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Impeach Bush

The Media: Squelching Dissent
Fair.org
By Steve Rendall & Tara Broughel
May/June 2003

Since the invasion of Iraq began in March, official voices have dominated U.S. network newscasts, while opponents of the war have been notably underrepresented, according to a study by FAIR.

Starting the day after the bombing of Iraq began on March 19, the three-week study (3/20/03-4/9/03) looked at 1,617 on-camera sources appearing in stories about Iraq on the evening newscasts of six television networks and news channels. The news programs studied were ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, Fox's Special Report with Brit Hume, and PBS's NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.*

Sources were coded by name, occupation, nationality, position on the war and the network on which they appeared. Sources were categorized as having a position on the war if they expressed a policy opinion on the news shows studied, were currently affiliated with governments or institutions that took a position on the war, or otherwise took a prominent stance. For instance, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a hired military analyst for CNN, was not categorized as pro-war; we could find no evidence he endorsed the invasion or was affiliated with a group supporting the war. However, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an NBC analyst, was classified as pro-war as a board member of the Committee for a Free Iraq, a pro-war group.

Nearly two thirds of all sources, 64 percent, were pro-war, while 71 percent of U.S. guests favored the war. Anti-war voices were 10 percent of all sources, but just 6 percent of non-Iraqi sources and 3 percent of U.S. sources. Thus viewers were more than six times as likely to see a pro-war source as one who was anti-war; with U.S. guests alone, the ratio increases to 25 to 1.

The official story

Official voices, including current and former government employees, whether civilian or military, dominated network newscasts, accounting for 63 percent of overall sources. Current and former U.S. officials alone provided more than half (52 percent) of all sources; adding officials from Britain, chief ally in the invasion of Iraq, brought the total to 57 percent.

Looking at U.S. sources, which made up 76 percent of total sources, more than two out of three (68 percent) were either current or former officials. The percentage of U.S. sources who were officials varied from network to network, ranging from 75 percent at CBS to 60 percent at NBC.

In the category of U.S. officials, military voices overwhelmed civilians by a two-to-one margin, providing 68 percent of U.S. official sources and nearly half (47 percent) of all U.S. sources. This predominance reflected the networks focus on information from journalists embedded with troops, or provided at military briefings, and the analysis of such by paid former military officials.

Former military personnel, who often appeared in longer-format, in-studio interviews, rather than in soundbites, characteristically offered technical commentary supportive of U.S. military efforts. In a typical comment, retired general (and CNN consultant) Wesley Clark told Wolf Blitzer on April 6: "Well, the United States has very, very important technological advantages. Unlike previous efforts in urban combat, we control the skies.' Analysis by these paid military commentators often blended into cheerleading, as with Clark's comment from the same interview: "First of all, I think the troops and all the people over there, the commanders, have done an absolutely superb job, a sensational job. And I think the results speak for themselves.'

Though some of these analysts criticized military planning, and were attacked for doing so by the administration and its allies (New York Times, 3/31/03), the rare criticisms were clearly motivated by a desire to see U.S. military efforts succeed. For instance, while NBC's hired analyst, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, said he expected the U.S. to prevail in the war, he worried that there weren't sufficient ground troops in place for an expected battle for the city of Baghdad (3/25/03): "We have no business taking on that mission unless we're prepared to decisively employ combat power.'

Of a total of 840 U.S. sources who are current or former government or military officials, only four were identified as holding anti-war opinions--Sen. Robert Byrd (D.-W.V.), Rep. Pete Stark (D.-Calif.) and two appearances by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D.-Ohio). Byrd was featured on PBS, with Stark and Kucinich appearing on Fox News.

Overseas viewpoints

Among British news sources, 95 percent were government or military officials; the remaining 5 percent, four individuals, were all journalists. More than a third of the British public was opposed to the war at the time of this study, according to a Guardian/ICM poll (4/1/03), but no British anti-war voices were carried by these six news shows.

Iraq provided the only exception to the rule that official sources dominate the news. Iraqis made 200 appearances on the news shows during the study period, but less than a third of these (32 percent) were official sources. Interviews with persons on the street made up the largest category of Iraqi sources, with 62 percent of overall Iraqi appearances. Of Iraqi persons on the street, 49 percent expressed support for the U.S. war effort, while 18 percent voiced opposition, but the format of on-the-street interviews seldom elicited deep insights from either side; typical comments included "God damn to bloody hell Saddam' (CBS, 4/9/03) and "They can go. USA go' (Fox, 3/27/03).

Given that the war was ultimately justified as being fought for the liberation of the people of Iraq, sources who represented Iraqi civil society were in remarkably short supply on the news. Two of such Iraqi sources were clergymembers, one was a journalist and one represented a non-governmental organization. Nine sources came from Iraqi militia groups, both pro- and anti-U.S.

Only 6 percent of sources came from countries other than the U.S., Britain or Iraq. Given the strong opposition to the war measured in most countries that were not directly involved in the invasion, it's perhaps unsurprising that these sources had the most anti- war representation; 48 percent either voiced criticism or were officials of governments that criticized the war.

Citizens from those nations that most vocally opposed the U.S. war policy--France, Germany and Russia--accounted for 16 appearances, constituting just 1 percent of all guests. Nine of these 16 appearances were by government officials.

Out of 45 non-Iraqi Arab sources, a strong majority (63 percent) were opposed to the war. Kuwaitis, whose country served as a staging area for the invasion, were the only exception to this tendency; none of the eight Kuwaiti sources expressed opposition to the war.

Restricted to the street

As noted in earlier FAIR studies, over-reliance on official sources leaves little room for independent policy critics or grassroots voices. At a time when dissent was quite visible in U.S. society, with large anti-war demonstrations across the country and 27 percent of the public telling pollsters they opposed the war (Bulletin's Frontrunner, 4/7/03), the networks largely ignored anti-war opinion in the U.S.

The FAIR study found just 3 percent of U.S. sources represented or expressed opposition to the war. With more than one in four U.S. citizens opposing the war and much higher rates of opposition in most countries where opinion was polled, none of the networks offered anything resembling proportionate coverage of anti-war voices. The anti-war percentages ranged from 4 percent at NBC, 3 percent at CNN, ABC, PBS and FOX, and less than 1 percent--one out of 205 U.S. sources--at CBS.

While the percentage of Americans opposing the war was about 10 times higher in the real world as they were on the nightly news (27 percent versus 3 percent), their proportion of the guestlist may still overstate the degree to which they were able to present their views on U.S. television. Guests with anti-war viewpoints were almost universally allowed one- sentence soundbites taken from interviews conducted on the street. Not a single show in the study conducted a sit-down interview with a person identified as being against the war.

Anti-war sources were treated so fleetingly that they often weren't even quoted by name. While 80 percent of all sources appearing on the nightly news shows are identified by name, 42 percent of anti-war voices went unnamed or were labeled with such vague terms as "protester' or "anti-war activist.' Only one leader of an anti-war group appeared as a source: Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice, a New York-based organizer of anti-war marches, appeared on a March 27 CNN segment in a one-sentence soundbite from an on-the-street interview.

Beyond the battlefield

Perhaps as striking as the dominance of official voices and the scarcity of dissent on these shows was the absence of experts dealing in non-military issues. The story of war is much larger than simply what happens on the battlefield; it includes issues of international law, human rights and global and regional politics--issues beyond the scope and expertise of former generals.

But few people with the expertise to address such questions were sought out on the nightly news. FAIR found that academics, think tank staffers and representatives of non- governmental organizations (NGOs) accounted for just 4 percent of all sources.

With 64 appearances overall, this group included just one source who spoke against the war, Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Center, a civil rights NGO. Twelve sources supported the war, while the remaining 51 sources did not take an explicit position.

Nearly half of the think tank sources (seven of 16) favored the war, while none opposed. The Council on Foreign Relations was most frequently represented; two of its three sources supported the war. Academic sources included three supporters of the war and no opponents.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which takes no political positions, was the leading NGO, with four appearances; no other NGO had more than one appearance. Of those with discernable positions on the war, two sources were in favor, one opposed.

More often, when television wanted a non-official source to provide context, it turned, somewhat incestuously, to journalists from other news outlets--who provided 8 percent of all sources. Relatives of military personnel made up another 4 percent of sources.


SIDEBAR:

The Best--and Worst--of an Imbalanced Lot
In terms of their guestlists, the television outlets studied by FAIR were more alike than different: All had a heavy emphasis on official sources, particularly current and former U.S. military personnel; each featured a large proportion of pro-war voices; and none gave much attention to dissenting voices.

But these trends were more or less pronounced on different shows. The outlet with the smallest percentage of U.S. sources who were officials (60 percent) and the largest percentage of U.S. sources who were anti-war (4 percent) was NBC Nightly News, despite the network's ownership by General Electric, a significant military contractor.

The highest percentage of officials among U.S. sources (75 percent) and the lowest number of U.S. anti-war voices (one--a soundbite from Michael Moore's March 24 Oscar speech) was CBS Evening News. The show's anchor, Dan Rather, had openly declared the partisanship of his coverage (Larry King Live, 4/14/03):

Look, I'm an American. I never tried to kid anybody that I'm some internationalist or something. And when my country is at war, I want my country to win, whatever the definition of "win" may be. Now, I can't and don't argue that that is coverage without a prejudice. About that I am prejudiced.
PBS's NewsHour also had a relatively low percentage of anti-war voices--perhaps because the show less frequently features on-the-street interviews, to which critics of the war were usually relegated.

Though Fox News Channel frequently engaged in overt cheerleading for the war and is on record as considering itself a pro-war news outlet (Baltimore Sun, 4/2/03), Fox's Special Report with Brit Hume had fewer U.S. officials than CBS (70 percent) and more U.S. anti-war guests (3 percent) than PBS or CBS. Eighty-one percent of Fox's sources were pro-war, however, the highest of any network. CBS was close on the Murdoch network's heels with 77 percent. NBC featured the lowest proportion of pro-war voices with 65 percent.

*The study was conducted using Nexis database transcripts. At publicatoin time, transcripts for six World News Tonight dates and two NewsHour dates were unavailable.

Commentary:
The media failed us miserably. They weren't willing to tell us the truth. Balanced reporting was replaced with one-sided war mongering. When American pro-war guests outnumber anti-war guests by 25 to 1 it's not hard to see why Americans fell for the lies put out by the Bush Administration.

Shaming the media doesn't work because facts haven't been part of news-gathering for a number of years. Billions of words were written about the so-called "scandal ridden Clinton Administration" but when fact after fact proved the President and First Lady were innocent of charges the media dropped the ball. They had their script and they weren't about to break the lie machine they helped create and perpetuate.

Attempting to destroy a president is bad enough but allowing another president to lie to us about a threat to our national security is unforgivable. The press can't be trusted again and heads must roll in every news organization in the country.

As stated previous, the media doesn't give a hoot if a story is accurate, all they want is the STORY. Bush's made for TV was story, (or Whitewater) was something great to talk about, but that talk wasn't based on known facts and instead was based on unsubstantiated political rhetoric from the republican party.


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Republican Doves--then and now
FAIR. org
May/June 2003
Steve Rendall

In the following quotes, well-known cable news hosts express anti-war feelings to hawkish guests. Can you guess which quote is "anti-American'?

* "Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?'

* "We're sending 250,000 of our young men and women to die so that somebody in Washington can prove they're tough. It's not us. We're not the ones that are going to die, they are.'

For many right-leaning pundits, these seemingly similar expressions of dissent are worlds apart. To them, the first quote--Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity (Hannity & Colmes, 4/6/99) expressing opposition to the Clinton administration's 1999 Kosovo actions--is responsible criticism of the government. The second remark, said by then-MSNBC host Phil Donahue (Donahue, 2/13/03) in opposition to the war in Iraq, is disloyal, anti- American--possibly even treasonous.

Donahue's kind of anti-war observation angers conservative pundits like Hannity and fellow talkshow host Rush Limbaugh. In a recent radio broadcast (quoted in the Baltimore Sun, 3/9/03), Limbaugh could hardly contain his contempt for opponents of the current war: "I want to say something about these anti-war demonstrators. No, let's not mince words, let's call them what they are: anti-American demonstrators."

Limbaugh was more forgiving of opponents of Bill Clinton's 1999 Kosovo involvement. He had to be; like Hannity, Limbaugh was part of that antiwar crowd. "Why Kosovo?' read a headline in the May 1999 issue of the Limbaugh Letter. The article scoffed at the declared humanitarian rationale for Clinton's Kosovo policy, sounding like current anti- war protesters as it criticized the "shifting justifications" for war.

In another Limbaugh Letter story (5/99), an interview with retired Col. David Hackworth conducted during the war, Limbaugh seemed to countenance mutiny against the commander in chief. When Hackworth asserted that Clinton was "uniformly despised' within the military, Limbaugh responded: "How long, then, can it be before there is an uprising, and why hasn't it happened before now?'

Limbaugh and Hannity aren't alone among conservative pundits who opposed what they called "Clinton's war' in 1999, but who today demand unqualified devotion to Bush administration military policies. In 1999, Joe Scarborough was one of 173 Republican members of Congress voting against the bombing of Serbia. As that war came to an end, Rep. Scarborough told Fox host Catherine Crier (The Crier Report, 6/8/99): "This has been an unmitigated disaster ... Ask the Chinese embassy. Ask all the people in Belgrade that we've killed. Ask the refugees that we've killed. Ask the people in nursing homes. Ask the people in hospitals.'

Today, as the host of MSNBC Reports (4/10/03), Scarborough seems to have lost his taste for anti-war dissent: "These leftist stooges for anti-American causes are always given a free pass. Isn't it time to make them stand up and be counted for their views, which could hurt American troop morale?'

Scarborough made that remark while interviewing his MSNBC colleague Michael Savage. Savage also bitterly opposed Clinton's Kosovo actions (NewsMax, 11/30/99): "These international war criminals were led by Gen. Wesley Clark ... who clicked his shiny heels for the commander-in-grief, Bill Clinton." Today Savage calls for the arrest of anti-war activists and the restoration of the Sedition Act to silence dissent (Savage Nation, 3/8/03): "Then we can stop some of these maniacs who are encouraging our enemies, weakening our troops' resolve and confusing the American people.'

Savage and Scarborough have both asserted or implied that critics of the Iraq War were actually traitors to the country. "I wonder, will Martin Sheen apologize now for providing aid and comfort to the Baghdad beast by working day and night against his immediate removal?" Scarborough asked after the Iraqi capital fell (4/10/03). Referring to Hollywood peace advocates, Savage said (4/10/03): "It's not a laughing matter when we have influential idiots like this reducing troop morale, confusing the American people and emboldening our enemies. They are absolutely committing sedition or treason as far as I'm concerned."

Ubiquitous pundit Bill Bennett is just one of many more double-standard dissenters. Appearing on CNN's Inside Politics in 1999 (4/16/99), Bennett dismissed U.S. Kosovo actions: "I think this policy is nuts." Four years later on CNBC, Bennett dismissed dissenters: "Well, you shouldn't listen to these protests because they're obviously helping Saddam Hussein.... It is worth noting, however, that Saddam was much encouraged by these protests."

In the bizarre world of conservative television pundits and talk radio hosts, loyalty means supporting the wars they support. Patriotism to them--to paraphrase Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass--means just what they choose it to mean, neither more nor less

Commentary:
What do republicans believe in? Wait five minutes and it'll change.

I think most Americans think republicans are ball-less wonders. They ripped Bill Clinton apart for avoiding the draft, but ignore the fact that everyone of their chicken-hawks found a way out of the war too. Those who advocated war without attempting diplomacy are not fit to serve this great nation.

Recall a couple things, a few facts if you will. President Clinton was able to get the UN and NATO to support his actions in Kosovo. Bush couldn't get either. Clinton didn't have a veto threat from one of our allies, Bush did. Clinton didn't lie about our national security, Bush did.

But more important than all that recall the President Clinton tried diplomacy–over and over again. Clinton used war as a last resort, Bush pushed for war from day one and never tried diplomacy. In fact neither Bush nor Powell talked to Saddam or his government once. They wanted war from day one, and they lied to us about why they wanted it..

Those who supported this war have to ask themselves why their president didn't try to resolve this so-called crisis peacefully. They need to hold Bush accountable for lying to them and they need to demand the media stop perpetuating his lies. Finally they need to start thinking about what we do to presidents who misuse intelligence for political gain.


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Intelligence chiefs tell Blair: no more spin
The Guardian
Richard Norton-Taylor and Michael White
Thursday June 5, 2003

MI6 and MI5 chiefs have sought the government's assurance that it will never again pass off as official intelligence information which does not come from them.

They are also insisting that any information used by Downing Street claiming to be based on intelligence should be cleared by them first.

Their demands, which the government has bowed to, reflect deep unease in the intelligence community about the government's attempt to use secret information to push its case for military action against Iraq.

Senior officials in the security and intelligence services made it clear that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq was not as great as ministers suggested.

Their insistence that intelligence must not be abused for political ends was prompted in particular by a second dossier published in February containing some material supplied by MI6 but mixed with other information lifted from academic sources.

That, intelligence sources say, was a "serious error". They were already concerned about pressure from ministers to find information that backed up the US claim - not supported by British intelligence - that al-Qaida was linked to Baghdad.

Their fire is directed at the Downing Street communications staff under Alastair Campbell, rather than at Tony Blair.

"There were anxieties about the casual use of intelligence," a well-placed source said yesterday. "It must not be doctored," he added.

The tension between the government and MI5 and MI6 was exacerbated yesterday by the comment by John Reid, the leader of the Commons, that "rogue elements" in the intelligence services were briefing against Downing Street: a resonant charge in Labour's history.

In a bruising encounter on Radio 4's Today he spoke of "such obviously rogue isolated individuals". On GMTV he said the "hugely serious" accusation against ministers and intelligence chiefs "comes down to, apparently, one or two unnamed, unappointed, anonymous people with uncorroborated evidence."

Mr Blair himself did not disown the charge, but did not repeat it either, adding to the impression that Dr Reid had over-egged his complaint.

Criticism in the intelligence community of the government's handling of its information from the first dossier from Downing Street - published with a fanfare in September and the one at the heart of the current row - was more nuanced, sources say.

The joint intelligence committee was worried about protecting sources as pressure grew from Downing Street for the committee to come up with more and more intelligence-based information to bolster its case.

Last night Whitehall defended its much-disputed claim of an Iraqi capacity to fire chemical or biological warheads within 45 minutes by revealing that its source had been a senior Iraqi officer "with a record of providing reliable data over years".

He was the only source. Well-placed officials admit they could not find corrborative evidence.

John Scarlett, chairman of the committee, praised yesterday by Mr Blair in the Commons, admits to having a "debate" with Downing Street about what to include in the September dossier.

That may be a discreet euphemism, but he is also letting it be known that he insists there was no "bust up" with Mr Campbell. He takes the view that how Mr Blair and other ministers chose to use the dossier was up to them.

Amid the private rumblings from the intelligence services, Mr Blair was under further political pressure last night to restore his battered credibility by giving evidence in person, and in public, when MPs and peers begin two urgent investigations into the handling of intelligence material on Iraq's illegal weapons arsenal.

He promised to provide all the raw intelligence material to the cross-party intelligence and security committee (ISC) - and to publish its report.

Mr Blair's unprecedented concession failed to appease Labour and Conservative critics, joined by angry Liberal Democrats and Nationalists, despite a bravura 90-minute performance at the dispatch box in which he denied all the allegations and praised the intelligence services in extravagant terms.

Labour loyalists had been rallied by John Prescott. "This is about the integrity of the party, the prime minister does not lie," he said.

As a result only 11 Labour rebels went all the way and voted for a Lib Dem call for a full public inquiry last night. With abstentions and absentees, the government's 165-vote majority fell to 98.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

Commentary:
A couple quick points. In every American Administration there's at least one moral and decent person. Some may say it was John Dean under Nixon, or George Schultz under Reagan or Powell under Bush. But the most troubling thing about this scandal is that Powell and Blair both lied and lied many times. There are no decent people under Bush. Not one.

There's no excuse for the mistakes or lies made by Blair and Bush. Abusing intelligence or being so inept that you can't read it without prejudice makes both unfit for public office. Blair would serve his country well by stepping down, so would Bush. The statement that the prime minister does not lie is silly. He lied, get over it.


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How US prepared report on Iraq's WMD? Powell blames Cheney
Middle East Online
Published 2003-05-31, Last Updated 2003-06-02 10:01:20

Powell was under persistent pressure from Pentagon, White House to use shaky intelligence on Iraq.

 
WASHINGTON & LONDON - US Secretary of State Colin Powell was under persistent pressure from the Pentagon and White House to include questionable intelligence in his report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction he delivered at the United Nations last February, a US weekly reported Friday.

US News and World Report magazine said the first draft of the speech was prepared for Powell by Vice President Richard Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in late January.

According to the report, the draft contained such questionable material that Powell lost his temper, throwing several pages in the air and declaring, "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit."

Cheney's aides wanted Powell to include in his presentation information that Iraq has purchased computer software that would allow it to plan an attack on the United States, an allegation that was not supported by the CIA, US News reported.

The White House also pressed Powell to include charges that the suspected leader of the September 11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta, had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer prior to the attacks, despite a refusal by US and European intelligence agencies to confirm the meeting, the magazine said.

The pressure forced Powell to appoint his own review team that met several times with Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to prepare the speech, in which the secretary of state accused Iraq of hiding tonnes of biological and chemical weapons.

US News also said that the Defense Intelligence Agency had issued a classified assessment of Iraq's chemical weapons program last September, arguing that "there is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons."

However, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress shortly after that that the Iraqi "regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin, cyclosarin, and mustard gas," according to the report.

Powell, Straw voiced doubt over Iraq WMD evidence

The Guardian said Saturday in a report that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Powell expressed doubts in private over public claims they were making about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to war, which was denied by the Foreign Office.

The left-wing British daily said the two men voiced concerns about intelligence on Iraqi weapons during a private meeting in New York.

The encounter came shortly before a key UN Security Council meeting on February 5, when Powell presented what he claimed was clear evidence that Iraq was concealing banned weapons, the Guardian said.

Its story was based on information from an unnamed diplomatic source, who the paper said had read a transcript of the conversation between Straw and Powell.

The transcript recorded Straw voicing concern that assertions being made by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W. Bush about Saddam Hussein's arsenals could not be proved.

The document quoted Powell as allegedly saying he was "apprehensive" about intelligence assessments containing circumstantial evidence, and telling Straw he hoped the facts, when they came out, would not "explode in their faces".

The Guardian, which opposed the US-led war against Iraq, said that the transcript appeared to have been leaked by diplomats who were supportive of the use of force against Baghdad at the time, but now feel they were lied to about its justification.

But the Foreign Office dismissed the Guardian report as "simply untrue" and insisted that "no such meeting took place" between Powell and Straw.

A spokeswoman said: "The Foreign Secretary has always been clear of the strength of the evidence against Iraq in respect of weapons of mass destruction - much of it in UN sources - and has often referred to this."

The British media has in recent days insisted on explanations over how the prime minister's office allegedly exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

In Warsaw on Friday, Blair dismissed as "completely absurd" the idea that intelligence agencies fabricated evidence that Iraq had such weapons in order to justify war.

The US and its allies are to launch a fresh effort next week to find weapons of mass destruction, sending in a 1,300-member team to Iraq to take up a hunt that has turned up no banned weapons so far.

Commentary:
After Bush is forced from office, we need to start looking at what we'll do with Cheney. From this report, if true, Cheney clearly wanted Powell to give grossly false information to the UN. Powell did give false information, but I'd like to see what Cheney wanted Powell to say that was "bullshit.". We need to see that speech to judge if he's fit to serve.

The other problems we have with Cheney is he lied about nuclear weapons in Iraq and he put pressure on the CIA to follow the party line. In all probability, he's not fit for office either and should step down when Bush steps down..


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Cheney is accused of pressuring the CIA
The Independent
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
06 June 2003

Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, and his Chief of Staff Lewis Libby made several visits to the CIA in the months before the Iraq war - which some analysts see as attempts to pressure analysts to bolster calls for military action.

The revelation of Mr Cheney's forays to CIA HQ, revealed by The Washington Post, come as the controversy intensifies over whether intelligence was misrepresented to justify the war.

Two Senate committees are considering a joint investigation, and Ray McGovern, a former intelligence specialist and member of Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (IPS), said that intelligence used to sell the war "was manipulated, forged or manufactured".

Mr Bush entered the fray yesterday, vowing to "reveal the truth" about Iraq's WMD programme. "Saddam Hussein's got a big country to hide them. Well, we'll look," he told troops in Qatar, the last stop on a foreign trip before his return to Washington and the mounting controversy.

The visits by Mr Cheney to the CIA will cement the impression that specialists were left in no doubt that hawks expected findings that bore out their views.

Last week George Tenet, the CIA director, took the rare step of issuing a public statement defending the quality of his agency's product on Iraq. In an equally unusual appearance before the press, Douglas Feith, the Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, denied that the Pentagon had pressured the CIA to slant its assessments to help the hawks' case.

Much of the fingerpointing is being directed at the Office of Special Plans, a unit under Mr Feith that was set up to review intelligence after the 11 September terrorist attacks.

In fact, it appears to have turned into an in-house ginger group, tied to Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, and focussed on making the case for links between Saddam and al-Qa'ida and for Iraq's active pursuit of nuclear arms.

Mr Feith has rejected what he called a "goulash of inaccuracies", promising to "lay to rest stories that are not true and are beginning to achieve the status of urban legend".

However, Mr Feith's theses were publicly undercut last week by Richard Perle, a leading member of the neoconservative group that has been driving Iraq policy under Mr Bush and until recently the chairman of the influential Defence Policy Board.

Defending the Office of Special Plans, Mr Perle said that a lot of mistakes had been made by intelligence analysts. The new unit's job was to see whether "there were connections... that had been missed in previous examinations. That is not politicisation. That is not pressure. And the fact is they established beyond any doubt connections that had gone unnoticed in previous analysis".

This argument is flatly rejected by the veteran analysts of IPS, who describe what happened before the war as "an intelligence fiasco of monumental proportions", in which evidence had been manipulated to sway Congress in its crucial resolution last autumn that granted Mr Bush virtual carte blanche to deal with Iraq.

Even so, the furore here has not reached the proportions it has in Britain. Mr Bush's popularity is high, and as long as it remains so, his party's control of Congress should ensure that hearings do not become too embarrassing. But that could change if Iraq descends into chaos and US forces suffer mounting casualties.

10 June 2003 18:27

Commentary:
The list of those who need to resign is growing quickly. Rumsfeld, Mr. Feith, Powell, Cheney, Bush and Perle are top dogs that have to go. Mistakes happen, but misrepresenting intelligence to the American people, the congress and the UN are impeachable offenses.

Also, these new gestapo-type intelligence agencies have to be closed down as soon as the next president is sworn in.


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Blix criticises coalition over Iraq weapons
BBC
Friday, 6 June, 2003, 05:12 GMT 06:12 UK

The United Nations chief weapons inspector has criticised the quality of the intelligence given to him by the United States and Britain about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Hans Blix told the BBC that his teams followed up US and British leads at suspected sites across Iraq, but found nothing when they got there.

A team of UN nuclear inspectors will arrive in Iraq on Friday, but the United States will only allow it to carry out a limited inspection at a nuclear storage facility.

The BBC's Greg Barrow at the UN says Mr Blix's comments will add to the growing controversy over the quality of intelligence used in the run-up to the Iraq war.

In a BBC interview on Thursday, Mr Blix said he had been disappointed with the tip-offs provided by British and US intelligence.

"Only in three of those cases did we find anything at all, and in none of these cases were there any weapons of mass destruction, and that shook me a bit, I must say."

He said UN inspectors had been promised the best information available.

"I thought - my God, if this is the best intelligence they have and we find nothing, what about the rest?"

Unproven

On Thursday, the chief weapons inspectors gave what is likely to be his last report to the UN Security Council before he retires later this month.

His briefing recorded an open verdict over whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam Hussein's regime might have hidden weapons, or it might have destroyed them, Mr Blix said.

But following the fall of Saddam Hussein, he said, the conditions were now right for the truth to come out either way.

In his report, which covers the last three months since inspectors were withdrawn before the US-led invasion of Iraq, Mr Blix said Iraq had left "many unanswered questions" about its non-conventional weapons, but this did not mean such dangerous arms still existed.

Both US and British intelligence sources have told the BBC that evidence against Iraq was distorted in order to justify the war against Iraq.

However the US administration has defended the intelligence it presented.

US President George W Bush on Thursday said it would take time to find Iraq's chemical and biological weapons, but he promised to "reveal the truth" about them.

"Saddam Hussein's got a big country in which to hide them. Well, we'll look," President Bush told US troops in Qatar.

Restricted inspections

Mr Rumsfeld, for his part, said the case put before the UN Security Council by US Secretary of State Colin Powell in February would in time "be proved accurate".

The inspectors looked, but found little incriminating evidence in Iraq
However the defence secretary added that his department would co-operate with any Congressional investigation into the issue.

The US has rejected calls for the return of UN inspectors to hunt for Iraqi weapons.

But it has said it plans to widen the search, by interviewing low-ranking officials and relying on interrogations of alleged war criminals.

A small team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to arrive in Iraq on Friday to check on looting of atomic materials, but the US has barred it from visiting all but one site at the Tuwaitha nuclear research complex south of Baghdad.

US Defence Department officials quoted by Reuters news agency are insisting that US troops accompany the UN inspectors at the site, and that the visit sets no precedent for a future role in Iraq for the IAEA.

© BBC 2003

Commentary:
Why is Bush afraid of the UN inspectors? Is it because they might once again prove he's lying to the American people? If WMD are found in Iraq, how will we know if they were placed there by a desperate president trying to save himself? Bush didn't have evidence to take this country to war before the war started. Looking for that evidence now is foolhardy. Only a moron looks for proof after a war. A real president has the evidence before the first shot is fired.

I think Congress should ask Blix to testify to the entire Congress, House and Senate in a joint and open session. It would be very helpful if we could hear the truth about what was really going on and what kind of evidence Bush gave the UN. Will Blix say Bush and Powell lied to the UN? Probably. Will he say their evidence was contrived? Probably. Can Bush survive manufacturing intelligence? Not a chance.


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Weapons are turned on Bush
Herald Sun (AU)
By Tim Reid in Washington
June 07, 2003

US President George W. Bush returned from his Middle East tour yesterday to face a growing political storm over the failure to find Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

As Democrats sensed growing White House vulnerability on the issue, presidential hopefuls suggested that intelligence had been manipulated. On Capitol Hill, the Senate Intelligence Committee's senior Democrat appeared on television to call for televised hearings into the "accuracy" of intelligence used by Mr Bush to justify the war.
"We have found nothing of significance," said senator Jay Rockefeller. "We went into the war based on the fact that Saddam's ties to al-Qa'ida and weapons of mass destruction were posing an imminent threat to our country. We need to know if this was accurate."

Doubts about the administration's claims intensified further after outgoing chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix delivered his final report to the Security Council. Dr Blix said it was "not justified to jump to the conclusion that something exists just because it is unaccounted for". Although Iraq had left many questions unanswered, he said, one should not assume such arms still existed.

Believing Mr Bush's credibility on Iraq's banned weapons could be an issue if the US continued to suffer at the hands of al-Qa'ida, most of the nine Democratic presidential candidates suggested intelligence was distorted. Bob Graham, a Florida senator who has argued for months that Mr Bush has largely ignored the threat posed by al-Qa'ida, said Mr Bush should be held accountable if intelligence was exaggerated.

"It would raise serious questions about the political leadership that engaged in that manipulation and misleading of the American public," he said.

Massachusetts senator John Kerry, a Democratic presidential rival, said: "If the intelligence community had a massive failure here, or if the administration has distorted the intelligence it was given, those would be legitimate issues."

According to CIA officials quoted in The Washington Post, Vice-President Dick Cheney made many visits to the CIA over the past year to question intelligence analysts over Iraq's alleged links to al-Qa'ida and illicit weapons programs. He was often accompanied by Lewis "Scooter" Libby, his chief of staff and a "neo-conservative" supporter of the war. According to some officials, the visits made them feel under pressure to make their assessments fit with the administration's policy aims.

The claims come at a time of growing scrutiny of the role played in pre-war intelligence by the Office of Special Plans, a Pentagon unit set up by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Some CIA officials now claim the OPS exaggerated or manipulated intelligence to justify the war.

The visits by Mr Cheney "sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here," one senior intelligence official said. Senator Rockefeller said: "What was he doing there?"

CIA director George Tenet has ordered an investigation of pre-war intelligence to determine its quality and veracity.

Adding to allegations that intelligence was produced under political pressure, Greg Thielmann, a State Department intelligence official covering Iraq until the end of last year, said yesterday that all dissenting views had been omitted from a key CIA report presented to Mr Bush in October.

The Times

 © Herald and Weekly Times

Commentary:
The Bush Regime can hold on to power as long as it can do its dirty deeds in secret. So far the republicans are willing to do what it takes to protect Bush (and themselves). But, when the secret hearings begin, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be leaks. Bush will get all upset, complain endlessly about threats to our national security (whaa) but in the end, enough truth will come out to force open hearings. We may see impeachment hearing during an electron cycle. Now that would be a story for the press.


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Unemployment Rate Hits 9-Year High
Fox News
Saturday, June 07, 2003

The nation's unemployment rate (search) climbed to 6.1 percent in May, the highest level in nine years, but an unexpectedly mild drop in total jobs and an overhaul of earlier figures fueled hopes the soft economy may be poised for a pickup.

The rate was up one-tenth of a percentage point from April, peaking at a level not seen since the country was emerging from the last recession, the Labor Department (search) reported Friday. July 1994 was the last time the jobless rate was at 6.1. It was higher only in April 1994, at 6.4 percent.

One reason for last month's increase was that more people resumed their job searches, but failed to find work. Nearly 9 million people were unemployed in May.

Meanwhile, employers cut 17,000 workers from their payrolls in May -- a smaller decline than the 39,000 drop projected by U.S. economists in a Reuters survey.

The May jobs report included a major change in how Labor compiles its survey and calculates its results. These changes rendered the recent job picture less gloomy than it had appeared in earlier government estimates.

April payrolls were revised to an unchanged reading after Labor had earlier said they tumbled 48,000. However, March was revised down to show a 151,000 jobs drop versus an earlier 124,000 fall. In total, 151,000 jobs were lost over the two months, an improvement from Labor's prior report of a 172,000 slide in payrolls.

Industries driving the cuts were manufacturing, transportation and government.

Some sectors did gain jobs in May. Employment rose in construction and in service jobs, including education and health services.

Another positive sign in the report was the hiring increase of 58,000 at temporary employment firms. Economists closely watch that industry because it can signal if companies may begin to hire permanent, full-time workers.

But even if the economy improves later this year, as economists hope, the jobless rate still is expected to move higher — to as high as 6.5 percent.

Job growth probably won't be strong enough to accommodate all the additional job seekers who would enter the market, attracted by an improved climate, analysts say. That would contribute to a rise in the unemployment rate, which happened last month.

Federal Reserve (search) Chairman Alan Greenspan (search) has called recent reports on the nation's employment situation weak.

The sluggish job market so far hasn't caused consumers — the main force keeping the economy going — to shut their pocketbooks and wallets. But they are being more selective. Low interest rates, a refinancing boom that has left people with extra cash and solid home values are some of the factors offsetting the negative forces of the sluggish job market.

Those low rates also have fueled hiring in the construction industry (search).

Federal Reserve policy-makers have left a key short-term interest rate at a 41-year low of 1.25 percent since November. Greenspan has said rates are low enough to support economic activity, but the Fed also has left the door open to rate reductions down the road.

Many economists think the odds are growing that the Fed will lower short-term rates at its next meeting starting June 24.

Cautious companies, wanting their profits to heal more, have been wary of making big investments in capital spending and in hiring, major forces restraining the economy.

May's report showed that the average time for people to be out of work was 19.2 weeks. People out of work 27 weeks or longer grew slightly by 300,000 to 1.9 million.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Commentary:
With interest rates this low, the economy should be growing like a bat out of hell. So what's up? While unemployment is a lagging economic indicator, the other numbers look just as bleak. Consumers are getting more skittish and GDP is expected to fall next quarter not rise. On top of that the Fed is set to cut rates the thirteenth time since Bush became president in hopes of jump-starting an almost dead economy.

Will it work? Probably not. The problem isn't interest rates, it's fear and debt. The US is creating record debt and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. But, it's fear that is driving the markets and the economy. Bush uses fear to increase his popularity. Investors might take note that whenever Bush's poll numbers drop, he issues another orange alert. It doesn't matter to some that he's never right, but being right isn't something Bush cares about. All he cares about is power and without war and fear he'll lose it.


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Pentagon: No Reliable Evidence of Iraqi Weapons
An Impeachable Offense
SF Gate.com
ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
June 06, 2003

The Pentagon's intelligence service reported last September that it had no reliable evidence that Iraq had chemical agents in weaponized form, officials said Friday.

The time frame is notable because it coincided with Bush administration efforts to mount a public case for the urgency of disarming Iraq, by force if necessary. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others argued that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical and biological weapons and was hiding them.

Two months after major fighting in Iraq ended, U.S. officials have yet to find any chemical or other mass-killing weapons, although they still express confidence that some will turn up.

Rumsfeld recently raised the possibility that Iraq destroyed the weapons before the war started March 20. He also has said he believes some remain and will be discovered when U.S. search teams find knowledgeable Iraqis who are willing to disclose the locations.

In making its case for invading Iraq, the administration also argued that Iraq was seeking to develop nuclear weapons and that it might provide some of its mass-killing weapons to terrorists.

On Friday, a small team of United Nations nuclear experts arrived in Baghdad to begin a damage assessment at Iraq's largest nuclear facility, known as Tuwaitha. It was left unguarded by American and allied troops during the early days of the war and then pillaged by villagers.

The arrival of the team -- whose members are not weapons inspectors -- marked the first time since the Iraq war began that representatives from the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency returned to the country. The atomic energy agency had long monitored Iraq's nuclear program.

In its report last September, the Defense Intelligence Agency said it could find no reliable information to indicate that Iraq had any chemical weapons available for use on the battlefield. But the agency also said Iraq probably had stockpiles of banned chemical warfare agents.

The existence of the DIA report was disclosed by U.S. News & World Report, and a classified summary was reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday. Two Pentagon officials who had read the summary confirmed Friday that it said DIA had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons.

A White House spokesman said a portion of the still-classified report is being taken out of context of the entire document's conclusions, which match what the Bush administration argued all along.

"The entire report paints a different picture than the selective quotes would lead you to believe," said Michael Anton, a spokesman with the White House's National Security Council. "The entire report is consistent with with the president was saying at the time."

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was a National Intelligence Estimate published at nearly the same time as the DIA report -- and with DIA's concurrence -- that concluded Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

The DIA's analysis is just one piece of an intelligence mosaic that Rumsfeld and other senior administrations could consider in making their own assessment of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons capability. Congress is reviewing the prewar intelligence to determine whether the administration overplayed the weapons threat in order to justify toppling the Iraqi regime.

On Friday, the Senate Armed Services convened a closed-door hearing focusing on the mission of the 75th Exploitation Task Force, which made the initial effort to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction at the conclusion of the war, and the follow-on search team, called the Iraq Survey Group.

The committee was hearing from Stephen A. Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence; Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the DIA; and an unidentified CIA representative

©2003 Associated Pres

Commentary:
This is the smoking gun.

If Bush can't prove the military had intelligence that said Iraq had WMD on the battlefield, his presidency is finished. The only way to do that is to declassify the document in dispute. If, on the other hand, Bush lied about intelligence or misrepresented it in anyway, he must step down or be impeached.

Be sure to check out John Dean's commentary at FindLaw.com. He says lying about intelligence would be the greatest political scandal in US history, worse than Watergate.

We also have press reports that Cheney tried to have Powell present the UN highly questionable intelligence. So questionable that Powell called it "bullshit." To his credit, Powell refused. But to his determent, he presented a series of lies about WMD to the UN that must be addressed also. Since it's clear Powell lied about intelligence, he must step down.

Since Rumsfeld lied about military intelligence he must step down.


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Tommy Thompson to Resign
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 3, 2003; 5:13 PM

WASHINGTON - Tommy Thompson said Tuesday that he will not stay for a second term as secretary of health and human services.

Thompson did not answer directly a question about whether he would stay through President Bush's re-election campaign and the election in November 2004.

At the Wisconsin Republican Party convention this month, Thompson, who was governor there for 14 years, said he wanted to try his hand outside government.

"I think it's time for me to take a hiatus from government and do something else for awhile," he said.

Thompson promised to eventually run for office again. "I will someday run for elected office again in Wisconsin. Someday," he said. He added that chances were "slim to none" that he would challenge Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold next year when the senator is up for re-election.

Asked Tuesday if he planned to stay at HHS through 2004, Thompson cited the many projects he has under way.

"I would think the fact that I'm here taking on the Global Fund (to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), building a new command center, going to Africa, is a pretty good indication I'm going to be here for awhile. Let's leave it at that," he said.

But he made it clear that he is not signing on for another four years. "I'm not going to be here for a second term," he said.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Thompson is best known for his lies about stem cells. He and his president said we had over 70 stem cell lines. The truth took a long time, but it's only 11. Good riddance to another pathological liar.


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