hawks. You know, however, after the attack on Afghanistan, I wrote a column for the next day, the next Monday, and I talked to a lot of people in the administration who wanted to say, "The next step is Iraq. We have to hit Iraq.' Nobody mentioned weapons of mass destruction. They mentioned the need for a regime change, the brutality, the security of Israel, the general posture of the Middle East. But once Secretary Powell talked the president into going to the U.N., they had to have a better reason, and that's where the weapons of mass destruction came up. You want to call it a pretext? That's a hard word, but that's the difficulty, I think, they have found themselves in.

MR. RUSSERT: There's been this discussion in the last few days about comments made by Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of Defense. This is what Vanity Fair quoted him as saying, and I'll put it on the screen for everyone. We have it up there, I think. "...in May, as U.S. inspectors were failing to find weapons of mass destruction, [Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz admitted that from the outset, contrary to so many claims from the White House, Iraq's supposed cache of W.M.D. had never been the most compelling casus belli. It was simply one of several: ‘For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.''

The Defense Department has now put out the full transcript of Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz's comments, and let me read that: "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but ...there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the'—go ahead; you can finish that—'second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two.'

Bill Safire, this debate: Was it weapons of mass destruction? Was that the reason that we went in to disarm Saddam Hussein? Was the intelligence given to the president, politicized by the president and his staff or by the CIA? What's your take?

MR. SAFIRE: Well, first, I think Bob Novak got it right. That's essentially the three things, the three bases for going in: the criminal behavior and the destruction of human rights by an evil leader; the ties to terrorism, which we haven't talked about, but I still think we'll see them; and the weapons of mass destruction. Toward the end, that last one became the one that everybody focused on. I think, quite frankly, as Al says, we may well turn up these weapons of mass destruction. We've seen two mobile biological germ warfare labs that have been found. And what you're going to see is every time we find something, everybody's going to jump on it and say, "Well, we manufactured it,' or, "It doesn't really do that thing,' or, "It has dual use.' And there'll be an attempt by the people who didn't think we should go into this war in the first place to derogate it.

MR. BRODER: Well, I believe the rationale that our government put out. I believe when they said that "There are these weapons of mass destruction and we have proof that they exist.' But the reality is that if it had not been for that, you could not have justified either to the American public or to the United Nations or Tony Blair to his own people going in with a pre-emptive war. What gave this urgency, what gave it the plausibility to go ahead and act on our own against Saddam Hussein was the assertion that he had amassed these weapons of mass destruction.

MR. SAFIRE: But it was a truthful assertion. Nobody—you're not suggesting that he lied about it.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, on January 24th, the president's State of the Union message, he said that "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently bought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,' and that now has been proven not to be accurate, that the documents were forged. How does that find its way into a presidential speech?

MR. SAFIRE: That was stupid, and somebody goofed. But that doesn't derogate the whole thing.

MR. RUSSERT: Bob Novak, Albert Hunt, the president said in Poland yesterday that we have found weapons of mass destruction.

MR. NOVAK: Well, he's talking about those two chemical—biological warfare things. I don't think that really—I don't think that really makes the case. He obviously feels a credibility problem here. There's one other factor. A lot of the opponents of going into this war, such as Senator Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee—one of the reasons they suggested it wasn't good to attack was that surely, Saddam Hussein, who is not a nice guy, would use these weapons of mass destruction if his regime were at risk. Now, obviously he did not have weapons of mass destruction ready for use or he would have used them. Nobody ever thought he had nuclear arms, but he didn't have chemical and biological warfare. That's a real problem for this country, in my opinion.

MR. HUNT: Well, the reason that I think that David is right is because if you look at the three reasons that Paul Wolfowitz gave, what made Iraq unique, what made it a clear and present danger was that there were, we were told, those weapons of mass destruction. There are a lot of other countries in the world that engage in terrible criminal activities, awful as Saddam was—I mean, the Congo, Zimbabwe, North Korea—and there are probably—Bill might disagree with this, but I think most people think there are a number of other countries that are greater purveyors of terrorism—Syria, Iran, maybe even North Korea.

What made this unique was the case they presented of the weapons being there, which they could either use or they could sell to terrorists. If that was hyped, if that was enormously exaggerated, I don't see how that can be anything but a problem.

© MSNBC 2003

Commentary:
Some in the media are desperately trying to expose the Bush lies, but note how fast the conservatives cut off debate and Russert helps them. Safire is becoming a real moron. No matter how many facts are put in front of his face he refuses to say Bush lied. He needs to be deprogrammed. Waaay too much Fox News and Rush Limgaugh. He can't think for himself anymore.

I give Novak a little credit here (eh gad, a conservative who might actually get something right---now that's a first for me). In one nice statement he says Bush planned on going after Iraq right after Afghanistan and it had nothing to do with WMD. It was Powell's fault because Powell insisted on going to the UN. It's scapegoat time. The fascists in the current regime and those who support them are trying to blame Powell. We'll see how long that lasts. If Powell comes out and says Bush lied to him, that's the end. I'd put that chance at something close to 60/40 in Bush's favor for now, but if his cronies continue to attack Powell, he'll have no choice but to bring down the president.


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WMD: Pressure mounting on Bush and Blair
MSNBC/ASSOCIATED PRESS
May 31, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 31 — The CIA is reviewing its intelligence, British agents are reportedly doubting their own assessments and Saddam Hussein's enemies are being accused of manufacturing evidence.

Now, senior politicians on both sides of the Atlantic want answers to what is becoming the most asked question since major combat ended in Iraq: Where are the unconventional weapons the coalition said it went to war to destroy?

President Bush said this weekend that weapons had already been found. As evidence, though, he pointed to two suspected biological laboratories which both the Pentagon and U.S. weapons hunters have said do not constitute arms.

For a war fought without the backing of the international community, evidence of the weapons Iraq claimed it no longer had would bolster U.S. credibility around the world.

Now that 11 weeks have passed without such proof, international pressure is mounting on Bush and his coalition partners. The Pentagon is sending a new group of weapons hunters to Iraq to expand the search beginning on Monday.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who visited Iraq this week, said he's certain unconventional weapons will be discovered eventually.

Speaking to Sky News television on Saturday during a visit to the Russian city of St. Petersburg, Blair said much evidence already has been gathered, while "hundreds, possibly thousands" of sites had yet to be inspected.

"What we are going to do is assemble that evidence and present it properly to people," he said, stressing that he had "no doubt whatever that the evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction will be there. Absolutely."

But even as Blair and the president expressed confidence, members of Bush's Cabinet are offering up alternative theories that have drawn deep concerns both at home and abroad.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld speculated this week that the weapons were destroyed on the eve of fighting. His deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, said in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine that weapons of mass destruction became a war banner because it was the only reason everyone in the administration could agree upon when citing why they were going after Saddam.

"The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason," Wolfowitz was quoted as saying in a Pentagon transcript of the interview.

The comments caused a stir in Europe, where lawmakers from such coalition countries as Britain and Denmark demanded their governments open inquiries into the matter. At home, members of Congress are also questioning the war motives.

And in countries that opposed the war, the comments are being used as fodder to justify those positions.

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung interpreted Rumsfeld's comments as a sign the United States was losing the credibility battle. "The charge of deception is inescapable," the paper said.

And the leading French daily Le Monde called the weapons of mass destruction claim "the greatest lie told by statesmen in recent years."

U.S.-led teams, made up of Special Forces, unconventional weapons experts, military intelligence and scientists began visiting suspected sites in the opening days of the war. Since the fighting broke out March 20 most U.S. and British intelligence leads have been exhausted. Teams are now chasing tips from local Iraqis, none of which have panned out so far.

As of Monday, the weapons hunters will begin working for a new Pentagon-led group of some 1,400 people, including American weapons experts who once served as U.N. weapons inspectors. The group is moving into Baghdad to oversee the weapons search and other investigations of Saddam's regime.

The Iraq Survey Group will be led by Keith Dayton, a two-star general. Troops involved in the search hope the ISG will be able to provide the effort with better intelligence and analysis.

Dayton, a top official in the Defense Intelligence Agency, said he remains convinced his team will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He said Friday that he continues to believe prewar intelligence claims that Iraq had recently had unconventional weapons.

Those assessments were doubted by many members of the U.N. Security Council, which last fall agreed to send international inspectors back to Iraq to verify the country no longer had the weapons it was prevented from producing after the 1991 Gulf War.

The quality of that intelligence is now being reviewed by the CIA, whose director, George Tenet, released a rare statement Friday defending his agency.

"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. "The integrity of our process was maintained throughout and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong."

British intelligence is reportedly taking stock of its own assessments as well.

On Thursday, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported that agents were unhappy with a dossier Blair's office released on Iraqi weapons last year — particularly its claim that Saddam was able to launch such weapons on 45 minutes' notice.

The network quoted an unidentified intelligence source who said intelligence agencies added that charge at the behest of the prime minister's office, but now believe it was wrong.

Blair defended the dossier, saying everything in it "was cleared by the Joint Intelligence Committee and was their judgment."

There have also been reports that the Bush administration relied heavily on information provided by Saddam's enemies, including Ahmad Chalabi, an Iraqi exile and banker who has enjoyed years of Pentagon support.

Chalabi returned to Iraq from London after Saddam's overthrow and has been trying to build a support base. But few Iraqis seem interested in backing his leadership bid.

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Commentary:
British Intelligence has changed its tune on this so-called evidence. An updated story will be online in a few days. Military Intelligence too has backed away from ever claiming it had evidence of WMD. That article will be up in a couple days. The CIA has used some cloak and dagger words in its statements but clearly they've left some wiggle room to get out of their WMD claims when get hairy. Powell is the key now. If he breaks, this scandal will end the Bush presidency.

What surprises me is the men everyone in the media called trustworthy, Powell, Cheney and Bush have lied to us repeatedly.


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