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Impeach Bush

Westar Energy Fundraising Scandal
By PETE YOST
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 10, 2003; 2:44 AM

Engaging in a public spat, Rep. Billy Tauzin, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Westar's former Washington lobbyist disagreed with each other's accounts Monday of how the GOP candidates ended up getting help from Topeka-based Westar Energy.

The fight between a key House figure on energy issues and a lobbyist stems from internal Westar documents which suggest that Tauzin, energy subcommittee chairman Joe Barton of Texas, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., were seeking campaign donations in exchange for giving the company help with legislation.

On Monday, Tauzin, R-La., said he was unaware of the legislation being sought by Westar until news reports about it last week. Tauzin denied seeking donations from the Kansas utility, declaring through a spokesman that former Westar lobbyist Richard Bornemann made the initial contact with Tauzin's fund-raisers and asked for a schedule of fund-raising events.

Bornemann, however, said he was simply responding to faxed invitations from the organizers of the eight Tauzin-Barton fund-raising events. Bornemann produced one of the faxed messages to back up his claim.

"He asked for" the list of fund-raisers, Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson insisted. "He said he had a client who wanted to participate and he was then faxed a complete rundown of events."

Bornemann replied that he was "shocked, hurt and surprised" by the criticism from Tauzin's office.

The internal Westar documents detail a plan to give $55,000 in donations "to get a seat at the table" of a House-Senate conference committee. Westar was seeking a federal exemption from regulatory oversight, which could have helped save the company billions of dollars.

The Westar documents state that Tauzin and Barton solicited the utility for a campaign contribution for Republican congressman John Shimkus of Illinois "in lieu of contributions made to their own campaigns."

On April 23-24, 2002, Tauzin and Barton staged "Tex-Cajun cookout" fund-raising events for Shimkus and Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo. They were the first two of eight such Tauzin-Barton events on behalf of House Republicans facing competitive re-election races. All eight events were held at the American Trucking Association offices in Washington or at the Washington lobbying firm of former Republican congressman Jack Fields of Texas.

Last June 20, a Westar executive donated $1,000 to Shimkus' re-election campaign. On June 28, the now-indicted former CEO of Westar, David Wittig, donated $1,000 to Graves' re-election campaign.

Graves was a strong proponent of the proposed Westar exemption, which Barton had introduced. As a member of a House-Senate conference committee working on the Bush administration's energy plan, Barton voted to retain the Westar exemption, which was later abandoned by Congress when a federal grand jury investigation of Westar became public knowledge last fall.

In addition to his own vote, Barton cast the votes of Tauzin and DeLay as proxies in support of the Westar exemption. Neither Tauzin nor DeLay was in the room during the vote by the House conferees.

Campaign contributions to the seven GOP House incumbents by executives of Westar Energy totaled nearly $7,000 and flowed to the seven in three weeks last June and in five days last October. The donations stopped a week before the utility's former CEO was indicted.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
John Shimkus: "in lieu of contributions made to their own campaigns." Quid pro quo is against the law. Shimkus must step down.

Billy Tauzin, Joe Barton, Tom Delay, Richard Shelby: "Tauzin, energy subcommittee chairman Joe Barton of Texas, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., were seeking campaign donations in exchange for giving the company help with legislation." Quid pro quo is against the law.

All four in this group must step down also.

What's fascinating is that without Fox, Rush and talk radio pushing this scandal around the clock, the press losses interest damn quick. You see, the press is very, very lazy. They want someone to hand them everything on a silver platter so they don't have to lift a finger. Without a well-greased lie-machine feeding the press, like the republicans have, democrats don't have a chance.


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Gen. Eric Shinseki Resigns
By Robert Burns
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 10, 2003; 4:40 PM

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld reached into the ranks of retired officers to pick a successor to departing Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, officials said Tuesday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Rumsfeld chose Peter J. Schoomaker, who retired from the Army after commanding the U.S. Special Operations Command from 1997-2000.

The selection, which has not been publicly announced and is subject to confirmation by the Senate, may raise eyebrows inside the military because it is rare for a defense secretary to bypass senior active-duty generals in favor of a retired officer to be the Army's top general.

Rumsfeld sent his Schoomaker recommendation to the White House on Tuesday for President Bush's expected approval.

Shinseki retires Wednesday after a 38-year career that included combat in Vietnam and head of U.S. peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia. Tension between Shinseki and Rumsfeld over the pace of the Army's effort to transform into a more agile fighting force dominated the final two years of Shinseki's four-year term.

Because no successor will have been nominated and confirmed by then, the vice chief of staff, Gen. John Keane, will temporarily assume Shinseki's job when he leaves, officials said.

Rumsfeld had tried to persuade Keane to take the top job but he declined for family reasons, officials said. Keane is due to retire this summer.

George Joulwan, a retired Army general who was the top NATO commander in Europe from 1993-97, said in a telephone interview that although he does not know who will be nominated to succeed Shinseki, the choice of Schoomaker would likely be an indicator of the Army's future course.

"This may be a signal of how (Rumsfeld) wants to structure the Army," with more emphasis on the mobility, flexibility and agility that are hallmarks of special operations forces, Joulwan said.

The Army has suffered an unusual amount of turbulence in leadership positions this year.

In April Rumsfeld fired Army Secretary Thomas White and picked John Roche, currently the Air Force secretary, to replace him as the top Army civilian official. Roche has not yet been confirmed by the Senate, so the undersecretary of the Army, Les Brownlee, is the acting Army secretary.

Rumsfeld has other key posts to fill, including a successor to Gen. Tommy Franks as commander of Central Command, which is responsible for all U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. Franks is due to retire in July.

One candidate often mentioned for the Central Command post is Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid.

In a related development, the Pentagon announced Tuesday that President Bush has nominated Air Force Maj. Gen. Walter E. L. Buchanan III for promotion to lieutenant general and assignment as commander of Central Command Air Forces. He would succeed Lt. Gen. Michael Moseley, who has been nominated to be the Air Force's next vice chief of staff.

Schoomaker, 57, began his Army career in 1969 as a second lieutenant. His first field assignment was in 1970 as a reconnaissance platoon leader at Fort Campbell, Ky. He was trained as an armor officer but switched to the secretive world of special operations in the late 1970s.

Born in Michigan, he graduated from the University of Wyoming, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in education administration and was a star football player.

He finished the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School at Quantico, Va., in 1976 and in February 1978 he became commander of the Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment, the highly secretive Delta Force that specializes in counterterrorism missions. He held that command until 1981.

While with Delta Force he participated in the April 1980 failed attempt to rescue American hostages in Tehran.

He later was commander of the Army Special Operations Command and the Joint Special Operations Command, both at Fort Bragg, N.C.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
The military continues to be in complete disarray. I'm thinking it's getting harder and harder to find totally corrupt people to serve this president. Or it may be they see the writing on the walls and know he won't last long. In which case, it's probably a good carrier decision to decline a position to serve this president.


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GOP Fundraising Scandal
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 10, 2003; Page A04

A lobbyist for a Kansas-based energy company attended several 2002 fundraisers sponsored by two Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee even though one of them, committee Chairman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (La.), had banned the lobbyist from his office a dozen years earlier, Tauzin's office said yesterday.

Tauzin said he ejected the lobbyist from a later political event.

The lobbyist, Richard H. Bornemann, played a key role in Westar Energy Inc.'s efforts in 2002 to benefit itself through an amendment to a big energy bill in Congress. Those efforts have drawn attention and criticism recently, prompted by the disclosure of e-mails by Westar executives discussing their belief that $56,500 in donations to campaign groups affiliated with Tauzin and three other GOP lawmakers would get Westar a "seat at the table" during crucial negotiations over the energy bill.

Descriptions of Bornemann's role paint a clearer picture of how Westar planned and delivered campaign donations last year to the groups linked to Reps. Tauzin, Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.). At the time, Westar was seeking an exemption from a federal regulation that treated it as an investment company, to Westar's financial disadvantage. Barton eventually inserted the Westar provision into the energy bill, but later pulled it when the company came under federal investigation.

All four lawmakers named in the Westar e-mails say they never suggested the company would receive any special treatment in return for political donations.

Bornemann attended at least seven Washington fundraisers sponsored by Barton and Tauzin in the spring and summer of 2002. The events were held on behalf of vulnerable House Republicans, both lawmakers said.

Bornemann brought checks from Westar chief executive David C. Wittig, Tauzin's office said yesterday. The lobbyist also attended a Tauzin fundraiser in Louisiana last June. Six weeks later, four Westar executives wrote checks to Tauzin's "Bayou" leadership political action committee totaling $2,800, according to federal election records.

Tauzin, however, recognized Bornemann at his Louisiana reception and ordered his staff to throw him out, Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson said. Johnson said the lawmaker had barred Bornemann from his office years earlier after the lobbyist misled Tauzin on a railroad matter.

Bornemann, who works at the Washington lobbying firm Governmental Strategies, did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment. When a reporter called Wittig's Kansas home yesterday, the person who answered abruptly hung up.

Bornemann set up a meeting between Barton and Westar officials last July 24, Barton spokeswoman Samantha Johnson said. Less than two months later, the House member offered the amendment to exempt the company from the federal investment regulation.

Johnson said the two men established "a casual working acquaintance" dating to when Barton was on the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee and Bornemann was a committee staff member. Bornemann gave $2,000, the legal maximum, to Barton's 2002 campaign.

On Sept. 19, Barton successfully fought off a Democratic effort to strike the Westar provision from the energy bill. "This really is a policy decision here that the committee, the conference needs to make," he told his colleagues, according to a conference committee transcript. "This particular provision benefits one company. That company is . . . Western Resources in Topeka, Kansas." Western Resources is the former name of Westar.

Less than two weeks later, the provision was deleted.

Staff writer Thomas B. Edsall and research editor Margot Williams contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Barton must also step down. By my count that's six republicans who sold their votes for money. Why isn't this headline news?


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CBO Expects Deficit to Shatter Record
By ALAN FRAM
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 10, 2003; 8:06 PM

WASHINGTON - Congress' top budget analyst warned Tuesday that the government is on track this year for a record deficit exceeding $400 billion, providing fresh fodder to President Bush and Democrats in their battle over taxes and spending.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had estimated last month that the 2003 shortfall would surpass $300 billion. But that was before lawmakers approved fresh tax cuts for families and investors plus aid for cash-strapped states, projected to cost $61 billion this year alone. It also did not fully reflect the economy's malaise, which has constricted revenue.

The deepest shortfall ever, $290 billion, occurred in 1992. This year's deficit will be the second straight, a jarring turnabout from the four consecutive annual surpluses that marked the last years of the Clinton administration.

"The president has us on an utterly reckless course," said the Senate Budget Committee's top Democrat, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, referring to budget pressures that will intensify when the baby boom generation starts retiring late this decade.

Republicans said their push for tax cuts and restrained spending would energize the economy and help erase the red ink.

"The president's fiscal policy is to increase take-home pay," said White House budget office spokesman Trent Duffy. "And through greater economic growth, we get on a path to a return to balance."

For years, Republicans decried federal imbalances and used them as a rationale for spending cuts. In recent months, many in the GOP have minimized the importance of the shortfalls, saying they are manageable in a $10.5 trillion economy.

"The deficit we care about is the jobs deficit," said Sen. George Allen of Virginia, who heads the Senate GOP's election efforts.

In a role reversal, it is mostly Democrats who have taken up the cry for dealing with long-range budget problems.

"The best way to ensure that we, as well as our children and our grandchildren, are overtaxed for the rest of our lives is to keep borrowing money to cover our deficits," said Rep. Charlie Stenholm, D-Texas.

Though unprecedented shortfalls loom, polls indicate that voters are far more concerned about the economy and the specter of terrorism. Historically low interest rates have cushioned the budget problem's impact on the public, blunting its emergence as a potent issue.

Even economists, while expressing concern over long-term fiscal difficulties, showed little alarm over the latest figures. Private analysts have long expected this year's deficit to exceed $400 billion, and many say flushing that money into the economy will help keep today's economic conditions from worsening.

"Budget discipline has been thrown out the window in Washington," said Ethan Harris, chief U.S. economist for Lehman Bros., the investment bank. "It's a long-run problem for the economy."

The new budget office numbers emerged as Bush and lawmakers craft legislation to establish new prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients expected to cost at least $400 billion over the next decade. Other spending increases are expected later this year for defense, education, combatting AIDS overseas and other areas.

The Senate also has approved a bill expanding tax cuts for some lower- and higher-income Americans. House GOP leaders are discussing adding items to that measure.

Tuesday's budget office report, a monthly analysis of Treasury Department data, estimated a $291 billion deficit for the first eight months of the federal budget year, which runs through Sept. 30.

That is double the $145 billion shortfall for the same period a year ago, and $1 billion more than the previous record for an entire budget year.

"The deterioration in the short-term budget outlook stems from continued weakness in revenue collections" and May's tax cut legislation, the report said. That bill cut taxes by $330 billion through 2013 and provided a two-year cash infusion of $20 billion for states.

So far, federal receipts are down by $60 billion, or 4.9 percent, from a year ago, with the largest decline in individual income taxes. Spending is up by 6 percent, or $86 billion, largely due to the military, Social Security and Medicare.

A $400 billion deficit would be nearly 4 percent as large as the U.S. economy, a measure many economists consider significant because it illustrates the government's ability to afford its red ink.

As the condition of the budget worsened in the 1980s and early 1990s, there were seven annual federal deficits that were at least that large compared to the economy.

Bush and top lawmakers neared an agreement Tuesday to limit Congress to adding about $5 billion, or just over 1 percent, to its original plans for domestic programs for next year.

They hope to finalize details of the deal this week, which could help them minimize year-end battles and complete Congress' spending legislation near the Oct. 1 start of fiscal 2004.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
An almost worthless article. But once again it employs a standard trick to keep the reader uninformed. Democrat says this, republicans say that. There is truth out there, and the truth is tax cuts have always caused deficits. To suggest otherwise is a lie. The media MUST stop lying and protecting the republican party. What will it take?

The newest ploy used in this story is these deficits aren't the largest as a % of our GDP so may be it's not so bad. So what? What does that have to do with anything? Republicans demanded a balanced budget under Clinton and now run like cowards from one. Can the press at least be honest and call these morons hypocrites?


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Graham: Bush Makes U.S. 'Most Questioned'
By MIKE GLOVER
The Associated Press
Sunday, June 8, 2003; 8:10 AM

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa - Democratic presidential hopeful Bob Graham said Saturday that President Bush's aggressive foreign policy has left America "the most questioned nation in the world" and made it far more difficult to forge an effective battle against terrorism.

The Florida senator also said failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq could damage the nation's international standing even more.

"One of the things that will be a high priority of a Bob Graham administration will be to begin to restore America's reputation and prestige around the world," Graham said during a forum organized by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

Graham said the nation's standing in the world is a far more serious question that simply being liked by other countries, but goes to the heart of the ability to carry out effective policies.

He said when Bush took office, America was not only the strongest country in the world but "it was also the most admired nation in the world."

Graham pointed to big disputes between the U.S. and traditional allies over the war in Iraq and the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction.

"We're still the strongest nation in the world, but we're now the most questioned nation in the world," Graham said. "It's not just by countries that hate us and like to do bad things to us, it's also countries that have been our best allies are now raising questions about us."

Because of those divisions, the United States has found it difficult to forge the kind of alliances that are essential to dealing with international issues like trade and terrorism, he said.

"So many of the things we want to do depend on that prestige," Graham said. "We're not going to get countries to join us in an effective war on terrorism unless they basically respect our leadership."

Graham, who opposed the Iraqi invasion, reiterated his argument that the United States is losing its focus on battling international terrorism.

"We were on the offensive in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and then we took our eyes off of Afghanistan," Graham said.

Because of that, networks of international terrorists were "allowed to stand up, regroup, regenerate and now they are conducting very sophisticated operations," he said.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Graham is someone worth watching. He was opposed to this war because there was no proof. Good for him. This is a very rare article. Note how it lacks a republican response. Bush stories almost always go unchallenged, but for a democrat to say something and not have it challenged just doesn't happen these days. Mike Glover from the AP should be applauded.


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Education Contract Awarded Without Competition
By SIOBHAN McDONOUGH
The Associated Press
Monday, June 9, 2003; 8:35 PM

WASHINGTON - The bidding on Iraqi postwar reconstruction contracts at the U.S. Agency for International Development is flawed, with the education contract essentially awarded without competition, an internal investigation concluded.

The total contract to Creative Associates International is worth $157 million, including optional extensions, the USAID inspector general's office said.

The office made public Monday the second of a series of inquiries into the limited bid awards of contracts for Iraqi capital construction, airports, seaports, local governance, primary and secondary education and others.

In a memorandum dated June 6, the office said its review on the contract to rebuild Iraq's education sector found:

-Five contractors were invited to bid, but only one did. That company also brought in as subcontractors three of the firms invited to bid. The conclusion is that there was essentially no competitive bidding at all.

-USAID did not adequately document how it selected the five contractors invited to bid, and didn't have a clear methodology for the selection process.

-Four months before the request for bids, a representative from the company awarded the contract attended an agency forum on Iraq's education sector. It was the only one of the five companies invited to bid on the contract that was represented at the forum. The inspector general's office could not determine whether that company had been given an unfair competitive advantage. The other companies invited to bid were given only two weeks' notice to submit their bids.

USAID is in the process of awarding 10 or more contracts for Iraq reconstruction. As of Friday, USAID had awarded seven contracts worth $985 million for personnel support, seaport administration, local governance, education, capital construction, health and airports administration.

Closer oversight of the bidding process is needed, said Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, senior Democrat on the Government Affairs Committee and a presidential contender.

Without competitive bidding, the contracts could cost millions of dollars more than necessary, Lieberman said.

The inspector general's office recommended that USAID's procurement office conduct a full review of the contract award process to determine whether an unfair competitive advantage was given in the Iraq education sector.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
What is it about these republicans? Why do they hate the free market system so much? The answer is very simple. Those who give them money get the contracts. A weird form of free market, but hey it works from them.


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Guantanamo Eyes Execution Chamber
By PAISLEY DODDS
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 10, 2003; 4:58 AM

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Guantanamo officials are working on plans to provide a courtroom, a prison and an execution chamber if the order comes to try terror suspects at the base in Cuba, the mission commander said.

Although no new directive has been given and no plan has been approved, a handful of experts are looking at what it will take to try, imprison and, if need be, execute detainees accused of links to Afghanistan's fallen Taliban regime or to the al-Qaida terror network.

"We have a number of plans that we work for short-term and long-term strategies but that's all they are - plans," Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller said in a telephone interview Monday.

Isolated on Cuba's eastern tip and out of the jurisdiction of U.S. civilian courts, Guantanamo is a likely location for U.S. military trials.

Last month, officials named Army Col. Frederic Borch III the chief prosecutor and Air Force Col. Will Gunn as chief defense lawyer for the proposed trials. The Pentagon has listed 18 war crimes and eight other offenses that could be tried, including terrorist acts, and has issued rules for the tribunals.

Borch said he was looking at prosecuting at least 10 possible cases before a tribunal.

Some 680 detainees from 42 countries are in Guantanamo, categorized as unlawful combatants by the U.S. government. It has refused demands from human rights organizations to recognize them as prisoners of war. They have no constitutional rights as non-U.S. citizens being held outside U.S. territory, and none have been formally charged or allowed access to attorneys.

The cases would be decided by a panel of three to seven military officers who act as both judge and jury. Convictions could be handed down by a majority vote; a decision to sentence a defendant to death would have to be unanimous.

Some civil liberties advocates have criticized the process.

"Any further movement in the direction of trying these men in commissions that could have the power to carry out death sentences is cause for great concern," Vienna Colucci of Amnesty International's Washington D.C. office said Monday.

Miller said renovations on a building being considered as a courtroom began in March and likely will be completed next month. The building is being rewired and could be used as a courthouse with facilities for media and military officers.

There also are plans to build a permanent modular detention facility, to imprison detainees who might be sentenced to indefinite terms, and an execution chamber should any be sentenced to death, he said.

"We're getting ready so we won't be starting from scratch," Miller said, speaking while on a visit to Washington D.C.

About five people have been drafting several plans for the last six months, he said. It was unclear how much money it would take to sustain such a permanent mission.

After the detention center opened in January 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld called the detainees "among the most dangerous, best trained, vicious killers on the face of the Earth." But, after lengthy interrogation, many are thought to be low-level former Taliban fighters and unlikely prospects for commission trials.

On the Net:

Rules for military tribunals: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May2003/b05022003(underscore)bt297-03.html

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Where are the Jews? The US has concentration camps and is not setting up Nazi-like execution chambers. "Never again," are only words. Where are your actions? Wake up Jews! Wake up now!


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John Dean: Worse than Watergate
FindLaw.com
John Dean
Friday, Jun. 06, 2003

President George W. Bush has got a very serious problem. Before asking Congress for a Joint Resolution authorizing the use of American military forces in Iraq, he made a number of unequivocal statements about the reason the United States needed to pursue the most radical actions any nation can undertake - acts of war against another nation.

Now it is clear that many of his statements appear to be false. In the past, Bush's White House has been very good at sweeping ugly issues like this under the carpet, and out of sight. But it is not clear that they will be able to make the question of what happened to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) go away - unless, perhaps, they start another war.

That seems unlikely. Until the questions surrounding the Iraqi war are answered, Congress and the public may strongly resist more of President Bush's warmaking.

Presidential statements, particularly on matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness. A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson's distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon's false statements about Watergate forced his resignation.

Frankly, I hope the WMDs are found, for it will end the matter. Clearly, the story of the missing WMDs is far from over. And it is too early, of course, to draw conclusions. But it is not too early to explore the relevant issues.

President Bush's Statements On Iraq's Weapons Of Mass Destruction

Readers may not recall exactly what President Bush said about weapons of mass destruction; I certainly didn't. Thus, I have compiled these statements below. In reviewing them, I saw that he had, indeed, been as explicit and declarative as I had recalled.

Bush's statements, in chronological order, were:

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons."

United Nations Address
September 12, 2002

"Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons."

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."

Radio Address
October 5, 2002

"The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons."

"We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States."

"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" - his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."

Cincinnati, Ohio Speech
October 7, 2002

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."

State of the Union Address
January 28, 2003

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

Address to the Nation
March 17, 2003

Should The President Get The Benefit Of The Doubt?

When these statements were made, Bush's let-me-mince-no-words posture was convincing to many Americans. Yet much of the rest of the world, and many other Americans, doubted them.

As Bush's veracity was being debated at the United Nations, it was also being debated on campuses - including those where I happened to be lecturing at the time.

On several occasions, students asked me the following question: Should they believe the President of the United States? My answer was that they should give the President the benefit of the doubt, for several reasons deriving from the usual procedures that have operated in every modern White House and that, I assumed, had to be operating in the Bush White House, too.

First, I assured the students that these statements had all been carefully considered and crafted. Presidential statements are the result of a process, not a moment's thought. White House speechwriters process raw information, and their statements are passed on to senior aides who have both substantive knowledge and political insights. And this all occurs before the statement ever reaches the President for his own review and possible revision.

Second, I explained that - at least in every White House and administration with which I was familiar, from Truman to Clinton - statements with national security implications were the most carefully considered of all. The White House is aware that, in making these statements, the President is speaking not only to the nation, but also to the world.

Third, I pointed out to the students, these statements are typically corrected rapidly if they are later found to be false. And in this case, far from backpedaling from the President's more extreme claims, Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer had actually, at times, been even more emphatic than the President had. For example, on January 9, 2003, Fleischer stated, during his press briefing, "We know for a fact that there are weapons there."

In addition, others in the Administration were similarly quick to back the President up, in some cases with even more unequivocal statements. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly claimed that Saddam had WMDs - and even went so far as to claim he knew "where they are; they're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."

Finally, I explained to the students that the political risk was so great that, to me, it was inconceivable that Bush would make these statements if he didn't have damn solid intelligence to back him up. Presidents do not stick their necks out only to have them chopped off by political opponents on an issue as important as this, and if there was any doubt, I suggested, Bush's political advisers would be telling him to hedge. Rather than stating a matter as fact, he would be say: "I have been advised," or "Our intelligence reports strongly suggest," or some such similar hedge. But Bush had not done so.

So what are we now to conclude if Bush's statements are found, indeed, to be as grossly inaccurate as they currently appear to have been?

After all, no weapons of mass destruction have been found, and given Bush's statements, they should not have been very hard to find - for they existed in large quantities, "thousands of tons" of chemical weapons alone. Moreover, according to the statements, telltale facilities, groups of scientists who could testify, and production equipment also existed.

So where is all that? And how can we reconcile the White House's unequivocal statements with the fact that they may not exist?

There are two main possibilities. One that something is seriously wrong within the Bush White House's national security operations. That seems difficult to believe. The other is that the President has deliberately misled the nation, and the world.

A Desperate Search For WMDs Has So Far Yielded Little, If Any, Fruit

Even before formally declaring war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the President had dispatched American military special forces into Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, which he knew would provide the primary justification for Operation Freedom. None were found.

Throughout Operation Freedom's penetration of Iraq and drive toward Baghdad, the search for WMDs continued. None were found.

As the coalition forces gained control of Iraqi cities and countryside, special search teams were dispatched to look for WMDs. None were found.

During the past two and a half months, according to reliable news reports, military patrols have visited over 300 suspected WMD sites throughout Iraq. None of the prohibited weapons were found there.

British and American Press Reaction to the Missing WMDs

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is also under serious attack in England, which he dragged into the war unwillingly, based on the missing WMDs. In Britain, the missing WMDs are being treated as scandalous; so far, the reaction in the U.S. has been milder.

New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, has taken Bush sharply to task, asserting that it is "long past time for this administration to be held accountable." "The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat," Krugman argued. "If that claim was fraudulent," he continued, "the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history - worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra." But most media outlets have reserved judgment as the search for WMDs in Iraq continues.

Still, signs do not look good. Last week, the Pentagon announced it was shifting its search from looking for WMD sites, to looking for people who can provide leads as to where the missing WMDs might be.

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, while offering no new evidence, assured Congress that WMDs will indeed be found. And he advised that a new unit called the Iraq Survey Group, composed of some 1400 experts and technicians from around the world, is being deployed to assist in the searching.

But, as Time magazine reported, the leads are running out. According to Time, the Marine general in charge explained that "[w]e've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad," and remarked flatly, "They're simply not there."

Perhaps most troubling, the President has failed to provide any explanation of how he could have made his very specific statements, yet now be unable to back them up with supporting evidence. Was there an Iraqi informant thought to be reliable, who turned out not to be? Were satellite photos innocently, if negligently misinterpreted? Or was his evidence not as solid as he led the world to believe?

The absence of any explanation for the gap between the statements and reality only increases the sense that the President's misstatements may actually have been intentional lies.

Investigating The Iraqi War Intelligence Reports

Even now, while the jury is still out as to whether intentional misconduct occurred, the President has a serious credibility problem. Newsweek magazine posed the key questions: "If America has entered a new age of pre-emption --when it must strike first because it cannot afford to find out later if terrorists possess nuclear or biological weapons--exact intelligence is critical. How will the United States take out a mad despot or a nuclear bomb hidden in a cave if the CIA can't say for sure where they are? And how will Bush be able to maintain support at home and abroad?"

In an apparent attempt to bolster the President's credibility, and his own, Secretary Rumsfeld himself has now called for a Defense Department investigation into what went wrong with the pre-war intelligence. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd finds this effort about on par with O. J.'s looking for his wife's killer. But there may be a difference: Unless the members of Administration can find someone else to blame - informants, surveillance technology, lower-level personnel, you name it - they may not escape fault themselves.

Congressional committees are also looking into the pre-war intelligence collection and evaluation. Senator John Warner (R-VA), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee would jointly investigate the situation. And the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence plans an investigation.

These investigations are certainly appropriate, for there is potent evidence of either a colossal intelligence failure or misconduct - and either would be a serious problem. When the best case scenario seems to be mere incompetence, investigations certainly need to be made.

Senator Bob Graham - a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee - told CNN's Aaron Brown, that while he still hopes they find WMDs or at least evidence thereof, he has also contemplated three other possible alternative scenarios:

One is that [the WMDs] were spirited out of Iraq, which maybe is the worst of all possibilities, because now the very thing that we were trying to avoid, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, could be in the hands of dozens of groups. Second, that we had bad intelligence. Or third, that the intelligence was satisfactory but that it was manipulated, so as just to present to the American people and to the world those things that made the case for the necessity of war against Iraq.

Senator Graham seems to believe there is a serious chance that it is the final scenario that reflects reality. Indeed, Graham told CNN "there's been a pattern of manipulation by this administration."

Graham has good reason to complain. According to the New York Times, he was one of the few members of the Senate who saw the national intelligence estimate that was the basis for Bush's decisions. After reviewing it, Senator Graham requested that the Bush Administration declassify the information before the Senate voted on the Administration's resolution requesting use of the military in Iraq.

But rather than do so, CIA Director Tenet merely sent Graham a letter discussing the findings. Graham then complained that Tenet's letter only addressed "findings that supported the administration's position on Iraq," and ignored information that raised questions about intelligence. In short, Graham suggested that the Administration, by cherrypicking only evidence to its own liking, had manipulated the information to support its conclusion.

Recent statements by one of the high-level officials privy to the decisionmaking process that lead to the Iraqi war also strongly suggests manipulation, if not misuse of the intelligence agencies. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, during an interview with Sam Tannenhaus of Vanity Fair magazine, said: "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." More recently, Wolfowitz added what most have believed all along, that the reason we went after Iraq is that "[t]he country swims on a sea of oil."

Worse than Watergate? A Potential Huge Scandal If WMDs Are Still Missing

Krugman is right to suggest a possible comparison to Watergate. In the three decades since Watergate, this is the first potential scandal I have seen that could make Watergate pale by comparison. If the Bush Administration intentionally manipulated or misrepresented intelligence to get Congress to authorize, and the public to support, military action to take control of Iraq, then that would be a monstrous misdeed.

As I remarked in an earlier column, this Administration may be due for a scandal. While Bush narrowly escaped being dragged into Enron, it was not, in any event, his doing. But the war in Iraq is all Bush's doing, and it is appropriate that he be held accountable.

To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."

It's important to recall that when Richard Nixon resigned, he was about to be impeached by the House of Representatives for misusing the CIA and FBI. After Watergate, all presidents are on notice that manipulating or misusing any agency of the executive branch improperly is a serious abuse of presidential power.

Nixon claimed that his misuses of the federal agencies for his political purposes were in the interest of national security. The same kind of thinking might lead a President to manipulate and misuse national security agencies or their intelligence to create a phony reason to lead the nation into a politically desirable war. Let us hope that is not the case.

John Dean, a FindLaw columnist, is a former Counsel to the President of the United States.

Commentary:
We live in strange times. Bush gets credit for tax cuts but isn't blamed for their resulting record deficits. Bush gets credit for war, but isn't blamed for lying about his pretext to go to war. Propaganda only requires that we believe, it never requires truth, evidence or facts.

Those who support Bush believe. They don't bother themselves with the facts.


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Data didn't back Bush's weapons claims, officials say
An Impeachable Offense
The Mercury News/Knight Ridder Newspapers
By WARREN P. STROBEL
Posted on Fri, Jun. 06, 2003

WASHINGTON - President Bush and his top aides made prewar claims about Iraq's weapons programs that weren't always backed up by available U.S. intelligence and painted a threatening picture that was far starker than what American spies knew, according to current and former intelligence officials and a review of available documents.

Bush and other White House officials also publicly cited evidence - particularly on Iraq's suspected nuclear-weapons program and ties with terrorists - that on closer examination turned out to be false or debatable.

Senior defense officials confirmed Friday that a report by the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency last September expressed significant doubts about whether Saddam Hussein was producing and stockpiling chemical and biological weapons, as Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell all claimed.

"There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or whether Iraq has - or will - establish its chemical warfare agent-production facilities," said portions of the report made available to Knight Ridder.

While Iraq had biological stockpiles, "the size of those stockpiles is uncertain and is subject to debate," said the classified report, titled "Iraq: Key Weapons Facilities - An Operational Support Study."

The DIA report and other developments illuminate a growing debate over the White House's use of intelligence on Iraq. So far that debate has revolved largely around allegations of pressure on professional analysts to shade intelligence estimates.

The new developments raise the possibility instead that some U.S. officials, deliberately or inadvertently, magnified what they were told by spy agencies, which had an incomplete picture of Iraq and few sources of their own to fill in the blanks.

The DIA report was completed just as the White House was launching a campaign last fall to make the case that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and terrorist ties presented a grave danger that justified pre-emptive military action.

Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, the DIA's director, said after a private meeting with senators Friday that the report didn't mean that Iraq didn't have caches of chemical and biological weapons, only that his agency couldn't definitively pinpoint them.

"Some people higher up the food chain made the leap from suspicion to conviction," said a senior military official who is critical of how the intelligence was handled.

"I think they honestly believed that, based on how the Iraqis had always behaved in the past and not just because they wanted to scare the public into supporting the war," said the official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the classified information involved.

In a speech Oct. 7 in Cincinnati, Bush said the Iraqi regime "possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons." Powell told a television interviewer Sept. 8: "There is no doubt that (Saddam) has chemical weapons stocks."

The DIA report, whose existence was first reported by U.S. News & World Report magazine, illustrates how intelligence reports were much more equivocal. That reflected the shortfalls in U.S. spying capabilities in Iraq and the uncertain nature of the intelligence profession, officials have said.

"It's looking like in truth the Iraqi (weapons) program was gray. The Bush administration was trying to say it was black," said former CIA Iraq expert Kenneth Pollack, who's now at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, a research center.

Pollack, who advocated a war to overthrow Saddam, said he believes more evidence of Iraqi weapons activity will be found.

But on Iraq's suspected nuclear-weapons development, which for him and other analysts was the most alarming program, "we've clearly uncovered nothing" so far, he said.

The U.S. military has captured two Iraqi mobile laboratories apparently designed for biological arms, although no traces of germ weapons were found.

The failure by search teams nearly two months after the war's end to find chemical, biological or nuclear caches in Iraq has led to growing questions about the war, on Capitol Hill and in allied capitals.

It also has re-ignited vitriolic behind-the-scenes battles in Washington that have put administration hawks who advocated war on the defensive.

"The knives are out," said more than one official.

Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's No. 3 official, called a news conference Wednesday to deny reports that a special unit in his office had exerted pressure on the intelligence agencies to dramatize the evidence against Iraq.

The CIA is standing by its formal estimates of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, said a senior U.S. intelligence official. Those include an October 2002 report, which stated in part: "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of (United Nations) restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."

"I think it's appropriately caveated," said the senior official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

The report parallels a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which represents the combined views of all U.S. intelligence agencies. The NIE now is being rechecked as part of an internal CIA review.

American intelligence officials expressed cautious optimism this week that they are getting closer to new information on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, after wasting a couple of months chasing bad leads drawn from Iraqi exiles and U.N. weapons inspections that ended in 1998.

Iraqi scientists and officials are beginning to talk after either refusing or repeating ritual denials that Iraq had any such weapons, they said. "We're starting to get better information now from people who initially didn't cooperate," one official said.

Still, along with the missing chemical and biological weapons stocks, several key statements by Bush and his aides have yet to pan out or have been proved false:

In the president's State of the Union address Jan. 28, he cited a British intelligence report that Iraq sought to import "significant quantities" of uranium from Africa.

Intelligence officials said his statement was based on documents forged by a diplomat in Rome from the African nation of Niger, who made them using a fax machine. The diplomat sold the forgeries to Italian intelligence officials, who dutifully passed them on to the United States and Britain, officials said.

Bush, Powell and others spoke of Iraq's attempt to import aluminum tubes, which they said could be used in centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

Powell, in a presentation Feb. 5 to the U.N. Security Council, acknowledged there was a debate over the tubes' intended use, but said the majority of U.S. analysts believed they were meant for a nuclear weapons program.

Mohamed El Baradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the Security Council a month later that extensive investigation "failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81-millimeter tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets."

Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and, to a lesser degree, Powell charged that Iraq was harboring terrorists, including a major cell linked to al-Qaida. Officials say they stand behind these statements, although no new evidence of terrorist links has emerged publicly since the war's end.

"What happened here is that people who meant well and who had a really aggressive foreign-policy agenda allowed their enthusiasm to overcome them," said Walter P. "Pat" Lang, formerly the DIA's top Middle East analyst.

"In some cases, they managed to push the intel guys back," Lang said, referring to pressure on analysts. "In other cases, where they couldn't do that, they simply ignored them."

(Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondent Jonathan S. Landay contributed to this report.)

© The Mercury News 2003

Commentary:
The reader must recall that the chicken-hawks in the Bush Administration advocated war before Bush became president. In 1998, they sent a letter to President Clinton asking him to remove Saddam from power. Of those who signed it, almost all of them work for Bush. To assume this war had anything to do with WMD is ridiculous.


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Environment has no friend in Bush
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
June 06, 2003
O beautiful for smoggy skies
For stunted fields of grain,
For fading mountain majesties
Above the barren plain

If the Bush administration continues its current pace of dismantling environmental protections, Katharine Lee Bates' 110-year-old "America the Beautiful" will be ancient history. While Americans were tuned into the war in Iraq, the Bush administration was waging a quieter war on the environment.

With the help of a GOP-dominated Congress eager to please the energy lobby, the Bush team is well on its way to commercializing the nation's precious natural resources. Leading the charge are industry-friendly agency appointees -- former timber lobbyist Mark Rey, who oversees U.S. Forest Service policies, and former oil and mining lobbyist Steven Griles, deputy secretary of the Interior Department.

Sweetheart court settlements crafted by the Bush Justice Department consistently favor industry. In addition, gaping holes have been punched in long-standing regulations under the guise of friendly sounding initiatives such as "Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests."

There is a ray of hope in growing state and local government protests. Local officials are bringing lawsuits reflecting their fear that revenues from tourism and outdoor recreation could decline. Their concerns are warranted, given that weakened protections will allow utilities to spew more pollution and sully rivers, forests and national monuments.

Meanwhile, here's a sampling of Bush's stealth attacks on the environment:

The "Clear Skies" illusion: The Bush Environmental Protection Agency supports emissions trading instead of air quality regulations that punish violators. Emissions trading could be a good approach, but not when it allows utilities to burn 80 million more tons of coal, double sulfur emissions and release three times as much mercury.

The end of wilderness: In 2001, one of the administration's first actions was to freeze implementation of a popular Clinton-era roadless preservation rule. If road-building continues in the few remaining forests with wilderness potential, there will be no more wilderness.

And that's fine with Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who recently agreed to withdraw 2.6 million acres of potential Utah wilderness and quietly told select senators she would forgo her authority to identify any additional Western wilderness areas. That means many national monuments, even lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon are open to energy exploration.

Dirty deals on clean water: Last year, EPA officials rolled back protection of 20 million acres of fragile wetlands. This spring, the Interior Department announced support for water marketing as a way to apportion scarce supplies during drought. That would allow water to flow to the highest bidder with little protection for the environment or broader public interests.

Shortchanging endangered species: Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to freeze any new critical habitat designations, using a $2 million agency budget shortage as the excuse. The act needs fine-tuning, not dismantling or defunding.

Logging to protect forests: Bush's "Healthy Forests" initiative, which supposedly prevents fires near residential areas, recently sailed through the U.S. House of Representatives. But it allows logging in interior old-growth forests far from residential communities.

The fragmented southern Appalachians will see more logging, too, thanks to a vaguely defined disease-prevention loophole. The fact is that forest officials can already cut diseased trees.

The global warming debacle: One of Bush's first actions in office was to withdraw the United States as a signatory to the Kyoto climate change treaty, an action met with uniform international disapproval. After appointing his own scientific panel, which confirmed that global warming is real and is caused largely by fossil fuel burning and carbon dioxide emissions, Bush still refused to support more stringent fuel economy standards for automobile makers.

Contrary to the mind-set of this administration, there is nothing "radical" about conservation. What's radical is Bush's war on the environment.

© 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Commentary:
I like this part; "After appointing his own scientific panel, which confirmed that global warming is real and is caused largely by fossil fuel burning and carbon dioxide emissions, Bush still refused to support more stringent fuel economy standards for automobile makers."

Damn the facts, pay off those who bought Bush the presidency.


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